I asked an elderly Japanese friend why she looks so young for her age. She said she drinks tea made with reishi mushrooms. The Chinese name for reishi mushrooms is ling zhi, meaning “plant of immortality.” These medicinal mushrooms have a history of safety that goes back at least 2,000 years. In my world, any herb that’s been used continually for centuries deserves respect from modern medical science as opposed to snide comments as if it’s “snake oil.” Mushrooms and fungi with incredible healing powers are now starting to gain attention from integrative physicians as well as folks who choose to self-treat after modern medicine fails them. The studies are simply undeniable.
Right now there are more than 800 scientific studies (!) on reishi mushrooms on file in the National Institutes of Health’s database. According to some well-designed animal and human trials, reishi extracts offers potential support for cardiovascular issues, infectious disease, liver detoxification, arthritis pain, asthma and other respiratory and immune system disorders. Basically head to toe coverage. Overseas, it’s common for cancer patients to willingly fork over the considerable expense for these medicinal mushrooms, and unlike the United States, health plans often cover the treatment.
You see, back when they were gathered from the wild, these mushrooms were considered rare and valuable. Now that they are cultivated commercially, reishi is relatively less expensive and readily available at health food stores nationwide. Real mushrooms like the one I cook in my video below, are expensive. I paid about $25 for that one. Granted the man at Home Depot sawed it in half so I technically got 2 servings for my $25 but you see my point, it’s pricey stuff. And then again, is it? I mean, is it pricey if you think about the anti-cancer and antimicrobial effect? For me, it’s the price I pay for good health.
If reishi has even half of the healing and disease-preventing power that traditional Asian healers claim for it, one could easily see why it would be considered a longevity herb and part of your anti-aging arsenal.
Let’s get to the good stuff
Studies have shown that reishi can help improve cholesterol ratios and control blood sugar. Just look at all the benefits:
- Improves cholesterol ratios
- Modulates immune function
- Adrenal adaptagen
- Thyroid stimulating (mild)
- Improves mood
Reishi is fabulous during the winter season. It gently stimulates your thyroid gland to make a little bit more thyroid hormone and that helps with energy and weight. Thyroid is imperative for healthy hair growth. (For more information on thyroid you should read my book, Thyroid Healthy.)
There are many anti-cancer assertions, based upon studies on immune function. Here’s where things get really interesting. One study done in Puerto Rico, published in the medical journal Nutrition and Cancer found that reishi has the ability to stunt the growth and spread of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) cells. The study was done in test tubes on the cells themselves, not in living humans. Now, take into account that naturopathic physicians have already experienced some success in treating this fast-growing form of breast cancer. And researcher and Professor Michelle Martinez Montemayor, Ph.D (who conducted the study) came to this conclusion:
Our findings suggest that reishi extract could be used as a novel anticancer therapeutic for IBC patients.
Don’t be afraid.
By that I mean, chat with your practitioner. If you don’t get satisfaction, print this column and take it in. Print up a study on pubmed related to your condition. If you have cancer, of any kind, I’d absolutely knock the door down to discuss reishi as an adjunctive treatment with your oncologist! I take reishi supplements on and off throughout the year just for good health and occasionally buy the giant mushrooms from my local herbal apothecary. You will have to just soak them in a crock pot on low heat. It’s easy. Want to learn how? Watch me in this video where I teach you how to make your own tea. Your benefit is tremendous, you might save money over the long haul if your health improves. You will learn something new, and you will gain more natural reishi compounds from doing it my way as opposed to buying commercial supplements. That said, there are brands of commercial supplements that are fine to take, it’s really about your preference, and your tastebuds. My tea is strong, it’s natural, but it doesn’t taste as good as a capsule. Sorry. I have to be honest with you, my tea doesn’t taste that good, it’s just okay. It’s fine to me. It’s the tea of immortality so I just ‘down’ it. It’ll put a little hair on your chest, lol. Cheers. Drink up … I’ll see you in a hundred years!
If you don’t want to make your own tea from scratch and prefer to simply buy nice, organic tea bags of reishi Click Here to buy a Buddha brand tea from amazon. I don’t sell it, I just drink it 😉
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.