Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) has been called the mushroom of immortality; in Chinese this mushroom is known as Ling Zhi. Native to Europe, Asia and North America, Reishi has been revered in China for thousands of years. It is depicted in many Chinese works of art and is utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The fruiting bodies of this mushroom contain polysaccharides, specifically a type called beta-glucans, which have been studied to support immune health and overall wellness, as well as normal, healthy cell growth and turnover. Modern uses of Reishi include cardiovascular support, a healthy stress response, healthy energy/stamina, overall wellness and immune health.
Reishi has health benefits that are wide-reaching in effect beyond supporting our stress response. It is antimicrobial against viruses, bacteria, and other fungi such as candida. It is anti-inflammatory and supports the immune system as well as promoting heart, liver, and kidney health. But the focus of Reishi for this discussion is its ability to enhance our ability to handle the curve balls of life.
Reishi also appears to work on the HPA by improving the function of the adrenal glands themselves. Stress is perceived by the nervous system and the signal is transmitted to the command centre of the brain (the hypothalamus), which in turn relays the message to the adrenal glands stimulating the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline). Targets for modulating the stress response, therefore, include the nervous system as well as the HPA or Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis.
This makes reishi an excellent herb choice for calming the mind, easing anxiety, promoting sleep, grounding and centering us, and fostering greater resilience to stress over time.