It’s called “the mushroom of immortality” and not just because it’s been used medicinally for over 4000 years. 

So where can I get this unique, ancient mushroom? How do I use it exactly? How much should I take a day? What are the benefits? Can it really make me immortal? 

As much as I’d like to believe it, unfortunately that’s a no on the last question. However, it does have anti aging properties, as well as numerous other incredible benefits that you won’t want to miss out on.

So without further ado, let’s dissect this mushroom and see what it’s got to offer! 

What Are Reishi Mushrooms?

The reishi mushroom is a fungal growth with a fan-like shape and a toasted orange, red and brown color. When in the wild, it grows in humid areas on dead or dying hardwood trees. Although it can be found in Asia, Europe, Australia and North and South America, it’s actually a rare mushroom to come across. Even in ancient times it was reserved only for royalty. Luckily reishi mushrooms can be cultivated, which gives us much easier access to its amazing qualities! 

It is a common Chinese belief that all mushrooms are nourishing to the spirit. The Chinese names for “reishi” even translate to “spirit mushroom,” “divine mushroom” and as mentioned before, “mushroom of immortality.” It’s no surprise then that the first known uses of reishi are in China. And in addition to being used for “immortality” throughout Chinese history, it was also commonly used for insomnia, cough, fatigue and asthma. 

The taste of a reishi mushroom is definitely bitter. Some describe it as pleasantly bitter or earthy while others say it tastes like tree bark. Regardless of how you choose to describe it, reishi mushrooms aren’t famous for their taste.

Why Is Reishi Mushroom Good For You?

You would think that a bitter, tree bark flavored fungus discovered in ancient times would have long been tossed out of the medicine cupboard. If this fungus isn’t delicious, why have people been using it for over 4000 years? 

Mushrooms rise to the top of the most beneficial superfoods. And the most researched and praised of all superfood mushrooms is the reishi. 

Benefits – What Reishi Mushrooms Are Good For 

1. Detoxification

Reishi can help to regenerate healthy liver cells more quickly, which means more effective detoxification. It is also known to help remedy liver diseases and liver damage.

2. Cognitive Ability

The reishi mushroom can help protect the brain from seizures. It can also stimulate both cognitive ability and nerve growth. 

3. Immune System Boost

Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans, as well as other compounds that can help strengthen the immune system. 

4. Antioxidant

Reishi mushrooms are an amazing source of antioxidants. They can increase antioxidant activity in the liver and protect the blood from oxidants.

5. Lower Blood Pressure

Reishi can help improve blood flow and reduce the amount of oxygen used by the heart, which leaves more oxygen for the rest of the body. It may also reduce the amount of bad cholesterol.

6. Inflammation Reduction 

Reishi is well known to have inflammation reducing properties. It increases the amount of blood flow to the brain and can help when your body is suffering from a headache or recovering from an injury. 

7. Respiratory Support

Reishi can reduce irritation and allergic reactions that occur with asthma and bronchitis. 

8. Anti-Aging

This mushroom can help boost immune system and blood vessel health. It can neutralize free radicals, which helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature aging.

9. Mental Energy

By helping to balance hormones in the body, reishi mushrooms can help boost your mental energy. 

10. Cancer Prevention

Reishi can help prevent and reduce tumor and cancer cells, even in advanced stages.

How To Use Reishi Mushrooms

There are many ways to prepare reishi mushrooms. After all, we have had 4000 years of practice. No matter your preferred method, any way you do it will still give you a large amount of reishi benefits.  

Fresh Reishi Mushroom

Finding fresh reishi mushrooms at a store can be difficult. You will have the most luck in organic health food stores and markets. If you are able to cultivate it or live near a forest of hemlock trees that is also ideal!

The benefit of using fresh reishi mushrooms is that they are softer when in this form and can be more easily cut, chopped, grated, or ground. However, the only edible part is the outermost white edge, which when cooked is only about as soft as chicken. The rest of the reishi can be boiled to make a tea. Most often it is sliced to dry out and use later.  

How To Cook Reishi Mushrooms

If you are wanting to try a fresh reishi mushroom, get a whole reishi and slice off the white outer edge. It’s important that the mushroom is very fresh, because as soon as it hardens you will hardly be able to slice and chew through it. 

Once you have your white slices, put them in a pan on medium heat. You can cook them with olive oil, salt, pepper and/or garlic. Let them cook until lightly browned. Enjoy! 

How To Grow Reishi Mushrooms Outdoors

If you want easier access to reishi mushrooms and all their glory, you’ll be happy to find that you can grow them right in your own back yard! The process takes time, but it’s very simple. 

Supplies Needed: 

  • A 3 foot log, about 6 inches in diameter (oak and maple are best) with the bark still intact
  • Reishi dowels/plugs (can be purchased online) 
  • Drill with a 5/16th bit
  • Hammer
  • Wax (beeswax, soy wax, or cheese wax) 
  • Paintbrush

Instructions: 

Take your log (freshly cut is best) and drill holes about 5 inches apart over the entire log, the same depth as your dowels (usually about an inch long). Once the holes are drilled, gently hammer the dowels into the openings so they are completely flush with the log.

Use the paintbrush to seal the holes with wax, which will keep bugs and other competing predetors from entering the log. Once the log is sealed, place it upright in a year-round shady area. You can lean it up against a wall or fence if needed.

Wait 6 to 8 months for the reishi to colonize in the log. It’s important to keep the log moist at all times. Depending on the weather and humidity of the area, you may need to spay the log 3 to 5 times a week, or only a couple times during the hot summer months. After the log has been colonized and the reishi start growing, the log will produce reishi annually for the next 4 to 5 years. 

How To Dry Reishi Mushrooms

Because reishi mushrooms are too tough to eat when fresh, it is most effective to slice them into strips soon after harvest and then dry them for later use. You can also dry them whole, but they are a lot more difficult to work with in this form. Thin strips are much easier to break or grind.  

  • Dashboard Drying. The easiest way to solar dry reishi mushrooms is to lay the strips out on a pan or towel and set them on the dashboard of your car. It’s a great place for the mushrooms to get the full power of the sun through closed windows that keep bugs away. 
  • Herb Drying. Reishi can also be dried like herbs by hanging them on a string and positioning them in the sun. Make sure to give them ventilation as well. 
  • Box Drying. Another great way to dry reishi is to place them in a ventilated box and set them in the sunlight. A black colored box is best to attract more heat from the sun. 

Reishi Mushroom Tea

The most popular way to consume reishi is in a tea. You can purchase reishi tea online and in organic or health food stores, but you’ll see it’s just as easy to buy (or harvest!) reishi strips and make some yourself. Just break up 2 or 3 reishi slices into small pieces, thow them in a quart of boiling water for 20 minutes and you’re done!

Making reishi tea is an easy way to get the benefits of this amazing mushroom. The best part is it that you can make a large batch and then bottle it up, refrigerate and drink it cold! 

Again, it may not be the best tasting tea in town, but the benefits are tremendous. So even if you have to gulp it down quickly, IT IS WORTH IT!

Reishi Mushroom Extract/Tincture 

Reishi can also be taken as an extract or tincture, to really squeeze every drop of nutrients and medicinal properties from it. Reishi extract can also be purchased, but here is how you can make it yourself! 

Start by filling a mason jar with broken strips or ground reishi. Pour 2-3 cups of whisky or vodka into the jar and set it somewhere out of the way for a couple weeks. During this setting time be sure to take it out once a day to shake.

After 2 weeks, strain the tincture and set the alcohol aside. Add the remaining reishi to a quart of boiling water and let the water evaporate until you have 1 or 2 cups left in the pot. Strain the mixture. At this point you have extracted all you can from the reishi and you can throw it away or compost it. Add the reishi water to the reishi alcohol and shake it up to make your tincture.  

You can take your reishi tincture daily with a dropper or you can add it to water to drink it down that way. 

Reishi Mushroom Powder

Another way to prepare your reishi mushroom is to make a powder. If you are wanting to grind it yourself, make sure you have a strong blender or grinder because reishi is extremely tough when dry. The best way to grind it would be to take thin, dried strips and break them into smaller pieces first. Or you could just use Organifi Red Juice; reishi is one of the 11 superfood ingredients!

Reishi powder is great to have around because it has more surface area to extract all the nutrients from. You can also use this powder to steep and make a tea, add it to your morning shakes, or cook it into a soup or stew.  

Reishi Mushroom Recipes

Red Juice Popsicle 

Reishi mushrooms are just one of the amazing ingredients featured in Organifi Red Juice, which is used in this delicious popsicle recipe

Unicorn Toast 

A unique way to eat the Organifi Red Juice for breakfast: spreading it on toast! This recipe also includes the incredible reishi mushroom. 

Reishi Oatmeal

Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 cup of milk, water, or a mixture to your liking
  • 1 tbsp ground reishi mushroom
  • 1 handful of goji berries
  • 1 dash of salt
  • Honey to taste (optional)

Instructions: Boil your milk/water in a saucepan then set the heat to low. Add oats, reishi, salt and goji berries. Simmer and stir for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan, drizzle on the honey and eat up! 

Morning Reishi Mushroom Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp ground reishi
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 dates (pitted) 
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Yogurt and honey to taste (optional)

Instructions: Soak the dates in hot water for 5-10 minutes, or as much time as it takes to measure and add the rest of the ingredients to the blender. Add the dates last and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a cup or mug and spoon in yogurt and honey if desired. Yum! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How does reishi mushroom work?

A. A reishi mushroom’s purpose is to break down dead or dying trees into components that are more edible for bugs, plants and humans. It is basically decomposing the tree and taking the nutrients into itself, which we can then harvest and consume. It is the nutrients in the mushroom, taken from the tree, that are extremely beneficial to us and which we wouldn’t be able to consume any other way!  

Q. How much reishi mushroom should I take?

A. As most medicinal foods, the daily dosage depends on what you are using it for. It is always best to see a doctor and find out just how much you should be taking personally. However, generally it is said that 1 gram of raw reishi mushroom a day is sufficient. 

Q. What is the best way to take reishi mushroom?

A. There isn’t one way that’s better than the rest, so it really is up to preference. Some really enjoy the earthy and bitter taste of the tea, while others can’t take reishi unless it’s hidden in a soup or shake. When it comes to the reishi, you really can’t go wrong! 

Almost Immortal

So, reishi mushrooms. They are a great help when it comes to energy, blood pressure, respiratory support, anti-aging and possibly even the prevention of cancer. The secret to immortality? Not quite. But the ancient Chinese emperors were right to think that it’s probably about as close to it as you can get!

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