About Melissa Carr, D.TCM

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.

How to Quiet the Mind and Boost Cognitive Clarity

Goals are what move us forward in life. They provide the spark to our dreams and the direction for the first steps to every journey. Goal setting is one of the tools to achieving success, happiness, and yes, wellbeing. But for many people, there is one thing that can constantly get in the way—a distracted mind.

When your brain is restless and stressed out, your thinking becomes muddled and you find it harder to concentrate, remember, and come up with the correct…ummmmm…words. In this state of mind, you can easily lose focus and direction, and that can ultimately move you away from your destination.

But you can fix that.

There are a host of effective relaxation techniques and tips you can use to quiet the mind and boost cognitive clarity.

​Breathe

When your mind starts racing, a great way to reel in your thoughts and stay in the present moment is to breathe. To do this, slowly inhale through your nose for 4 or 5 seconds, then exhale for the same amount of time. Continue to take deep breaths, concentrating on only moving your stomach. You could also try a 4-7-8 count breath practice, breathing in for a count of 4, holding your breath for a count of 7, and breathing out for a count of 8. There are many other mind-calming breath practices you could learn and try out if you want more.

​Meditate

Meditation can offer up a variety of healthy benefits for the mind and body. Taking the time to meditate can help you clear away the distractions that are clouding the real inner you. Meditation can be done almost anywhere, though a quieter place is probably easier, and even as little as 10 minutes daily can provide benefits.

​Journal

Keeping a journal can help you zero in on your goals and stay focused. You will have a record of achievements and roadblocks, making it easier to plan for the days ahead. Writing down the next steps of your goal-setting plan in your journal is an effective and fun way to tell your scattered mind, “Hey, I’m working on this.”

​Reach out to a friend

Having a supportive circle of friends (or one dependable friend) can really come in handy with goal setting. Sharing or “downloading” with that trusted someone can go a long way to helping you process what you are experiencing and feeling. Friends can offer you an influx of new and helpful ideas, help you handle stress, relax your mind, and motivate you to stay focused.

​Take reishi mushrooms

If you want to improve cognitive clarity, Japanese reishi mushrooms can help. The Chinese herbal materia medica (collected knowledge on the therapeutic properties of substances) places reishi mushrooms—called ling zhi—in the “Calm Spirit” category. These soothing mushrooms are Mother Nature’s answer to relaxing the mind and improving concentration. Health practitioners use them for a wide range of calming reasons, including lowering anxiety and managing stress.

Though reishi can also be included in formulas to address insomnia, don’t worry, they aren’t going to knock you out or make you sleepy. In fact, a more tranquil mind can feel clearer and more alert. After all, chasing thoughts around your head is tiring, is it not?

Not only that, but having a frantic, anxious, or overactive mind can put stress on your body, weakening your immune system, impairing your digestion, and lending you less able to repair damaged tissues.

Having a more peaceful mind helps you gain traction on your health goals.

If you are feeling foggy-headed, forgetful, and unmotivated, a Japanese red reishi mushroom supplement (one a day is easy to remember to take!) can help you get back on track, ready to take on your day and your goals.

Summer Colds and Reishi

No one wants to think about viruses and infections in the middle of summer, but you should. After all, the last thing anyone wants to do is to spend their vacation suffering indoors.

It might not be cold and flu season just yet, but it’s never too early (or too late for that matter) to start thinking about reducing the risk of getting sick. Without further ado, here are some healthy living tips that will help keep your body, mind, and spirit humming all year long.

Eat Healthy
Yes, we know. You’ve heard this one a million times before—so, what’s one more time. How well you eat has a huge impact on how your body can handle pathogens. You don’t need to get fancy here either. Stick with the basics. Consume natural (organic if you can) foods, make sure you get a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as good sources of protein and healthy fats.

Wash Your Hands Often
Hey, we’re humans—and as humans, we touch. It’s how we interact, learn, and communicate with the world around us. The problem, however, is that it is also how we come into contact with a host of nasty germs.

If you could manage to keep your hands away from your face, those germs you picked up from touching the elevator button, the change in your wallet, or handle of that door would not have entry to your body. Problem is that the average person touches his or her face about 16 times per hour. Your nose itches, you brush your hair out of your face, you rest your chin on your hand, or worse yet, you chew your nails. Germs, welcome to your body. It’s a hard habit to break, but do your best not to manhandle your face too much.

At the very least, if you want to stay cold and flu-free year-round, do yourself one simple favour by keeping your hands clean.

Sleep Well
Missing out on the occasional good night’s sleep isn’t going to do much harm, but making it a habit sure will. Yes, summer months mean longer days for many of us who are wanting to take full advantage of the sun, the festivals, the barbeques, and the outdoor activities. But irregular sleep patterns wreak havoc on your immune system, opening doors to infection and sickness.

Getting seven to eight hours of good quality downtime helps the body restore itself and stave off harmful bacteria and viruses.

Think Positive
Did you know there is direct correlation between your health and how you think? The mind-body connection is well established, making it an important part of your overall well-being. Practicing yoga, meditation, and visual techniques are all great ways to refocus your mind and release stress.

Take Japanese Red Reishi
Japanese red reishi isn’t known as “The Great Protector” for nothing. This marvelous mushroom has been used for thousands of years for its virus busting abilities. It has powerful adaptogenic and immune-boosting properties that regulate your body’s antibody production, helping protect you from harmful bacteria and viruses the full year round.

Viruses and bacteria don’t take a summer vacation, so taking just one capsule daily of Mikei Japanese red reishi helps keep the immune system supported. Because, as you know, summer colds suck.

How Reishi can Help with Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints that patients don’t tell their doctors about. Many think that it’s just “a sign of aging” or “part of living in the modern world.” Others reason that there’s nothing their doctors can do about it anyway, perhaps because it’s been dismissed in the past. But fatigue can have real and sometimes serious negative impacts on your life.

A symptom of many ailments, fatigue can also cause its own cascade of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, including compromised immune function, slowed healing, headaches, dizziness, poor judgement and mental functioning, slow reaction time, body pain, irritability, depression, and susceptibility to a wide range of diseases.

If you’re tired of being tired, read on to learn more about how to manage and reduce fatigue using Japanese red reishi mushrooms, also known as the “mushroom of immortality.”

Not enough sleep

When patients tell me they are often tired, the most sensible questions for me to ask first are about their sleep.

  • How many hours of sleep are you getting daily, on average?
  • Do you have problems falling asleep? What about staying asleep?
  • Do you have a regular sleep schedule?
  • Do you wake up still tired?

Though we’ve all been there with an occasional sleepless night, tossing and turning in bed, prolonged insomnia and chronic tiredness can have a negative impact on your health and your wellbeing, including making you a dangerous driver, apt to emotional outbursts, and prone to self-isolation.

If you have insomnia, check out these things you can do to help you get better sleep: “Why Aren’t You Sleeping?” In addition to working on sleep hygiene, Japanese red reishi mushrooms have been shown to help calm and relax the mind enough to promote a restful sleep.

If you are falling to prey late nights (into early morning) of internet browsing, YouTube trance-inducing video watching, and “next episode” tv streaming, it’s time to break those habits that are preventing you from getting enough sleep and being your best self.

Other causes of fatigue

Even if you are clocking in enough bedtime hours, sleep apnea, shiftwork, and excessive alcohol consumption can all affect the restorative quality of your sleep.

Apart from sleep issues, other causes of fatigue include anemia, poor diet, digestive malabsorption issues, hypothyroidism, diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, pain, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, liver disease, autoimmune disease, allergies, concussion, obesity, infection, stress, and even the medications that are used to treat some of these health issues.

The causes of fatigue are diverse and are often triggered by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological, and general wellbeing issues. While you source out the reason for your fatigue, here are some steps you can take to improve your energy.

  • Do your best to get enough restful, restorative sleep.
  • Limit your intake of sugar, alcohol and other intoxicants, caffeine, and processed foods.
  • Choose a variety of healthful, nutrient-rich foods.
  • Hydrate well.
  • Manage your stress with breathwork, meditation, time with loved ones, creative activities, or nature walks.
  • Include daily movement. I know you’re tired, but the right amount of exercise can actually improve your energy.

Treating fatigue with Japanese reishi mushrooms

Known as ling zhi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Japanese reishi has been used for centuries to boost health and wellbeing. This incredible herb has been shown to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, and treat insomnia.

Reishi mushrooms also support the immune system that would otherwise take a beating when you don’t get enough quality sleep.

Additionally, as a Qi and Blood* tonic with a reported action of “nourishing the Heart* and calming the spirit,” reishi mushroom can support energy, digestion, and respiration. It offers a non-stimulant way to feel more energized, so it can be taken at the start or end of your waking day.

Tired of being tired? With the fatigue-fighting benefits of Japanese red reishi mushrooms, you have a tool to help manage your stress, curb insomnia, and have more energy.

*Traditional Chinese Medicine defines organs as a whole system with a multitude of connections, not just a single physical organ.

Living Healthy with Diabetes

An astonishing one in four people above the age of 65 have adult-onset (type 2) diabetes. Even more have prediabetes—a condition close to, but not yet diabetes. Though it’s exceedingly common, neither type 2 diabetes nor prediabetes should be taken lightly. If not well managed, diabetes can lead to debilitating health problems.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Your pancreas is a busy organ, with one of its most important roles being to make insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels by acting like a key that unlocks the cell’s ability to take in sugar for energy.

As you may already know, or could at least guess, since there is a type 2 diabetes, there is also a type 1. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the person with this disease does not produce insulin. Those with type 2 diabetes do produce insulin, but their cells don’t use it as well as they should, so it’s also called insulin resistance.

With type 2 diabetes, because the cells are unable to take up the circulating sugar, blood sugar can rise—or “spike”—after a meal. Rather than feeling energized and full of vigour though, spiking blood sugar can trigger sluggishness and even extreme exhaustion in some cases.

The problems associated with diabetes

Diabetics must learn to identify symptoms that their blood sugar levels are problematic. Sweating, a rapid heartbeat, slurred speech, numbness in the fingers and toes, headache, and feeling anxious, sleepy, or confused are all signs alerting to dysregulated blood sugar.

Over time, poorly managed diabetes may cause atherosclerosis—or hardening of the arteries—that can lead to heart disease or stroke. It can also lead to vision loss, kidney failure, nerve pain, and more.

Preventing dangerous spikes in blood sugar

One of the most common risk factors for getting type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese. Though people who aren’t overweight can also end up with diabetes, extra pounds increase the risk. Eating healthy and exercising regularly are two of the most important actions a person can take to decrease the risk of ending up with type 2 diabetes, as well as managing the disease itself.

Fortunately, nature has also provided some herbs—including Japanese red reishi mushroom—that can help you get your blood sugar levels under control.

Hailed as the “Mushroom of Immortality” in the Far East, reishi mushrooms have been used to treat a long list of ailments for over 2000 years. Though Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors have long used red reishi (called ling zhi), to treat diabetes, research is now catching up with how it works.

Studies have found compounds—including polysaccharides—in red reishi mushrooms that help treat and manage diabetes by improving insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar levels, stopping the liver from releasing too much glucose, and decreasing the fat to body weight ratio.

Ways to Manage Anxiety Naturally

While much of the focus in the world of healthcare is often placed on physical wellness, mental wellness is equally important. Anxiety is one of the most commonly experienced mental health issues, and those who suffer know how all-consuming they can be, especially at a time of such uncertainty with the constant influx of bad news regarding the effects of COVID-19.

Anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion that most have felt, perhaps related to a first date, a job interview, taking a test, or giving a speech. Feeling apprehension, nervousness, or fear about an event, something new or unknown, or something that makes you uncomfortable is a natural response to stress. However, if the anxiety is extreme, interferes with your life, and lasts longer than six months, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Those who suffer anxiety also often report feeling anxious even at times when nothing particularly stressful is happening. Anxiety may arise while you are simply relaxing or trying to go to sleep.

As the most common type of emotional disorder, it includes phobias, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and illness anxiety disorder. Symptoms include an increase in heart rate and breathing rate, feeling restless, sweating, feeling faint, shortness of breath, problems focusing and concentrating, worry, obsessive or repetitive thoughts, and problems sleeping.

Ways to manage anxiety

While there are medications to help manage anxiety, there are many natural and lifestyle-oriented things that can be done. One of the most frequently recommended ways to counter to anxiety is practicing deep, slow breathing. Let’s explore why.

The autonomic nervous system is divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic. When the sympathetic nervous system is fired up, it signals the body to be ready for “fight or flight,” increasing heart and breath rate, pumping blood to the big muscles of the body, increasing pupil size, and decreasing salivation. Your body is behaving like you’re about to be attacked. Conversely, when the parasympathetic nervous system is triggered, the body is prepared to “rest and digest,” slowing the heart and breath rate, stimulating gastric juices and saliva for digestion, and allowing for cellular repair. The body is responding to a relaxed environment.

These systems operate in opposition to each other, so as one is stimulated, the other tones down. One of the things we can control is how we breathe, so consciously breathing more deeply and slowly signals the parasympathetic system to come into play and suppresses the sympathetic system response.

Of course, in the midst of a panic attack, it’s difficult to practice this calming breath, so regular, daily practice through breathwork, meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or other methods is key. The oft repeated health tips of regular exercise, creating a regular sleep schedule, eating healthy, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol also help with managing anxiety. And since caffeine is a stimulant, it is best avoided.

Supplements for anxiety

In addition to eating healthy foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B complex vitamins, vitamin D, and magnesium, supplementing with these nutrients may also help. You may want to talk to a natural health professional to make sure to get high-quality versions in the right format and dosing for you so that you will notice the benefits.

Green tea contains a compound called l-theanine, which has been shown to help stimulate the brain waves associated with an alert, but calm state of mind. Since green tea usually also contains caffeine, you could seek out a supplement version—often found in combination with other nutrients and herbs—to get the dosing that will help you without the caffeine.

Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, passionflower, and valerian are common herbs to help calm the mind, though some can also be sedating, so best not to take during the daytime.

Reishi Mushroom

Japanese red reishi mushroom, also called ling zhi, is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal medicine categorized to calm the mind, while also providing energy and supporting whole body health. Modern science has recognized it as an adaptogen—a natural substance that can help the body adapt to stressors, returning the body to a normal and balanced state.

While most herbs used in TCM are given in combination formulas, reishi mushroom is one that is sometimes given on its own. It is used to treat insomnia, fright, racing or skipping heartbeat (palpitations), forgetfulness, and fatigue—all familiar symptoms of anxiety.

If you are taking pharmaceutical medications, it is always a good idea to discuss the addition of any supplement with your qualified healthcare practitioner. However, reishi mushroom, unlike some other herbal supplements, is not commonly listed as a substance that interferes with anxiety medications.

Like many other natural supplements, it doesn’t generally yield instant effects like a pharmaceutical, but it is unlikely to give unwanted side effects.

Whether you have a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, tend to feel anxious, or are just feeling anxious now with the uncertainty around you, it’s important to know that you can regain some control over your anxiety by incorporating some lifestyle changes and with the options of some supplements, including Japanese red reishi mushrooms.

Coping With the Daylight Saving Time

Like it or not, autumn is here. While it’s only an hour difference, the switch out of Daylight Saving Time can disrupt your daily routine and alter your body clock, affecting your mood, energy, and sleep patterns.

It’s particularly difficult for those who already have sleep issues, and for those with children or animals that don’t understand the change of time. And if you are not getting enough proper sleep, you can put your memory, productivity, emotional stability, and physical health at risk.

While there is much talk in some regions about doing away with Daylight Saving Time changes, for many of us, we still have to do this for at least another year.

Fortunately, there are some sleep-better tips you can do to ease yourself back to the fall time jump.

​Start preparing early

Believe it or not, even just one hour can wreak havoc on your sleep pattern if you are not prepared for it. Attempting to acclimate to the fall time change all at once can be tough for many people. A more effective plan? Ease into the fall time schedule by staying up a little later and getting up a bit later too for a few days prior to the new time change.

If you have young children, you may want to start this routine even a bit earlier, with gradual adjustments to the bedtime and waketime routine.

​Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Stimulants like alcohol and caffeine can disrupt your body’s internal clock, especially when you’re are trying to adjust to the time change. Caffeine can stay in your system for a long time, so stop with the caffeine at least four to six hours before you plan to wind down for bed. While you may think that alcohol can help you sleep, the truth is, that it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, resulting in a less restful and restorative sleep.

Instead, drink an herbal tea like chamomile. It will not only help you unwind after a long day, but also help you get a good night’s sleep.

​Get some exercise

The fall time change means earlier morning sun. So, why not make the most of it with some exercise? Getting the body moving early in the day causes your brain to release serotonin, a feel-good hormone that can help your body better adjust to the time change.

​Use Japanese reishi mushrooms

Known as ling zhi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (or “divine mushroom” for the English speakers), Japanese reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries as a super sleep aid. This incredible herb has been shown to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, and treat insomnia.

Though it sounds paradoxical, reishi can help you both relax enough to sink into a restful sleep and support your energy through the daytime. It is neither a sedative nor a stimulant.

And, it’s not just seasonal Daylight Saving Time changes that this can help. The same benefits apply for shift workers and time-zone-changing travelers.

Japanese reishi mushrooms also boost the immune system, helping you stay healthy when time changes can throw your body’s internal clock for a loop. Don’t let the fall time change get the better of you this year. With reishi to the rescue, you will be fully prepared for this annual autumn switch in time.

Osteoporosis Causes and Treatment: What you Need to Know

Did you know that osteoporosis affects almost 1.4 million Canadians? Believe it or not, fractures from this condition are more common than heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer combined.

That’s a big deal because about 28% of women and 37% of men who suffer a hip fracture die within the following year.

In this article, we’ll explore what osteoporosis is and what you can do to build bone strength and reduce the chance of bone fractures.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis—literally meaning “porous bone”—is a disease characterized by a loss of bone mass and density, leaving bones brittle, weak, and more prone to fractures. Patients may also experience height loss or curvature of the spine. Osteoporosis can affect a variety of bones in the body, including the hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis, and upper arm.

Osteoporosis: the silent disease

Osteoporosis can sneak up on you. Known as the “silent thief,” no one can feel their bones weakening, so it is often not until a fracture occurs when a proper diagnosis is made. And because many with a spine fracture don’t even know about it—66% are painless—height loss is another sign that the bones may be weakening.

It’s important not to wait until a bone breaks before diagnosing osteoporosis. If you are over the age of 50, have your height measured annually. Bone density tests can be done to determine an osteoporosis diagnosis. It can also find out if someone has osteopenia, a loss of bone density that is important to address so it doesn’t progress to osteoporosis.

What are the causes of osteoporosis?

There is no single cause for osteoporosis. Inactivity, aging, smoking, alcohol consumption, hormonal changes, and poor dietary habits can all contribute to bone loss.

Long-term use of certain medications can also affect your bones, such as antiseizure medicines, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and steroids (glucocorticoids or corticosteroids).

Additionally, there are a host of diseases and conditions that can lead to bone loss, including cancer, autoimmune, digestive, blood, neurological, and hormonal disorders. It’s important to discuss the possibility of osteoporosis with your healthcare provider if you have of these disorders.

What are the ways to build bone health?

Fortunately, osteoporosis is a preventable disease. Engaging in weight-bearing exercises like lifting weights, jumping rope, jogging, hiking, and climbing stairs can help to maintain healthy bone mass.

Healthy diet choices can also help stave off osteoporosis. Upping your intake of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin D, and protein can help you avoid bone weakness.

Japanese red reishi mushrooms

Osteoporosis is most common for menopausal women, with at least 1 in 3 women experiencing a bone fracture due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. For men, the numbers are 1 in 5.

The gender differential is because women generally have lighter, thinner bones than men to start with. In addition, women tend to live longer, and the rate of bone breakdown starts to surpass bone building by age 40. This means that we have to make efforts to slow the rate of bone loss as we age. In addition, estrogen helps to maintain bone density, so menopause or any time of low hormone levels or no or infrequent menstrual periods can accelerate the progression toward osteoporosis.

Animal studies of Ganoderma lucidum—reishi mushroom—have shown improvement in bone density in females with bone loss. They have demonstrated that reishi both supported estrogen activity (without a substantial effect on the uterus) and improved absorption of minerals related to bone health, such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

Your bones support you. Isn’t it time you made sure to support your bones?

How Reishi Mushroom Supplements Can Help with Weight Loss

Weight loss is a struggle for many of us, especially after the extra pandemic pounds that some of us have put on because of being less active, stress eating, and home baking. Sometimes it can seem that no matter how hard you diet or exercise, shedding stubborn excess weight can be a challenge, especially if you have a sluggish metabolism.

So, if you are looking for ways to lose those extra pounds, safely and naturally, we have some great news. By now, you probably know that this magical mushroom is used to support a balanced immune system and treat heart disease, liver disorders, and lung issues. But what you might not know is that reishi mushroom can also help you manage weight loss.

Reasons for Excess Weight

When patients ask me if I can help them with weight loss, I often try to reframe the problem. I can (and do) suggest healthier foods and encourage a more active lifestyle, but I can’t make patients follow those recommendations. Plus, some patients have already made those changes and still can’t shed the pounds.

There are many reasons other than eating too much or moving too little that someone can find it hard to maintain their healthiest weight. Some have a tough time regulating their blood sugars. Many have digestive issues. Even stress and poor sleep can affect metabolism and result in weight gain.

How Reishi Works To Battle the Bulge

The reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzhi, is well known for its abundance of health benefits. In fact, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

Told you need to cut down on carbs and sweets because you have signs of insulin resistance? Wouldn’t it be nice to have something to help you manage your cravings and better regulate glucose metabolism?

In a recent study done on obese mice, bioactive substances found in reishi were found to help prevent obesity and insulin resistance.

Poor Digestion

While malabsorption of food nutrients often leads to unhealthy weight loss, sometimes poor digestion can result in unintended weight gain. Examples of this include chronic constipation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and overeating caused by trying to abate symptoms of acid reflux. One common cause of digestive distress is an imbalance of the healthy bacteria of the gut. Reishi mushroom compounds, called polysaccharides, have been shown to help restore these good bacteria. In a study on mice, reishi successfully treated obesity, reversing weight gain and insulin resistance.

Stress Eating

Reishi mushroom is best recognized for its ability to help calm the nervous system and manage stress. When we produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, our insulin levels can rise, resulting in a drop in our blood sugar and cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Eating comfort foods may also distract us from facing our problems head on.

What’s worse, ramping up the calories when we’re pumping out high levels of cortisol can make fat preferentially gain around the middle, which holds higher health risks. And, as if that weren’t enough, we burn fewer calories because of lowered metabolism when we’re stressed.

Better managing our chronic stress with an adaptogen like Japanese red reishi can help bump us out of our poor food choices and lower our cortisol levels so we can properly burn off the calories once more.

Reishi for Weight Loss

Anything that has to do with weight loss drums up its fair share of attention. And as if reishi couldn’t get enough of the spotlight when it comes to longevity and overall health, this fantastic fungus has also been shown to help us find our healthy weight once more.

Reishi Mushroom: Fruiting body vs Mycelium

Awareness of medicinal mushrooms that boost health is on the rise, and for good reason. Research has shown that these formidable fungi contain a host of active compounds that can fight infections, improve immune function, and even help to prevent cancer. However, not all mushrooms—or mushroom parts—are created equally.

No doubt, as the most researched of all medicinal mushrooms, the red reishi has a long history of use, stretching back at least as far as 2400 years ago. Aptly named the “Mushroom of Immortality,” reishi is the most celebrated herb in all of Traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. So how can you get the most out of this miracle mushroom that has stood the test of time? To properly understand this question, it is a good idea to explore some basics about reishi mushroom anatomy. What part of the mushroom should we be consuming, the fruiting body or mycelium.

What is the fruiting body?

The fruiting body of fungi is the part that normally grows above ground. It’s the part you probably think of when you think of a mushroom. A fruiting body consists of a stem, a cap, and a spore-bearing surface, such as gills, pores, ridges, or teeth.

What is mycelium?

The mycelium is a cobweb-like mat that grows underground. It functions like a complex network, covering vast areas, and communicating with the surrounding environment. Think of it like Mother Nature’s answer to the internet. Mycelium acts like roots of the mushroom, absorbing and transferring nutrients to the fruiting body.

So what does all this mean?

Looking to get the full benefits of these magnificent mushrooms? Fruiting bodies are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. While both the mycelium and fruiting body contains beneficial polysaccharides that support a healthy immune system, only the fruiting body contains the potent phytonutrient ganoderic acid.

Ganoderic acids are extremely bitter compounds, so you’ll definitely want your reishi mushroom in an encapsulated form. This not-so-tasty compound has cardiovascular health benefits—including lowering elevated blood pressure—that the polysaccharides do not. Ganoderic acid has also been studied for its potential to treat and prevent various forms of cancer.

For centuries, the Japanese and Chinese have revered the medicinal powers of the fruiting body of the reishi mushroom. If you have opted for a reishi mycelium product, you are simply not going to see the same results as you would from using whole fruiting bodies. Fruiting bodies provides you with the most potent and effective medically active ingredients that can only be found in this part of the mushroom.