You could say reishi is another magic mushroom - magical in its health giving properties, that is. People have been using reishi mushrooms to fend off the effects of aging for thousands of years.
Their botanical name is ganoderma lucidum but they’re called lingzhi in China where they’re revered as the mushroom of immortality. Reishi is one of the oldest symbols of well-being and longevity in Chinese culture and we’re quickly catching on in the West.
Reishi grow on plum trees in the wild and were originally the sole preserve of royalty. There are many varieties, the most common having a soft, cork-like texture and an ear-shaped cap coloured from red-orange to black. The taste is bitter and woody so traditionally it’s prepared as a tea or extract.
It’s now cultivated commercially throughout the world and is available in a variety of formats from teas and tinctures to capsules and can even be found in superfood protein powder blends.
It took until the second half of the 20th century for researchers to start studying the medicinal properties of the reishi mushroom. They’ve found that they do indeed promote longevity by boosting immune system function and preventing abnormal blood vessel formations that could lead to life-threatening cancerous growths. Research also indicates that triterpene in reishi can also help eliminate cancer cells within the body. The same triterpenes have been shown to reverse chemically-induced liver damage in mice.
More good news in these days of an increase in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s is that one study has shown that reishi mushroom extract supports the production of nerve growth factor, a protein that is vital for healthy neurological function.
Meanwhile, for many years now, herbalists have held that red reishi mushrooms can cure many of the issues we associate with aging, such as high blood pressure, arthritis, and liver problems.
They’ve also prescribed reishi for other health issues – to boost the immune system, treat viral infections like flu and lung conditions including asthma and bronchitis as well as to help combat heart disease along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
It’s no wonder reishi is looked on as something of a panacea!