A Tale Of Two Fungi
ReishiMushrooms and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms are both weird, powerful medicinal fungi in their own right. Whereas the Reishi Mushroom has been known for centuries to boost immunity-related functions, the Lion’s Mane has proven neuro-generative effects. If you still had to choose one over the other, here are all of the pointers to help you decide. Although if they both benefit your body, why not just use both?
What Are Reishi Mushrooms?
Essentially, a bland woody fungus that’s tough and fibrous. But we pay to eat them, sometimes at great risk to our liver and hepatobiliary systems because they are classified as a “superfood”. They have proven anti-oxidant properties besides the immunity boost they bring. Turns out, Reishi Mushrooms have picked up a few accolades through the millennia in the Oriental culture – the “spirit plant”, the mushroom of immortality, Ling Chih – the list goes on and on. There are also the scientific names: Basidiomycetes Reishi Mushroom, the Champignon Basidiomycète, and Ganoderma lucidum.
What Is It Used For?
No lesson in biology, but – there are 3 parts to the mushroom, and all have medicinal properties. The mycelium, or the stem that’s closest to the ground, the stipe and of course the quintessential cap. There is a general consensus in the scientific community, as far as the immune-boosting capability of the mushroom is concerned. Then some antioxidants provide the mushroom a general, wide appeal. But peer-reviewed scientific evidence and research is not forthcoming for very specific medicinal uses, given their recent foray in the western sphere.
Where Does It Come From?
Given Reishi is still a mushroom at heart, it prefers and thrives in the hot and humid wetlands all over Asia, particularly in China and Southeast Asian countries. The Ganoderma variant is sourced from the west. If you’ve seen the industrial farms of NYC (seriously check them out on YouTube if you haven’t), you’d think you could grow this in January in the Yukon, and we won’t disagree!
Where Does It Grow?
Upon dead trees – very happily. To the point it doesn’t look much different than what it feeds on with a hard, polished shell-like exterior.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Reishi Mushrooms?
Research indicates Reishi does magic to the white blood corpuscles (WBC). In particular test tube studies reveal the mushroom interacts with WBCs to alter their “inflammation pathways”. As a result, the immune system becomes more robust.
If inflammation brings cancer to your head, you know why the Reishi magic extends to the cancer case. Molecules within the Reishi Mushroom, in particular the triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans work to increase the activity of a certain kind of WBC in advanced-stage cancer patients. This particular kind of WBC is known as the Natural Killer Cell (NKC). As the name suggests, our NKC has a central role in fighting cancer cells. Infections as well.
In people with colorectal cancer, the Reishi Mushroom was found to increase the number of lymphocytes, yet another superhero component of WBCs. Slowly but surely the mushroom earns the moniker of immortality!
Then there are the effects on testosterone, allowing the Reishi to be brought in to fight against prostate cancer. There is a lot of research going on that front right now. A peer-reviewed study found molecules within the mushroom to have reversed prostate cancer! Follow-up studies could not support these findings though so there is still some uncertainty. A particular study deserves mention here: how the Reishi Mushroom helped bring down the number and the size of tumors found within the large intestine.
Depression and lethargy, particularly in the context of neurasthenia were also relieved by the potent Reishi Mushroom. This study looked at people suffering from body aches, irritability, headaches, dizziness, and traces of depression. With 8 weeks of Reishi supplements, there were reduced levels of fatigue and overall improved well-being. Anxiety and depression were also negated.
There is also evidence that the Reishi Mushroom helps healthy people stay healthy. For example, in another study focused upon athletes under stress, the fungus promoted lymphocyte function against infections as well as inflammation.
The magical Reishi has also been linked with improved HDL cholesterol levels and reduced triglyceride levels. While more rigorous studies often fail to link benefits with supplements, no adverse impacts were reported.
Finally, as if the mushroom were really magical, it has been demonstrated in several studies how molecules within it help decrease glucose levels.
What Are Its Side Effects?
While Reishi Mushrooms are relatively safe, there are possible side effects. Side effects are pronounced with Reishi Mushroom when its supplemented for over 4 months. While that’s a lot of time to be reliant on any one superfood, the good news is that these were limited to an upset stomach. The trend was stronger in the case of the mushroom when compared with the placebo case. The internal organs were safe.
However, the discussion becomes important when speaking of the powdered form of the mushroom (there are several different methodologies of preparing it). There have been cases where people otherwise using the Reishi Mushroom for years, experienced liver damage after switching to the powdered form. The recommendations warn vulnerable people against using this mushroom as well. These include those that are pregnant, breastfeeding, suffer from low BP, or those suffering from blood disorders, etc.
What Products Are Made With Reishi Mushrooms?
What Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms are yet another magical, medicinal mushroom, but one that looks the part as well. Don’t let its cultural nomenclature houtougu or yamabushitake confuse you nor even the scientific one (Hericium Erinaceus) – the mushroom is unmistakable in the form of a lion’s growing mane. Though the color is white and the form shaggy. Some jokingly say it resembles a white tribble from an episode of the original Star Trek Series!
What Is It Used For?
The culinary use case is so strong it’s a given in numerous oriental recipes in China, India and other countries. These mushrooms are eaten raw, dried, and of course, cooked. Alternately, you could also steep them as tea.
But it’s the medicinal mushroom tag that provides the pride of place for a mushroom like the Lion’s Mane. These mushrooms are known for their bioactive substances. Beneficial uses encompass three important organs and systems in the body: the brain, the gut, and the heart.
Where Does It Come From?
Given its membership in the tooth fungus group, the Lion’s Mane is actually native to North America, as well as Asia and much of Europe.
Where Does It Grow?
Leave hardwood undisturbed long enough in a hot and moist setting and there is a good chance you will see long spine mushrooms such as the Lion’s Mane appear. They also have a special liking for beech totems or sawdust. Fruiting in September, the Lion’s Mane takes longer to grow than other mushroom varieties. Log inoculation also works well. Use sawdust spawn or plug spawn.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Lion's Mane Mushrooms?
From what you’re about to learn, it would appear that the Lion’s Mane Mushroom has something for nearly everyone aka the perfect adaptogen.
Let us start with cognitive benefits given that that is what this mushroom is most prominently known for. Research has shown how the Lion’s Mane Mushroom supplements go on to improve object recognition as well as recognition memory in animals. Other peer-reviewed research has focused on potential preventative and treatment-related aspects of the mushroom in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Overall, consuming mushroom supplements for up to a few weeks is supposed to improve your cognitive function.
Antioxidants are a common fixture in many herbal supplements, and they target inflammation as well as oxidation. In fact, the Lion’s Mane scores within the top five when it comes to antioxidant activity in mushrooms in general. Inflammation is, of course, the scourge of the 21st-century, if infection was of the 20th. Therefore, this mushroom is beneficial in an array of autoimmune diseases.
Owing to the anti-inflammatory properties, the Lion’s Mane Mushrooms also enhances the immune system. Research has revealed that this mushroom contains proteins that foster the growth of good bacteria in the gut, again strengthening immunity.
Anxiety and depression are other interesting areas of obligation. Several studies have concluded that control groups using the mushroom extract get away with minor symptoms of depression, and had fewer blood markers to show depression, as opposed to the group taking placebos. Researchers attribute this to the anti-inflammatory properties already discussed.
On the cardiovascular front, a lot of research has been carried out on animals. In rats, the Lion’s Mane extract has been effective in reducing the levels of cholesterol. No trials have been carried out over human beings.
Believe it or not, the mushroom has a role to play in controlling blood sugar levels as well. In a study done on rats, blood sugar levels were found to have been reduced after four weeks of supplements.
Given that the mushroom has antioxidant properties, there is a role for them in cancer prevention as well as treatment! In particular, research has demonstrated that Lion’s Mane extract helps solidify gains against leukemia. This study over animals found the extract to be helpful in cases of gastrointestinal cancer as well.
In that the mushroom helps fight inflammation, digestive health is also improved. There are positive implications for people suffering from inflammatory intestinal conditions, including IBS and IBD.
Wound healing is another, unique front where this mushroom shows off its magic. Topical application, at least in the case of rats, found that the mushroom led to accelerated healing.
Then there is also research that seems to suggest that the Lion’s Mane Mushrooms encourage nerve cell repair and growth at a rapid clip!
What Products Are Made With Lion's Mane Mushrooms?
Many Lion Mane Mushroom products can be used to supplement the immune system and help reduce inflammation. These products include capsules, powders, and elixirs.
Lion’s Mane capsules are very convenient to take in the morning or evening with a glass of water or your favorite beverage ensuring you get your daily dosage. Capsules provide an added benefit of reducing gastrointestinal irritation.
Lion’s Mane can also be found in powder form. Dosage ranges from 1000mg to 2000mg, or 1 to 2 scoops. Powders are usually taken if you have difficulty swallowing capsules or tablets.
There are also Lion’s Mane products in liquid form such as elixirs. Elixirs came into popularity as part of the “brain-hacking” craze, which seeks to improve one or more of the brain’s functions. Lion’s Mane elixirs allow for the body to absorb the mushrooms nutrients quicker vs. capsules or powders. Dosages range from 0.7ml to 1ml.
Reishi Mushrooms Vs. Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Before we start over the differences between the Reishi Mushroom and the Lion’s Mane Mushroom, you should know that high-quality supplements typically end up including a spectrum of more than a dozen mushrooms anyways. With that said, no two mushrooms are equal, neither can one be substituted for another. They all have their own mushroom magic that is sacred.
When it comes to availability, the Lion’s Mane is definitely more widely available, because it’s not very picky about where it grows. On the other hand, the Reish iMushroom is solidly rooted in parts of Asia, and a number of Western manufacturers end up importing it over the seas.
With medicinal mushrooms or adaptogens even, it is important to remember that the kind of mushroom is just as important as the form in which it is being eaten. Given that both Reishi and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms have significant demand, they are incorporated in many accommodating products. So you should be able to pick up capsules, elixirs, and tablets on both. However, when it comes to the powdered form of the mushrooms, Reishi are not as forgiving as the Lion’s Mane.
Severe reactions, leading to acute liver failure in a matter of hours have been reported in certain cases. While the ReishiMushroom has a wooden form and taste, the Lion’s Mane does not help matters either bringing a “healthy” dose of bitterness with itself. At all times, one should look out for adverse reactions and seek medical attention without delay when required.
Different Benefits And Side Effects
Given that both mushrooms are highly versatile, many benefits can be realized using either variety. However, the neurological benefits of the Lion’s Mane are very well documented. As already explained above, this mushroom can play an important role in repairing and growing neurological cells, delaying the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
On the other hand, the Reishi Mushroom is singularly known for boosting testosterone, allowing it to be used against prostate cancer. Studies have demonstrated potency in reducing the size and number of tumors after regular and periodic intake.
Otherwise, they have eye-popping similarities in terms of their benefits.
When it comes to the differences in side effects, we note how much more exacerbated side effects from the Reishi Mushroom can be. We do recommend staying away from the powdered form of the mushroom. Extracts are far safer. Even still, with Reishi Mushrooms, side effects may include dryness in the mouth, and in the general mucosa of the aural system, itchiness, upset gastrointestinal system, nosebleeds as well as some blood in the stool. Wine made from Reishi Mushrooms have been associated with rashes.
Whereas, side effects with ingesting the Lion’s Mane Mushroom are mild. Stomach discomfort is the only one we could find! As a topical application, there is very little information, and more research is needed.
Similarities Between Lions Mane and Reishi Mushrooms
We did, of course, notice quite a few similarities in the benefits when it comes to the Reishi and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms. Take for example the effect of reducing blood sugar levels, as well as lowering cholesterol levels. Owing to the sheer potency in the antioxidants contained within, both of these mushrooms are perfect for the whole spectrum of inflammatory diseases and conditions, including cancer. However, when it comes to Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, there is a marked positive impact on the cognitive function and neurological systems. They also foster rapid wound healing properties.
A degree of uncertainty in consuming either of these mushrooms is perhaps the similarity when it comes to side effects. Among what side effects we do know, there are no other similarities. The Lion’s Mane stands out for its benevolence.
Neither mushroom makes for a tasty meal though. While the ReishiMushroom tastes exactly as you would imagine – woody and bland, Lion’s Mane has a rather bitter taste to it. Both mushrooms can be dried and powdered, although, it is not recommended when it comes to the Reishi variety. Alternately, they could be boiled, steeped in tea or steamed and eaten.
As expected, given the much wider native geographical area, the Lion’s Mane Mushroom is definitely the more popular of the two. Then, of course, there is the issue of safety, as also that of side effects. There are also a few extra health-related advantages to consuming the Lion’s Mane, over the Reishi variety.
Although Reishi Mushrooms and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms are both unique in their own right, the Reishi stands out over texture and shape – akin to that of a polished wood surface, and the taste to match that form factor.
The Lion’s Mane stands out for its unique appearance.
Who Would Benefit In Using These Fungi?
These mushrooms may be suitable for individuals who are looking at holistic treatment options, either as a replacement for or as a supplement to mainstream medicine. There will also be a perennial appeal for alternative treatment options among people not getting results through traditional remedies.
There is magic in the mushroom for every believer. It doesn’t matter which one you will go with if your purpose is very generic. Both Reishi Mushrooms and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms shall serve the purpose. Alternatively, you could match your choice with your symptoms.