Celebrate World Health Day with Reishi

Did you know that April 7 is World Health Day? This day is a time to raise awareness for global health issues, recognize the efforts and achievements made to improve health internationally, and focus on policies that are needed to overcome these health challenges.

As a way to celebrate World Health Day, here is a list of things you can do to promote healthy living for yourself, your family, and your community.

  1. Be physically active. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym. In fact, for most people, that simply isn’t possible. A simple approach is to just move your body more. That might mean a regular at-home or outdoor exercise routine, organized sporting activities, or actively playing with your kids or pets. It can also mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator, when possible. And, if you can, then walk or cycle to work or to run errands. Not only is it better for your body, but it’s a great way to save some money on gas!
  2. Eat healthy food. It’s not enough to just exercise regularly — you also have to watch what you eat if you want to be healthier, but there is no one way to eat right. In fact, what works great for one person may make another feel awful. In general, however, more whole foods and fewer processed foods is key. Make sure you eat lots of vegetables, get enough fibre, choose healthy fats, and select high-quality proteins. While variety and moderation are words that come up often when talking about eating well, that doesn’t make it has to taste bland. Use herbs and spices to add flavour and you’ll also get their added health benefits.
  3. Reduce stress. Stress is a global health epidemic, but it’s not something that has to continue to break you down. While stressors will happen, it’s important to find ways to manage your stress response. Make time each day for things you enjoy, and make sure to get enough sleep every night. There are also many stress management techniques that can help you relax and unwind, including, yoga, meditation, exercise, and deep breathing.
  4. Take care of your mental health. No matter how busy you are, always remember that your mental health is a major priority. Don’t forget to take care of your mind as well as your body. If you feel like you may not be mentally well, do not ignore it. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to get professional help as soon as possible.
  5. Volunteer in your community. Join efforts that promote health in your community. Volunteering has physical and mental health benefits. It helps you feel happier, more connected with others, and improves self-esteem and confidence. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer to help others in need. From your local food bank to your local hospital, there are many ways you can lend a helping hand.
  6. Plant a tree, tend to plants. Trees are good for our health as they remove air pollution and cool down urban areas in summer. They also provide a habitat for wildlife, and people can enjoy being close to trees in green spaces.

    If you don’t have a place to plant a tree outdoors, bring smaller plants into your home. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, easy-to-care-for plants like spider plants, English ivy, mother-in-law’s tongue, and peace lily can help improve your indoor air quality and make you feel better.

    If you have space to grow your own herbs or food, even better! Getting your hands in the dirt is therapeutic—and having the fresh food you grow can’t be beat.
  7. Donate items you no longer use. Support organizations that provide basic necessities like food and clothing to help people who are affected by poverty or natural disasters. For example, you could donate gently used clothing or household goods to help the less fortunate.
  8. Give blood. Did you know that giving blood just once can save three lives? Your local blood donation centre is always looking for new donors. Not only does it help save lives, but it also makes you feel great knowing you’re helping people in your community!
  9. Recycle. The number of plastics that end up in our oceans and landfills is causing serious problems for our environment, our wildlife, and our health. Recycling not only saves the environment but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. We can all do our part by minimizing our use of plastic and by recycling plastic bottles, paper bags, glass jars, and aluminum cans — which are all prime examples of recyclable products we use every day.
  10. Incorporating reishi mushrooms into your life. If you want to mark the occasion with something that will help you take care of your own health, I recommend taking reishi mushrooms. These fabulous fungi have been used for thousands of years as something of a panacea for everything from cancer to heart disease, and many modern studies support these claims. Reishi mushrooms are said to help strengthen a balanced immune response, fighting off viruses that cause colds and flus, and well as taming an over-responsive immune system that causes allergies or autoimmune disorders. They also help your body adapt to stressors, calming your nervous system and providing you more energy.

In order to take care of the health of our world, it’s important you also take the time to make your own health a priority. A healthy mind and healthy body are crucial to living a fulfilled life. These tips will help you get started in your journey to more health and happiness, so don’t wait another day, get started this World Health Day.

The Relationship between Stress and Gut Health

Have you ever experienced the queasy sensation in the stomach, the constant belching, or the runs when you are under stress? These are typical scenarios illustrating the relationship between our stress levels and gastrointestinal function. In TCM, we often refer to this as “Liver & Spleen/Stomach Disharmony”, meaning that the Qi in the liver is stagnant, while the Qi in the middle is deficient. This will often manifest as symptoms of fatigue, hypochondriac pain, nausea, belching, sighing, bloating, diarrhea, or epigastric/abdominal pain.

When we treat this disharmony, we usually focus on soothing the liver and replenishing the middle jiao, and most of the herbs we select are coincidentally strong adaptogens. Adaptogenic herbs function to help the body better adapt to environments that are stressful for the body and regulate homeostasis, and are commonly used in naturopathic remedies and western herbology.

In relation to TCM, most adaptogenic herbs are either middle Qi tonics or liver Qi regulators, such as chai hu (bupleurum), gui zhi (cinnamon twig), huang qi (astragalus), bai zhu (atractylodes), ling zhi (reishi), ren shen (ginseng), gan cao (licorice root), and wu wei zi (schisandra berry). Therefore, it is conclusive to say that, in order to better manage stress and prevent physical damage, it is crucial to keep your spleen/stomach happy and strong, while ensuring your liver Qi is continuously flowing unobstructedly!

Six Amazing Health Benefits of Red Reishi

For centuries, medical practitioners in East Asia have used reishi mushroom because of this its long list of therapeutic pluses. But only recently has awareness about this highly revered superfood reached the shores of the western world. So, why is red reishi gaining so much popularity around the globe? Today, we want to dive a little deeper into the amazing health benefits of this miraculous medicinal mushroom.

Increase calm and reduce anxiety

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), reishi is known as ling zhi, or the “herb of spiritual potency.” When a person feels anxious, depressed, manic, or agitated, or suffers from a mental illness, TCM practitioners may describe this as the spirit or “Shen” being out of balance.

Reishi is categorized in its materia medica of herbal medicines as an herb that helps “calm the Shen.” As such, it can help calm the nervous system during times of stress, without causing sleepiness. So, you can still go ahead with operating large machinery (e.g. driving) when you take reishi, unlike some sedative herbs. In fact, reishi mushrooms are also considered “Qi tonics,” loosely meaning they can improve energy.

Stress comes in a number of forms. It includes physical stressors like extremes in temperature, lack of nutrients, insufficient restorative sleep, infection, or disease. Stressors can also be mental and emotional ones like loss of a loved one, loneliness, fear, worry, anger, frustration, being overwhelmed, depression, and more. It is no wonder why this medical mushroom is the go-to tonic in TCM.

Boost the immune system

No matter the time of year, colds and flus are always a concern. One of the most beneficial effects of consuming reishi mushroom is its ability to support the immune system. The beta glucans, compounds found in this holistic herb, have been shown to promote a healthy immune response to fend off diseases and infections.

Fight off cancer

While so much surrounding the cause of cancer remains a mystery, fortunately, great strides have been made in treatment options, including reishi mushrooms. Studies have shown that including reishi mushroom supplementation renders conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments more effective at killing cancer cells. 3 Furthermore, the study groups who received reishi reported that their quality of life after these powerful conventional cancer treatments was higher than the control group who did not receive reishi during their treatments.

Further studies have shown promise with inhibiting the growth of cancer cell lines, potentially preventing cancer from developing. 2,6 Thus, reishi mushroom may be helpful as both a supportive therapy and also a preventative one for cancer.

Promote liver health

The liver plays a crucial role in eliminating toxins. So, if you want to ensure your liver is working in peak performance, consider giving reishi a try. Studies have demonstrated that triterpenes found in reishi has been shown to prevent free radical damage and support healthy liver function. 6

Keep allergies at bay

If you are looking for a more natural way to manage allergies, take reishi. Studies have revealed that the compounds found in Japanese red reishi are an effective treatment for allergies 5 and other respiratory ailments. Researchers also detected that the ganoderic acids found in this herb act as a natural antihistamine.

Reduce cardiovascular risks

Did you know that reishi mushrooms can help lower blood pressure? The ganoderic acid in reishi is responsible for a variety of heart health benefits, from decreasing high blood pressure 4 and reducing excessive cholesterol levels to lowering the risk of dangerous blood clotting. There is also evidence to suggest that this mushroom can improve blood flow and reduce plaque build-up on artery walls. 1

Choosing Reishi Supplements

When it comes to reishi mushrooms, the advantages of using this natural medicinal wonder are far too many to ignore. But it’s equally important to make sure you are getting a quality product with the medicinal compounds that your body can use.

  1. Firstly, if you are only getting the mycelium (root-like structure) found in some reishi supplements, you are missing out on the ganoderic acids and other useful compounds found in the fruiting body (cap and stem).
  2. Second, if you are getting a supplement that has only ground up the mushroom and is not an extraction, then you are unlikely to be able to absorb many of the important compounds, and those compounds are also not going to be in sufficient quantities to have true medicinal value.
  3. Third, a quality reishi mushroom is one that is grown cleanly in a high-nutrition foundation and allowed to sufficiently mature.

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.

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.

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.

Find Your Calm with Red Reishi

Anxiety. Everyone these days seems to be suffering from some varying degree of it, and understandably so. Modern day life is filled with high-speed over stimulation. Studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress changes the way nerve cells transmit information from one region of the brain to another.

Work and home-life stress, traumatising news reports from around the globe, and poor sleep hygiene all wreak havoc on our nervous system.

While we may use the word “anxiety” frequently to describe our everyday fears and worries, anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect millions of people every year in North America. For these people, worry and fear are crippling and overwhelming states, making day-to-day functioning almost impossible.

More than “Just a Mushroom”

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), anxiety is viewed ultimately as a disharmony of the “Shen” (spirit—housed in the heart). However, the Chinese system teaches that a disturbance in any one (or more) of the “Zang” organs (Liver, Spleen, Kidney, Heart) can cause an imbalanced emotional state. Treatment aims to calm the mind and nourish any underlying deficiency or drain any excessive states within these systems, which may be contributing to the condition.

Enter Japanese Red Reishi, known as Ling Zhi in TCM. More than ‘just a mushroom’, Red Reishi has been revered in Asia for centuries as the medicine of immortality to treat such disorders, as well as to support the immune system, improve sleep, and increase one’s vital energy (qi).

A Powerful Adaptogen

Recent studies have shown the fruiting body of Japanese Red Reishi to contain specific immune regulating, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective agents (reishi beta-glucan and ganoderic acid A) that make it a powerful adaptogen; which is a fancy way of saying it works to increase our physiological resistance to stress.

Taken traditionally as a tea, the highest quality modern day preparation of Japanese Red Reishi is (still) hot water extracted to maximize potency and ensure therapeutic integrity.

Stress and anxiety are leading causes of serious illness in the modern world. Take control of your health and experience the benefits of one of the world’s most ancient prescriptions.

Can Red Reishi help with Depression?

Depression is a complex disease that accounts for nearly 40% of all psychiatric illness. Characterized primarily by a change in mood, consisting typically as feelings of sadness, anxiety/agitation, loss of interest, insomnia, loss of appetite, body pain, and in it’s extreme, thoughts of death and self-harm; depression for some, is more than just a ‘bad day’.

Because depression can vary in it’s cause and severity, how it presents often differs by individual. Post-partum, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), bi-polar disorder, and major/clinical depression are all examples of depression and it’s spectrum.

Despite the numerous physiological and psychological factors that can contribute to the manifestation of depression, acute and/or chronic stress is reported to be the number one contributing factor in the exacerbation, or worsening of depressive symptoms.

The Stress Connection

Long-term or chronic stress leads to elevated levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol, as well as decreased levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, which have been linked to depression.  Changes in these chemical systems affects the functioning of ‘normal’ biological processes related to sleep, appetite, energy, and sex drive, as well as the expression of mood and emotion.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, mental, physical and/or emotional stress effectively weakens (consumes), scatters or stagnates the Qi (chi) in various organ systems of the body, resulting in both mental/emotional problems (called “shen” disorders) and physiological disease.

How Red Reishi Can Help

Reishi (called Ling Zhi in Traditional Chinese herbal medicine) has been used to treat disorders of the mind or “shen” for thousands of years. To blend the concepts of Eastern and Western medicine, western science has proven that through specific immune regulating and anti-inflammatory agents (ganoderic acid A), the fruiting body of the Japanese Red Reishi acts as a powerful adaptogen, allowing the body to more easily cope with stress. Through this, a positive effect occurs on the bodily systems most affected by it (stress). A less ‘stressed out’ body translates to a less ‘stressed out’ nervous system, thereby assisting to improve a person’s overall physical and mental health. Additionally, western science has shown Reishi to have positive effects on the hepatic (liver) and cardiovascular (heart) systems, whose functions according to TCM theory, are strongly linked to depression.

The TCM view of mental illnesses such as depression is a holistic one. With a strong focus on prevention and lifestyle change, TCM practitioners take into account many different aspects of a person’s functioning when developing treatment plans. When applied this way, the addition of a high quality supplement like Japanese Red Reishi may be of great benefit for both prevention and treatment of depressive symptoms due to a diminished resistance stress.

Keep in mind, not all supplements are created equal. Natural, wood-log cultivation using hot water extraction (without the use of ethanol) is the best and most desirable.