02.17.2016 •

Reishi and Immune Health

Immune support is a very important topic, and one that pertains to most people. In North America, the average person spends 15 days with the cold or flu and takes 6.4 days off of work due to the symptoms. The role of the immune system is to protect the body against foreign pathogens (aka invaders) and a healthy immune system is one that does this effective and efficiently.

There are many factors that affect the workings of a healthy immune system and this system can be strengthened through a mix of diet, supplementation, herbs and lifestyle habits.

Firstly, it is a great start to eat a diet rich in colour, fermented foods, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, healthy fats, low in sugar and including speciality foods such as citrus, garlic, ginger, turmeric and raw honey. Secondly, lifestyle habits such as managing stress, improving mood, improving sleep and exercising regularly all have drastic effects on immune health. Lastly, it is important to look at the products that can supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle providing extra help and support, especially during times of need. Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and selenium offer great support, as well as medicinal mushrooms such as Red Reishi, which will be the focus here.

Medicinal mushrooms are a great supplement option and contain some of the most potent immuno-supportive agents. The benefits of mushrooms are varied and complex, offering support to the entire immune system. Top of this list is Red Reishi, which contains many bio active components that have a proactive effect on the immune system to ward of illness and infection.

Anti-Viral, Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Microbial

One of the main ways that Red Reishi helps to support the immune system is to kill viruses, bacteria and microbes before they proliferate and cause infection. A strong immune system is one that prevents infection and sometimes the body needs a little extra support in doing so. Red Reishi is proven to inhibit the infection of herpes simplex (cold sores), herpes zoster (shingles), influenza, epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis) and hepatitis B. Red Reishi compounds directly bind to these viruses and interfere with the way the viruses attach to healthy cells in the human body. These profound effects offer great hope and can be used within the comprehensive treatment of such illnesses.

Red Reishi and Immune Cells

Red Reishi also has a direct effect on cells of the immune system. Polysaccharides found specifically in Reishi activate the body’s own immune cells to attack harmful and foreign invading cells. Red Reishi also boosts the function of specific cells called dendritic cells, which help other immune cells recognize and then destroy foreign invaders. Red Reishi also promotes the development of B cells and T cells, which are both involved in production of the body’s own antibodies. Lastly, Red Reishi helps with the development of Natural Killer (NK) cells that specifically target foreign invading cells. Red Reishi is very effective at modulating the immune system and increasing the body’s own defence mechanism, and for this reason is effective to use as a preventative measure.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Lastly, Red Reishi contains many bioactive sterol-like components that have anti-inflammatory properties and when taken regularly can lower inflammatory response in the body. Red Reishi is also known to inhibit histamine, the chemical responsible for allergic reactions and symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, hives etc. Studies show that Red Reishi extracts can work equally as well as steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, with lower side effects.

Red Reishi can be part of a holistic plan to boost and strengthen immune health. Including a Red Reishi supplement is a safe way to provide your body with extra support and can be effective in the prevention of disease, infection and even used as part of the treatment.

Sarah is a Holistic Nutritionist practicing in Toronto, Canada. She runs a multi-faceted nutrition practice that offers 1:1 nutrition counselling and group coaching along with educational workshops and nutrition programs for the community and corporate clients. She also writes for her blog Twist&Sprout and nutrition articles for other sources. Visit www.sarahgoldstein.ca