12.26.2016 •

Red Reishi for Respiratory Health

For most of us, breathing is something we take for granted. It’s such a natural process that we rarely even think about. But for millions of adults and children, the simple act of inhaling and exhaling can be problematic because of diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, emphysema, lung cancer, and more. With the ever-increasing number and quantity of toxins and other irritants circulating in the air, more and more people are suffering from poor lung and respiratory health.

The Importance of a Healthy Respiratory System

Clearly you know that breathing is important. You breathe in and out more than 20,000 times a day, and if you stop, you die. It will only take minutes.

But aside from life and death situations, an inefficient respiratory systems robs the body of a nutrient we simply cannot live without—oxygen. Organs and tissues need adequate amounts of oxygen to function properly. If your cells don’t get enough, it can lead to a slew of symptoms and illnesses. Conversely, deep, unobstructed breathing relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress.

Factors That Contribute To Respiratory Illnesses

While walking to work one day, I saw an older woman hunched over, gasping for breath. I asked her if she was okay. She refused my help, saying—between shallow, raspy breaths—that she was just outside her doctor’s office. Then she took another drag of her cigarette and proceeded on her way.

While smoking is well-known for its negative impact on lung health, there are a number of other issues that can lead to breathing and respiratory illnesses. Because strong bones and muscles in the chest and spine area are vital for a healthy respiratory system, as we get older, our muscles tend to deteriorate, making breathing more problematic, resulting in shortness of breath and fatigue. This weakness can also be caused by a general lack of activity and fitness. The weakening of muscles around the lungs will decrease the amount of oxygen, resulting in a compromised immune system, leaving you vulnerable to a host of respiratory illnesses and other diseases.

Cigarette smoke isn’t the only thing that can impair your lungs. Have you ever heard an air quality advisory warning being reported on the news? That’s because air-borne toxins and pollutants can also affect your breathing, particularly if you already have health issues. Allergens like dust, mold, mites, and pollen, not to mention chemical scents—anything you breathe in that can irritate the lungs—can also cause shortness of breath, sneezing, congestion, and coughing.

There are also many upper respiratory disorders such as the common cold, sinusitis, influenza, croup, and whopping cough, while lower respiratory conditions include asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Reishi Mushrooms and Respiratory Wellness

Did you know that reishi mushrooms can help boost an ailing respiratory system? Known as the “mushroom of immortality,” Reishi has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years for its many health benefits, including its ability to support healthy lungs.

Traditionally, reishi mushroom has been used to stop cough and wheezing and disperse phlegm, in addition to strengthening the body and calming the mind.

More recently, research has demonstrated red reishi to address a wide range of respiratory issues. For starters, it can increase the alveoli’s ability to absorb oxygen, as well as reduce the cough reflex for people suffering from bronchitis. Considered a natural antihistamine, this miraculous mushroom is also used for its immune balancing and adaptogenic properties that help your body respond appropriately to environmental irritants like dust and mold. It also has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties (does that mean you can call it a “great anti”?).

When it comes to overall well-being, great respiratory health is a must. Eating wholesome foods, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep, dealing with stress, and taking Japanese Red Reishi will help give you a healthy respiratory system, allowing you to breathe easier for many years to come.


Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others.