Reishi is an ancient functional mushroom known in Chinese medicine as a “shen tonic,” meaning it has a direct affect on the spiritual heart and nervous system and provides balancing effects that are unmatched by many other medicinal herbs. Now, modern research helps us better understand what these historical practitioners already knew–Reishi mushroom has countless benefits for the body and mind, including adaptogenic benefits that help the body deal with stress.
As Reishi supplementation rises in popularity, though, so do the number of products on the market, and not all of them are good. In fact, for every well-made Reishi supplement you come across, you can probably find five that are diluted, overpriced, contaminated, or just generally lacking in the therapeutic department.
So, how do you choose the best Reishi supplement for your daily wellness routine? We’ll unpack everything you need to know to help you decide:
Table of Contents
What is Reishi ?
Why Take Reishi Supplements?
Whole Mushroom vs Extract
Fruiting Body vs Mycelium
Forms of Reishi Supplements
How to Check Reishi Quality
Conclusion: What’s the Best Reishi Supplement?
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a commonly known functional mushroom with a history of therapeutic use that dates back at least 2,000 years. In some cultures it is known as the “mushroom of immortality” thanks to its potential anti-aging benefits and immune regulating effects.
Reishi is not commonly used in cuisine, but for therapeutic purposes you can find various preparations, from powders to tinctures and more. Experts and consumers often disagree about which is the most effective way to take Reishi mushroom, and for good reason–not all Reishi supplements are made equal.
Before we dig into how to find the best Reishi mushroom supplement, let’s talk about why you may want to incorporate this functional fungi to begin with:
According to a mix of anecdotal reports and modern research, Reishi is thought to have an array of benefits as an adaptogen, meaning it supports the body through stress. Traditionally, Reishi has also been used as a liver and digestion tonic, to boost cognitive function, to support energy and stress regulation within the body. More commonly, it’s been used to support healthy sleep cycles.
Today, we have more research to help back up Reishi’s wellness potential, and there are many different reasons you may consider supplementing with Reishi mushroom. Although Reishi research is still expanding, we do know that it’s wellness benefits come primarily from two main components:
Thanks to these bioactive compounds (and more), the purported benefits of Reishi may include:
To learn more about these benefits, read “Reishi Benefits.”
Before you can choose a dosing style and narrow down to the best reishi supplement, you need to consider the primary types of mushroom supplements available and how they impact the therapeutic experience. In general, you'll need to make a few choices:
We will break down all these choices to make it simple:
Whole mushroom supplements usually come in powder form. This simply means that the entire Reishi mushroom is dehydrated and ground into a fine powder. This powdered version of the mushroom tissue may carry many of the super nutrients found in the fresh mushroom, making this a good way to take advantage of mushrooms’ superfood qualities.
However, this ground and powdered form is not a bioactive mushroom extract on its own. In this form, the bioactive compounds are still encased in the chitin layers and can’t be properly used by the body. Whole mushroom powder needs to be added to hot water to break down the chitin and create a bioavailable beverage that can be used by the body. This is somewhat of a disadvantage because you can only really consume these supplements as a mushroom tea or other hot beverage. Plus, the temperature needed to break down cheating and active the thereapeutic compounds varies, so it’s hard to be sure that you’ve properly prepared a whole mushroom supplement.
On the other hand, bioactive powdered mushroom extraction is essentially the powdered version of this steeped mushroom material. In other words, mushroom extract powder is exposed to heat and “activated” during the production process, creating a product that’s ready to use. Extracts take full advantage of the Reishi’s beta-glucan content and are perfect for reaping certain benefits, like the adaptogenic benefits of mushrooms.
Additionally, both whole mushroom products and extracts can be made from either the mushroom's fruiting body or the mycelial mass. You can learn more about the differences by reading “Mycelium vs Fruiting Body: Which Mushroom Supplements are Best?”, but we'll briefly break down the differences:
The fruiting body is the cap and stem portion that most people usually think of when thinking of a mushroom. The mycelium grows underground and essentially functions as the mushroom's roots. Both parts are crucial to the production of mushroom supplements.
However, fruiting bodies contain 60-80% or more of the mushrooms total beta glucan content, while the mycelium contains much smaller amounts. Plus, mycelium is incredibly difficult to separate from the growing medium, usually a grain, which means that supplements made from mushroom mycelium often contain a lot of starch and are a more diluted version of mushroom supplements.
For most consumers, the difference is clear–mushrooms supplements made from the fruiting body are higher quality and contain more therapeutic comooiunds, but manufacturer rely on consumers’ misunderstanding to sell mycelium products that are degraded and overpriced.
After you’ve narrowed down a formula, you’ll be faced with another decision–which dosing style best meets your needs. Keep in mind that the dosing style affects the bioavailability, ease of use, dosing increments, and much more. Here are the most common types of Reishi supplements on the market today:
Mushroom powders are the most popular way to take mushroom supplements, including Reishi, and for good reason–they are incredibly versatile. Plus, a powder, especially one made from a mushroom extract (as opposed to a whole mushroom powder) is going to be full of Reishi’s beneficial polysaccharides.
Using a powder means that you can easily measure out your perfect dosage, and you can add it to a limitless array of smoothies, beverages, recipes, and more.
To add to that versatility, you can add mushroom powder to a capsule to make a dosing method that’s so easy, it’s almost thoughtless. This dosing method, while wonderful for mushroom extracts, gets a little dicey when using whole mushroom powder.
Because whole mushroom powder contains bioactive compounds that are still locked away in the mushroom’s chitin, taking it in capsule form is virtually useles. You may still reap some nutritional benefits, but you won’t get the same therapeutic benefits.
Also, capsules make it more difficult to alter your dosage, so make sure you consider the dosing threshold before you buy Reishi capsules.
Mushroom tinctures are generally meant to be beta-glucan extracts. However, there’s a serious problem with most tincture formulas–they rely on alcohol extracts, and not all compounds in the mushroom are alcohol-soluble. So, unless the tincture uses a combination of hot water and alcohol extract and then refines that mateial to create a potent finished product, you may only be getting about half of the mushroom’s bioactive material.
If you do find a Reishi liquid that’s diverse and well made, you can incorporate it into morning cup of coffee or tea, protein shake, smoothie, or other recipes, ro you can simply takie it by mouth.
You’ve decided on a form and type of Reishi supplement–now how do you make sure that you choose a high-quality product?
The world of mushroom supplements can be difficult to navigate, and no product is ever going to tell you if it was poorly made or is lacking bioactive compounds. So, its up to you to learn how to identify a good, high-quality mushroom product. Here’s what you should consider:
Your personal preference should be a primary deciding factor in choosing the best Reishi Supplement, but you can't overlook all the quality and dosing factors that can make or break the Reishi experience. If you want the best Reishi supplement, look for a product, ideally a powder, made from Reishi extract sources from the mushroom's fruiting body. This will give you the most concentrated therapeutic effects and the most versatility over your dosing method.
To level up your functional mushroom routine and reap these mushrooms' maximum adaptogenic benefits, look for a mushroom blend that pairs Reishi with other functional fungi, like Chaga, Lion's Mane, and more.
Your Reishi dosage will vary based on weight, diet, and other lifestyle factors. If you take Reishi with other functional mushrooms, you may need a smaller dose each day to reap full benefits. Read “Reishi Dosage” to learn more.
Yes! Reishi benefits happen through a systemic impact, which means you should take Reishi daily for several days to allow your body to adjust. Over time, Reishi benefits may become more prominent.
There's some argument about when to take Reishi–some prefer to take in in the morning while others take the mushroom just before bed. Read “Best Time to Take Reishi” to learn more.
Reishi may take a few days to begin to take effect, and you should notice full benefits after 1-2 weeks of regular dosing.
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