Discover how the health benefits of reishi mushroom can be a game changer…
If you want to reign supreme in a poker match, you want the golden chalice of hands- a royal flush. When stress management is a challenge for you in your proverbial game of life, reishi is the “card” that can turn the game in your favor: it is the “queen” of medicinal mushrooms.
The Worst Phone Call…
Four weeks ago I received a phone call that brought the pit of my stomach into my throat and made my heart stop. Tears instantly welled in my eyes as I tried to process.
My partner’s voice came through the speakers of the car:
“Hey. Ummm… my mum just called. She said my brother is at the hospital.”
“Uh oh, is everything okay?” I asked, concerned.
“Well, not really.” he said.
He proceeded to tell me that on his way to school, our newly-licensed teenage nephew lost control of his car on black ice. The car spun out of control. It slammed into a tree.
We didn’t know much about the accident at that time. Only that minutes ago our nephew arrived in emergency. He was in a coma with several serious injuries that threatened his life.
That call made me realize how high the stakes really are. My stress is in no way comparable to what my nephew will feel as he recovers or what his parents are going through. Still, I can feel it and it is ever-present at varying levels. You just can’t out pray, meditate or yoga-away something like this.
I had to play the hand I had been dealt better. It was important that I find a way to feel as good as humanly possible because this is the kind of heaviness that can really be hard to cope with.
Let Reishi Reign During Times of Stress and Pain
Part of my strategy has involved incorporating the queen of medicinal mushrooms into my nutrition: reishi mushroom.
For over 2,000 years reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has been used medicinally. Of all the medicinal mushrooms it is the most widely used and extensively studied. In ancient times it was so highly valued that only royalty and the wealthiest members of society were able to use it.
Fortunately for me, times have changed. The health benefits of reishi mushroom are easily attainable! Using reishi extract and reishi spore oil has brought me noticeable calm and has enabled me to focus, even when my mind wanders. When I feel worry kicking in and I start getting stuck in my head, I take some more and it helps ground me, bringing me back into the present moment.
Reishi is a potent tonic herb. It is the ultimate natural remedy for stress and anxiety and can make it easier for our minds and bodies to achieve relaxed calm and focus. It does this without causing drowsiness and puts you in a zen-like state. Reishi has a remarkable ability to remove mental blockages and help get you back into the flow of things.
The Top 10 Health Benefits of Reishi for Lowering Stress
10. Reishi Helps You Live Longer
In our society, stress is often rewarded…
Hustle. Grind. Repeat.
It is prized to be able to power through life and chase accomplishment after accomplishment. What is less observed is that the go-getters and the goal-diggers are often carrying a lot of stress as they try to balance their responsibilities and hit their next targets. Stress is one of the biggest underlying causes for disease in our society, chipping away at our lifespans.
Reishi has been known for thousands of years as a longevity herb. It’s more than just lore. In 2009 a non-human lab study in “Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry” concluded that polysaccharides (one of the main components of reishi mushrooms) had a positive effect on how long we live by boosting the immune system and preventing abnormal blood vessel formations that can lead to cancer.
In most animal experiments, reishi prolongs the lifespan of animals from 9-20% (1,2,3). While we can’t extrapolate those results directly to humans, sit on that for a while. What would even an extra 5% increase in lifespan mean for you?
When the physical symptoms of stress are reduced, our potential to live a longer, healthier and happier life is increased.
9. Helps Fight Seasonal Allergies
Allergy sufferers often rely on antihistamines for relief for months at a time. Some people take them daily because of exposure to pets, allergens, dusts and molds they encounter outdoors or in their homes.
Allergies are a source of stress on the body but also on the mind. Most importantly, they can be a limiting factor for activity choices and interfere with enjoying day-to-day experiences.
Recent studies reveal reishi mushroom may have a natural antihistamine effect. It may also increase the body’s available oxygen, which reduces inflammation and can help calm allergic reactions.
In as little as a few weeks of taking reishi mushroom, people who normally suffer outdoors can often be tumbling in the grass, raking leaves and enjoying being outside again.
8. Supports the Removal of Toxins from the Body
In the modern world we live in we are faced with a chemical cocktail of toxins in the environment and in our food. The liver is command-central for detoxification and when it is functioning optimally, all of your other internal organs work better.
It’s kind of like this…
When I was a kid, my mom was the cornerstone to our family’s efficiency and organization She was the glue that kept us together. One time she got really sick with a stomach bug and was totally down for the count so Dad ensured our “survival” on boxed mac and cheese, hot dogs, and McDonald’s.
Guess who was sick a couple days later? The rest of us.
When Mom got sick our family’s “systems” went kaput and it wasn’t long before the rest of us weren’t thriving! The same is true with the liver. As toxins build up in the body, other systems and organs struggle and strain to work properly and their health can become compromised.
To improve the liver’s natural ability to remove toxins more effectively, consider trying reishi. Triterpenes, one of the main components of reishi mushroom, promote regeneration of liver cells, benefiting all the systems in the body.
7. May Lower Blood Pressure
Reishi could be so effective at lowering blood pressure levels that if you are taking blood pressure medications, it could lower your numbers too much. There are many factors that can cause high blood pressure, most commonly genetic, lifestyle-related, and stress-induced.
When we are under stress our bodies release a surge of hormones. These hormones cause the heart to beat faster and our blood vessels to tighten. This is the simplest way to explain how blood pressure increases.
It is important to understand that the relationship between stress and high blood pressure is not a simple cause-and-effect relationship as people who have chronic anxiety are just as likely to develop high blood pressure as those who do not. Reishi mushroom can help in both situations by bringing hormonal responses into homeostasis.
Always talk to your health care provider before making changes to your wellness routine, especially if you have a diagnosed condition or are taking medications.
6. Protects the Heart
Triterpenes and beta glucans are two of the main compounds in reishi mushroom and both may be able to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. When the arteries are flexible and clear, stress on the heart is reduced.
In addition to lowering cholesterol, triterpenes increase circulation and lower overall inflammation.
5. Balances Stress Hormones
During times of stress or after high adrenaline events (like public speaking or athletic competitions), our ability to use happy and feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine is greatly reduced. This can lead to us feeling emotionally fatigued, anxious and depressed.
Our bodies adjust output levels of cortisol, “the stress hormone” regulated by the adrenal glands, adrenaline, and other hormones during stress. These chemical reactions in the body are necessary and helpful for helping us to get back to feeling good again. Unfortunately, if we are in constant states of stress over extended periods of time, our body literally burns out. Reishi mushroom fights against stress by supporting the functions of the adrenal glands.
4. Supports Natural Sleep Cycles without Making You Drowsy
Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens. They can help the body adapt to protect itself during times of stress. When we are busy or stressed, we often think we can sacrifice sleep, but this always catches up with us. In the worst case scenario, we can become quite sick from a lack of adequate sleep. However, other signs of sleep deprivation are challenging to cope with too:
- memory loss
- brain fog
- trouble losing weight (slow metabolism)
- increased stress
- declining mood
Reishi promotes healthy sleep cycles naturally by calming the nerves without acting as a sedative. It also promotes restful sleep when it is time to go to bed.
3. Improves Mental Focus
Because of the grounding capacity of reishi mushroom it has the capacity to help increase focus. Sometimes it is hard to settle into a task. Have you ever really needed to get something finished but instead of focusing on that one high priority task, you work on literally everything else? Why do we do this even when we know what our priorities are?
Focus is a real challenge. There are a lot of distractions (both good and bad) competing for our attention. This dynamic can cause feelings of anxiety. Reishi calms a busy mind effectively so you can hunker down and tackle your to-do list.
2. Enhances Mood
We spend a lot of time fending off bad moods. There are a lot of things getting people down from just plain old bad days to physical and mental ailments, even changes in seasons.
There is no one cure-all happy pill but reishi can go a long way toward improving mood. Interestingly, a small but recent human study conducted in China on patients suffering from neurasthenia revealed some amazing findings.
Neurasthenia is a condition that is associated with “weak nerves,” often causing fatigue, emotional stress, irritability and headaches. After eight weeks of taking reishi mushroom extracts, the patients noticed they were experiencing less
Not only did it appear to help with pain, the results of the study suggest reishi mushroom is a mood booster!
1. Supports Brain Health
Protecting our brains is a top priority. Let’s face it: our happiness, well-being and overall health is inseparable from what is going on in that space between our ears.
As early as in our thirties, people experience some signs of age-related brain dysfunction, most noticeably, memory loss. It’s not just a stereotype: with each decade we live almost everyone will observe a decline in ability to remember things.
There are a lot of things we can do to help maintain and even improve our cognitive function as we get older. Some of those things can be really fun like taking classes, reading, puzzles and games. Others are underrated and well-deserved like sleep.
What most people don’t realize is what we eat can serve an important function in supporting brain health.
In 2012, the journal “Neuropharmacology” published a study on rodents that demonstrated reishi mushroom’s ability to protect the brain. What got scientists excited about the results of this study was that reishi mushroom can stimulate the production of nerve growth factor, which repairs and regenerates brain cells!
From typical day to day experiences like remembering numbers or recalling information being tested on an exam to struggles with dementia, it appears the benefits of reishi mushroom are massive for the brain.
It is no wonder reishi is revered as the queen of medicinal mushrooms.
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- Wu Z, Zhang Y, Tan N, Zhao C, Yang J, Zhu J-S. ReishiMax extends the life span of mice: A preliminary report. The FASEB Journal. 2011 April;25(601.2).
- Available at: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/births_deaths_marriages_divorces/life_expectancy.html. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Available at: http://web.jhu.edu/animalcare/procedures/mouse.html#biology. Accessed November 2, 2012.