Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) has been called the mushroom of immortality; in Chinese, this mushroom is known as Ling Zhi. It has been revered in China for thousands of years and often consumed by the emperors due to its potent characteristics.
Despite its ability to adapt to various climates and topography, Reishi remains elusive - less than 4 out of 10,000 hardwood trees have Reishi growing on them.
Each part of the mushroom has specific properties, each affecting a different area of well-being, but we're almost always interested in the fruiting body of the mushroom.
Brain & Cognitive support
Reishi was traditionally recognized for its nootropic, memory boosting, and cognitive enhancing properties, but only recently has scientific evidence started emerging that establishes a framework for its mechanism of action.
The results of studies show promising results of what herbalists and people involved in traditional medicine have known for thousands of years - Reishi has the potential to improve memory, learning, and information retention. It also shows promise in treating, or at least slowing down, the progression of Alzheimer's disease by slowing the cognitive decline through various metabolic mechanisms and pathways.
Immune system support
While the exact mechanism is still not completely pinned down, Reishi mushroom may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells. Other studies have shown that it can increase the number of white blood cells (lymphocytes) and another has that Reishi can increase the activity of white blood cells.
More studies into the exact mechanism of action for immune system boosting are on the way, it is clear that Reishi impacts white blood cells and immune function, more research is needed to determine the extent of the benefits..
Depression and fatigue
Helping with depression and/or fatigue may not be the most prominent benefit of Reishi, but nonetheless, it shows potential in this area too. Many people report elevated energy and decreased symptoms of depression after 6+ weeks of regular Reishi supplement consumption. As with its immune-boosting properties, the exact mechanism for reducing depression and fatigue is not yet clear, but additional studies are underway to determine it.
Strengthens adrenal system
Stress is one of the main factors that weaken the immune system. After a period of heightened adrenal activity as a response to stress, the immune system falters and can begin to deregulate, which sometimes leads to autoimmune disorders. Together with the pathway described previously, Reishi mushrooms also seem to work on the mineralocorticoid side, helping bring the adrenal - immune system axis into balance.
Source: J.J. Pursell - The Herbal Apothecary
Other potential benefits
Since Reishi mushrooms are like small pharmacological factories that produce hundreds of compounds, they may also exhibit positive benefits on heart health, blood sugar levels, and antioxidant status.
Overall, it is obvious that Reishi mushrooms exhibit amazing properties and contain ingredients that affect many metabolic pathways, while at the same time displaying very minor (e.g. upset stomach) or, more often, absolutely no side effects.