Ganoderma Lucidum, otherwise known as Red Reishi or just Reishi, is a mushroom with powerful adaptogenic and immune-boosting properties. It has numerous health benefits and has been used for centuries in oriental medicine. For those with a Candida overgrowth, it is specifically used to boost the immune system booster and provide relief to sufferers of leaky gut syndrome.
Red Reishi is an adaptogenic mushroom, meaning that it literally helps the body adapt to stressful situations. Other examples of adaptogenic herbs include Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Maitake and Astralagus. These herbs actually improve your body’s ability to cope with anxiety, tiredness and stress of all kinds. But if you’re suffering from a Candida infestation, the most important benefits of Red Reishi are its effect on your immune system and the way that it helps with leaky gut.
Red Reishi mushrooms boost your immune system
Red Reishi is used by some HIV and cancer sufferers to give their immune system a boost. Why do naturopaths consider it to be so effective? Well, the polysaccharides found in Red Reishi have been shown to stimulate the maturation of immune cells into macrophages. These are the crucial part of your immune system that destroy pathogens yet leave your healthy cells alone. So Red Reishi helps to boost your immune system if it has become overwhelmed.
Even more remarkably, it has also been shown to reduce immune activity in those with an over-active immune system (i.e. those with autoimmune diseases). So Red Reishi’s overall effect is to restore your immune system to balance and equilibrium.
Red Reishi mushrooms help with leaky gut syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome and Candida are found together very frequently in Candida sufferers. When the Candida yeast grows into its pathogenic, fungal form, it starts to extend small roots (or hyphae) through your intestinal membrane. The holes and gaps that it creates allow harmful microorganisms and food particles into your bloodstream, creating a host of symptoms and allergies.
Red Reishi can help with leaky gut syndrome by boosting your immune response and reducing inflammation around your gut. A 2006 study (read here) also showed that it can help improve liver function. A course of Red Reishi supplements like Gano Caps is a good natural supplement to reduce the symptoms of your leaky gut syndrome.
What are the other health benefits of Reishi mushrooms?
Red Reishi mushrooms contain polysaccharides, complex carbohydrates that provide slow-release energy for your brain and nervous system. Some studies have shown that Red Reishi mushrooms have a moderating effect on blood sugar levels, while another study even showed that Red Reishi helped to kill cancer cells. Red Reishi mushrooms also contain potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber. All of these are healthful supplements for Candida sufferers, particularly the fiber and magnesium.
Note that one study found that Red Reishi impaired blood clotting in some of those who were taking it. For this reason it should not be taken by pregnant women, those undergoing surgery or anyone who is taking blood-thinning medication. Always talk to your doctor before starting any course of supplements.
Don’t mushrooms feed the Candida overgrowth?
There is much debate over whether mushrooms will feed your Candida overgrowth. Some claim that mushrooms can encourage the Candida yeast to grow, but in fact there are many mushrooms that have antimicrobial properties. This was demonstrated in a 2008 study (read here) in which several mushrooms demonstrated “anti-yeast activity against Candida Albicans”. Additionally, any new fungus introduced into your gut is likely to compete with the Candida for resources rather than ‘feeding’ it.
We would still recommend avoiding most mushrooms on the Candida diet, but medicinal mushrooms like Red Reishi can be a very useful way to boost your immune system without feeding your Candida. These mushrooms are best taken in supplement form, as cooking them converts their complex carbohydrates into simple sugars and raises their Glycemic Load.
If you want to learn more about boosting your immune system, my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program recommends a list of immune boosting supplements.