If a person lives to be 100-years-old, but is incapable of thinking clearly or walking up a hill for their last 30 years, were they lucky? Society puts too much emphasis on life-span and not nearly enough on health-span. Whenever it’s our time to be planted, we want to have our cognitive, physical, and spiritual deaths in unison. But before that day comes, we want the strength to pick up our grandkids—then smoke them in an interval workout. When we’re old and doddering, considering hiring a landscaper just to manage our nose hairs, we want to be able to chop it up with the brightest minds of the next generation. Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink, once said, “life is about binary choices.” Left or right. Up or down. Yes or no. Lengthening our health-span is largely determined on making good choices that give us a kick ass immune system and reishi can help.
Reishi is known as “the elixir of immortality.” It was first discovered by Chinese healers during the Han dynasty more than 2,000 years ago in the Changbai Mountains which translates to “Perpetually-White Mountain Region.” Although the mountain itself is subsumed in snow, the base is home to a temperate hardwood forest where reishi grows. An ancient fable tells of a man named Pengzu who drank reishi tea and was said to have lived for hundreds of years—but still had the face of a young man. The founder of Chinese Medicine, Shen Nong, documented and categorized 365 species of plants and animals in what is known today as “Seng Nong’s Herbal Classic.” Among all the species, he categorized reishi with the highest rank of “superior herbs.”
In 1881, Petter Adolf Karsten bestowed reishi with its taxonomic rank: Ganoderma, deriving from the Greek root, ganos, meaning, “brightness," and derma, “skin.” This burgundy varnished, kidney shaped cap has a distinctly bitter taste and lends itself especially well to hot teas.
Reishi boosts the production of white blood cells and lymphocyte function to fight infection. This is done through B-Glucans — sugars from the mushroom that enter the blood system and stimulate an immune response while synchronously lowering inflammation. Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell known as “natural killer cells.” Cancer’s aggressiveness is partly determined by how much the cancer cells migrate. Reishi has been shown to significantly slow the migration and formation of breast and prostate cancer colonies. In another study done over the course of one year on patients with cancer of the intestine, researchers found that reishi decreased the number and size of tumors in the large intestine.
Reishi supports immune function broadly and fights STD’s specifically. Research shows that the mushroom reduces the time needed for herpes outbreaks to heal, reduces the spread of Hepatitis B, and by taking reishi and coriolus mushroom together it can reduce the spread of HPV virus.
Right now, your body is working to keep you from dying. It’s a brilliantly designed defense system. It’s your own personal Jocko. In the words of Waterboy, it’s a “highly-tuned athletic machine” — and it’s protecting you from free radicals, cases of flu, and viruses. Although the mushroom of immortality won’t make you live forever, it can help you live better—and that should be the goal.