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Reishi mushrooms can strengthen your immune system – here's how (recipes included)
By joannewashburn // 2022-02-04
Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) are rare, fan-shaped mushrooms that grow at the base of deciduous trees. Also known as lingzhi mushrooms, reishi mushrooms are widely used in traditional medicine to address various ailments. According to multiple studies, reishi mushrooms can also fortify the immune system, thanks to their antiviral properties. Natural health practitioners believe that consuming reishi mushrooms can help boost immune function and lower the risk of many chronic diseases, as well as slow immunosenescence.

Reishi mushrooms support a healthy immune system

Our immune system helps ward off harmful bacteria, destroy emerging cancerous cells and ease inflammation once threats have been eliminated. But as we get older, we become more susceptible to something called immunosenescence. This refers to the gradual decline of our immune system because of aging. Immunosenescence can increase your risk of developing diseases caused by inflammation and infection, which may later cause conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Fortunately, studies have shown that some of the compounds in reishi mushrooms may help fortify immunity, support an aging immune system, reduce inflammation and prevent chronic diseases. One of those compounds, ganoderic acid A, has even been reported to stop the growth and spread of highly invasive human breast cancer cells. Experts believe this benefit is due to ganoderic acid A's anti-inflammatory properties. Ganoderic acid A and other powerful compounds in reishi mushrooms also support the optimal functioning of B cells and T cells. B cells produce antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses. Helper T cells stimulate B cells to make antibodies, while killer T cells directly kill cells that have already been infected by a foreign invader. Additionally, reishi mushroom extract has been reported to neutralize cancer-causing substances, trigger programmed cell death in cancer cells and stop cancer cells from spreading. In conclusion, the existing literature on reishi mushrooms strongly support the idea that they can help slow or prevent immunosenescence.

Recipe for immune-boosting reishi mushroom tea

Paired with toasted brown rice and earthy shiitake mushrooms, reishi mushrooms make a tasty, satisfying tea. Ingredients for 4 servings:
  • 1 large fresh shiitake mushroom, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups filtered water, divided
  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 tablespoon dried reishi mushroom, ground
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  1. In a pot, toast the rice on medium heat until aromatic and slightly caramelized.
  2. Cover the rice with 1 1/2 cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Fluff the rice and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the bottom layer of rice sticks to the pot.
  4. Turn off the heat. Scoop out the top layers of rice, leaving half an inch of caramelized rice at the bottom.
  5. Add the remaining filtered water and bring to a simmer. Add the shiitake mushroom and reishi powder, stirring to break up the rice at the bottom. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and set it aside for 10 minutes. Strain the tea into a cup and add the raw honey. Enjoy.

Recipe for reishi mushroom soup

This energizing soup recipe is a great way to work reishi mushrooms into your daily diet. Plus, it's packed with all sorts of immune-boosting vegetables, such as ginger, kale and fennel. Ingredients for 6 servings:
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups kale, chopped roughly
  • 2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (1/2 cup if dried)
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried reishi mushrooms, ground
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fresh fennel fronds, minced
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, fennel, thyme, ginger and mushrooms.
  3. Add the water, reishi powder, miso paste and spices.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the kale and fennel fronds. Ladle the soup into bowls and enjoy.
Packed with health-supporting compounds, reishi mushrooms can keep your immune system healthy even in later life. Sources: