Reishi(Ganoderma lucidum) may be the most revered and cherished herb in the entire world, especially in the Chinese herbal lineage. This mushroom has carried many titles such as “The Great Protector”, “The Herb of Fortune”, “The Herb of Immortality”, and “The Spirit Mushroom”. The Taoist monks believe reishi was the “elixir of immortality” increasing and enhancing our spiritual growth, the “shen” energy. It has been a central tool in the Chinese herbal system for more then 2,000 years and is depicted in various forms of Chinese artistry. The legends and lore surrounding reishi in China dating back thousands of years ago speak of magicians and alchemists who claimed to know the secret location of this mushroom and proclaiming it’s magical powers for those who sought it out. In the 1st-2nd century Shennong Bencao Jing, otherwise known as the “Spirit Farmer” categorized reishi into six categories based on it’s color. Green works on the liver, red works on the heart, white works on the lungs, black works on the kidney, yellow works on the spleen, and purple works on the core essence.
“ It positively affects the life-energy, or Qi of the heart, repairing the chest area and benefiting those with a knotted and tight chest. Taken over a long period of time, agility of the body will not cease, and the years are lengthened to those of the Immortal Fairies.”
Li Shizen, Author, herbalist, and acupuncturist
The Great Protector is perhaps the most accurate title for describing this noble organism of the forest. Reishi is immunologically protective, it works to build, modulate, and fortify our immune system, protecting us from opportunistic organisms. When our immune system is weakened there is a lag time in the white blood cell response that is activated upon the arrival of a foreign biological organism in our body. If our immune gates are lowered for even a short amount of time(let alone our entire lives) these opportunistic organisms can find crevices within our internal echo-system that the low level functioning white blood cells(lymphocytes) cannot detect or defend against, this can be seen in nano-bacterial formations otherwise known as calcium forming organisms(calcification). These bacterial invaders find themselves, most presently, in areas of the body where we have scar tissue built up from past injuries, such as a nagging arthritic condition. The long-chained polysaccharide sugars found heavily in reishi directly feed our white blood cells, thus reactivating, or perhaps reeducating them on how to perform more efficiently. Reishi mushroom is extremely immune-protective for this reason but the unique intelligence of this fungi does not end there. Reishi not only can jump start your immune system but if someone has a hyper active immune system such as commonly diagnosed auto-immune conditions it can lower the activity to a normal range. For this reason Reishi, along with the other mushrooms listed, is immune-modulatory acting as a dual direction tool to accelerate the inherent intelligence of our immune system. Due to it’s immune boosting effects reishi is highly recommended for HIV Patients and those who suffer from any form of immunological break downs.
Reishi appears to contain a wide variety of interesting compounds that indicate its vast potential and efficacy for treating many common yet unnecessary health problems. A class of constituents known as ganoderic acids or triterpenoids which seem to have positive effects on lowering blood pressure and reducing LDL cholesterol levels. These triterpenoids also have excellent potential for lowering the risk of coronary heart disease. Studies show that ganoderic acid inhibits the bonding of “blood-platelets” thus preventing sticky thick blood from forming, this is an important factor in lowering the risk of coronary heart disease. Preliminary human studies as well as animal studies strongly suggest that reishi has beneficial effects on those with diabetes mellitus sickness as well as chronic hepatitis B.
It has been known that Reishi is liver protective helping to fortify us from the chemical pressure of our industrial environment. Research conducted at the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan discovered Reishi may prove effective in treating and preventing liver cancer, specifically protecting against human hepatoma from metastasizing. A metastasis is when a cancer(tumor) is able to spread freely from one organ or area of the body to another directly unrelated area. Research conducted on mice indicted that tumor growth can be reduced by reishi extract supplementation. This implies that reishi mushroom consumed in large dosages could be an effective chemo-preventative strategy for those with cancer and those who choose to never endure it.
In China Reishi is known as Ling Zhi which translates “herb of spiritual potency”. According to master touist tonic herbalism and founder of Dragon Herbs Ron Teeguarden, Reishi is the ultimate tonic herb in the world. The brilliance behind reishi’s storied mental and spiritual aiding benefits rests primarily in the dual directional nature which I have referenced above. It regulates the body in a way to keep us in balance with our emotions and mental activity, producing chemicals in the body that support homeostasis instead of instant stimulation which can swing us far out of balance, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Through out the indispensable history of this mushrooms use in China by the great masters who consumed it we discover it’s true purpose as a tool for personal enlightenment. Reishi is promoted as the premier longevity herb but it appears that solely living a long life was not the goal of these masters. The goal was to obtain a sense of enlightenment so as they lived longer lives they also lived fuller lives and had more core energy to produce magic on a day to day basis. Reishi’s association with longevity may have more to due with the stress reduction factor then anything else. The aging process in modern civilization is accelerated by stacking stressful activities and emotions on top of each other, this leads to physiological break downs as well as the eventual break down of our entire body. The dual directional nature of this herb helps to keep our nervous system in balance which influences how we interface with the world and people around us.
Overview of benefits of Reishi Mushroom:
◆ Stress reduction and nervous system regulator
◆ Immune system regulator, dual directional
◆ Liver protective
◆ Blood purifier and blood building
◆ Effective against Hiv-T cell replications
◆ Helps to bridge spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity, enhances wisdom over time
◆ Helps reduce LDL cholesterol
◆ Protects the cardiovascular system, protects the heart