Similar in its effects to Maitake, the Reishi mushroom is a powerful immune system booster that has been used to treat cancer and relieve the symptoms of chemotherapy. Its Chinese name, ‘lingzhi’, literally translates to ‘herb of immortality’. Unlike Maitake however, it also has beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and respiratory conditions.
A popular herb across Asia for more than 3000 years, Reishi was ‘ranked’ the #1 herb in a 2000 year old text on Chinese medicine. Reishi has now found recognition in western herbology and is increasingly subject to medical trials. The best thing about Reishi is that it has no known side effects!
Reishi is a fungus usually found at the foot of large trees or decaying tree stumps. It grows across the world, from Japan to the Amazon rainforest. Historically it has been only in Asia though, that its value as a medicine has been recognized.
Its value to Chinese medicine comes from the way it works in a holistic way, on the whole body. Using Reishi and other herbal remedies, Chinese herbologists seek to treat the underlying cause of the illness, rather than just its symptoms.
Scientists have been so far unable to isolate the active ingredients in Reishi – in fact it appears that all the parts of the herb work in union to regulate and normalize your body functions.
When taken as a supplement, Reishi has been shown to stimulate the immune system. For this reason it is regularly used by cancer patients to stifle the growth of cancer and alleviate the symptoms of chemotherapy.
Reishi contains Ganoderic acids, substances that have been clinically shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. So Reishi supplements are also a great option for those with a family history of heart problems.
Maitake is a regular feature in some local Japanese and Chinese cuisine. As a relatively flavorless mushroom, it has never gained the popularity of Enoki or Shiitake mushrooms, however its health benefits do see it included in many dishes.
Reishi is taken orally, either cooked as the mushroom itself, or in a powdered form that comes in capsules or tablets. Reishi is a very safe substance to take, however always check with your doctor before starting a course.