Medicinal mushrooms are taking the world by storm, and they have been gaining much attention in the recent years for their taunted health and medicinal benefits, including anti-cancer, antioxidants, antimicrobial, antihypertensive, anti-diabetic, and anti-viral properties… and so on. In fact, one or two of these properties alone make them attractive for many pharmaceutical companies, the media… and the public.
Today, let us focus on two medicinal mushrooms – the Reishi and the Chaga mushrooms, and talk about their health benefits so that you can decide and act on that knowledge if you’re in the middle of deciding whether to supplement with them or not.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
It’s a visually attractive mushroom with shiny skin and woody texture. Sometimes, it may even seem as if it is a varnished work of art to those who would see it the first time.
The mushroom typically grows on plum, oak and other hardwood trees, to name some. Their species are of sizes ranging between 2 and 20 centimeters and have a kidney-shaped cap.
What are the health benefits of Reishi? There have been extensive studies of the herb, especially among the Japanese and Chinese Reishi, and these researches found out that Reishi, the spirit herb, offers multiple benefits for the body.
Reishi improves the mind, body and spirit, and so its title “spirit herb.” While it sounds like foreign magic of some sort, this herb is actually also known to give its users a “longer life.”
Basically, it has bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, such as triterpene, which has anti-tumorigenic, hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory properties. The acid called Ganoderic is the main active triterpene that’s known to fight cancer – and it’s in the mushroom.
In addition, it has also shown to help in reducing phlegm, toning the blood, promoting better sleep and strengthening visceral organs.
Another benefit is on athletic performance, as it helps in enhancing blood oxygenation and preventing altitude sickness (for mountain climbers).
For heart health, Reishi may help in lowering bad cholesterol levels, and reducing plasma and blood viscosity, especially among patients suffering from high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
It is also proven to aid in immune system enhancement, as it works potently against sarcoma and it aids in the prevention and treatment of various ailments.
To discuss its ailment fighting and immune system boosting properties further, Reishi is also known for its high content of complex sugars, which are essential for immunity especially in terms of increasing the DNA and RNA in the bone marrow, where immune cells are born and its stimulating properties on antibody production.
Summary of Reishi Benefits
- Helps in disrupting viral disease
- Oxygenates the blood and improves oxygen absorption
- Inhibits bacteria production
- Fights free radicals
- Reduces bad cholesterol levels and lowers blood pressure
- Provides liver protection, improves its functions and aids in its regeneration
- Fights cancer or helps treat it
- Relieves chronic-fatigue syndrome
- Relieves stress
- Inhibits platelet aggregation
- Inhibits histamine release and alleviates allergy symptoms, including sneezing
- Gets rid of pain
- Fights arthritic symptoms
- Relieves tension
- Calms the senses and the brain
- Alleviates insomnia
Chaga (Inonotus Obliquus)
Popular as a medicinal plant in many Northern regions, including Canada and Eastern US, Chaga is another mushroom that deserves applause. It is hardened with a crusty formation, with the most important compounds - melano-glucan and betulinic acid, which are derived from where they grow – the great birch trees!
The mushroom is used in many traditional cultures for more than hundreds of years. At first sight, you’ll be amazed on how it looks – like a hardwood that is as if it is a product of a bursting tumor.
What are its benefits? The mushroom can combat stress, being an adaptogenic herb, meaning it can help in calming your brain and senses. Thus, it can improve your mood and make you feel better about yourself – and the world in general.
Chaga also provides immune balancing and enhancing effect, which help reduce your risk to diseases, including cancer and virus-induced ailments.
The herb also has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties due to its, again, polysaccharides, which are what help strengthen your immune system because they can produce natural killer cells and stimulate the activity of white blood cells, or macrophage.
This medicinal mushroom is also a potent source of melanin, another type of antioxidant your body needs especially regarding DNA protection from free radical damage brought about by oxidative stress.
Being one of the best sources of melanin versus any plants or mushrooms for that matter, Chaga can improve skin health as well. By consuming it daily, you can achieve beautiful skin because it (Chaga) can repair it from damage from excessive sun exposure and environmental factors. It can also hide age spots and hydrate your skin. Additionally, melanin may help improve vision because it (melanin) is also in the eyes.
Chaga also contains iron, selenium, chromium, zinc, copper and manganese.
[For example, zinc is one of the best antioxidants for the body, as it can protect the body from diseases and help in the production of its own antioxidants.]
The mushroom may also help in the treatment of gastritis and ulcers because it contains antiviral and antibacterial properties, which may improve gastrointestinal health. Research and studies have also proven that the mushroom may aid in the treatment of inflammatory bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
Summary of Chaga Benefits
- Contains melanin for DNA protection against free radical damage
- Improves mental and brain health
- Boosts energy levels
- Improves appetite and digestion
- Betters skin health
- Purifies the blood
- Strengthens the heart
- Detoxifies the liver and other body organs
- Strengthens the immune system
- Inhibits tumor development
- Regulates blood sugar
Both Reishi and Chaga have each of its own advantages –especially for health. But for the best results, choose only potent and pure powder forms and take them as directed. So don’t wait, but prevent disease and harvest health essentials from any of these medicinal herbs. Finally, consult your doctor prior to supplementation for your safety today!