The reishi mushroom is perhaps the most well known and revered of all medicinal mushrooms. In the far east it has been used for at least two thousand years, and probably much longer, particularly in China where its benefits were documented in the ancient Chinese text, the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica, also know as the Shennong Ben Cao Jing.
This mushroom has so many purported benefits and has attained such legendary status, both for its therapeutic physiological effects as well as its effectiveness as a shen, or spiritual tonic herb, that its reputation as a panacea borders on the miraculous.
And yet one scientific study after another demonstrates reishi’s efficacy for a wide variety of medicinal purposes, substantiating the ancient wisdom of both elite Chinese Emperors and sainted Toaist sages of times gone by, most all of whom held reishi in the highest regard.
Herb of Many Names
Reishi is the Japanese name for this mushroom, and in Japan it is also called by various other names including auspicious plant, immortality plant, ten thousand year mushroom, and sage mushroom.
In Vietnamese it’s called linh chi, which is translated as supernatural mushroom, and in Chinese reishi is named ling zhi, which means spirit plant or herb/mushroom of spiritual potency. In China it is also known as the mushroom of immortality and the medicine of kings.
It’s Latin name, Ganoderma lucidum means glossy or shiny fungus.
Safe Effective Tonic and Medicine
Reishi has little or no known side effect and is considered to be an adaptogen that’s quite safe for most people to ingest over extended periods of time. It’s used medicinally to treat a variety of disorders, and also as a tonic to promote vitality and overall good health and resistance to disease.
Reishi works like an antioxidant by intensifying the body’s free radical scavenging ability. It also protects against the effects of radiation and has anti-inflammatory properties.
But perhaps it is best known for its immune regulating or modulating effects. Reishi not only strengthens the immune system and helps it to work more effectively and efficiently, but it also has a balancing or bi-directional effect. This means it interfaces intelligently with one’s specific individual physiology and will boost immune function in those whose immune system is deficient, while mitigating the immune response in those experiencing overactive immunity or autoimmune disorders.
Reishi is one of the most well studied of all the medicinal mushrooms, and like most other medicinal mushrooms its primary active constituents are polysaccharides and triterpenes.
This mushroom and/or extracts derived from it have been clinically demonstrated to be effective in a wide variety of applications, including as an anti-allergin, antioxidant and antifungal agent. It also has antitumor, antiviral, antiparasitic, antidiabetic, immunomodulating, hepatoprotective properties, and is additionally valuable as a nerve tonic.
The Great Protector
In China, where reishi has been held in the greatest esteem since antiquity, its distinctive shape has been depicted in paintings, wood carvings, furniture, fabric, and even architecturally, etched on the sides of buildings.
Reishi, especially when taken long term over the course of time, is renowned for its ability to promote in the user a sense of calmness as well as an increased ability to cope with and adapt more readily to the everyday stresses of life.
Called by some the ‘great protector’ and the ‘herb of good fortune,’ reishi truly ranks among the humankind’s greatest herbal allies.
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