Valued as a supreme tonic for centuries in China and Japan, Reishi is valued world-wide for its use in a wide range of conditions. Clinically, Reishi is useful for patients with symptoms of blood and qi deficiency coupled with the feelings and symptoms of agitated stress. It lends itself nicely as a “kicker” for patients that are not responding to their differentiated formula or have deeper deficiency issues, such as xiao yao wan + reishi or gui pi wan + reishi.
If global sales are any measure of a medicinal mushroom’s value to our health, and they certainly should not be considered irrelevant when demonstrated over so many years, then reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is a powerhouse deserving a close look. Its annual sales are estimated to total over 2 billion dollars world-wide. Likely this is due to its wide-ranging applications. There are many conditions that appear, based on research, to improve when Ganoderma is consumed regularly. Modern View The sterols in reishi show activity in some studies as hormone precursors. Platelet aggregation is inhibited by the adenosine in reishi, a compound found also in Cordyceps.
Other compounds in reishi are shown in research to have a beneficial action on blood sugar regulation. In recent decades the class of herbs known as adaptogens has garnered great interest, likely due to the significant amount of stress under which many people work and live. Adaptogens as an area of investigation trace back to Dr. Israel Brekhman’s original research—in fact it was only due to his investigations that the term “adaptogen” was coined; it is not at all a traditional herbal category, but it has shown its value as a modern addition to herbal medicine.
In brief, adaptogens are substances that assist the body in adapting to various stressors, whether they be the stress of long work hours, excess exercise, temperature challenges (e.g., living in a very cold environment), or emotional factors. The triterpenes in Ganoderma lucidum are reported to possess such adaptogenic properties. Beyond this adaptogenic property the reishi triterpenes also display anti-hypertensive properties. Hepatic fibrosis is also shown to be inhibited by these triterpenes.
But this is still not the full extent of the areas where reishi shows healing virtue as demonstrated in various studies. It is an important substance for cardiovascular health, is used in Japan in a supportive role with various types of cancer, demonstrates neuro-protective actions, assists healthy sleep, and reduces anxiety. One can readily see that Ganoderma is virtually the ideal substance to help people deal with the challenges of the modern age in which almost everyone is overworking, eating less-than-ideal food on the run, sleeping poorly (and not enough), sitting at a desk all day and on a sofa at night watching television, all while being overwhelmed by stress.
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