“Taken over a long period of time, agility of the body will not cease, and the years are lengthened to those of the Immortal Fairies.”
– Li Shi Zhen
A request I get asked over and over at my lectures or in interviews on the radio is: “If I only take one thing, what should it be?”. Given that in any discussion or lecture I may be talking about 10, 15, or even 20 different supplements or nutrients you might think that this is a difficult question. The answer, though, is an easy one for me. In my opinion and without a doubt the single best supplement for virtually anyone and everyone to take is the amazing Reishi mushroom, and for great reason. This is why, when I was asked to write a regular column on various supplements for this website, I instantly requested that Reishi be my first contribution.
Reishi is a woody mushroom known for its reddish-brown, shiny skin and kidney shape. It grows in moist temperate forests in Asia, Europe, the US, and South America (I found some while hiking through the rain forest in Peru). Long treasured in Asia where it is considered “superior” medicine, it was traditionally associated with longevity and even immortality. In fact the Chinese name for Reishi is Ling zhi, which is translated as “mushroom of spiritual potency” or “divine medicine”, while the Japanese name, Mannentake, means “everlasting or 10,000-year mushroom”.
Why the tonic for the 21st century?
Reishi is such a truly incredible healing ally that I have coined the phrase “the tonic for the 21st century” to convey its potential and promise. So, is such lavish praise for a simple mushroom justified? Absolutely! First of all, Reishi is a tonic par excellence. It supports, balances, and strengthens the immune, heart and cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, brain and central nervous systems along with the liver, kidneys and adrenals. These tonic actions alone are enough to make Reishi worthwhile of being included in everybody’s medicine chest.
And more specific to the 21st century, what are the two leading causes of death in the US today? Heart disease, which is number one, followed closely by cancer. Reishi demonstrates significant benefits for both. For the cardiovascular system it has been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides while reducing free radical damage and inflammation. By increasing oxygen uptake in the lungs it can increase coronary blood flow as well. These benefits and more, fit nicely with traditional Chinese medicine’s claim that it strengthens heart Qi and confirms that Reishi may reduce one’s overall risk of heart disease.
For cancer it exhibits a range of holistic benefits. Numerous studies have proven Reishi’s immune activating and modulating actions, including increasing numbers of immune cells and improving overall functioning of several types of immune cells. As it relates to the immune system Reishi is very much about bringing balance thereby making it a useful remedy for allergies and possibly autoimmune disorders. Toxicity and chronic inflammation play key roles in our immune health, and here again research has shown significant benefits. For more benefits and actions of Reishi please see the below chart.
It’s Not Just Physical
Even with the incredible array of benefits mentioned above, Reishi’s most powerful healing gift may be in the area of calming and nourishing the Shen, which can be translated as heart/spirit. It is what we are talking about when we say someone has a broken heart. It has been estimated by many that the leading cause of all doctor visits is stress, which is a great example of a Shen disturbance. In this arena alone Reishi’s ability to promote a calm, balanced centeredness that nourishes inner awareness truly makes it the tonic for the 21st century.
So the next time that you are listening to a health lecture, or reading a health book, or standing in the aisle of the health food store confused as to what you should take, might I suggest that you reach for a bottle of Reishi extract and experience for yourself the transformative actions of this amazing mushroom.