Reishi Mushroom - History and Benefits of "The Mushroom of Immortality” - Birch Boys, Inc.

Reishi Mushroom - History and Benefits of "The Mushroom of Immortality”

Jun 24, 2020Garrett Kopp

A Guide to Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum or Ganoderma tsugae, is also known as “lingzhi,” which translates to “spiritual/miraculous/sacred/effective” “mushroom” in Chinese. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years and is venerated as the “mushroom of immortality”.

History of Reishi Mushroom

The first textual mentions of reishi date back to the Han dynasty, over 2,000 years ago, when Chinese healers discovered medicinal properties. Ancient Chinese scripts documented the mushroom as an “elixir of immortality”. In addition to these texts, reishi has also shown up in ancient artworks related to Taoism. Going back even further, ancient carvings, paintings, and furniture featuring reishi have been discovered. One of the first texts to document the medicinal value of herbs was Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, written during the Chinese Han dynasty. Within the book, botanical, zoological, and mineral substances are recorded. Reishi is featured in this text as a mushroom with tonifying effects. In 1596, the Bencao Gangmu, a compendium of medicinal material, was published listing 6 subspecies of reishi with varying medicinal benefits.

Read about Artist's Conk Health Benefits (AKA White Reishi)

Wild reishi remains a rare commodity, and before people began cultivating and growing it, access was mostly limited to Chinese nobility. As the years went by, it became a staple for many people across all of Asia. Reishi mushroom remains a commonly used traditional medicine across modern-day Asia, and its use in western cultures is drastically growing.  

Reishi Mushroom Benefits

Red Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) on fallen hemlock

Reishi is being increasingly used across the world to support general health and wellness. Over 279 bioactive compounds have been isolated from reishi since 2015. It is used to support the immune system, support positive stress management, support restful sleep, support the cardiovascular system and provide antioxidant support. Accordingly, research has been conducted to establish these properties. I will discuss this impressive research in the following sections.

1. Immune System Support

Your immune system functions to fight off illnesses by identifying and seeking out potentially harmful organisms, foreign material, and mutated cells. As you age, your immune system reduces the production of immune cells and causes slower and less effective responses. Reishi contains three major immune supporting substances: triterpenoids, proteins, and polysaccharides like beta-d-glucans.

2. Healthy Stress Management

Reishi is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body maintain homeostasis by stabilizing physiological processes related to stress. Adaptogens support the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems and allow a more positive physical response to stress.

3. Sleep Support

Reishi is well known for it's relaxing properties. It has been used as a meditative aid for centuries. If taken in the morning, reishi imparts a calm, collectedness throughout your day. If taken in the evening, reishi helps support restful sleep.

4. Antioxidant Activity

Antioxidants are essential to a healthy immune system. In a 1999 study, terpenes and polysaccharides were isolated from reishi and tested for their antioxidative properties. All samples were shown to have antioxidant activity, with terpenes having the highest activity comparatively. The terpene extract was further studied and found to contain ganoderic acids and lucidenic acid as the major components.

Birch Boys and Reishi: The Harvesting Process 

Garrett and Kim posing with Reishi on natural hemlock logs. Maya posing with a large Reishi specimen

Here at Birch Boys, we only use 100% wild-harvested reishi mushrooms. We harvest our reishi from hemlock trees in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state.

Technically speaking, Red Reishi is a name that can refer to two subspecies of mushrooms, either Ganoderma tsugae or Ganoderma lucidum. G. tsugae is more often found in colder regions, such as the Northeastern United States. G. lucidum prefers warmer climates, such as Asia, South America, and Australia.

That begs the question, which one is better? In short, it depends on the quality of its habitat, among other environmental factors. Despite being recognized as two separate species, comparative analysis suggests that the bioactive components within the two mushrooms fall somewhere between ‘extremely comparable’ and ‘virtually identical’. The informed consensus is that you should worry less about the type of reishi you’re getting and more about where you’re getting it from.

Most Reishi products contain G. lucidum, as it has become highly commercialized. G. lucidum is most often sourced in bulk from Chinese farms that grow their reishi artificially on spawn-logs or from bags of mulch or wood-pulp substrate.

At Birch Boys, we do things differently to offer you the most natural and healthy products. We harvest the North American variant of reishi, G. tsugae, which is commonly referred to as the "Hemlock Bracket" because it grows on fallen hemlock trees. We work with loggers, foresters, and outdoor professionals to sustainably harvest reishi from its natural habitat. Our harvesting domain spans 220,000 acres of North American forest where we have exclusive mushroom foraging rights.

Want to try the fruits of our harvesting efforts? Check out our Wild Reishi Tea or dual-extracted Reishi Tincture.

Quick Tip: If you want to forage for reishi on your own, be sure to practice sustainable harvesting techniques. To do this, make sure that you have waited until after the mushroom has dropped its spores prior to harvesting. You'll know the spores have dropped by observing the dust of rusty-brown spore powder beneath the mushroom. See the image below for an example.


While we know there is so much more we can learn about reishi, one thing is for sure... this "mushroom of immortality" has one of the longest established histories of medicinal use of any mushroom in the world. Reishi has managed to maintain its permanence in Chinese medicine as well as catching on in the western world, where it is reaching new heights through scientific studies.

Reishi Tincture - Tinctures - Birch Boys
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Garrett Kopp Expert Chaga Harvester and woodsman

About The Author

Garrett Kopp is the 25 year old Chaga visionary and founder of Birch Boys, Inc., a company well-known for its assortment of teas, tinctures, and extracts from healing wild fungi. Kopp grew up in the Adirondack Mountains, where he naturally developed a broad passion for the wild northern forests of New York. He began to specialize and narrow this passion toward Chaga after a freak accident where he helped himself to a cup of what appeared to be iced tea in his Grandmother’s refrigerator, who had started harvesting Chaga and brewing it on her own amidst a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Soon thereafter, Kopp and his grandmother expanded their Chaga harvesting activities to local farmer's markets, where they discovered significant demand for the fungus and its powerful ability to help everyday people.

These entrepreneurial efforts landed Kopp acceptance into Clarkson University’s early entrance program, the Clarkson School, where he studied Engineering & Management and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Several years and hundreds of research hours later, Kopp returned to his hometown. Having shipped to over 20,0000 individuals throughout all 50 states, Birch Boys has organically grown into a nationally recognized online brand . Kopp is proud to have built a vertically integrated supply chain, sustainably sourcing the fruits of tree-borne fungi from over 220,000 leased acres of leased private land in the Adirondack park, where it is carefully harvested by hand before being dried, processed, and extracted with love, at his fungi factory in none other than Tupper Lake, NY.

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Comments (3)

  • Literally had to throw out reishi tincture I made from chinese mushrooms because it was sold as wildharvested but after straining I found pieces of the rice log it was grown on. You can definitely taste and feel the difference in potency from tree grown mushrooms.

    Annie D
  • Hello~
    I seemed to have misplaced the (2) muslin bags you sent with my last Chaga powder order. I would like to buy a small amount of the bags Do you sell them? Thank you!
    Denise Cummings

    Denise Cummings
  • I bought some reishi powder to have a bulk quality and to make my own tinctures. They came out great, and the price is fantastic. Thanks to Birch Boys! Thumbs up from me.

    Jeff A.

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