Reishi Mushrooms: Nurturing the Physical and Emotional Heart

Our heart, both physically and emotionally, plays a vital role in our overall wellbeing. It is not just the organ responsible for pumping blood but is also the centre of our emotions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the TCM Heart is king.

Taking care of our hearts is crucial, and one natural remedy with a long history that has gained popularity in recent years is reishi mushroom. Read on to learn how red reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, have been treasured in traditional can help nurture both the physical and emotional heart.

Physical Heart: Promoting Cardiovascular Health

One of the key benefits of red reishi mushrooms is their potential to support cardiovascular health. Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, and adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is essential if you want to live a long and healthy life. Reishi mushrooms contain bioactive compounds called triterpenes, which have shown promising effects in reducing cholesterol levels and maintaining healthy blood pressure. High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Incorporating reishi mushrooms into your diet, whether through supplements or as an ingredient in food and beverages, may help in maintaining a healthy heart.

In addition to their cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-controlling properties, reishi mushrooms also possess anti-inflammatory effects. Chronic inflammation in the body can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases. Research has indicated that consuming reishi mushrooms may help reduce inflammation markers, ultimately protecting the heart from damage.

Oxidative stress is another factor that can negatively impact cardiovascular health. Reishi mushrooms contain antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and protect our cells from oxidative damage. By reducing oxidative stress, reishi mushrooms can contribute to a healthier heart.

Emotional Heart: Enhancing Emotional Well-being

While the concept of an emotional heart may seem abstract, it refers to our mental and emotional wellbeing. Our emotions can have a significant impact on our overall health, and finding ways to nourish our emotional heart is essential. Reishi mushrooms have adaptogenic properties, which means they can help restore balance and reduce stress in the body. Chronic stress can lead to various physical and mental health issues, including cardiovascular problems. By incorporating reishi mushrooms into your daily routine, you may experience reduced stress levels and improved overall emotional well-being.

Reishi mushrooms also stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating mood and promoting feelings of happiness. Low serotonin levels are associated with conditions such as depression and anxiety. By naturally increasing serotonin levels, reishi mushrooms can potentially alleviate symptoms of these mental health disorders.

What’s more, reishi mushrooms are often referred to as “holy spirit mushrooms” in TCM due to their impact on the mind and spirit. They are believed to have a calming effect and promote tranquillity, aiding in relaxation and promoting a sense of inner peace. By helping to cultivate a calm and serene emotional state, reishi mushrooms can help individuals navigate life’s challenges with greater ease.

Incorporating Reishi Mushrooms into Your Lifestyle

Now that we understand the potential benefits of reishi mushrooms for both the physical and emotional heart, let’s discuss how to incorporate them into your daily routine. The heart-healthy and calming compounds of reishi mushrooms taste bitter, so they aren’t the most delicious mushrooms to consume as food. That’s why it’s easiest to get their benefits by taking supplements. If you do opt to open a capsule to consume them in food, they mix best with foods that are already bitter tasting, like hot chocolate.

When choosing reishi mushroom products, it is important to ensure they are sourced from reputable suppliers and cultivated under suitable conditions. It’s also important to make sure that you’re getting the fruiting body (the stem and cap), not just the mycelium (root-like structure), as that’s where the triterpene compounds are found.

Reishi mushrooms offer a natural and holistic approach to nurturing both the physical and emotional heart. With their potential to support cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, and combat oxidative stress, they can contribute to a healthier heart. Additionally, their adaptogenic properties and ability to enhance emotional wellbeing make them a valuable ally in promoting a balanced and serene mind. By incorporating reishi mushrooms into your lifestyle, you can take proactive steps towards nourishing your heart. What a perfect Valentine’s gift for yourself or someone you care about!

Reishi Mushrooms—Nature’s Secret to Achieving Your 2024 Health Goals

With the start of the new year, you may be among the many who have decided to prioritize your health and well being. Whether it’s boosting your immune system, reducing stress, getting better sleep, or losing excess weight, perhaps you’re looking for natural solutions to help you achieve your goals. One such solution that is gaining popularity is reishi mushrooms.

Reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, have been treasured in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. Once reserved for royalty, they are known as the “mushroom of immortality” due to their myriad of health benefits. Let’s explore how incorporating reishi mushrooms into your routine can help you achieve your New Year’s health goals.

Supporting Natural Immunity

With cold and flu season in full swing, it is essential to have a robust immune system. Reishi mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides and beta-glucans which have powerful immune-boosting properties. Consuming reishi mushrooms can help enhance the activity of white blood cells and strengthen the immune system, thus reducing the risk of infections.

At the same time, while we might be feeling the full effects of winter, spring really isn’t that far away. And that means allergy season. Working on balancing your immune response with what are called immunomodulators can help save you from constantly having to say, “It’s just allergies” every time you sneeze, sniffle, or cough your way through hayfever season. Reishi mushrooms are—you guessed it—immunomodulators, so starting them now and keeping them going is a good plan whether you’re fighting infections or calming an overreactive immune system.

Reducing Stress and Promoting Relaxation

In today’s fast-paced world, stress and anxiety have become commonplace. Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens, meaning they help the body adapt to stressors. TCM has long classified reishi under the category of herbs that calm the nervous system. In fact, Taoist and Buddhist monks have also recognized the soothing effects of reishi, and they’ve used this mushroom to help them meditate. We now know that it’s the bioactive compounds found in reishi, like ganoderic acid and triterpenes found in the fruiting body (the stem and cap), that promote relaxation and help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

By incorporating reishi mushrooms into your routine, you may find you feel calmer and more balanced, making it easier to tackle your New Year’s health goals with a clear mind.

Enhancing Sleep Quality

Adequate sleep is crucial for overall health and well being. So, for those struggling to get a good night of sleep, sleeping pills or sedatives are a common solution. Unfortunately, they can leave you feeling drowsy the next day, and there’s the possibility of side effects and even addiction. Thankfully reishi mushrooms offer a natural way to help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality without being sedatives. This means they won’t “knock you out,” but by calming your mind, you may more easily find the sleep you’ve been searching for. By incorporating reishi mushrooms into your bedtime routine, you can experience deeper, more restorative sleep, leaving you refreshed and energized the next day. That’s a bonus because improved sleep can enhance your ability to stick to healthy habits.

Supporting Healthy Weight Loss

Weight loss is often one of the top New Year’s resolutions. Reishi mushrooms can be a valuable addition to your weight loss journey. You’re likely less inclined to feel the need to overindulge in your comfort foods like chocolate bars, chips, pastries, or cheese-laden meals if you feel less stressed, and reishi—as mentioned above—can support that.

Because you may also find it easier to get a restful, restorative sleep, resulting in more energy to exercise, get active, and tackle your New Year’s to-do tasks. It’s also important to note that poor sleep has been associated with weight gain, as it appears to contribute to a slower metabolism.

Additionally, reishi mushrooms possess anti-inflammatory properties that help regulate insulin levels and improve metabolic functioning, potentially aiding in weight management.

Reishi mushrooms are a natural powerhouse that offer an array of health benefits and can play a significant role in helping you meet your New Year’s health goals, so here’s to a year filled with health, vitality, and success!

Reishi: Your shield against Cold and Flu Season

Featured

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

LISTEN NOW: Have you heard about Red Reishi?

Featured

Reishi has been used as a medicinal mushroom in China, Japan, and other Asian countries for over 2000 years. The fruiting body is kidney-shaped with a wavy undersurface. There are about 80 different types of reishi that have been identified. For this episode Melissa Carr, Dr. TCM, sits down with Kuko Health* to talk about the benefits of the superfood, red reishi.

EP. 23/ WHAT IS THIS SUPER FOOD, RED REISHI?

*Kuko Health is a self-proclaimed Traditional Chinese Medicine enthusiast. Visit her website and join her on her health journey to uncover the truths behind this century old practice.

How Reishi Mushrooms can help with the Back-to-School Transition

As summer fades away each year, it’s time for students of all ages to return to school. However, this transition can be challenging and stressful. Whether you are a student or a parent helping your child, addressing the stress and lack of energy that come with this time of year is crucial. Fortunately, red reishi mushrooms can help the entire family, offering up a host of health benefits to get you through this school season.

Red reishi mushrooms are known as the “mushroom of immortality,” and they have been used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Reishi have been found to contain powerful active compounds that provide a wide range of health benefits for the human body, and they offer specific benefits when it comes to managing the challenges of returning to school.

Managing Stress

Returning to school can be stressful for both students and parents. Stress can manifest in different ways, including depression, poor concentration, anxiety, difficulty with coping, digestive issues, or changes in appetite.

Reishi mushrooms are an excellent choice for managing stress, as they are adaptogenic herbs. This, in part, means they are neither sedatives, nor stimulants, but they can help the body manage a wide range of stressors. Red reishi contains compounds, such as ganoderic acid, that help to regulate and reduce stress while promoting relaxation. Reishi mushrooms increase the production of calming neurochemicals, which leads to a significant reduction in anxiety levels and cognitive disturbances.

And one of its primary uses in TCM has been for calming the nervous system. For centuries, both Buddhist and Daoist monks have used reishi to support their meditation practices. Using reishi mushrooms in a supplement form can effectively reduce stress levels and promote feelings of calmness, making the back-to-school transition much easier.

Improving Sleep

Getting enough sleep is critical for students returning to school. Sufficient restful sleep is essential to concentration, focus, learning new material, and retaining and recalling information quickly. Sleep is also needed to help reduce stress and support the immune system. Because the change from summer routine to a school schedule can lead to sleep disturbances and insomnia, incorporating reishi mushrooms is an effective way to make this transition.

The active compounds in reishi mushrooms will help balance the body’s hormones, leading to better quality sleep. Research has demonstrated that reishi mushroom extracts improve sleep quality by reducing the time needed to fall asleep, increasing the amount of slow-wave sleep, and reducing the frequency of waking up during the night. Using a reishi supplement before bed can lead to a more restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.

Supporting the Immune System

Students often spend long hours in the classroom. This close and enclosed exposure to many others means more potential for contact with viruses and bacteria. Returning to school can expose students to a variety of infections, so ensuring optimal immune system function is paramount.

Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans that help to stimulate the immune system to respond when needed, promoting defensive action against harmful pathogens. Beta-glucans are immune system modulators. This means that the immune system will increase white blood cell production when under attack but calm the overly sensitive immune response for those with allergies and autoimmune disorders.

Taking red reishi supplements daily may help reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of colds and flus by supporting a healthy immune response.

Feeling More Energized

While feeling tired or needing caffeine has become a society norm, it’s not normal. Feeling drained and low on energy can make it difficult for students to focus, leading to poor academic performance. If students have been able to sleep in more often during the summer months, then the return to early morning school schedules may exacerbate feelings of fatigue.

Reishi mushrooms are recognized in TCM as Qi tonics. This means they can help boost energy levels, but they are not stimulants and won’t leave you feeling jittery. They do this in part by regulating cortisol, one of the body’s stress hormones. When cortisol levels are too high, it can lead to fatigue, mental fog, and irritability. Additionally, when stress is chronic and cortisol levels remain elevated for too long, you may experience adrenal fatigue.

Reishi mushrooms contain triterpenes, which have been found to support and strengthen the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol and other hormones that regulate energy, mood, and mental clarity. Supporting healthy adrenal gland function with reishi mushroom supplements will help to mitigate fatigue and promote energy.

How to Take Reishi

Reishi mushrooms have a hard, chitinous shell, meaning they are not easily cooked and consumed like some of their fellow mushrooms. Additionally, the triterpene compounds are very bitter in flavour, so capsule supplements are the easiest way to be consistent with daily reishi intake.

Because high-quality reishi is key if you want health benefits that you’ll notice, look for capsules that include the fruiting body (the stem and cap that you would identify as looking like a mushroom). The fruiting body contains the triterpene compounds needed for calming the nervous system, supporting feelings of calm energy, and for helping with the health of the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands.

For adults, Mikei offers an easy one-a-day concentrated dose capsule, but it’s safe to take more than one on days when more than one is needed or as directed by a healthcare provider. Take it with something high in vitamin C for better absorption of reishi’s medicinal compounds.

For kids who can’t swallow capsules, consider opening the reishi capsule and adding a bit of it to their food. Because high-quality fruiting body reishi is very bitter in flavour, chocolate (hot chocolate, chocolate milk, chocolate pudding), smoothies, and shakes make for a good hiding place. I’ve also found it hides well in no-bake protein balls made with dates.

Ultimately, reishi mushrooms are a great addition to any back-to-school routine. From managing stress and improving sleep to supporting the immune system and boosting energy levels, red reishi mushrooms can make the transition back to school much easier. Make the most of your or your kids’ time at school by starting with a solid foundation of health and energy with reishi mushrooms.

The Healing Power of Reishi: A Natural Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury. That sounds like something life threatening, and it certainly can be. But almost everyone knows someone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) because one of the most common types of TBI is known as a concussion. Though our understanding about the brain is still very limited, we are learning and our recommendations for managing a concussion have changed over the decades.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injuries

Whenever someone sustains an injury to their head, such as being hit by a ball, falling, or getting in a car accident, it’s always important to assess whether a traumatic brain injury (TBI) has occurred. TBIs can even happen when there is no actual impact on the head, such as with whiplash, because the brain can hit the inside of the skull with sudden, severe, and jarring force.

How do you know if you’ve suffered a TBI? If you’ve sustained a blow or jarring force to the head, it’s important to get checked out and pay attention to symptoms over the next few days. Common symptoms include headaches, nausea or vomiting, confusion, problems concentrating, forgetfulness or memory loss, double vision or blurred vision, sensitivity to light or sound, dizziness, balance problems, ringing in the ears, light-headedness, changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, or changes in mood. Whether someone has lost consciousness or not after a TBI doesn’t necessarily indicate the severity of a concussion, but repeated TBIs do appear to have increasing effects.

What to Do After a TBI—Active Rehabilitation

While we used to recommend lying down in a dark room and practicing complete rest until the symptoms go away, we’ve learned that active rehabilitation is a better route to take. Because the initial stages of a TBI cause inflammation, it is helpful wait to return to exercise for three to five days after the injury, depending on the severity of your injury and symptoms.

Exercise

Then, a gradual return of no-impact exercise will help speed up recovery. This means activities like stationary bike, elliptical machine, or low-impact calisthenics workout (e.g., squats, knee raises, lunges, shoulder tap planks) to raise the heartrate, but not running or impact sports. Note the use of the word “gradual return.” If you get dizzy or experience pain or other troubling symptom while doing this, then try different activities, go easier, or do your exercises in short intervals.

Cognitive Challenges

Right after your exercise, challenge your brain with a bit of reading, a crossword, memory games, or other non-screen cognitive activity. Because exercise causes a release in neurochemicals like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), you’ll experience more cognitive benefits after physical exercise. Again, take breaks as you need.

Calm Your Nervous System

Because a TBI can stimulate a prolonged stress response, practicing ways to calm the nervous system can be key to healing. Meditation, breathwork, soothing music, and relaxed visualization are all examples of ways to promote a feeling of calm. While many think that watching tv, scrolling through social media, reading online articles, and playing games on the phone are relaxing, it’s best to avoid or limit time on backlit screens such as televisions, computers, tablets, and smart phones.

The Power of Reishi Mushroom

Reishi, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, is a medicinal mushroom widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It has been revered for centuries for its potent healing properties.

Neuroprotective Effects and Reduced Inflammation

Reishi mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds like triterpenes and polysaccharides that exhibit potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. These properties help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the brain following an injury.

Promoting Brain Health and Regeneration

Reishi mushrooms also have the potential to promote brain health and regeneration. They contain compounds that may stimulate the production of nerve growth factors, supporting the growth and regeneration of brain cells. This rejuvenation process can aid in the recovery from traumatic brain injuries and facilitate the restoration of normal brain functions.

Enhancing Cognitive Function

Another interesting property of reishi is its potential to enhance cognitive function and improve memory and learning. This effect can be particularly advantageous for individuals recovering from traumatic brain injuries, as it may speed up the cognitive healing process.

Calms the Nervous System

TCM classifies reishi mushrooms as a substance that “Calms the Spirit/Mind,” and this is one of its key benefits when used to address a traumatic brain injury. A TBI can create dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), leading to prolonged symptoms from the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system. All the symptoms listed above that are often associated with TBIs can be caused by this dysregulation.

Reishi mushrooms have been used by Taoist monks for centuries to help them move into the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system state for meditative practice and centred calmness. Today we recognize reishi mushrooms as being adaptogenic, meaning they can help the body adapt to a wide variety of stressors, returning the body to a balanced state known as homeostasis.

Nature Provides

Traumatic brain injuries can be life-altering, but nature provides us with incredible resources for healing. Reishi mushrooms, with their neuroprotective effects and ability to support brain health, offer promise as a natural treatment option for TBIs. While further research is needed, considering reishi as part of a holistic approach to recovery can have significant benefits.

Reishi Mushrooms for Oral Health

Did you know that the health of your mouth can both reflect and affect your overall health? Your mouth is, obviously, an entry point to your body, and regular care such as tooth brushing and flossing can help keep bad bacteria from causing cavities and gum disease as well as cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

However, even with regular oral hygiene, some diseases and medications can contribute to infection and inflammation in the mouth. As a result, taking care of your whole body and your immune system are key to preventing dental issues. Fortunately, there is a friendly fungus out there that can help enhance your immune system and your oral health.

Reishi mushrooms can help strengthen your body as a whole, as well as improve your oral health.

Disease and Medications Can Affect Oral Health

Diabetes, some cancers, chronic infections, and autoimmune disorders like HIV/AIDS, Sjogren’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis can increase inflammation and lower the body’s resistance to infection, increasing the risk for gingivitis, periodontitis, and cavities. Osteoporosis can also cause periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Acid reflux or gastroesophageal disease (GERD), if poorly treated or missed (as in “silent reflux”), can weaken the teeth, as the acid erodes the protective enamel.

Saliva is important to wash away food and neutralize the acids produced by bacteria that are in the mouth. That’s why medications—including antihistamines, decongestants, diuretics, and some painkillers and antidepressants—that reduce salivary flow can negatively affect oral health.

Poor Oral Health Increases Risk of Other Diseases

Whenever my dogs have had health checkups, their vet always checks their teeth. Why? Because my dogs can’t easily tell anyone what they are feeling, and dental health can indicate other health issues. While we can tell our healthcare providers what’s going on with us, our mouths can also provide visual (and scent) information.

Studies have shown that those with periodontal disease are at an increased risk for coronary heart disease and are more likely to suffer a stroke. This is thought to be due to an accumulation of bad bacteria in the mouth contributing to artery-clogging plaques and inflammation within the lining of the heart and heart valves (endocarditis).

Since we can inhale micro-organisms through the mouth, if they reach the lower respiratory tract, they can worsen and promote bronchitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema. These bacterial infections, if they become severe, can also increase blood sugar levels, making diabetes more difficult to manage. And, as if that weren’t enough, it may also contribute to issues with pregnancy, impact sleep, and be a factor in behavioural and developmental problems in children.

Reishi Mushrooms for Oral Health

For good oral health, we want to address oxidative damage, inflammation, and infections. Reishi mushrooms are powerful medicinal mushrooms that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. Reishi mushrooms contain polysaccharides and triterpenes, which are, amongst other things, powerful antioxidants that help prevent oxidative damage, one of the foundation elements that contributes to chronic inflammation, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases.

Reishi mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, which have been shown to help establish a healthy immune response, while also promoting healthy cholesterol levels and improving cardiovascular health. We want our immune systems to respond quickly and appropriately to the bad bacteria that can be found to accumulate in our mouths. But we also want our immune response to be moderated so that it doesn’t overreact in an autoimmune dysfunction. And, while you might think that all you have to do is use antibacterial mouthwashes, remember that you also have good bacteria in your mouth that these rinses will destroy.

In addition to regular brushing and flossing, taking Japanese reishi mushrooms can help you treat or avoid the infection and chronic inflammation that are primary components for problems associated with oral health. These powerful mushrooms promote a better immune response, fight infection, and manage inflammation to help you avoid the need for urgent dental visits. A bonus benefit of reishi include that it can help calm your nervous system, so you can attend those important regular dental checkups, even if they scare you.

If you’re looking for an effective way to improve your smile, reishi mushrooms could be just what the dentist ordered!

Celebrating Famous Women in Healthcare In Honour of International Women’s Day

When it comes to women in healthcare, there are many inspirational female doctors and researchers who have made an impact on the world of medicine. From pioneering doctors like Elizabeth Blackwell to modern-day scientists like Youyou Tu, countless women have contributed to our understanding of how the body works and what we can do to keep it healthy.

In Honour of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the accomplishments of famous women in healthcare!

Marie Curie

Marie Curie is one of the most famous scientists in history. She was a physicist and chemist of Polish origin who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She discovered radium and polonium, contributing hugely to the science of radiology. The first woman to win a Nobel Prize, she is also only the only person to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences—physics and chemistry (the only other person to win two Nobel Prizes is Linus Pauling for chemistry and peace).

Marie worked tirelessly throughout her life to advance women’s rights, science education, and medical research. In order for her to become the first woman to obtain a Doctor of Science in Europe, she first had to study illegally in Poland before relocating to France, where she pushed through systemic sexism as well as language and financial barriers to complete her education. She was also the first female professor at Sorbonne University in Paris. She was a pioneer, paving the way for many other female researchers and health professionals who have worked since in radiation oncology.

In 1911, she opened the Radium Institute which treated people suffering from cancer with radioactive substances that were discovered by herself and Pierre. During World War I she and her daughter used x-rays to help an estimated million soldiers, even training 150 women how to operate the equipment while she herself drove to help wounded soldiers on the frontlines. Even more, she refused to patent the refining process of radium so that she did not receive what would otherwise have been considerable profit, as she wanted it to be used widely for the public good.

Virginia Apgar

Virginia Apgar was the first American woman to be a full-time anesthesiologist. She was born in Westfield, New Jersey in 1909 and attended Mount Holyoke College and Columbia University Medical School.

Apgar became one of the first doctors to use a system to score newborns on their health immediately after birth. This system is still used today, as it helps doctors decide whether or not a newborn needs immediate care. The scoring system gives each baby a 1 to 10 score based on five criteria: heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, reflex response, and colour.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale is the most famous nurse in history. She was born in 1820 to a wealthy family but chose to become a nurse rather than marry or take care of her family’s estate. She was an advocate for women’s rights and healthcare reform.

In the early 1850s, she worked in a hospital in London where she made it her mission to improve the practices of hygiene, thus significantly improving the health outcomes and lowering death rates. When she was called to organize a corps of nurses to attend to the fallen British soldiers of the Crimean War, she was shocked to discover that the hospital was sitting in a cesspool of contaminated water with patients in extremely unsanitary conditions, more likely to die from infectious diseases than from their battle wounds. She quickly changed that and with her intense work ethic reduced the death rate at that hospital by two-thirds.

Though she contracted “Crimean fever” and never fully recovered, she later funded the starting up of St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, England, as well as the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. Because of her, nursing became an honourable vocation that inspired many women to follow in her steps. In 1907 she became the first woman to be made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell is a celebrated pioneer in the world of medicine. Born in England, she moved to the United States after her father died. She was determined to become a doctor, but her gender was an obstacle.

Elizabeth graduated from Geneva Medical College in 1849 and became the first woman in America to earn a medical degree. She opened a clinic in New York City where she treated poor and immigrant women free of charge. Her work helped her gain respect among her peers. In 1857, she founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children which is still open today as part of Beth Israel Medical Center and provides free care to women who cannot afford healthcare services.

Youyou Tu

Youyou Tu received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for her research on a novel therapy for malaria. In the 1970s, Youyou discovered and extracted a substance called artemisinin from the herb sweet wormwood. Artemisinin inhibits the parasite that causes malaria and its discovery and use in modern drugs has led to the improved health and survival of millions of people worldwide.

Youyou got into medical research because of her own experience. As a sixteen-year-old child, she contracted tuberculosis and had to take two years off from high school to recover. She wanted to learn how to keep herself healthy as well as help others. In addition to her studies in pharmacy from a Western medical perspective, she also learned about plants and later expanded her studies into a full-time training program on Chinese medical theory and practice.

As an interesting coincidence, her father named her “Youyou” because of a famous poem that includes the mention of the sweet wormwood plant.

Queen Reishi

I’ve taken to sometimes calling the herb reishi Queen Reishi because of its unique contribution to our natural health pharmacy. This amazing mushroom is an adaptogen that helps prevent and treat a wide range of conditions. Once reserved for royalty, it is one of the rare herbs that instead of needing to be included in a formula of multiple herbs, may be prescribed on its own by Traditional Chinese Medicine herbalists.

Red reishi’s main use in TCM is to calm the nervous system, a Yin/feminine action. It can also improve function of the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys, while balancing a healthy immune response.

So, raise your reishi-infused hot-chocolate-filled mug to International Women’s Day!

Top 5 Supplements for the Whole Family

When it comes to your family’s health, one of the most important things you can do is ensure they have a healthy diet. Unfortunately, with busy schedules, we can all use some help staying on track. That’s where supplements can be helpful. With Family Day right around the corner, we thought it would be the perfect time to discuss which supplements your family should be taking.

Multivitamins

Taking a multivitamin supplement is a smart way to ensure you and your family are covering your nutritional basics. Multivitamins help fill in the gaps in your diet by providing essential nutrients that might otherwise contribute to health problems.

But with so many different multivitamins on the market, it can be difficult to find one that works for everyone in your family. That’s okay because you can find multis that are designed for a specific age range, activity level, or gender. Menstruating women, for example, may need more iron, while men’s multis might include saw palmetto for the prostate. Of course, children may more easily take chewable or liquid options over a pill they need to swallow.

When you’re choosing a multivitamin, it can be helpful to look at the non-medicinal ingredients, as there are a number you are best to avoid, including titanium dioxide (used to make the colour of the supplement brighter), hydrogenated oil (it’s not healthy in your food, so why take it in your health supplement), and artificial colours (FD&C Red 40, Blue 2, and Yellow 5) and flavours.

Another thing I look for in a quality multi is the type of vitamin E that’s used. Check the brackets next to the listing of vitamin E and put it back on the shelf if there’s a “dl” at the start of the description, e.g., dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate. This is the synthetic, cheaper, and less effective version of vitamin E. Look instead for d-alpha-tocopherol. If this natural vitamin E were used, perhaps they wouldn’t need to include so many chemical preservatives, as vitamin E is a natural preservative. You might even find some supplements that offer d-alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols and tocotrienols, a more complete version of vitamin E. Want to go a step further? Look for the calcium and magnesium to be citrate or chelate instead of oxide forms. Fancier versions may use calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite and magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate. There are a ton of other signs, but you’ve got a good starting point now.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin.” It’s produced when your skin is exposed to the sun, and is found naturally in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, cod, halibut, and tuna. Some foods like milk and milk alternatives, cheese, and orange juice are sometimes fortified with vitamin D. And, did you know that mushrooms can also be a rich source of vitamin D?

Vitamin D is known to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D has long been recognized for its ability to maintain strong bones and teeth by helping with calcium absorption in the body.

Vitamin D also plays a role in muscle function, immune health, and hormone production. Many people don’t get enough vitamin D from food or sun exposure, so supplements are recommended for many children and adults.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help support healthy digestive and immune systems. They can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso. But if you’re not eating enough of those foods (or any at all), then taking a supplement is a good idea.

Getting enough of these beneficial bacteria can help your body defend against bad bacteria, lower the risk and severity of diarrhea, reduce constipation and bloating, lessen the likelihood and severity of skin disorders and allergies, and even support good mental health. Probiotics can be important supplements for the entire family.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that your body cannot produce, so you need to get them from your diet. The most important EFAs are omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like sardines and salmon, nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts, and seeds like chia and flax.

A healthy balance of EFAs is important for everyone. For children, their brains are developing quickly and omega-3s are key. Pregnant women are often also recommended to ensure they have enough omega-3s in their diet to support the developing brain and other organs of their child. Because a foundational issue with many health issues is chronic inflammation, having supplements like omega-3s decrease inflammation is helpful.

If your family doesn’t get enough omega-3 essential fatty acids in their diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement.

Reishi Mushrooms

More than just an immune system booster, reishi mushroom is packed with antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage in the body and compounds called triterpenoids that help reduce inflammation and promote healthy functioning of the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system.

It’s main use in Traditional Chinese Medicine is to calm the nervous system. It’s an incredible adaptogen, helping the body to deal with stressors, both physical and emotional. As such, it can help with sleep issues and mood imbalances. And, while it is calming, it is not sedating. It is, in fact, a powerful Qi (energy) tonic, so if you need more energy but don’t want a stimulant, reishi is a great option.

As if that wasn’t enough, though the polysaccharide compounds like beta glucans in reishi can enhance a strong immune system response when needed, they can also moderate an overactive immune system that causes autoimmune disorders and allergies. Plus, reishi is safe for kids and adults of all ages!

If you’re looking for a quality supplement for the entire family, it is hard to go wrong with reishi mushrooms, but some mushroom supplements are better than others. In order to ensure you get both the polysaccharides as well as the triterpenoids, make sure you get the fruiting body of reishi, and that the powder inside tastes bitter (that’s the triterpenoids). For ease of taking, you’ll also want to find one that is a high concentration extract.

The best supplements are those that deliver benefits in the areas your family needs it most. Whether you are looking to maintain optimal health or provide an added level of support in an area where your diet is lacking, you can find a supplement out there that will fit the bill.