What Are Adaptogens? Why Is Reishi One of the Top Ones?

By Melissa Carr, Dr. TCM

Apr 29, 2021

“Adaptogen” is a buzzy wellness term that has taken the world by storm. Used often in wellness blogs, this term is even turning up in places like coffee shop menus and cookbooks. But what exactly is an adaptogenic herb, and why is reishi mushroom considered among the best of them?

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a special class of herbs (fungi included) with extraordinary properties that, as the name suggests, help your body adapt to meet your needs. These herbs back us up in dealing with physical and mental stresses, bringing us back to homeostasis, a balanced state of wellbeing. While adaptogens are popping up all over the world these days, they have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions for thousands of years.

Adaptogenic herbs are used for a whole host of health-related reasons like lowering the impact of stress-related disorders, balancing hormone levels, combatting fatigue, stimulating mental and cognitive performance, supporting the immune system, and improving physical endurance.

Do Adaptogens Really Work?

It might be tough to wrap your head around the fact that naturally-occurring herbs can treat serious health concerns—but as it turns out, they can. According to a 2010 study in the journal Pharmaceuticals, researchers demonstrated that adaptogens had a positive effect on stress-related symptoms, cognitive and physical performance, asthenia (abnormal physical weakness or lack of energy), and depression.

What Are the Best Adaptogenic Herbs?

Not all adaptogens are created equal. When it comes to potency and quality, reishi mushroom comes out on top. Also known as the “mushroom of immortality,” this functional fungus was once reserved for royalty.

An ancient adaptogen that plays a major role in traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners place the divine mushroom in the “calm spirit” category. Herbs in this class are used to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, treat insomnia, and help manage stress. In fact, Taoists have long taken reishi to help with meditation.

While reishi helps bring calmness to your day, it is not sedating, meaning it can be taken any time of the day without worry about drowsiness. It is, in fact, also considered a Qi tonic, meaning it supports energy and reduces fatigue, without being stimulating. This is one of the defining characteristics of an adaptogen.

How to Add Red Reishi to Your Diet

Reishi mushroom, while a bit softer when fresh, becomes very hard as it dries, and many of its healthy compounds are locked in the hard-to-digest chitinous shell. In addition, those compounds make high-quality reishi products taste really bitter—what you might call an “acquired taste.”

Unless you like the idea of getting used to a flavour you don’t like after spending long hours simmering the herb on your stovetop, and then ultimately not knowing how much of the compounds you were able to extract and whether that dose is sufficient, then capsules are your best bet. While you can certainly include functional food reishi products like Mikei’s ramen or chocolate, to get therapeutic dosages, it doesn’t get easier than one capsule per day.

The benefits of taking red reishi can seem endless because adaptogens have wide-ranging benefits, from heart, liver, and kidney health to immune modulation and mental health support. If you are considering adding an adaptogen to your health routine—and why wouldn’t you?—make sure to include this adaptogenic powerhouse.

Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others. www.activetcm.com


  • Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224. Published 2010 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/ph3010188

> Back to Health Articles

All information on this site is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Information presented here is not intended to substitute the advice provided to you by your physician or healthcare practitioner. You should not use any information contained in our site to self-diagnose or personally treat any medical condition or disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical condition, you are urged to contact your healthcare practitioner.

Taking natural health supplements should be a decision made by the individual themselves and based on personal research. It is recommended for all individuals to consult their healthcare practitioner prior to starting any new medication. Individuals should not discontinue current medication without first consulting their doctor.

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy describes how your personal information is collected, used, and shared when you visit or make a purchase from our websites which includes www.mikei.ca, www.mikei.com, www.mikeireishi.com, www.mikei.co.uk and www.nikkeicanada.com (the "Sites").


When you visit the Sites, we automatically collect certain information about your device, including information about your web browser, IP address, time zone, and some of the cookies that are installed on your device. Additionally, as you browse the Sites, we collect information about the individual web pages or products that you view, what websites or search terms referred you to the Sites, and information about how you interact with the Sites. We refer to this automatically-collected information as "Device Information."

We collect Device Information using the following technologies:

Additionally, when you make a purchase or attempt to make a purchase through the Sites, we collect certain information from you, including your name, billing address, shipping address, payment information (including credit card numbers, expiration date), email address, and phone number. At your discretion, we may also be collecting your birthdate and title information. We refer to this information as "Order Information."

When we talk about "Personal Information" in this Privacy Policy, we are talking both about Device Information and Order Information.


We use the Order Information that we collect generally to fulfill any orders placed through the Sites (including processing your payment information, arranging for shipping, and providing you with invoices and/or order confirmations). Additionally, we use this Order Information to:

We use the Device Information that we collect to help us screen for potential risk and fraud (in particular, your IP address), and more generally to improve and optimize our Sites (for example, by generating analytics about how our customers browse and interact with the Sites, and to assess the success of our marketing and advertising campaigns). We may also use the Device Information for remarketing and retargeting purposes to provide you with targeted advertisements and offers we believe may be of interest to you.


We share your Personal Information with third parties to help us use your Personal Information, as described above. For example, we use an outside shipping company to ship orders, and a credit card processing company to bill users for purchases. We also use Google Analytics to help us understand how our customers use the Sites. You can read more about how Google uses your Personal Information here: https://policies.google.com/privacy. You can also opt-out of Google Analytics here: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout.

Finally, we may also share your Personal Information to comply with applicable laws and regulations, to respond to a subpoena, search warrant or other lawful request for information we receive, or to otherwise protect our rights.


As described above, we use your Personal Information to provide you with targeted advertisements or marketing communications we believe may be of interest to you.

You can opt out of targeted advertising by:

Additionally, you can also visit NAI's opt-out page http://optout.networkadvertising.org.


Please note that we do not alter our Sites' data collection and use practices when we see a Do Not Track signal from your browser.


The Sites contain links to other websites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the content or privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of any other site that collects personally identifiable information.


If you are a European resident, you have the right to access personal information we hold about you and to ask that your personal information be corrected, updated, or deleted. If you would like to exercise this right, please contact us through the contact information below.

Additionally, if you are a European resident, we note that we are processing your information in order to fulfill contracts we might have with you (for example if you make an order through the Sites), or otherwise to pursue our legitimate business interests listed above. Additionally, please note that your information will be transferred outside of Europe, including to Canada and the United States.


From time-to-time, the Sites may request information via surveys, contests, or offers. Participation in these surveys, contests, and offers is completely voluntary and you may choose whether or not to participate and therefore disclose this information. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and shipping address), and demographic information (such as postal code, age level, gender). Contact information will be used to notify the winners, award prizes, or redeem offers. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the use and satisfaction of the Sites and the products offered on the Sites.


When you place an order through the Sites, we will maintain your Order Information for our records unless and until you ask us to delete this information.


We may update this privacy policy from time to time in order to reflect, for example, changes to our practices or for other operational, legal or regulatory reasons. This policy was last updated on October 27th, 2019.


For more information about our privacy practices, if you have questions, or if you would like to make a complaint, please contact us by e-mail at info@nikkeicanada.com or by mail using the address provided below:

Nikkei (Canada) Marketing Limited Unit 170 - 12868 Clarke Place, Richmond, BC, V6V 2H1, Canada