21 Aug What is Reishi?
By Lexi Orlan, Contributing Blogger
Whether it’s in the form of a supplement or as an ingredient in kombucha, hot chocolate or granola bars, reishi seems to be popping up everywhere. Is it worth the investment? Here’s the low-down on this unfamiliar supplement.
What is it?
Reishi is a type of mushroom originating from Asia. However, it differs from your everyday mushrooms as it’s not eaten fresh. It’s typically dried and used as a supplement in a powder form. Reishi is considered a “medicinal mushroom,” and has been touted for numerous health benefits.
Research on the use of reishi is limited, however current research is looking at reishi and its effect on immune health and cancer. Reishi, like any mushroom, contains carbohydrates, proteins, minimal fat, and plenty of fiber. Reishi also contains terpenoids, which may have anti-inflammatory properties, and phenols, which may play a role in cancer prevention. Reishi mushroom contains specific types of carbohydrates, beta-glucans and sterols, which may also play a role in cancer prevention and hormone function, respectively.
Is Reishi right for you?
Reishi is not a commercially available food but is a supplement that can be added to foods (in a liquid form) or taken as a supplement. Although research appears promising, there isn’t enough research to deem it safe and reported side effects include liver toxicity and chronic diarrhea. Before taking reishi, or any supplement, check with your doctor and registered dietitian (RD) to make sure it doesn’t interact with other medications or supplements and that it is safe for you. Reishi is known to interact with blood thinners, chemotherapy, immunosuppressants and substrate drugs. Always consult a health professional before adding supplements to your diet.
Lexi Orlan, BS., is a dietetic intern at Rutgers University. She hopes to become a Registered Dietitian and use her passion for food and health to better others’ lives.