Reishi, also called Lingzhi mushroom, has been in use for more than 2000 years. It comes from the genus Ganoderma and comprises of a group of closely related species of fungi that are known to have medicinal properties. Reishi is a Japanese word that is literally translated to ‘supernatural mushroom.’
It was first used as recorded in the Eastern Han Dynasty – referred to as “The Mushroom of Immortality” in the Book of Han. Since then, it has received reverence in the Asian medical circles. Moreover, the health value of this fungus has been scientifically expounded, earning it a listing in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Its most common name is the Basidiomycetes Mushroom.
The outward appearance of reishi mushroom is just like that of the oyster mushroom. However, the cap is offset and has a brown – orange, to red colouring. Depending on the age of the mushroom, it may have white or grey pores underneath the cap. It can be dried easily, and has an irregular hymenium. It does not have a stipe, as opposed to some members of the Garnodermataceae family, and it also lacks gills.The most efficient description is that it looks specifically like a shining hemlock.
Types of Reishi Mushroom
There are two forms of the mushroom, depending on the location of growth. The North American type, Ganoderma lucidum is quite large and sessile. It has a very small stalk, and some may lack it altogether. The Tropical reishi has a rather elongated stalk. The amount of carbon dioxide in the location of growth is the factor contributing to the length of the stalk.
The best sources for procuring them are the northern Eastern Hemlock forests and the Amazon. They grow on the stumps of deciduous trees and their bases. Maple trees are very good hosts of the fungi, but these are extremely rare to find, since out of every ten thousand trees, only two to five trees have their growth.
On tasting the mushroom, most people would describe it as woody, tough and with a bitter taste. Reishi mushroom parts, both above and below the ground, are edible. The fruiting part above the level of the ground is the most commonly used, but the roots and the mycelium filaments connecting different fungi growths are an excellent source of bio – active compounds.
There are a myriad of uses of this exotic mushroom. This is because reishi has some scientifically verified properties. They have anti-tumour, anti-cancer and immunity modulating qualities, which have been widely supported by studies on sugars and other chemicals obtained from the fruiting body of the fungus.
First, the reishi mushrooms can be used for boosting the immune system. It can also be used to treat some assorted viral conditions such as influenza types like the common flu, swine flu and even the avian flu. It can also treat or prevent some lung conditions, most notably asthma and bronchitis. Furthermore, it can the heart diseases such as high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Perhaps the reason why reishi is so valuable is that it has immense medicinal value in preventing and treating cancer.