Reishi: The Meditation Mushroom

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Reishi may be the king of mushrooms. Exalted in both China and Japan, reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is mentioned in the first Chinese herbal, dating back to 2800 BC. Ancient Chinese healers called it "holy mushroom" and "mushroom of immortality." In Japanese, reishi translates to divine or spiritual mushroom. At a recent conference, Dr. Willard stated, "The reishi is by far my favorite of the medicinal mushrooms." Christopher Hobbs uses reishi extract daily, writing that it is a "deep level tonic" used traditionally as a blood cleanser. And, Paul Stamets classifies it as the most broad spectrum healer of all medicinal mushrooms.

Reishi, like shiitake, contains beta 1,3 glucan, but its health benefits go beyond immune enhancing, antiviral, and antitumor capacities. In his "Cross-Index of Mushrooms and Targeted Disease Complexes" chart, Stamets rates the reishi with 15 of the 16 documented and traditional healing properties of mushrooms. (www.fungi.com) Reishi is also antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, blood pressure regulating, cardiovascular supporting, cholesterol reducing, blood sugar moderating, a tonic to kidneys, liver, and nerves, a reliever of respiratory complaints and stress reducing. (Only "sexual potentiator" is missing, an honor that belongs uniquely to the sensual shiitake and the unusual cordecyps.)

Reishi contains more triterpenes than any other medicinal mushroom. Triterpenes increase oxygen consumption, tone the liver, and reduce stress. This supports its use to ease nervous tension, enhance sleep, and generally calm the mind. It is so effective that one of Dr. Willard's patients commented that taking reishi was like getting an extra half hour of meditation every day. Perhaps it is the triterpenes that help to ease the pain of fibromyalgia.

Reishi also prevents allergic reactions. This protection comes from a constituent called lanostane. Lanostane is an anti-histamine which also supports adrenal function. Lastly, reishi contains a sulfur derivative which is being researched as an aid in maintaining healthy, open airways. In clinical use, it is already specific for asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and many other respiratory problems.

Dr. Willard suggests that rather than take reishi extract alone on a daily basis, take it with ginger and vitamin C. Reishis are taken strictly for their medicinal qualities. Unappealing as food, they are hard, woody, and bitter.

Nutrition News.

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