A large area of interest for researchers and consumers alike in the past several years has been mushrooms. Studies have found that Reishi mushrooms, may exert positive health benefits due to their cell-generating, immune strengthening, and mood-enhancing properties. We’re going to talk more about Reishi mushrooms and how they can positively impact your quality of life with their health benefits.
What Are Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms, known as a functional mushroom, is one of the few types of mushrooms that have been extoled for their role in human health. Reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum or lingzhi mushrooms, are edible mushrooms that have been grown and cultivated in Asia for thousands of years and used in ancient Chinese Medicine for their health properties and medicinal benefits. In Chinese, the name lingzhi represents a combination of spiritual potency and essence of immortality, and is regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency,” symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity
Reishi Mushroom Health Benefits
Rather than its nutritional properties, Reishi mushrooms are known for their therapeutic effects. Reishi is available in various forms such as powders, dietary supplements, and even tea. Mushrooms are well known for their rich bioactive compounds. Reishi contains over 400 bioactive compounds that include polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, phenols, triterpenoids, nucleotides, sterols, steroids, fatty acids, and proteins/peptides [R].
1. Supports Immune Health
There is considerable evidence to support the immuno-stimulating and immunomodulating effects of Reishi mushrooms. A randomized controlled trial using a Ganoderma lucidum rich extract, recruited 134 patients with advanced cancers of different sites and supplemented them with G. lucidum capsules at a dosage of 1800 mg/ day for 12 weeks. Cellular immunity in 80% of patients enhanced significantly, elevating interleukin (IL)-2, IL-6, and interferon γ (IFN-γ) levels and natural killer (NK) cell activity [R].
Another study showed with the same protocols, showed that immune health parameters such as total T cells, NK cells, and CD4/CD8 ratio were significantly improved in 68 patients with lung cancer. Quality of life scores also increased by 65% [R].
2. Anti-Cancer Effects
Studies have shown that Reishi mushroom could have potential anti-cancer effects, by mitigating the proliferation of cancer cells and tumor growth. A tumor mass requires a continuous nutrient supply via new blood vessels formed by the process of angiogenesis. Invasive cancer cells spread to distant sites through blood and lymphoid vessels. Therefore, agents that inhibit angiogenesis inhibit tumor growth and spread. Animal studies have shown that Reishi could in fact, reduce the size of tumors, due to the beta-glucans and the triterpenes [R,R].
3. Antioxidant Properties
Reishi mushrooms contain powerful antioxidant effects from their bioactive compounds in particularly polysaccharides and triterpenoid. Think of antioxidants as an invisible coat of armor, helping protect yourself from outside variables that can cause cellular damage. Antioxidants help reduce your risk for age-related chronic disease and can also support a healthy aging process.
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4. May Improve Liver Health
Your liver helps your body maintain a healthy level of blood sugar. Your liver supplies glucose to your blood when it’s needed. Reishi mushrooms have been found to have a potent hepatoprotective effect. Animal studies have shown that beta-glucans or polysaccharides extracted from Reishi can ameliorate cirrhosis. Studies have also shown that Reishi reduces measured markers for liver damage.
Reishi Mushroom Health Benefits: Takeaway
Reishi are packed with powerful bioactive compounds, including antioxidants, beta-glucan, and amino acids. Due to the immunomodulating effects of polysaccharides, researchers believe that these nutrients can promote anti-cancer effects, protect against viral and bacterial infections, and improve chronic disease states. Although Reishi mushrooms appear to hold promise as a therapeutic agent and dietary supplement, more human clinical trials are needed to confirm its anti-cancer, hepatoprotective and immunomodulating effects. Several animal and in vitro studies have investigated the benefits of Reishi mushrooms with favorable results, yet more evidence is needed to confirm these results for use in chronic disease and cancer research.
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