Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum), known alternately as lingzhi mushrooms, are red, kidney-shaped fungi that grow at the bottom of deciduous trees, especially the maple. They’re fairly rare to find in the wild, and as such has been mostly cultivated since the 1970s.

Reishi mushrooms have been used in China and Japan as a “mushroom of immortality” for more than 2,000 years. They are believed to have similar health benefits to other medicinal mushrooms (including turkey tail and lion’s mane mushrooms) and have served as an important part of Eastern traditional treatments for a wide spectrum of illness and health concerns. While they can be eaten raw, due to their bitter taste they’re most often prepared as a tea additive in powder form.

The mushrooms contain polysaccharides and peptides that provide various health benefits, along with dietary fiber and vitamins that help boost immunity. While scientific evidence regarding their efficacy is still largely inconclusive, there are studies that indicate reishi mushrooms can be used as a medicinal agent and supplement for certain conditions, and they have a long clinical history as being a safe addition to chemotherapy for cancer patients.

Learn more about the potential health benefits of reishi mushrooms and if they’re a good addition to your health routine. Before deciding to introduce mushroom supplements to your routine, be sure to contact your doctor to find out if they’re right for you, given your personal medical history.

Immunity booster

The polysaccharides found in reishi mushrooms promote the function of antigen-presenting cells and in some studies, reishi mushrooms altered the inflammation pathways in white blood cells, a function that helps fight infection.

Cancer fighter

Studies have pointed to the reishi mushrooms’ anti-cancer properties; one study indicates that they can lead to the death of cancer cells, while other studies have researched reishi mushrooms for their ability to prevent and battle colorectal cancer.

Fatigue and Depression Relief

Consistent consumption of reishi mushrooms can help support the body’s sleep cycle, which in turn decreases bodily fatigue. Additionally, it appears to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, although these effects have not been thoroughly researched and documented as of yet.