Nicknamed the “soul mushroom” or the “king of mushrooms,” the reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has a long and storied history of medicinal use. Traditional Chinese healers first began using the reishi mushroom more than 2,000 years ago during the Han dynasty. The mushroom is called “lingzhi” in Chinese, which translates literally to “mushroom of immortality,” “divine mushroom,” or “magic fungus.”
The reishi mushroom thrives on the base of deciduous trees in tropical and temperate regions of Asia, and is exceptionally rare in its wild form. It grows in a range of colors, with the red reishi being the most potent and well-known form.
History of Reishi Mushroom
The reishi mushroom was first discovered by Chinese healers more than 2,000 years ago in the Changbai Mountains. This northern mountain range – which translates to “Perpetually-White Mountain Region” – is widely known for its frigid conditions, but the base of the mountain is home to a large temperate hardwood forest where the rare reishi mushroom flourishes.
Ancient Chinese texts refer to the mushroom as an elixir of immortality, and note secret locations where the fungus was thought to grow. Healers believed that the reishi mushroom had potent anti-aging properties, and it has long been used as a talisman of luck, healing, and wellness in Chinese culture.
The reishi mushroom is still commonly used by physicians across Asia to treat a wide range of maladies and health concerns, and use among Western physicians and healers is growing.
Reishi Mushroom Health Benefits
Modern healers use reishi mushroom to boost the immune system, fight viral infections, and treat a long list of illnesses and health conditions, from heart disease to high blood pressure to HIV/AIDS.* Some research has even indicated that reishi mushroom may be effective at fighting cancer, particularly prostate cancer.*
One such study determined that the mushroom is effective at both preventing the multiplication of cancer cells and encouraging the death of prostate cancer cells.
Reishi mushrooms are rich in compounds called triterpenes, which improve oxygen utilization and vital organ functioning. The fungus also has a high concentration of water-soluble polysaccharides, which are thought to be the main cancer-fighting and immune-boosting element.
Reishi Mushroom Tea & Use in Cuisine
The distinctly bitter flavor of the reishi mushroom lends itself well to hot teas and clear soups. Preparing a reishi mushroom soup is easy; simply add fresh or dried reishi to a pot of boiling water, then let simmer for at least two hours.
For better flavor you can add olive oil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and other vegetables or herbs of your choice. You can also boil the reishi mushroom to produce a bitter, reishi-infused liquid that can be used to cook rice and other foods.
Those who wish to experience the wellness benefits of reishi mushroom may also choose to sip a hot reishi tea. These teas are naturally caffeine-free, and have a full-bodied, earthy and distinct flavor.
The Republic of Tea invites citizens to try our Organic Reishi Cocoa SuperHerb® Tea, which combines nourishing reishi mushroom extract with organic dandelion root, rooibos, and cocoa powder. Savor the smooth, woody, chocolatey flavor, and delight in the calm alertness provided by this “mushroom of immortality!”