Cold and flu season is back! When you can’t afford to get sick, it becomes crucial to explore ways to strengthen your immune system and enhance your natural defence mechanisms. Because viruses and bacteria are living organisms, they mutate, finding new ways to attack our bodies and multiply. This is one of the key reasons why we can win the battles, but not the war against colds and flus.
Thankfully, our immune systems are also adaptable, and we have many natural remedies we can turn to. Reishi mushroom (scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum) emerges as a powerful ally in supporting our immune system response and combating viruses.
Understanding Reishi’s Immune Response Properties
Reishi is a type of fungi that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Known as the “mushroom of immortality,” reishi was once reserved for royalty as it is highly valued for its many health benefits.
As a mushroom, reishi is neither a plant nor an animal. It is part of a kingdom called fungi, and like plants and animals, it too must defend itself against disease and injury. Because of this, it contains many nutrients and bioactive compounds—including polysaccharides and triterpenes—and fortunately for us, we can ingest these compounds for our own health benefits. The polysaccharides in reishi have been found able to modulate immune function. This means that reishi helps increase our immune response when the body is under attack by a virus or bacteria, but it also helps calm an overactive immune response, such as is the case with autoimmunity and allergies.
The triterpenes, such as ganoderic acid (unique to reishi), have a wide range of effects useful to our bodies, including supporting lung, heart, liver, and kidney health, as well as calming our nervous systems.
Supporting the Immune System
One of the main reasons reishi mushroom is celebrated for its health benefits is its ability to boost our body’s defense mechanisms against illness and infections. Research suggests that consuming reishi supplements or extracts can help strengthen this vital system, making it more efficient in fighting off harmful pathogens.
Studies have shown that reishi mushroom extracts can increase the activity of natural killer cells (NK cells) and macrophages, which are key components of the immune system. These cells play a crucial role in identifying and destroying foreign particles, including viruses. By enhancing the activity of these immune cells, reishi helps bolster our body’s defense against infections.
- Modulating Immune Function
Reishi acts as an immunomodulator, meaning it helps regulate and balance the immune system. By regulating immune responses, reishi helps stimulate white blood cell productions as well as preventing excessive inflammation or an overactive immune system, which can be detrimental to our health.
- Antiviral Activity
Studies have shown that reishi possesses antiviral properties, making it an effective natural agent against a variety of viral infections. Compounds in reishi have been found to inhibit viral replication and prevent the spread of viruses within the body. This antiviral activity makes reishi an excellent ally in defending against common and new viral infections.
- Immune System Support
Reishi contains polysaccharides that have immune-boosting effects. These polysaccharides help increase the production of cytokines, which are signalling molecules that regulate immune responses. By stimulating the production of cytokines, reishi can enhance the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack foreign invaders, such as viruses.
Incorporate Reishi into Your Daily Routine
Reishi supplements are widely available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powdered extracts. When choosing a supplement, ensure it is derived from high-quality reishi mushrooms that have been allowed to mature and are free from contaminants. So that you don’t miss out on the various triterpenes and ganoderic acid, make sure you get the fruiting body (stem and cap) and not just the mycelium (root-like structure) of the reishi mushroom.
In a world where viral infections pose an ever-growing threat, supporting your immune system becomes paramount. It is important to remember to do so by maintaining overall health through a balanced lifestyle, good nutrition, and regular exercise. In addition, reishi, with its immune-enhancing properties, serves as an invaluable natural ally in our battle against viruses. By incorporating reishi supplements into your daily routine, you can strengthen your immune response and fortify your body’s defences.