When it comes to mushrooms, it seems that they almost have magical powers. Some even have mystical names such as the “divine mushroom of immortality” or “spiritual potency”.

The Chinese know this mushroom as lingzhi, which roughly translates into “spiritual potency, while the Japanese call it reishi. Its scientific name is ganoderma lucidum or ganoderma lingzhi. The first part of the name, ganoderma, has greek roots, ganos: brightness and derma: skin. So put together it’s shining skin.

In ancient China, lingzhi was only for those who could afford it for one, it was because it was very rare. And the second reason is because it symbolises success, well-being, divine power, and longevity.

Its reputation wasn’t unfounded. For millennia, people in China and Japan have used lingzhi for treating infections, fighting cancer, and of course as a key ingredient in beauty elixirs.

Now, modern science backs up traditional Eastern medicine – from boosting our immune system to relieving fatigue, and alleviating allergic reactions.

What are reishi mushrooms and their history

Now and in ancient China, reishi mushrooms are rare in the wild. Reishi sold in modern markets are mostly cultivated. It can be found growing on the base and stumps of dead trees. It has a kidney shape, a glossy, dark reddish colour, and a bitter taste.

Dried reishi mushroom, photo by NoonBrew

Due to its bitter taste, it was (is) not used as food such as shiitake mushrooms. Traditionally, it was dried, cut into slices, and then steeped to make a medicinal tea or soup. Reishi demonstrated such potent medicinal qualities that it was even classed higher as ginseng.

Hence, it was no wonder that the reishi mushroom even adorned furniture and apparel including accessories.

Health benefits

Reishi earned its fantastic name due to its adaptogenic effects. Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that contain substances that help the body to adapt to stress and fatigue. They work at a molecular level help your body’s natural response adapt to a changing or stressful environment.

The mushroom also has anti-allergic, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Modern science has shown that it can help protect against a variety of diseases such as

  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections (for example bronchitis, respiratory infections, and so on)
  • Food allergies and asthma
  • Digestive problems
  • Skin disorders

Key Nutrients

Nowadays, thanks to cultivation, you can find reishi in the form of

  • Supplements
  • Powder
  • Tea

True to its name, reishi is a nutrient-rich superfood. It contains over 400 bioactive compound compounds, antioxidants, skin-friendly sugars, minerals, and enzymes. These active compounds are linked to many health benefits and many of the anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic properties of the reishi mushroom can be attributed to them.

And for your skin?

Just to name a few points of the lengthy list of the superpowers of the reishi mushrooms

  • Deeply hydrating
  • Reducing your skin’s sensitivity
  • Reducing cell damage and slowing premature ageing

The beneficial bioactive compounds found in the reishi mushroom make it a powerful ally in your skin care.


Books are written about how antioxidants help protect your skin against everyday environmental damage caused by free radicals. The reishi mushroom contains more antioxidants than any other mushroom and so are highly effective in helping you prevent premature ageing (think fine lines and wrinkles).

Amino Acids

The reishi mushroom contains many different amino acids, most notably lysine and leucine. If you want to firm skin, you need collagen. Lysine reinforces the skin’s supportive elements.

Leucine has restorative and healing properties. It helps improve your skin’s natural healing process and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

All amino acids are important for your skin’s health. They are needed for firmness, your skin’s firmness, resilience, and overall health.


Reishi is a great source of minerals including

  • Phosphorus
  • Silica
  • Sulfur
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Each of them is vital for the health of your skin. For example, they help with skin cell growth and repair or prevent dehydration.


This is the scientific name for the skin-friendly sugars found in reishi. They have a protective and replenishing effect on your skin. Particularly, beta glucans are known for being skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory, and water-retaining.


Reishi mushrooms taste bitter. That’s caused by a substance called triterpenes. This substance deters animals from eating plants and fungi containing it. It has anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant capabilities. When combined with the skin-friendly sugars, it has powerful anti-ageing, restoring, and soothing effects.

Eating or applying?

If you apply a product containing reishi, all the goodness is absorbed in the area where you applied it. It also bypasses the liver and digestion system, so it’s more quickly absorbed.

Still, your overall health can be seen on your skin. So it’s also a good idea to include mushrooms in your diet. It doesn’t need to be the reishi mushroom which tastes bitter. You can also try shiitake, a famous kitchen staple.


Mushrooms were already used for a long time in skin care. Just look at the kitchen staple shiitake. It contains kojic acid that is often used in formulas to lighten dark spots.

In skin care, reishi is the “queen of mushrooms”. Reishi is great for its regenerative, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. While it’s gentle, it’s still effective, so that even people with sensitive skin can use it.

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