Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Herb Crush: Reishi Mushroom

Since reishi is technically a mushroom, some may not even consider it as part of an herbalists repertoire.  Many herbalists are saying otherwise and considering just about anything that grows from nature as part of its arsenal. So yes, this includes reishi mushrooms and many other mushrooms too like chaga, turkey tail and maitake.  For my own biased reasons, up until this point I didn't bother incorporating mushrooms into my herbal usage simply because I don't like to eat them.... I've avoided them like Farrakhan would chitterlings at Thanksgiving.

Considering that I mostly eat a vegetarian diet, I noticed my hair was thinning and asked my holistic hair stylist (Ashley Lenee') what I should do; she suggested the best way to improve the condition of my hair is through diet -- she told me to get some reishi mushrooms. I objected, because did I mention that I REEEEAAALLLY don't like mushrooms?! The spongy texture and sometime fungal flavor leaves me saying, "ick, yuck, pewwh!"

No sweat she said, and recommended that I try reishi mushroom powder. She had some powder waiting for me at my next hair appointment and told me to add about a tablespoon of powder to a glass of water. Although she told me that reishi is high in protein and B-vitamins (great for restoring hair), I was nervous and felt like a 5-year-old stuck at the dinner table with a plate of food I didn't want to eat.

So, I had to get some nerve to even consume it and did more research only to discover that reishi is an *adaptogenic herb that has been widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for hundreds of years. In TCM it is called Ganoderma, and is revered for promoting longevity. So much so, it's referred to as the "herb of immortality."

In addition to that it improves immune function by increasing T-cell production, and there's loads of info about its cancer fighting properties.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, "Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) clearly demonstrates anticancer activity in experiments with cancer cells and has possible therapeutic potential as a dietary supplement for an alternative therapy for breast and prostate cancer."

There's more, according to Susan G. Komen...
"Reishi mushroom is used for boosting the immune system; viral infections such as the flu (influenza), swine flu, and avian flu; lung conditions including asthma and bronchitis; heart disease and contributing conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol; kidney disease; cancer; and liver disease. It is also used for HIV/AIDS, altitude sickness, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), trouble sleeping (insomnia), stomach ulcers, poisoning, and herpes pain. Other uses include reducing stress and preventing fatigue."
Eventually, I found the nerve to give it the old college try. As instructed, I added a tablespoon to my water, stirred, sipped and held my breath. Well, it was... actually really good. With the right water to reishi powder ratio it tastes like fresh water, in my opinion.

Although still a little biased about this mahogany colored mushroom powder, I immediately felt A LOT of energy. So much so, I felt like I wanted to run a marathon, I was so energized; then, I realized hours had went by and I still hadn't eaten. In my experience with the herb, it's a HUGE appetite suppressant and energy booster. Both my hair and scalp is feeling much stronger although, I'm not really sure I can attribute this to the reishi powder solely. My stylist also recommended a hair product, which I think has been very helpful. 

You ever eat something very nutritious and feel sudden super strength? Well this was my experience with reishi mushroom powder. Now, I add it to my water more regularly, cook with it and sprinkle over meals. It's my new favorite, and may have even helped me to become just an itsy bit more open to eating mushrooms.

If you don't have this hang-up against mushroom textures, it's probably best to eat the actual reishi mushroom. Consuming foods in their whole, natural state is always best as long as you can bare the taste, texture and smell. 

As for me, I think I have a crush on reishi mushrooms and it's getting kind of serious ;) 

*adaptogenic herb: helps the body "adapt" to stress factors by tonifying and restoring the body overall, mostly by supporting adrenal (nervous) and endocrine (hormone) systems.

Note: Herbs, as with anything else, will interact with everyone differently, which may not mean a bad thing just that each person's body functions differently. Consult your health care professional, do your own research and pay close attention to your body's responses.

- Avec amour