Adam's Corner

Reishi: King of the Forest

Guest Column by Tyler Gisleson

Reishi mushroom is a superior tonic herb sharing the ranks with elite Chinese herbs like ginseng, deer antler and cordyceps. It’s arguably the most spiritual herb in the entirety of China’s medicine cabinet!

When walking in the woods in mid-summer, it’s an experience to lay eyes on a fully matured patch of reishis. These red and woody ‘shrooms are unlike anything else you’ll find in these northeastern forests – they’re almost alien looking. And based on some info I’ve learned from popular mycologist Paul Stamets they may actually be originally not of this world at all, which could explain their eccentric appearance (Paul theorizes that mushrooms may have floated through the cosmos to join us on Earth [no kidding!]).

You can harvest this potent medicine yourself every summer right here in Massachusetts, but China is where it has built its reputation.

Anxiety, depression, candida, adrenal fatigue, immune-disorders/weakness, allergies, sleeplessness, liver, heart and mind/soul health are just some of the uses of this versatile tonic.

Its strong bitter taste is sobering to a reckless spirit, and soothing to a restless body. It’s often called the “mushroom of spiritual potency” by hermits, monks, Taoist adepts and spiritual seekers alike. But its effects on immunity and heart health are just as impressive. Calming excess and strengthening weakness, reishi (aka. ganoderma, aka. Ling Zhi) does not “stimulate” the immune response. It regulates it. This ability makes reishi precious.

Widely used in Asia for heart health and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol), reishi is an approved medicine in Japan for the treatment of some cancers, and it helps rebuild the immune systems of the weakened, which is an essential part of recovery from cancer, in my opinion. Reishi may be even more powerful as cancer prevention as it stimulates “natural” anti-cancer substances produced by our own bodies like interferon and interleukin 1 and 2.

In Japan, reishi is also utilized for memory loss, senility, and lots of other degenerative diseases.

Type 1 allergies, auto-immune issues, and heart and liver maintenance are excellent reasons to take reishi. It may also help to prevent the common cold or flu.

Constituents of reishi like triterpenes and polysaccharides, as well as organic germanium in the wild variety, and other phytochemicals, may contribute to its physical health benefits. That’s only for starters.

The “mushroom of immortality,” the “herb of good fortune” and the “supreme protector” are a few of the “modest” descriptions attributed to reishi.

On the emotional/spiritual level reishi is beyond understanding from a scientific left-brained approach. It is widely believed in Asia that reishi can improve the quality of life by improving the inner life of a human being. It gradually strengthens the nervous system which alters our perception of reality for the better. Even science has now “merged with spirituality” in the realm of Quantum Physics, which is showing us the profundity of our power to transform our lives and our world from the inside out.

Plant medicines like reishi can be allies in this process, but ultimately it is our individual inner choices that will culminate into our true healing.

While it is certainly a grand blessing to have mushrooms from outer space (!)to help us on our journey, we must take full responsibility within for our own individual and collective destiny.

Come in and ask me for my recipe for a “reishi-ccino,” the taste of a Starbucks drink with the healing power of a Chinese tonic herbalism in one!

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