reishi mushrooms

Unlock the Mystery: Reishi Mushrooms for Wellness

by | Mar 21, 2024

reishi mushrooms

Written by Amy Donohue

Amy Donohue, a former high school Spanish teacher turned stand-up comedian and radio DJ, transitioned into the cannabis industry after realizing the value of social media for building relationships. Leveraging her expertise in social media, she co-founded Hybrid Social, Arizona's first all-cannabis marketing and social media agency. She is a prominent figure in the Phoenix chapter of Women Grow, consulted on the Prop 205 campaign, and co-founded Cannafriends, a cannabis networking group in Arizona. She has been featured in various cannabis publications and contributed to Dope Magazine in 2016.

Cannabis Tech is going fungal! Welcome our newest contributor, Amy Donohue. She’ll share her expertise and experience with functional mushrooms, mycology, and more—the “other” natural health and wellness alternative.


Nestled within the serene forests of Asia lies a treasure revered for centuries—reishi mushrooms. Also known as Lingzhi in China and Ganoderma lucidum scientifically, these remarkable fungi have captivated civilizations with their purported health benefits and mystical aura.

With a growing body of scientific research and a history deeply rooted in traditional medicine, Reishi mushrooms continue to fascinate and intrigue both plant medicine enthusiasts and modern scientists alike.

reishi mushrooms
Photo Credit: Amy Donohue

The History of Reishi Mushrooms

The story of reishi mushrooms begins in ancient China, where they were revered as the “mushroom of immortality” and reserved exclusively for emperors and royalty due to their scarcity.

 Historical records dating back over 2,000 years describe reishi as a symbol of longevity, vitality, and spiritual potency. Embraced by traditional Chinese medicine, reishi was believed to balance the body’s energies, strengthen the immune system, and promote overall well-being.

Active Compounds in Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms belong to the fungal kingdom. Some bioactive compounds in reishi include antioxidants, triterpenoids, and polysaccharides. These compounds are thought to establish the mushroom’s numerous health benefits.

Triterpenoids are credited with possessing anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-boosting properties, while polysaccharides are believed to support immune function and regulate blood sugar levels.

reishi mushrooms
Photo credit: Amy Donohue

Health Benefits

In recent years, research into the health benefits of reishi mushrooms has gained momentum, shedding light on their potential therapeutic applications. While more studies are needed to validate many of these claims, preliminary evidence suggests that reishi mushrooms may offer the following benefits:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Compounds found in reishi mushrooms have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity in various studies, potentially offering relief for conditions characterized by chronic inflammation.
  • Antioxidant Activity: Rich in antioxidants, Reishi mushrooms can help combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Immune Support: Reishi mushrooms are renowned for their immune-modulating effects, which may help the body defend against infections and diseases.
  • Stress Reduction: Some research suggests that reishi mushrooms may possess adaptogenic properties, helping the body adapt to stress and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Certain compounds in reishi mushrooms may support heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and improving circulation.
  • Liver Support: Studies indicate that reishi mushrooms may have hepatoprotective properties, supporting liver function and aiding in detoxification.

Disclaimer: Included studies provide scientific evidence supporting the various health benefits attributed to reishi mushrooms, but it’s always important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplementation regimen.

How to Incorporate Reishi Mushrooms into Your Health and Wellness Routine

While reishi mushrooms are not typically consumed in their raw form due to their tough, woody texture and bitter taste (when raw), they are available in various other preparations, including:

  • Supplements: Reishi mushroom supplements, available in capsules, powders, and extracts, offer a convenient way to reap the potential health benefits of this mushroom.
  • Tinctures: Reishi mushroom tinctures, made by extracting the active compounds using alcohol or glycerin, offer a concentrated form of the mushroom for easy dosing.
  • Teas and Tonics: Reishi mushroom teas and tonics provide a soothing and flavorful way to incorporate this medicinal mushroom into your daily routine.
  • Culinary Uses: Dried Reishi mushrooms can be used to make broths, soups, and infusions, adding a rich umami flavor and a nutritional boost to your dishes.
reishi mushrooms

Precautions

While reishi mushrooms are generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts, certain individuals should exercise caution or avoid them altogether. As nothing is safe for everyone, here are some things to look out for:

  • Medication Interactions: Reishi may interact with certain medications, particularly blood thinners, and drugs that suppress the immune system. Consult with your doctor before adding Reishi supplements to your regimen.
  • Allergies: Individuals with mushroom allergies should avoid Reishi mushrooms to prevent adverse reactions.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Limited information is available regarding the safety of reishi mushrooms during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid them during these times or talk to your doctor.

Final Thoughts

Reishi mushrooms stand as a testament to nature’s remarkable ability to provide both healing and sustenance. While their mystical allure may have initially drawn the attention of ancient civilizations, modern science continues to unveil their potential therapeutic properties. Whether enjoyed as a flavorful addition to culinary creations, as a soothing tea, or as a dietary supplement, reishi mushrooms offer a tantalizing glimpse into the profound wisdom of the natural world.