The word "reishi" has been appearing on more and more labels in natural food markets and health bar menus. It sounds like something that you'll want, since so many brands are on board — but what is it? Let's break down this holistically healing adaptogen and its potentially very powerful benefits.
What Is It?
This can be a little confusing, because some marketers are referring to reishi as a "super herb." But it's actually a mushroom, and as you know, mushrooms are not herbs. As noted, it's an "adaptogen," which means it has healing potential that adapts to the body's needs (i.e. can give you energy if your body needs it or relieve stress if you're feeling tense).
What Are the Benefits?
We first started seeing reishi at Moon Juice; the holistic wellness brand purports that reishi is "legendary for energizing the spirit, [and] imparting centeredness and strength" and that it "mineralizes deeply," in addition to being a "brain activator, immunity food, inflammation tamer, and stress reliever."
But what does that mean? Is there any science backing it? As it turns out, reishi is being studied for its protective effects on the liver (specifically in relation to hepatitis B) and antitumor, cancer-fighting effects (particularly in breast cancer). One study even said its "results provide evidence that Reishi suppresses protein synthesis and tumor growth . . . suggesting that Reishi is a potential natural therapeutic for breast and other cancers." These studies are small, but it's pretty promising that these little 'shrooms are piquing the interest of the medical and scientific community.
Apart from fighting cancer, here are some things that reishi may help with (scientific backing still TBD):
- Reducing inflammation
- Boosting the immune system
- Aiding digestive health
- Fighting allergies
- Increasing energy levels
- Mitigating stress, anxiety, and depression
How Do You Eat It?
If you're shopping in a health market or online, reishi typically comes in powder form that you can pour it into drinks or shakes. It has a bit of an earthy taste, so we'd suggest using small amounts and blending it with other strong flavors (cacao powder is a good one to mask the earthy flavor!).
High-end health-focused brands are incorporating reishi into their product catalogs, so you can now find this supershroom in things like Moon Juice's Moon Dusts, protein powders, or straight up reishi powder; Rebbl's elixirs like Reishi Chocolate and Reishi Cold Brew; Four Sigmatic's Instant Reishi (for coffee and cocoa); and Pearl Butter Bliss Butter (to mix into drinks, spread onto toasts, and more).