black and white cat in bed wearing a blue sleep mask

ARE REISHI MUSHROOMS GOOD FOR SLEEP PROBLEMS?

Introduction

Sleep –so easy for some but so elusive for others. Covid stress, work stress, family stress are just a few headaches most of us have to deal with that can adversely impact sleep.

Poor sleep can have potentially serious consequences like:

  • Impaired immune function
  • Cognitive decline
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Alzheimers disease

In fact, just being deprived of one single night of good sleep may increase the accumulation of certain proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimers disease.

I’ve had nights I would have done just about anything to get even a few hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. Can you relate?

I’ve tried a lot — and I’m mean a lot of things for sleep and most didn’t work for me. But one thing I’ve found that helps me relax and chill is a soothing cup of reishi tea.

What’s so special about reishi? Is it a “magic mushroon”? Does it really work or is this all just a bunch of hype? Keep reading to find out more about reishi.

What is Reishi?

Girl + question marks

The reishi mushroom which goes by many names — The Queen of Mushrooms, Linghzi Mushroom, or Ganoderma Lucidum, has been a staple for managing stress in China and Japan for thousands of years. Reishi was a favorite remedy of the Chinese royal family to promote longevity.

A woody looking mushroom with a glossy exterior, reishi has an extremely bitter taste — let’s just say it’s not the tastiest thing you’ll ever put in your mouth. But, you’ll get used to it in no time!

As you’ve probably heard before, bitter tasting foods tend to have the most health benefits. If only the best tasting foods were the best for you, life would be sooo much easier! French fries, doughnuts, ice cream and potato chips would be my choice for health foods!

Reishi is a type of mushroom called an adaptogen. An adaptogenic mushroom will give your body what it needs i.e. if you’re stressed out, an adaptogen will calm you down.

If you’re slow and sluggish and can’t seem to get going in the morning, it will give a boost to get you going so you can get things done. An adaptogen literally “adapts” to your body’s needs and helps balance both your body and mind.

Reishi Benefits

woman in blue robe drinking a cup of tea

Sleep

Reishi is best known for its calming and relaxing properties. When taken in small doses regularly, reishi may help balance your body’s sleep cycles.

A natural biorhythm regulator, reishi may help you enter a deeper state of sleep and feel more rested and ready to take on the world when you wake in the morning.

Studies with mice have shown reishi may help decrease the time it takes you to fall asleep as well as increase the amount of time you are asleep. Reishi increased non-REM sleep and Delta wave sleep as well.

Immune System

Reishi may also support the immune system due to it’s abundance of polysaccharides, beta-glucans, triterpenes, and sterols. Reishi may act as an anti-bacterial, especially against Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Baccillus pneumonia.

The antioxidants in reishi may help knock out free radicals and viruses by increasing interferon production to help regulate the immune system.

Studies have shown reishi may affect the inflammation pathways in white blood cells and increase the number of white blood cells in patients with colorectal cancer

Skin

Traditional Chinese Medicine has used reishi as an anti-aging remedy for centuries. The polysaccharides in reishi help regulate gene expression in aging skin and also protect against UV skin damage.

Specifically, the glucose molecule,beta-glucan attracts water to your skin, thereby, keeping it hydrated and supple. Reishi helps your body synthesize ceramides which make up your skins protective layer.

This helps calm your skin and make it more adaptive to the environment. By restoring your skin’s supply of ceramides, the skin is less reactive to environmental stress.

Depression and Fatigue

Improved quality of life may be another side effect of consuming this ‘shroom. Antioxidant – rich reishi may help keep your body’s internal systems stay in balance and reduce fatigue.

A Chinese study found reishi helped diminish fatigue and improved well – being after 8 weeks of supplementation.

Breast cancer survivors after 4 weeks of taking reishi powder, showeda decrease in fatigue, anxiety, depression, and an improved sense of well – being.

Reishi Side Effects

As with many supplements, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it may be best not to take this one since there’s not a lot of research on the potential side effects.

High doses of reishi may increase bleeding so use with caution if you have any blood clotting or bleeding disorders. Low blood pressure is also a potential side effect to be aware of.

Always check with your healthcare provider before using this or any other supplement especially if you’re on prescription medications.

Best Reishi Supplement

infographic on what to look for when buying a reishi supplement

It’s super important to remember — not all mushroom supplements are created equal. Do your research and choose a good quality supplement sourced from the fruiting body of the mushroom — not the mycellium or mushroom root structure. The fruting body is where the maximum potency and medicinal benefits are found.

Look for certified organic or wildcrafted mushrooms, and be sure to check if the supplement has been third party tested. Certain mushrooms may be hyper – accumulators of heavy metals so it’s important they’re tested for heavy metal particles to make sure they’re safe to consume.

Always check the product description on the packaging to see where the mushroom was grown. Look for mushrooms grown on trees or logs as these naturally produce the highest yield of nutritional benefits.

The medicinal compounds in mushrooms aren’t available in the raw form so they need to be extracted. The product description should tell you what you need to know about the extraction process.

Check the mushroom’s Beta-glucan content as this is what gives medicinal mushrooms their star power! Look for scientifically verified levels of beta-glucan as this is a key indicator of the product’s potency.

The supplement shouldn’t contain any added ingredients such as binders, fillers, coloring, or flow agents. It should list the fruiting body of the mushroom — and nothing else.

Dosage

Dosages may vary depending on which form of the mushroom is consumed so it’s super important to know the type you’re taking.

The dried extract is the form used most often with the dosage about 10 times less than if you actually consumed the mushroom itself. If the actual mushroom is eaten, the dosage range is 25-100 gm depending its size.

Conclusion

Personally, I’ve found a cup of reishi tea before going to bed helps me fall asleep faster than when I don’t drink it. It does help me relax and let go of my worries after a long, seemingly endless, stressful day.

My favorite reishi mushroom extract is Four Sigmatics Mushroom Elixir Mix With Reishi. It has a bitter, earthy flavor but it grows on you, and you get used it. I have no affiliation with Four Sigmatic, I just like this product.

If you give reishi a try, let me know what you think, and if it helps you chill and get the rest your body needs. Sweet dreams!

***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***

***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***

About the author

Susan Taylor, RDN LD is a registered dietitian / nutritionist with 20+ years experience in the nutrition field.  Susan has worked in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, longterm care, rehab, and private practice. She currently enjoys life in the Charleston, SC area and is always looking for ways to fit in a little more beach time.