Reishi mushroom, also known as Lingzhi in China, is a medicinal mushroom renowned for promoting health and longevity in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Besides its health properties in TCM, these fungi also have spiritual properties and symbolises success, divine power, and well-being.
Appearance-wise, Reishi is a dark-coloured mushroom that looks glossy from afar but has a woody texture up close. These mushrooms mainly grow in the shape of kidneys on dead or living trees.
Although there are about 2000 classes of Reishi, only 6 (red, black, blue, white, yellow, and purple) are being studied for potential medicinal properties. Out of the 6 types, red and black are the most promising for health benefits.
Here is a list of Reishi mushroom benefits:
1. Can Support Your Sleep Quality
Sleep is one of the most important activities we do in a day (or night in this case). This restful state helps maintain your brain and body’s health in ways that are only possible when you're asleep. It’s no wonder we sleep a third of our entire lives.
Despite how important it is, sleep disruptions are so common that 15-30% of adults suffer from them. Sleep disruptions include:
- Going to sleep
- Staying asleep
- Not enough sleep
- Poor sleep quality
Untreated sleep disruptions can lead to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and even death.
How can these sleep disruptions be treated then?
In TCM, Reishi mushroom was known for its tranquilising effect. Due to this characteristic, these fungi were a common natural remedy for issues such as restlessness, insomnia, and heart palpitations.
A 2021 study tested the acidic part of the alcohol extract of Reishi. Specifically, researchers tested the effect of the Reishi extract on mice sleeping patterns.
The results concluded that the extract shortened sleep latency and prolonged sleeping time. To put it another way, the fungi made it easier to fall and stay asleep. Researchers found that this improvement was related to an increase in serotonin levels and gut microbiota.
2. May Help with Cognitive Impairment
Our cognitive functions allow us to survive and thrive in our day-to-day lives. These functions include many mental abilities, such as learning, remembering, and thinking.
So how do we lose these abilities? Although everyone’s cognitive functions decline with age, some people are prone to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. These diseases cause a rapid decline in cognitive functions.
There is no cure for neurodegenerative diseases presently, but there are treatments to slow the mental decline. Besides modern pharmaceuticals, researchers are also looking into natural remedies such as medicinal mushrooms like Reishi.
For example, a 2017 study examined how Reishi polysaccharides affect neuron generation (neurogenesis) in lab mice. The results showed that oral administration of the polysaccharides and water extract increased the number of neural progenitor cells. In turn, this enhanced neurogenesis and reduced cognitive deficits in mice with Alzheimer's Disease.
Another study published in 2019 studied how Reishi could affect memory and learning. In this study, lab mice were given two different doses of Reishi ethanol extract (150 and 300 mg/kg). The control group received either physostigmine (0.1 mg/kg) or scopolamine (0.4 mg/kg). Scopolamine was administered because it causes memory impairment in animals.
After administering the doses, mice were tested in an elevated plus maze and a Morris water maze. The results show that the ethanol extract of Reishi reverses the impaired memory caused by scopolamine. The researchers concluded that Reishi might improve memory when it comes to learning tasks and can be used to enhance cognition patterns.
As you can see, Reishi could be used to support other treatments for neurodegenerative diseases as well as potentially improve less severe memory and learning impairments.
3. Can Improve Skin Health
Our skin is the largest organ in (or outside in this case) our entire body. This fact makes sense when you realise the skin covers every inch of your body to protect your insides. Despite its importance, the skin can be quite fragile.
Examples of how skin damage can occur are from wounds, burns, and sun exposure. As well, situations like being in the sun too much can cause skin cancer.
Reishi mushrooms may be able to help when it comes to skin care.
A 2019 review rounded up the current research on Reishi mushrooms and skin care. Specifically, the review focused on how these fungi’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can improve skin quality and treat skin diseases.
The gathered research showed that Reishi can promote the healing of skin wounds and lessen the severity of postburn infection. For skin care, these fungi can treat skin aging caused by ultraviolet (UV) light and lighten skin.
A more recent study in 2022 conducted research into how Reishi can help combat skin cancer caused by UV light. This study concluded that these fungi might prevent skin cancer through lessening immunosuppression caused by UV light. In other words, taking dietary supplements of Reishi could help prevent UV-induced skin tumour development.
Although research on skin care using Reishi is in its early stages, these fungi could be the key to healthier skin.
4. May Support Traditional Cancer Treatments
Cancer is a devastating disease that is all too common. Nowadays, there are quite a few cancer treatments, but the most common are chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Even though Reishi isn’t a viable option right now for the primary treatment method, these fungi could be a potential alternative medicine.
For example, a 2016 study reviewed previous studies of Reishi mushroom’s effect on cancer. This review concluded that people who took Reishi extract were 1.27 times more likely to respond to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. However, Reishi doses showed no effect on tumours when used alone.
Reishi extract also improved the patient’s quality of life after treatment compared to those who did not take any. As well, these mushrooms are better tolerated by patients because it is a natural remedy.
Ultimately, this review study shows that Reishi has potential as an alternative medicine alongside regular cancer treatments.
Our Reishi Products
Sleep & Rest
Sleep in Canada and Rest in the US are our mushroom tinctures that are a perfect blend of Reishi, chamomile, and melatonin. With these ingredients, Sleep/Rest will allow your body and mind to relax and shed your stress and worries away.
Like our other mushroom tinctures, add 3.5 ml to your favourite drink once a day right before bedtime. Ensure that you shake well before drinking and take it with food to prevent an upset stomach.
Sleep/Rest’s ingredients include Reishi, chamomile, and melatonin.
Think is our mushroom powder that combines Reishi and other medicinal ingredients into the perfect product to unlock your cognitive potential.
All you have to do to get the effects is add a scoop of powder to either a drink or food.
Think’s full ingredient list includes Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, Chaga, Yerba Mate, Rhodiola, and Choline.
Defend is our mushroom capsules that utilise 10 different adaptogenic medicinal mushrooms to help your immunity. Each ingredient is chosen for supporting a specific part of your immune system.
Take 2 capsules of Defend once a day and your immune system will thank you.
The ten special mushrooms included in Defend are Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Maitake, Turkey Tail, Chaga, Royal Sun Agaricus, White Button, Black Fungus.
You can clearly see from this article that there are many Reishi mushroom benefits. If you want to improve your life (or at least your sleep) with these fungi, check out Sleep today!