In Japanese, reishi translates to divine or spiritual mushroom. At a recent conference, Dr. Willard stated, “The reishi is by far my favorite of the medicinal mushrooms.” Christopher Hobbs uses reishi extract daily, writing that it is a “deep level tonic” used traditionally as a blood cleanser. And, Paul Stamets classifies it as the most broad spectrum healer of all medicinal mushrooms.
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In the northeastern woods of Japan and the United States grows a ruffly-looking, exotic fungus with exciting possibilities, both culinary and nutritional. Called maitake or hen of the woods mushrooms, their woodsy aroma, meaty texture, and rich flavor have long given them special status in Japanese cuisine. Now, research is showing that maitake have potential that goes far beyond the kitchen.
Recent studies have shown that Reishi mushrooms and other exotic mushrooms like Maitake and Cordyceps, are not only delicious, but also offer health benefits and help people lose weight. The mushrooms can be added to your favorite recipes and even be a substitute for beef. Other mushrooms can be consumed in tea form or taken as a daily capsule. These mushrooms offer such benefits as increased metabolism, a lower fat and calorie alternative in meals, reduced blood sugar levels, and even increased stamina and endurance to help you get the most from your workout.
In this study, the researchers aimed to see if reishi was effective in preventing obesity. They gave mice different amounts of reishi or placebo and either a normal diet or a high-fat diet for eight weeks. All mice on the high-fat diet gained a lot of weight and body fat, but those given reishi did not gain as much weight or body fat. The reishi supplement did not have an effect on mice fed a normal diet. The supplement appeared to work by improving the number of “good” bacteria in the gut and through reducing inflammation. Some studies have suggested that chronic inflammation and an increased number of “bad” bacteria in the gut are linked to obesity in humans.
Maitake is a mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. Like other medicinal mushrooms, maitake contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan. In laboratory and human studies, maitake extract was able to stimulate various cells and factors in the immune system. Studies in animals show that it slows the growth of certain tumors and lowers blood sugar levels. More studies are being conducted to determine if maitake has the same effects in humans.