How A Mushroom Could Help You Find Peace And Health
From the book Healing Thresholds: A Modern Journey into Taoist Health Philosophy, by Rehmannia Dean Thomas. (pp. 180–189)
I think reishi must have come to me because of my prayers. I’d been pleading to overcome the negativity I had built up over so many years, and Master Teeguarden introduced me to reishi. He taught me that reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum, Ling Zhi) is by far the most precious shen herb on the planet. I regard this herb’s effect upon my life as the single most important thing that has ever happened to me, and I literally evaluate my life as pre– and post–reishi. The most revered herb in all Taoist Chinese medicine, it has a long history of use by Taoist monks and wise men/women throughout the ages for its superior shen opening capabilities.
I felt this substance was calling to me and I began taking large amounts of the herb, which is essentially a mushroom. Reishi has a long and illustrious history as an agent to access deeper perception. The herb is thought to open and clear the crown chakra (the energy center located at the very top of the skull), and to clear karmic obstacles and old psychic baggage.
I began to ingest fifteen capsules of pure reishi powder daily, nearly three times the recommended daily amount as suggested on the bottle. I found out later that reishi is so safe and free of side effects that I could have taken even more. On the third morning after beginning to take reishi, I awoke to find the light in the room infused with color and saturated with intensity. I got up, and immediately knew the dark clouds over my head had dissipated. It was as if I had taken off a shirt—it was that easy!
It still took another few years to completely rid myself of the “spiritual suppression” but reishi laid the groundwork. And once gone, the suppression has never come back; I still take reishi regularly. Within days after my breakthrough I seemed to feel the essence of Lao Tzu’s brilliant insights more distinctly, and knew that the folklore about him taking reishi must be true. I believe reishi was instrumental in his crystal clear perception and connectedness to all nature’s cycles, the laws of cause and effect, the expansiveness of the Yin and Yang. The herb started to quickly open my life to this vast and sensible consciousness.
Premium grade reishi is harvested in the Changbai Mountain region of China, and is also indigenous to the southern Appalachian Mountains of the U.S. The mushroom grows wild on trees and wood stumps. Reishi will often be found growing in the carbon dioxide–rich interior of hollowed out trunks of fallen deciduous hardwood trees and in conifer forests. It is considered an “advanced fungal,” a polypore (mushrooms that grow on wood) with a phytochemistry that is quite complex and takes a relatively long time to mature into its fruiting body, the cap of the mushroom with which we are most familiar. At maturity it attains a tough woody structure not associated with most other mushrooms.
Reishi is a bitter mushroom, not fit for culinary consumption. Boiling the herb is required in order to release its constituents from the tough, woody cellulose. Due to living in wild diversity of old forests, reishi must develop internal resistance and immunity to genetic pollution from other life forms and fungals in its vicinity. Reishi contains a high proportion of immunoglobulins, polyglycans, polysaccharides, triterpenes (cholesterol regulating), beta-glucans (macrophage promoting), ganoderic acids (unique antioxidants) and other immune building components. Experience in China has indicated the herb is not just a powerful immune stimulant; it is an immune system “regulator”, it is actually known to fine tune the immune system, helping bring excessive immune factors into balance.
According to Chinese medical documentation, allergies, arthritis, and many inflammatory responses in the body can be improved by the regular use of reishi. Research in Asia also showed it helps prevent leukopenia, or white blood cell death, which is associated with cancer and the use of chemotherapeutic drugs. Reishi is also used successfully in Japan and China as a treatment for cancer and other immune related degenerative diseases. One notable researcher is Fujimi Morishige of the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine.71
In Asia, pregnant women also seek the herb as an immune builder for themselves and the fetus. Master Teeguarden spoke of “reishi babies,” as he called them, babies whose mothers took reishi throughout pregnancy. I saw some of these children, older and newborn, and they appeared uniformly calm and focused. The infants had little or no inflammations on their face or hands, cried little, and appeared to take in their surroundings with incredible acuity.
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Recent Western health literature is replete with information on reishi’s broad array of health benefits.72 I would suggest conducting an Internet search on this herb and you’ll find more positive information than you can read.
Still, it is reishi’s spirit opening powers that are the herb’s main benefit. Here’s how I believe it works: When we consume the herb it begins quickly to strengthen and fortify our general immunity. When one’s immunity to pathogenic/environmental factors is enhanced, one begins to feel safer. The more we take herbs like reishi, the more we feel we have built a “wall of safety” around ourselves. Reishi has been shown to activate cytokines, agents that aid the body in increasing large white blood cells governed by our immune systems, which represent our first line of defense against microbial and carcinogenic invaders. Those big macrophages (giant white blood cells) are in there chewing up the bad guys, and our subconscious neurotransmitters are aware of this. We feel we can take on more in life and gain confidence that we are less susceptible to being knocked down by limiting and harmful factors. By taking herbs like reishi, we empower ourselves. When this empowerment starts to unfold, we let down some of the guards we’ve built up, easing fear-related stress. This winds up taking a big load of pressure off our adrenals, which sit right on top of the kidneys.
Luckily for us, the adrenals—once relieved of stress– and fear–related burdens—can actually replenish rather quickly. When the adrenals recuperate, the healthy energy resonates right down to the kidneys; our life force begins to get stronger, replenishing jing. Our light gets brighter.
Also, in ways that have not been determined, reishi seems to have a direct effect on the crown chakra, helping clear psychic obstructions. While many mushrooms have psychotropic effects on the brain, reishi does not alter perception. Its effects on neurotransmitters like dopamine, melatonin and DHEA may be enhanced—as any action or substance that promotes calm in the brain. The herb certainly somehow benefits the higher frequencies of mental perception. When our light gets brighter, we may tend to attract more light to us, in the form of people and circumstances. Reishi can be the initiator of benevolent energy that can, and often does, completely change a person’s life for the better.
When searching for reishi, which may be hard to find in your local health food store, make sure that the reishi contained in the bottle is the “fruiting body,” the sexual apparatus of the mushroom, the part we actually associate with mushrooms visually. This part contains over twenty times the concentration of immune potentiators, beta 1–3, 1–6 and 1–9 glucans, than the “mycelium,” which is the unseen part of the mushroom, the white fuzzy fungal part that has grown inside the log or underground and is feeding on the deteriorating wood and oxidizing decaying plant matter in the soil. This mycelium actually comprises the largets bulk of the fungal but has only a fraction of the immune and spirit power of the fruiting body. Many reishi products contain the mycelium. Check the bottle or ask the nutriceutical specialist at your local health food store about mycelium and fruiting body ratios in any reishi product you find. I have seen reishi supplements on store shelved which consisted of nothing but ground up mycelium. Bear in mind that even the mycelium alone has been shown in clinical studies in Japan and China to have positive results in fighting cancer and AIDS, and American mycologist Paul Stamets expresses high regard for the healing and therapeutic benefits of fungal mycelium, but according to Master Teeguarden’s teachings, the fruiting body is more concentrated and thus more efficacious.
To test the quality of a reishi supplement, try opening a capsule and stirring it into an ounce or two of hot water. With good quality reishi, the color should be thick dark brown, and should taste like string, bitter black coffee. If the color reminds you of orange pekoe tea, and chunks of sediment are lying on the bottom, then the product is mainly mycelium, and is not as potent. Don’t be afrand of taking a lot of reishi; it is very safe and contains more spiritually uplifting potential in larger doses. Twelve to fifteen capsules a day can help clear the fog quick. But one may want to start out by following the recommended daily amount as printed on the bottle, and working up as it feels appropriate. I put the powdered extract into teas and smoothies.
The spores of the mushroom are sixty times more potent still, but the cell walls of the spores must be “cracked” before they are bioavailable to us. Once cracked though, the spore will deteriorate, and the common practice is to combine them into oil for preservation. Dragon Herbs has an awesome cracked reishi spore oil. Cracked reishi spores will be almost impossible to find, so one should jump at the chance to take some if available, especially if one is dealing with an immune deficiency issue.
Master Teeguarden showed me ancient scroll paintings from China that depicted reishi perched on a rock in the middle of the artwork, with heaven depicted above and the nether world of lower frequencies below. He explained that this painting revealed reishi as a “bridge between Earth and Heaven.” It was very popular among the elite classes during china’s classical dynasties (approx. 1000 B.C. to 1915 A.D.) This was a period of great scientific and cultural advancement and rulers were said to govern the land with compassion; perhaps reishi had something to do with that.
There appears to be a symbiosis between this mushroom and our higher mind. Reishi may “unlock” the door to our connection with the consciousness of the crown chakra, our connection to the spirit, to our future DNA (it is thought that certain aspects of human DNA have not yet been activated), the genetic code that may contain our true potential as a species.
The class of living things on Earth called fungi is thought to be extraterrestrial; they do not appear to have a earthly origin and it is thought by mycologist Paul Stamets, that the “advanced polypores,” complex fungals such as reishi, agaricus and corriolus originated somewhere else in the galaxy, and the dusts of their spores can survive the harsh oxygen– and light–deprived conditions in space, possibly for millions of years, and eventually some of these dusts land on earth. Stamets states that we humans are actually more closely related to fungi than to plants (we both breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, the opposite of plants), and that images of fungal mycelia resemble the human neurological system.73
I believe that fungi such as these advanced polypores could be involved in helping design the activating systems for the transmittal of information along neural pathways—consciousness, and our destiny. This could answer the heretofore–unexplained question of how 450 million years ago, single–celled organisms developed the process of differentiation into multi–cellular organisms. Various fungi may have had a role in drawing these early aquatic algaes onto land through their mycelial masses, and somehow imparted to the simple algae more complex neurological and vascular systems capable of transmitting and transporting information—and eventually aiding in the DNA design of humans. Mushrooms such as reishi may have very important messages to convey to us—once we’re ready.
*Contraindications: none recorded in all Chinese medical literature.
71. Morishige, Fukumi, 1987. Chinese Traditional Medicine Part III, Page 12 – 23, ISBN4-88580-053-6 C-0077
72. Wood, R. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia (New York: Penguin, 1988), 287.
73. Paul Stamets, Mycelia Running, How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (Berkley: Ten Speed Press, 2005), 2-7.
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