Reishi: the Queen of Mushrooms
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum) is known under many impressive names, of which The Queen of Mushrooms, The Herb of Spiritual Potency and The Great Protector are only a few. Reishi is loved by many for her calming effects on the nervous system, her ability to reduce stress, provide better sleep and even improve meditation. Reishi helps us to calm our mind and ground our energy, bringing us out of our head, back into our body.
Reishi has been used for thousands of years for her immunity enhancing and all-round healing properties. Reishi first and foremost supports and strengthens the body, but is also said to produce anti-fungal, anti-allergenic, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-tumor effects. As an adaptogen, she can assess the individual’s needs, then act strategically to shift our bodies towards a state of equilibrium. One important way she does this is by balancing the immune system. Reishi is an immuno-modulator, meaning she can either stimulate or calm the immune system depending on the body’s needs. Reishi is a tonic herb, so it is safe for daily use.
Altogether, Reishi offers many potential benefits, depending on the person, but also of course which type of Reishi supplement is being used; the concentration and type of compounds present and how well they can be absorbed by the body (this is called bio-availability).
How to Consume Reishi Mushroom
The Reishi fruiting body, just like most of the medicinal mushrooms, is very hard and has tough indigestible cell walls. This means that we cannot get the healing benefits from simply eating the mushroom, but we have to prepare it in a way that makes the nutrients easily absorbable for our bodies.
Reishi’s Bioactive Compounds: the Polysaccharides and Triterpenes
Reishi contains two main types of bioactive compounds called polysaccharides and triterpenes. These are the nutrients that are said to be responsible for most of the healing effects.
The polysaccharides, to the best of our knowledge today, seem to be mainly responsible for the immuno-modulating and anti-oxidant effects.
In turn, the soothing effect on the nervous system that Reishi provides, as well as the anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and anti-hypertension properties seem to be the strongest from Reishi supplements containing a high amount of triterpenes.
These two different types of beneficial compounds can be made bio-available through different extraction methods.
Hot Water Extraction
The first method used to extract nutrients from the Reishi mushroom is hot water extraction. This provides mainly polysaccharides as these are water soluble. It will also provide a small amount of triterpenes, but not very much. Although preparing mushroom tea at home on the stove is one way of making a hot water extract, the polysaccharides are actually quite delicate. They may be easily damaged and lose their function if for example the tea is heated for too long. Though this is the way it’s been done throughout the ages, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting. For this reason we recommend using professionally prepared extracts. These extracts are guaranteed to contain the bioactive compounds, as they are made under pressure in well controlled circumstances.
Our Reishi Hot Water Extract powder is highly concentrated and contains a minimum of 30% polysaccharides and 2% triterpenes. Each fresh batch of our extract is tested so we are able to guarantee a reliable and effective Reishi supplement. Although a higher concentration of polysaccharides is possible in a hot water extract, the more polysaccharides, the sweeter becomes the flavour and also the less triterpenes it contains. We find our Hot Water Extract to have the perfect balance of flavours to use as a daily tonic. It tastes a little bit bitter and sweet, and with hints of caramel, it makes an amazingly tasty herbal coffee-alternative.
With 2% triterpenes this extract is also able to provide some of the benefits that the triterpenes are responsible for, but we find that hot water extracts are not the ideal supplements to rely on for the benefits expected from the triterpenes, such as the calming of the nervous system.
For the extraction of more triterpenes, which are fat soluble, the most commonly used method is that of alcohol extraction. Alcohol extractions made from the Reishi fruiting body can provide a Reishi supplement high in triterpenes (up to 20%), but low in polysaccharides. These extracts are called tinctures. Tinctures are a widely used and very effective method to extract nutrients from herbs and make them bio-available.
Dual Extracts and Their Limitations
To get a better balance of both bioactive compounds, these two methods of extraction are often combined into one extract called a dual extract. A dual (double) extract is a combination of hot water and alcohol extractions. Having extracted both the water and fat soluble nutrients including polysaccharides and triterpenes, a dual extract can be called a full-spectrum supplement.
Although effective, liquid alcohol extractions have never been among our favourites. Alcohol can have many unpleasant side effects, and for children and other highly sensitive beings such as ourselves, a Reishi tincture therefore is simply not an option.
Dual extract powders provide a solution to this issue because with these, the alcohol extract is dehydrated into a crystallized powder, taking away the negative side effects from the alcohol, while keeping the bio-available compounds intact.
Even though many people including ourselves love these dual extracts, we find that not everyone can appreciate or even tolerate the often very dark and bitter flavours from the dehydrated alcohol extracts, which makes it difficult to use them in an effective dose. Dual extracts also do not seem to provide such a satisfying balance of the bioactive compounds. We want our products to be suitable for as many people as possible, including children. From this perspective; dual extracts either liquid or dehydrated are not the ideal solution for a full-spectrum Reishi supplement.
Finding the Ideal Reishi Supplement
So in short, hot water extracts contain mostly polysaccharides, while alcohol extractions contain mostly triterpenes. To enjoy both sides of the healing benefits, in our opinion, the ideal Reishi supplement would have to contain high concentrations of both types of bioactive nutrients, be easy and pleasant in use and suitable for (almost) everyone.
It seems however that none of the extracts mentioned above live up to these requirements. So instead of combining two methods of extraction into one supplement to offer you the full spectrum of Reishi’s benefits, we decided to go about it differently.
Our Hot Water Extract covers a lot of these requirements. But with 30% polysaccharides and 2% triterpenes this is not our desired full-spectrum supplement either. Because we know there is so much value in the fat soluble compounds, we wanted to be able to offer you a Reishi supplement that gives you access to those benefits provided by the triterpenes. What we found is a completely pure and alcohol free, very user-friendly and incredibly powerful Reishi supplement that with as much as 30% triterpenes forms the perfect addition to our wonderful Reishi Hot Water Extract. In combination, the two Reishi supplements offer you the full-spectrum of healing benefits.
Full Spectrum, Full Power
Our Reishi Hot Water Extract powder is our ideal polysaccharide-rich Reishi supplement. It is flavourful and enjoyable, yet mild enough when mixed into teas, drinks or foods to be suitable for most people, while being highly concentrated and effective containing over 30% polysaccharides. Reishi spore oil in our opinion is the purest, most user-friendly Reishi supplement there is, containing the highest amount of triterpenes (>30%) of all Reishi products.
Together these two powerful extracts simply form the most perfectly balanced full-spectrum Reishi supplement that we could have dreamed of. This is why, to enjoy the full spectrum of the potential benefits of Reishi we highly recommend using our Reishi Hot Water Extract in combination with our Reishi Spore Oil.
The two supplements can be used at the same time so they can work together synergistically, strengthening one another. But they can also be taken at different times of the day. Because the concentration of triterpenes is very subtle, we find the hot water extract to be perfect for use during the day, as it allows us to keep our minds more active and focused. In turn the Reishi spore oil we like to have at night-time, enjoying its calming effects for a good night’s rest.
We hope you are inspired and excited to explore the world of Reishi and find out what the Queen of Mushrooms can do for you!