Reishi mushrooms; what makes them so special out of thousands of mushrooms out there? Well, beyond its place at the dinner table, reishi mushrooms have been used as a health remedy for centuries spanning immunity, mood, and even heart health. So let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits of these mushrooms and see if they’re right for you.
The Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms contain several compounds that may provide immune-supporting benefits including antioxidants, beta-glucans (a polymer of β-D-glucose), and triterpenes. In this 2021 review, beta-glucans were cited as having an immunomodulatory effect against COVID-19.
Furthermore, test-tube studies show that reishi may promote white blood cell production, the primary cells of the immune system.
Could Reduce Fatigue
It’s difficult to measure fatigue since there aren’t specific biomarkers, but study participants often report decreased levels after trying reishi. The exact cause of chronic fatigue isn't well understood. But experts theorize that there are several sources such as infections, immune problems, stress or hormonal imbalances.
Reishi’s fatigue-fighting benefits may come down to the previously mentioned immune boosting and antioxidant activities that suppress free radical/oxidative damage. Reishi mushrooms may also help to support healthy testosterone levels which further contribute to healthy energy levels.
Might Reduce Blood Pressure
In animal studies, reishi has been shown to reduce blood pressure at similar levels to certain medications. Interestingly, reishi may be unique in that it stimulates blood flow in the brain to the extent that it may provide some nootropic (brain-boosting) properties.
For this reason, it’s important to consult your physician if you want to take Reishi especially if you’re on blood-thinning or hypertension medications.
Could Help with Brain Aging
Reishi mushrooms have been studied for Alzheimer’s disease and throughout those studies, the triperpenoids in Reishi were found to inhibit the degradation of neurotransmitters.
In everyday terms, Reishi may provide a path to healthy brain aging and prevent aspects of neurodegenerative problems.
May Provide Calming Properties
Reishi mushrooms might also help provide a bit of calm as one animal study demonstrated that polysaccharides from Reishi conferred anti-depressant and anti-anxiety benefits in rats.
But in a different limited study results were more mixed.
Sugar and its effects on health are widely discussed right now and reishi has been looked at in this context but as with other areas, data is limited by a lack of human trials. In mice, Reishi indicated hypoglycemic activity by increasing plasma insulin levels and decreasing plasma sugar levels.
Many conditions of aging come down to oxidative damage and the way it wears the body down. As you may have heard Antioxidants are the main (natural) way to offset this damage and multiple tests have shown that extracts from Reishi’s fruiting bodies provide powerful antioxidant benefits.
Medline Plus advises caution for people who take blood pressure, blood thinning, and diabetes medications.
Who Should Not Take Reishi?
People with allergies to mushrooms or fungal products should absolutely not take Reishi.
Additionally, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people preparing for surgery, and people with bleeding disorders should avoid reishi mushrooms due to potential adverse effects on hormones and blood clotting.
Reishi could have a number of benefits on immunity, energy levels, mood health, and blood sugar. In some areas, study respondents have reported positively on Reishi supplementation. If you’re interested in its benefits, talk to your physician to see if it could be right for you.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. If you have immediate concerns about your health, please seek the help of your physician.