Though reishi mushrooms may not be native to North America, this powerful medicinal is definitely worth highlighting as a seasonal medicine. Mushrooms, like reishi, thrive in the cool damp conditions of fall and spring, making these lovely little shrooms a perfect autumnal remedy. Revered as both an adaptogen and immunomodulatory (amongst other things), reishi is one of my favorite herbs to work with this time of the year.
As an adaptogen reishi is supportiveto the nervous system, helping our bodies better regulate stress. As we all know, stress is one of the largest offenders of our immune system. Times of overwhelm (or at least in my experience) are often when I end up getting sick. Reishi's medicine is uniquely perfect during moments like this, as it also doubels as an immune tonic. By pairing reishi's adaptogenic and immune building properties you have yourself an almost perfect herbal remedy for the beginning of cold and flu season.
I start taking reishi at the end of the summer and use it pretty consistently until winter hits. Reishi is thought to work on our immune systems at a very deep level, helping to fortify and strengthen them over an extended period of time. While reishi may not be the immune herb I turn to when I feel something coming on, it is definitely one of the herbs I take as a preventative measure for the season ahead.
My favorite way to take reishi? In my food! Whenever fall hits my body seems to start craving mushrooms. Whether they’re fresh, powdered, or dried and sliced and steeped into soups, there is something about mushroom medicine that feels perfect during the seasonal transition. In herbalism, we look at mushrooms (along with other foods like roots and some berries) as grounding. We believe that grounding foods help give our bodies the nourishment, stability, and support they need during this time of year. I use the dried slices by infusing them into bone broths and add the powder to my morning coffee as well as various other dishes in the kitchen. Looking for some ideas? Check out this season's autumnal recipe featuring none other than the might reishi mushroom.
Please note - possible contraindications with reishi include: not if on ACE inhibitors or taking reishi before your doctor for use before surgery and should be avoided during heavy menstruation; make sure to check withblood thinning medications.
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Winston, David, and Steven Maimes. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press, 2019.
Rogers, Robert Dale. The Fungal Pharmacy: the Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms and Lichens of North America. North Atlantic Books, 2011.
Zhang, Jiao-Jiao, et al. “Bioactivities and Health Benefits of Mushrooms Mainly from China.” Molecules, vol. 21, no. 7, 2016, p. 938., doi:10.3390/molecules21070938.
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