Wellness Profile: Reishi Mushroom

Photo by James Mahan/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by James Mahan/iStock / Getty Images

This beautiful specimen is the reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), also referred to as the mushroom of immortality. To say I’m slightly obsessed with this mushroom would be an understatement. It’s not only beautiful but incredible medicinal. Just a few of it’s benefits include boosting energy, reducing inflammation, slowing the aging process and prevention of cancer. It can be taken as a tea or tincture, although it is a very bitter tonic so I prefer to take it as a tincture. It’s easier to get down in my opinion. There are many supplements out there as well that are excellent. I’d recommend any product from the American mushroom guru Paul Stamets.

The reason that reishi is such a powerhouse of wellness is because of several organic compounds including triterpenes (prevents tumor growth), sterols (reduce cholesterol) and several polysaccharides. They also have antioxidant compounds which help boost the immune system. Reishi studies have shown that it can assist with asthma by reducing inflammation, cognitive health by boosting blood flow to the brain, lowered blood pressure and assisting with liver detoxification. As with any medicine, side effects can occur with prolonged use including dizziness, headaches and dry mouth. This article goes more in depth about the positive effects of reishi and I highly recommend you check it out! It has links to studies that prove these health benefits.

Here in Vermont, we are lucky to be able to harvest reishi from our hemlock as well as certain deciduous trees, including maple. However, with climate change encroaching we may find less and less of these trees are able to survive a warmer climate, reducing the habitat of this medicinal mushroom. Many people may not enjoy the cold weather in our northern lands but it is essential to so much of our vital plant medicines. I often wonder, will I still be able to walk in to the woods in 30 years and find the medicine I need?