REISHI Mushroom "The plant of immortality"
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Ganoderma Lucidum (gan=shiny; derm=skin; lucidum=shining), Ling-Zhi or the more common name Reishi is the subject of my focus today. This unique looking mushroom has "roots" in Eastern medicine that dates back as far as 4000 years and was used for a wide variety of ailments. This mushroom has only been successfully commercially cultivated for about 20 years now, prior to that it was considered rare to find in the wild. In fact, in Japan it typically grows on plum trees and when 100,000 trees were checked only 1% of them were found to produce any Reishi mushrooms. Here in the United States you'll find them on Hemlock, Maple, Oak and fruit trees (mainly Cherry) but just like their Asian counter parts they can be a rare find. Here on the East coast the main fruiting season is from May to July.
Up until recently the rarity of Reishi also made it very expensive, although wild Reishi can still fetch between $80-$100 a pound (dried). That being said, even dried cultivated Reishi can still cost between $20-$30 a pound, even more for a particularly sought after strain. There are thought to be 6 different types of Reishi mushrooms, classified according to their color, and all are thought to have different healing properties (in truth the environment and growth stage is what has the most effect on the mushrooms properties). Blue, red, yellow white, black and purple Reishi are all said to have different flavors ranging from sour, to sweet, to even hot. The different colors are said to have different healing effects with the red typically being the most sought because it is regarded as the most potent and medicinal. I mostly use the red Reishi, primarily because that's the one that I found the most of this year.
I could go into talking about polysaccharides and triterpenes of Reishi, but I have just the very basic understanding of organic chemistry and would mostly be talking out of my ass like I had a deeper understanding. What I will say though is over the years more and more medical research has been conducted and proven that the folk medicine of thousands of years ago...isn't so much folk. Reishi taken internally (orally or as injections, ground into a powder or made into an extract) has shown to help the body with everything from DNA building in the marrow to symptoms associated with anorexia and pretty much everything in-between. For the mind this mushroom is said to be great for insomnia, anxiety or any general neurasthenia (medical term for any emotional disturbance).
For this post what I want to tell you about though is the TOPICAL effects of this medicinal mushroom. Reishi is either the focus or appears along side other medicinal mushrooms in a variety of our products, and that's not by mistake. Our shampoo balls use Reishi extract for their healing, hydrating, protecting aaaaaand the ability to block DHT (Dihydrotestosterone, is a hormone that causes hair loss in large amounts). Our "Super Bar" is based on the idea of dual extraction of several medicinal mushrooms, one being red Reishi. Half the bar is made using a H20 extract while the other half is made using a alcohol extract. This gives you an EXTREMELY powerful tool to fight against dry skin, eczema and a host of other skin conditions. (it's also worth noting that I only use organic or naturally processed materials in all my products. It would be a little redundant to spend all this time foraging for all these great ingredients only to dump them into chemically processed garbage).
In the winter I get extremely dry skin which sometimes can break out into eczema. I've been using the Super Bar for the last couple of months (I test every item on myself first) and so far it's kept the itchies away. I've also developed a shampoo bar for dogs using Reishi, the "Woof Bar", and yep it's definitely animal tested! My two German Shorthaired Pointers are insanely active. Between running through the woods and wrestling with each other they're always dirty and covered in scratches. Their regular shampoo we used was "all natural" but always gave them dandruff so we didn't bathe them with soap as often as I personally would have wanted to. After some research I came up with a formula and after a day of playing in the rain and mud my GSPs got a good washing! I have to say their coats were shinier, they didn't get dandruff, and I like using the bar way more than the liquid shampoo.
So, Reishi...yeah it's good stuff! I highly recommend you incorporate this medicinal mushroom into your daily life. Here's a few tips when buying the mushroom. Buy from a reputable source, a lot of times companies use the leftover mycelium in their powders or extracts. This still has medicinal properties, but not as much as the main mushroom or the "fruit". Think of it like this, what has more vitamins in it, Orange tree roots or the Orange fruit itself? I personally prefer wild as opposed to cultivated. 9 times out of 10 wild is going to be the purest form of organic that you can get. Just make sure that the forager practices sustainable harvesting, knows what their harvesting and is harvesting from locations that are safe (free of pollutant or other contaminants). If you buy cultivated always buy AA graded or if there is no grading check to make sure they are well reviewed online. Mushroom farming can create A LOT of waste. Make sure the farm follows sustainable practices.
I'll list my references below and as always have fun discovering your backyard!