Mushroom of Immortality

Promoting a natural body balance

By Karen Frye

Reishi, with its extensive health benefits, was highly revered by emperors and sages thousands of years ago. Some Far Eastern cultures associated the use of reishi with good health, good fortune and happiness, restoring youthful strength and balance, and adding years to a lifespan.

This King of Mushrooms§ is classified as an adaptogen, which promotes natural body balance; it helps the body cope with stress, tension and fatigue. The main compound in all of the medicinal mushrooms is a potent immune enhancer, beta-D glucans, which reishi possesses in high concentration. Unique to reishi is another compound, ganoderic acid, an antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage. It supports liver function and reduces the release of histamines. The reduction of histamines in the body is important in the control of allergy-related symptoms — useful if you are someone who has seasonal allergies and are looking for a natural remedy.

Traditional Chinese medicine has a long history of using reishi to maintain a healthy immune system. You can find the actual mushrooms in the markets of Asian countries, where they can be part of a daily diet or even used in a tea. While you may find them in their natural form in some markets in the United States, usually we have to use them in a capsule or tincture.

Medicinal mushrooms have become the focus of a lot of attention, with studies using them in the treatment of cancer, heart health, and respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis and allergies. Reishi is at the forefront with its ability to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system, making it useful for inflammatory autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and ulcerative colitis.

Another reason to use this mushroom is what it can do for your mind. Many holistic health practitioners have recommended reishi to calm the mind and reduce tension. Its calming effect can bring good sleep, provide a sense of peaceful wellbeing, sharpen concentration and increase willpower.

Nature provides us with many incredible foods to restore or maintain good health, physical strength and a strong mind to have a fulfilling, joyful life, no matter our age. PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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