Finally, it seems that society has settled into our “new normal”. The kids are back in school, social activities are in full swing, and going out to eat no longer feels quite so taboo.
With the days of isolation, constant masking, and heavy sanitization in public spaces (mostly) behind us, our new normal will return to us an old standard: cold and flu season.
While the medical consensus is that our period of isolation should not have greatly weakened our immune systems, we are regularly exposed to new germs and everyday pathogens when we are out in public and sanitation practices become a little more lax. These are likely to cause colds and sickness, and our body’s reaction to these exposures worsens when our immune systems are not well-supported.
Nothing can hurt your stride quite like a bad cold, keeping you from doing the things you love and staying on top of your game (whether your ‘game’ is your career, parenting, schoolwork, or being a social butterfly).
We may not be able to avoid germs altogether, especially now, but we can support our immune system and give it the nutrition it needs to function at its best.
For those looking to give their immune systems a little extra fighting power, one mushroom in particular stands out for its natural ability to bolster immunity: reishi fruiting body.
What are Reishi Mushrooms?
Reishi mushrooms are commonly grown and cultivated in China. These mushrooms are known for their bitter taste and tough, wood-like texture, and they commonly grow on hardwood trees, stumps, and fallen logs.
The “fruiting body” of a reishi mushroom is what many consider to be the actual, visible portion of the mushroom. The other portion of the mushroom is known as the mycelium, which can be compared to the root system of other plants.
Reishi is widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine because they are a powerful adaptogenic and medicinal herb. These mushrooms contain over 200 active ingredients, and are rich in beneficial minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, as well as proteins, fibers, and active compounds that give reishi some of its extraordinary benefits.
As such, reishi is commonly ingested as an extract, powder, or tea by those looking to benefit from its medicinal properties.
Reishi Mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Reishi mushrooms are recognized in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their capacity to nourish Heart Qi, to support sleep, and to strengthen Lung Qi. As a result, the reishi fruiting body is used to aid the respiratory system and support overall longevity.
Reishi has been among the top medicinal herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years. In China, Reishi mushrooms are also known as lingzhi, and symbolizes spirituality, longevity, and well-being.
Reishi is also often called the “three-treasure” herb in traditional Chinese medicine, and is believed to harmonize jing (life force), qi (energy) and shen (spirit).
The Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
The benefits of reishi mushrooms have been widely researched, many of which are thanks to its rich polysaccharide content and active triterpene compounds.
A few of the core benefits of reishi mushrooms include improved sleep, immunity support, and reduced anxiety and depression. Below are just a few of the ways that reishi can help improve overall health:
Reishi is high in antioxidant activity, and can help the body to fight off free radicals, ultimately preventing cellular damage.
Reishi supports kidney health. The antioxidant activity of reishi mushrooms is additionally beneficial for cleansing and supporting kidney health; research has shown that reishi mushrooms could potentially help to reverse and repair kidney damage and reduce overall kidney inflammation.
Reishi mushrooms are excellent for promoting a healthy sleep cycle. Reishi mushrooms contain naturally occurring compounds that help our bodies to better manage stress and support overall feelings of balance and calm. Studies of reishi have shown that this fungi can help people to sleep longer, increase non-REM sleep, and decrease the overall time it takes to fall asleep.
Reishi may help to control blood sugar. Several animal studies have shown that compounds present in reishi mushrooms are able to help decrease blood sugar, and there is preliminary human research to support these claims. However, more human research is needed surrounding the use of reishi to reliably control blood sugar content in the body.
Reishi may be helpful in regulating blood pressure. Reishi mushrooms contain Triterpenes, which have been shown to help reduce high blood pressure.
Reishi supports longevity. Known as the long life herb, Reishi mushrooms are believed to combat aging and promote a longer life. In fact, studies of Reishi mushrooms in mice have shown that reishi may help to increase lifespan by 9%-20%.
Reishi has neuroprotective benefits. Reishi mushrooms are able to promote Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which supports the development of healthy neurons in the brain. Additionally, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of reishi mushrooms may also help to protect the brain against degenerative diseases.
- Reishi is an adaptogenic mushroom. Adaptogens are effective at helping to regulate the body’s response to stress and are known to help boost the immune system.
Beyond these benefits, Reishi Mushrooms are well-known for their immune-boosting benefits, which make it a must-have herb to support a healthy response to immune triggers.
Immune System Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
While used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support immune health for thousands of years, there is a growing body of modern research that sheds light on exactly how reishi mushrooms help to support immune system health.
Reishi Mushrooms and White Blood Cells
First, reishi mushrooms are able to help increase the count of white blood cells in our bloodstream. Studies have shown that reishi mushroom supplements significantly increased leukocytes (white blood cells) in mice and improved several markers of immune function.
White blood cells are a critical component of our immune system: they help the body to fight infection and disease by identifying unknown organisms and attacking them with antibodies, a protein that binds to unwanted threats (like pathogens and toxins) and eliminates them from the body.
Research has also shown that reishi is especially effective in stimulating the production of immunoglobulin, a type of antibody that helps to identify and neutralize bacteria and viruses.
According to one article published in Dynamic Chiropractic, the combination of astragalus root and reishi mushroom is an effective means of daily immune support for multiple states of immunocompromise, such as chronic fatigue, the common cold, or as additional support for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Reishi Effects on Viral and Bacterial infections
Several bodies of research additionally support the use of reishi to help the body fight viral and bacterial infections. Animal and in-vitro studies of reishi have shown that it may have a growth-inhibitory effect on certain bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella typhi.
While more human studies are needed, preliminary research of reishi mushrooms in animals and humans indicate that reishi is effective in multiple applications for immune system support.
A better, stronger immune system means less down-time dealing with colds and fatigue and more energy to focus on the things in life that really matter.
Ways to Take Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi is available commercially in multiple forms, such as powders, capsules, teas, tinctures, and various dietary supplements. Reishi supplements may be produced from varied parts of the mushroom, such as the spores or fruiting body.
Because of its incredible benefits, we use reishi in many of our herbal supplement superblends, including our Sharp Focus, Mind Unwind, and Breathing Room supplements. We find that taking reishi mushrooms in our easy-to-consume capsules is a no-fuss way to get the powerful benefits of reishi without needing to brew special teas or consume unappetizing tinctures.
Combat Cold and Flu Season with Natural Herbal Medicine
Instead of focusing on the individual benefits of our medicinal herbs, we find that combining our powerful ingredients into herbal superblends delivers the most effective support for a variety of different health goals.
To help support your immune health, we’ve combined reishi with other powerful herbal medicines like astragalus root and Asian ginseng root to produce a formula that enhances your immune and respiratory systems, improves lung health, supports energy levels, and helps to prevent common colds.
Our Breathing Room blend provides effective immune-system support whether traveling around the world, fighting allergy season, or protecting against cold and flu season.
To keep resilient against everyday bacterias, our immune-boosting herbal supplements are a time-tested and scientifically proven way to give your body the support it needs to stay in balance and keep well.