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Reishi 101

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reishi mushrooms
Updated on September 27, 2019

Revered for centuries by emperors and poets, healers and sages, reishi is much more than a medicinal mushroom – it is a fungi of divine proportions.

Native to tropical and temperate climates of Asia, North America, and Europe, reishi, or Ganoderma lucidum, can be found growing upon the dead and fallen logs of deciduous trees. While it occurs in a variety of colors, from pale beige to shiny black, red reishi is most prized in many cultures for its medicinal properties. As any avid mushroom hunter may attest, spotting the glossy veneer and hard kidney-like shape growing wildly is quite the treat; in regions where the mushroom is found, only two or three mature trees out of 10,000 will host reishi on their trunks.

While its intricate root system or mycelium supports our ecosystem through decomposition, its fruiting body is what’s most sought after in herbal medicine. The mushroom has a high concentration of polysaccharide compounds called beta-glucans, which may be the reason that reishi is traditionally used to support immune function.* Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have historically prescribed reishi to balance Qi (vital energy).

Infographic for reishi mushrooms

Known as lingzhi in Chinese (literally translated as “mushroom of immortality”) reishi’s wellness benefits have been touted for 4,000 years. Representations of the mushroom began to appear in Taoist art in the 1400s, symbolizing luck and good health, and it appeared in the first Chinese pharmacopeia during the Ming Dynasty. Before traditional Chinese practitioners began to cultivate it, reishi was so expensive that only members of the noble classes could afford it, adding to its reputation as the “divine mushroom.” According to Taoist legend, the Isles of the Immortals held secret groves where the sacred mushroom grew lushly.

Today, there is a good deal of research on reishi and its therapeutic potential in supporting the immune system and is widely used to help keep the body in balance.* As a gentle adaptogenic tonic, reishi is ideal for daily wellness support. Try it for yourself in our Reishi with Rooibos and Orange Peel tea.

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