12 Days of Christmas Health with Reishi

The holiday season is upon us! During this time of year, people can find it challenging to prioritize their health. With all the celebrations, treats, and prepping for the festivities, it can be easy to let good habits slide. Check out the following 12 benefits of reishi and how this miracle mushroom can keep your well-being on track over the Christmas holidays and beyond.

On the first day of Christmas, a TCM practitioner said to me, reishi mushrooms can…

1. Strengthen the immune system

A tonic with over 200 polysaccharides, reishi helps enhance an appropriate immune system response. This is called immune system modulation, meaning it fortifies the body’s defences when called to fight a flu or cold and calms an over-reactive response as occurs for allergies and other autoimmune imbalances.

2. Slow or prevents cancer

The traditional use of reishi in the treatment of cancer dates back thousands of years. Its immune-supporting polysaccharides, specifically beta-glucans and triterpenes, have been shown to inhibit and slow tumour growth from cancer cell lines, as well as lower inflammation. Additionally, studies have shown that reishi can help reduce the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

3. Reduce stress

Perhaps one of the most recognized aspects of reishi’s health benefits is its ability to calm and reduce feelings of stress. Over the busy holiday season, reishi is a valuable ally for keeping our mental health strong. Reishi mushroom is revered in TCM as a leading calm the spirit and mind herb that can help enhance restful sleep, manage stress, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.

4. Boost energy

Reishi mushroom is also a powerful energy booster, though it is not a stimulant. Taking reishi helps the body stay balanced and function optimally, which results in an increased sense of vitality. For those who often feel tired, especially if they are “wired but tired”—exhausted, but unable to sleep or rest—reishi can provide a solution.

5. Reduce inflammation

Part of the body’s adaptive response to infection is inflammation, protecting it against foreign invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses. The immune system and the healing process rely on it. Prolonged or chronic inflammation, however, can cause a wide range of symptoms, including redness, swelling, joint pain, and more serious autoimmune conditions like type I diabetes and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

There are a host of anti-inflammatory compounds in reishi, such as immune-modulating polysaccharides, triterpenes, and phenolics. As an immune modulator and anti-inflammatory, reishi could be used to treat autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

6. Support the heart

In the developing world, heart disease is among the leading causes of death. Reishi has been shown by scientific research to benefit heart health. As a result of its high antioxidant, sterol, ganoderic acid (triterpene), coumarin, mannitol, and polysaccharide content, reishi offers great cardiovascular support. These compounds offer valuable protection against many risk factors that contribute to heart disease and stroke.

7. Promote liver health

The liver is the body’s second largest organ, and it has hundreds of functions, including being closely involved in digestion and detoxification. Stress, junk food, drinking, smoking, and drugs all negatively impact the liver, decreasing the toxic overload on your liver allows your body to detoxify, methylate, regenerate, and produce energy more efficiently.

Reishi has been used for thousands of years for its liver-supporting properties. In studies, triterpenes—compounds found only in the cap and stem (whole mushroom)—seem to be the main compounds involved in these benefits.

8. Support the lungs

As an energy tonic, reishi strengthens and nurtures the lungs. The triterpenes found in reishi help to reduce asthma symptoms and allergic reactions to histamine. Reishi has also been shown to benefit chronic bronchitis.

9. Boost brain health

Reishi mushroom has been known for centuries to help boost brainpower, sharpen memory, and improve concentration and focus.

Researchers have found that polysaccharides can promote neurogenesis and improve cognitive function, with the potential to help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Additionally, these compounds have demonstrated their ability to protect neurons from apoptosis, reduce oxidative stress, and enhance cognitive performance. Triterpenes found in reishi are believed to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production.

10. Relieve allergies

The immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties of reishi make it a potent treatment for allergies and other inflammatory conditions.

Allergy symptoms can be relieved with reishi mushrooms. In research, reishi was found to be a natural antihistamine, modulating the body’s reaction to allergens by inhibiting the release of histamine. Additionally, the triterpenes in reishi help reduce allergic reactions and asthmatic symptoms due to histamine release.

11. Promote better sleep

Reishi mushrooms have been shown in clinical trials to improve sleep and calm the nervous system. Reishi mushrooms help reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and treat insomnia.

Terpenoids in reishi have been shown to promote sedation and soothe the nerves, which can be beneficial to those suffering from neurasthenia and insomnia. Studies have also shown that long-term use of reishi can boost deep sleep.

12. Promote gut health

Reishi mushrooms act as a prebiotic in the gut, helping to establish healthy intestinal flora. Study after study has demonstrated that mushroom polysaccharides, which are long-chain essential sugars within mushroom cell walls, have a prebiotic effect on the gut microbiome. Prebiotics are basically food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, so they nourish the probiotics, promoting their growth and replication. Additionally, reishi has been found to prevent candida overgrowth. The mushroom is both antifungal and antibacterial.

That’s a lot to offer from one fungus. If you find yourself stuck for gift ideas, perhaps one option could be the gift of wellness.