Reishi is known as the “mushroom of immortality” – it is one of the most transformational, medicinal, beneficial, and well-known herbs in history. Thousands of years ago, its benefits were regarded as superior. Today, we have been able to analyze its nutritional constituents using modern science and technology. Reishi is the most widely studied herb ever, and these studies have further supported the health claims behind this amazing medicinal mushroom.
Reishi is rich in many active therapeutic compounds such as:
Polysaccharides are long-chain sugar molecules that are actually bitter in taste. They are reishi’s top chemical constituent and are best-known for their immune-modulating and anti-tumor effects.
Studies suggest that when using an extract of the polysaccharides from reishi mushroom on active cancer cells, the body recruits specialized adaptive proteins that activate shrinkage of the cancer cells, and in some cases, apoptosis. Apoptosis is defined as a natural process of self-destruction in certain cells that is determined by the genes, also known as “programmed cell death or suicide.” Polysaccharides support this natural inhibition and elimination of active cancer cells. Studies have concluded that in this way, polysaccharides are a powerful tool for treatment of cancer cells.
Polysaccharides provide additional benefits including:
– Immune system modulation (strengthening and balancing)
– Blood sugar and pressure regulation
– Adaptogenic effects on cholesterol
– Anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory
– Support of the cardiovascular and liver function
– Optimization of intestinal health
Polysaccharides also provide protection from toxicity and free-radicals, so in a way, the polysaccharides are the treatment and the prevention- the reactive and proactive- the yin and the yang.
Triterpenes are another of reishi’s top medicinal properties. There are many triterpenes in reishi, including ganoderic acids, lucidenic acids, and sterols. In fact, in the last few decades, more than 140 triterpenes have been isolated from reishi fruiting bodies, spores, and mycelia. They are a collective powerhouse of immune system strength and protection. One study administered showed the triterpenes present in reishi were DNA-protective against radiation-induced damage, even at a low dose. This study suggested that triterpenes are radio-protective and have therapeutic potential.
One of the most remarkable qualities of triterpenes researched in the scientific field is their cytotoxicity against cancer and tumor cells. Cyto, meaning cell, and toxic, meaning toxic. Chemotherapy and radiation are considered to be cytotoxic, so the fact that triterpenes have shown incredible cytotoxicity suggests reishi mushroom to be a profound vehicle of natural treatment and prevention of cancer cells. Not to mention that instead of using radiation to treat cancer cells, triterpenes could potentially serve the same function, while also being radioprotective.
According to Chinese Medicine, the liver and the nervous system go hand in hand. The grounding and calming effect of reishi mushroom can be attributed to the liver tonifying qualities of triterpenes, which is directly correlated with the bitter taste they provide. In Chinese Medicine, bitter flavor nourishes the liver, and that is directly grounding for the nervous system.
This has been shown to improve:
– Weak nerves
Triterpenes are also balancing for the hormones, digestion, blood pressure, and circulation. They are also one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories and anti-viral compounds found in nature. In fact, triterpenes are precursors for steroids, which are natural, effective, and completely safe anti-inflammatory substances.
The most concentrated form of triterpenes can be found in reishi spore oil at an astounding 33% per capsule.
These are long-chained, continuous amino acids. Amino acids are the precursor to peptides, which are the precursor to polypeptides, which then create a protein. The polypeptides are responsible for the anti-oxidant properties of reishi, and as a result, are also associated with the anti-aging effects of reishi.
Alkaloids are nitrogenous organic compounds in plants that have been observed to have physiological action on humans. Everything from coffee, to poisons, to drugs, to herbs has its own alkaloid with its own personality! For the first time ever in 1990, the alkaloids in reishi were able to be isolated. In 2010, completely new and unique alkaloids were discovered and found to display anti-inflammatory effects.
Mannitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in a wide variety of plants. It has been isolated and used in the pharmaceutical field to help deliver drugs to the brain more easily. It expands the openings in the blood brain barrier, which has also been seen to reduce cranial pressure and tension. Coincidentally, it is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy to help deliver treatment to tumors in the brain. What better vehicle for the polysaccharides, triterpenes, and the other nutritious constituents? Mannitol also aids in the elimination of toxins, which protects kidney function while also acting as a mild diuretic.
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Check out these studies that validate the ancient knowledge of the famed mushroom of immortality:
Blood sugar-regulation and anti-diabetic:
Anti-toxicity and toxin protection:
Anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor:
Cancer cells and cytotoxicity:
Sleep and heart regulation:
Alkaloids in Reishi:
Blood brain barrier:
Picture credit and more on apoptosis: