Did you know that mushrooms and humans originated from the same organism over 1 billion years ago and that mushrooms are actually part of the animal kingdom and have been part of Chinese longevity “medicine” for thousands of years? In fact even the Yeti, you know, the Snowman, used mushrooms as part of his anti-ageing protocol :-).
The Reishi mushroom, together with Chaga and Lion’s Mane mushrooms, is a critical component of our longevity protocol together with intermittent fasting, a lot of exercise, some supplements and of course Resveratrol.
Both me and my wife take 2 ml of Organic Reishi Extract in liquid form on weekdays about 1,5 h before we go to bed. Combined with the above, where probably regular exercise is a big contributor, both of us sleep like royals and wake up full of energy each morning, without any alarms or similar. But although Reishi contributes to good sleep, which is probably one of the most critical longevity components, it also has a lot of other anti-ageing benefits. Let’s see why Reishi is so amazing.
First of all, the Reishi mushroom is known as a medical mushroom because of its advanced longevity and health properties. It has the ability to boost immune surveillance, something that is crucial for having the ability to detect and eliminate infectious agents and emerging cancers in the body.
There has been an abundance of new research that has proven the medical benefits of the Reishi mushroom. In this article, we will explore everything in great detail and inform you about everything you need to know about the Reishi mushroom and how to consume it.
The Fungi Kingdom VS. Humans
Interestingly, animals and fungi share the same common ancestor, dating back almost 1.1 billion years ago. Like humans, fungi reached a point where they actually separated from plants, which means that we have elements of our taxonomy that are similar.
In 1969, fungi were officially separated into their own group of the animal kingdom – the other four groups being Plantae, Animalia, Monera, and Protista.
Visually, fungi certainly look more like plants than like members of any other group of the animal kingdom. However, with the help of science and some fantastic microscope technology, scientists discovered that over a billion years ago, animals and fungi had a common ancestor.
This ancestor was a single-celled organism that exhibited characteristics like an animal. Interestingly, this created the main difference between plants and fungi – how they acquire their food.
Plants have chlorophyll, which they use to produce food through photosynthesis. Fungi are completely different because they use decaying material from nature as a source of food. Likewise, fungi do not have characteristics of plants such as leaves, roots, or seeds.
What Is A Reishi Mushroom?
The Reishi mushroom is also known as the Lingzhi or Ganoderma lingzhi mushroom. It has a reddish-brown colour in appearance and a kidney-shaped cap with the edges fanning out. This is a flat type of mushroom that is soft to the touch before it is cooked when it becomes stiff and smaller.
This mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 1000s of years and modern research has proven the health benefits that come with regularly consuming this mushroom.
The Reishi mushroom is considered very rare in the wild because it grows in the stumps of deciduous trees, especially at the bottom of maple trees. However, only approximately two out of 10,000 such trees will have the Reishi mushroom growing in the bottom.
Only a professional should ever search for this mushroom to harvest it because it has similar visual properties to other mushrooms that are actually poisonous. The Reishi mushroom should only be purchased from a trusted source.
The Main Benefits of the Reishi Mushroom
Scientific research regarding the Reishi mushroom has exploded over the past several decades. In particular, the research focuses on analyzing the hundreds of unique bio-active compounds that are found in this mushroom. Bio-active compounds, when ingested, perform actions that promote good health of the body.
Some of the most common benefits of the Reishi mushroom include:
- Ability to stimulate brain neurons
- Search and destroy cancer cells
- Prevents the development of new fat cells in obese individuals
- Therapeutic effect on asthma
- Improves allergies
- Helps with autoimmune diseases
- Slightly ease the problems of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Helps with diabetes
- Helps with liver disease
Because Reishi mushrooms have a complex composition of bioactive compounds, there is still a lot more research to be done regarding the health benefits of this mushroom.
Medical Components of Reishi Mushrooms
As far as we currently know, the Reishi mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for the better part of the last 2,000 years. Our ancestors used to refer to them as “the mushroom of immortality” because they knew that the Reishi mushroom helped to promote health and longevity, boosted the immune system, and reduced the risk of serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
For the most part of their history, Reishi mushrooms were considered to be extremely rare, which also made them very expensive. They were not available to people anywhere in the world, and the complex transportation of this mushroom greatly increased its price.
Today, new agriculture techniques have allowed the bigger production of the Reishi mushrooms and allowed them to be distributed to people all over the world.
However, the most important question is, how is this single mushroom able to help the human body in so many different ways?
The answer lies in the fact that there is no single cause of ageing and disease. These are complex systems that are triggered by numerous factors inside the human body, and thus we require several different sources of benefits from the Reishi mushroom in order to help us improve our overall health.
This is exactly why the Reishi mushroom is so effective because it contains hundreds of biologically active molecules, all of which work together to create the many health benefits that we enjoy from this mushroom today.
According to researchers, there are three specific compounds that are crucial for the Reishi mushroom’s health power:
- Polysaccharides – These are abundant carbohydrates that are found in most foods. They have an anticancer effect because they have the ability to prevent abnormal blood vessel formation and also boost the function of our immune system.
- Triterpenes – These are a class of chemical compounds that protect the liver, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent blood clots, fight allergic responses triggered by histamine, and also possess anticancer qualities.
- Ganoderma lucidum peptide – This is a special protein that has remarkably potent antioxidant characteristics that are still being researched to this day for their many health benefits on the human body.
These are only a few of the many beneficial components that are found in a Reishi mushroom, so it is easy to see why this mushroom has become such a popular addition to our meal plans or as a supplement.
The Reishi mushroom’s components produce many actions on the human body, each one capable of protecting our system and thus helping us to achieve longevity. Reishi mushroom extracts have been proven to:
- Protect cellular DNA from oxidant damage that causes ageing and cancer.
- Protect mitochondrial DNA and the mitochondria themselves from oxidant damage that weakens their energy-producing abilities.
- Increase levels and activity of a large suite of natural intracellular antioxidant molecules, which results in reduced oxidation of cell membranes and organelles that lead to ageing and its related diseases.
- Protect kidney tubule cells from oxidant damage that leads to kidney failure.
- Increase expression of a key longevity gene and promote an increased lifespan.
Reishi and Stress
Reishi mushrooms have also shown to have significant benefits when it comes to reducing stress levels and improving the quality of sleep.
For example, people who have trouble falling asleep, or who have trouble reaching the REM stage of sleep, will eat Reishi mushrooms or consume Reishi mushroom powder with a lot of water right before sleep.
It has been noted that doing this has greatly improved people’s quality of sleep and actually allowed them to reach the REM stage of sleep, which is so important for a proper rest of your entire body.
The Reishi mushroom is able to do this because it has the ability to drastically calm down the nervous system. Most people find themselves in a Sympathetic Nervous System overdrive because we lead very busy lives with a lot of stress surrounding us throughout the entire day.
When people finally decide to end their day, they find it difficult to finally wind down and bring their brain to a state of rest. This is mostly due to the many intrusive thoughts that we have so much trouble controlling.
This is where the Reishi mushroom comes in to help because it has the properties to stimulate your nervous system into a lower level of cognitive function without you having to force yourself to do it. As an additional benefit, you don’t have to rely on any other medication or its side effects to rest during the night.
Reishi Mushroom Hair and Beauty Effects
Because they are packed with antioxidants, Reishi mushrooms have the ability to protect our scalp from free radical damage and environmental toxins. Because the Reishi mushroom reduces free radical damage, it means that it helps to keep your scalp healthier and allows your hair follicles to grow stronger.
Additionally, and once again because they have such powerful antioxidants, Reishi mushrooms also have anti-inflammatory properties and encourage better blood circulation. This means that more oxygen and nutrients are able to make their way to your hair follicles and thus encourage growth. This also reduces the likelihood of scalp conditions such as dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis.
Research has shown that Reishi mushrooms act as inhibitors of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). In cases where hair follicles are sensitive to DHT, the DHT binds to receptors of hair follicles and causes them to shrink, which often leads to hair loss.
Therefore, incorporating Reishi mushrooms into your daily diet will have great benefits on your hair both short and long term.
How to Use Reishi Mushrooms
Most of the medicinal aspects of the Reishi mushroom are found on the outside layer of the mushroom. This is why it is essential to purchase these mushrooms from trusted sources, and in case of purchasing powder from these mushrooms, check the declaration to see how it was acquired.
The demand for the Reishi mushroom superfood has increased drastically over the years, and with it, so have the many different ways that you can consume this food.
The first way to consume these mushrooms is to purchase them raw in a healthy food shop or well-stocked supermarket. When you purchase them raw, you will notice that they are actually dehydrated.
In order to eat them, you will need to first rehydrate them in water for about an hour. Then, you can choose to lightly cook them in a soup or stew which will help to retain all of the healthy nutrients of these mushrooms.
A second way to consume these mushrooms is in powder form. You can buy raw Reishi mushroom powder and add it to your food either while you’re cooking or as a final flavouring at the end. Usually, a single tablespoon is enough per serving, although you should always check the instructions of each package.
Third, you can consume this mushroom as a supplement. Most people consider this to be the easiest way to eat the mushroom as it doesn’t require any cooking. Health manufacturers now offer Reishi mushrooms as a pill supplement, or as a powder for smoothies that have been enriched with protein and other nutrients.
# Lifehack. Always check where the supplement originates from.
Finally, and the way we consume it, is in liquid form, from mushrooms grown in organic forests in Finland. In fact, when we researched potential suppliers, we realised that most supplements on the market are extracted using an inferior process, grown wrong and definitely not organic and the only real benefit you would be expected to get is a placebo effect, which as we all know is probably contributing 42% to the overall benefit of supplements taken.