Reishi mushrooms are some of the most popular fungi of the functional mushrooms. From traditional Chinese medicine to modern day practices, these mushrooms have been used in a number of ways for thousands of years and continue to be adorned in the present day.
Identifying the reishi mushroom is quite easy in North America, as there aren’t any poisonous look-alikes for you to get mixed up with. Reishi are fan-shaped and are usually an orangish-red color with a glazed and glossy finish over the tops. These mushrooms are in the polypore group, which means they don’t have any gills, but instead have a smooth white underside.
Reishi uses are abundant, from stress relief, reduced depression to anticancer properties. In this article you will learn everything there is to know about reishi and see how you can introduce this interesting mushroom into your everyday life.
Reishi has been a mushroom that has been loved by many for thousands of years, beginning in Chinese traditional medicine in the Han Dynasty. Reishi’s Chinese name, Ling Zhi, means “herb of spiritual potency” and “divine fungus”. It has even been called the “Elixir of Life”, the “Mushroom of Immortality,” and “the bridge between heaven and earth”.
The reishi mushroom was first discovered over 2,000 years ago at the base of the Changbai Mountains, where there are many hardwood deciduous trees. You can find reishi mentioned in many ancient texts where healers would hint at secret locations where one could find this special crop.
This fungi’s reputation for anti-aging properties, good fortune, wellness and healing in Chinese culture has continued on in modern society.
How and Where Do They Grow Today?
Reishi mushrooms are extremely rare to find growing wild in nature. They are often found on the bases of deciduous hardwood trees in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate climates in Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States. Reishis can reach up to 8 inches in diameter.
Because reishi is so rare in the wild, at one point these mushrooms were saved only for royalty. Today, mycologists have been able to cultivate reishi mushrooms on nutritious and widely available substrates, such as oats.
Reishi can also grow on trees, like Sugar Maple, Sweet Gum, Red Maple, Silver Maple, or Oak.
What Do They Taste Like?
Reishi mushrooms are not necessarily prized for their delicious flavor. The mushrooms themselves are very woody and tough. Even if you diced these mushrooms up and sauteed them for a very long period of time, you will likely still feel as if you’re chewing on a very bitter wine cork!
That's why many people decide to use the mushroom to make reishi tea or to simply dry them, put them into capsules, and take them as a supplement to avoid its harsh taste altogether.
Making reishi tea is a widely popular practice and can be done with either fresh or dried mushrooms. If you’re using fresh reishi, you will want to slice them very thinly and boil them down for at least a half of an hour. If you’re using dried reishi, it should also be thinly sliced and then boiled for at least 1-2 hours. The results? A very bitter tea. So, as mentioned, this method isn’t really to enjoy the taste, but to absorb as much of the nutrients as possible.
As mentioned, reishi really doesn't taste super appetizing, which is why taking it in the form of a supplement can be a great way to absorb its nutrients without cooking it into a meal.
This is probably the most common way to inject reishi and it entails crushing dried reishi into capsules and washing them down with water. Dried reishi can be bought at a local health store or bought in premade capsules, which eliminates the time consuming process of making tea and struggling through the bitter taste of these special fungi.
The nutritional benefits of reishi are outstanding and widely studied.
As for many functional mushrooms, reishi are cherished for their immune boosting qualities due to their effect on the body’s white blood cells. This is especially true for people who are already experiencing illness or infection.
Many people turn to reishi mushrooms for their anti-cancer properties. Outstandingly, a study done on over 4,000 breast cancer survivors showed that about 59% of surviving patients included in the study were consuming reishi mushrooms during their recovery. Reishi has been linked to decreasing the size and the number of tumors in the body while increasing the body’s white blood cells.
Although reishi’s immune boosting properties are some of the most popular health benefits, there is also good evidence that it can help with mental struggles, such as stress, fatigue and depression. People who take reishi regularly have reported experiencing less anxiety and depression overtime.
What's more, reishi has also been used in the treatment of diabetes and insulin resistance.
Like most mushrooms, studies that have been conducted are scattered and the results are usually not completely conclusive, however there is a ton of great evidence that reishi can be extremely beneficial to many.
Explore the Ways Mushrooms Can Benefit You!
Reishi capsules are widely popular in modern society. Alchemi Mushrooms is an organic supplement company that aims to help people reap the benefits of functional mushrooms day to day.
Our Immune Shield mushroom blend combines three of the most powerful immune supporting and anti-aging mushrooms: reishi, chaga and turkey tail, as well as vitamin D to keep you protected and rejuvenated. This blend also aids in supporting detox, gut health, and hair, skin and nails.