A handful of reishi mushrooms

3 Reasons To Use Reishi Mushroom for Hair Growth – 1:) Blocks DHT

In this article, you’re going to learn about reishi mushroom and how it can grow your hair. You’ll learn of the latest scientific research surrounding this ancient herb, and how you can get started reaping its benefits today.

First, I’ll introduce you to this 2000-year-old herb and its uses in Ancient China.

Second, I’ll dissect recent scientific studies surrounding reishi mushroom and its various properties to determine whether it’s an effective treatment pattern baldness.

Third, I’ll share with you three ways of supplementing with reishi, two of which are my very own hair growth recipes which I’ve personally used with great results.

Note: At the end of this guide, take the six-question quiz to determine whether you’ll be able to regrow your hair. This will tell you whether natural treatments, like reishi, can provide you with the hair growth results you seek.

What is Reishi Mushroom?

Regarded in Asia as the “herb of spiritual potency,” reishi mushroom has been in use for thousands of years alongside other herbs, like Fo Ti. It goes by many names, including lingzhi and G. Lucidum, and grows at the base of deciduous trees.

While wild varieties of this mushroom are rare, lingzhi is cultivated today on hardwood logs and woodchips.

The mushroom itself has a corky texture and is flat-topped. It typically has a red varnish and a kidney-shaped cap, and while other colors do occur, red reishi is the most well-known and studied.

With a variety of therapeutic uses, including immunomodulation and as an antioxidant, it’s no wonder that researchers have focused in on this versatile mushroom and studied it extensively.

But, the question we aim to answer today is, “can reishi be used to treat alopecia?”

1. Reishi As An Inhibitor of DHT

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a sex hormone converted from testosterone by the enzyme known as 5α-reductase.

This is a natural process, one which is not harmful to the majority of individuals. Men with a genetic predisposition to male-pattern baldness, however, are sensitive to DHT in the scalp. This is the leading cause of Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA).

Fortunately for sufferers of AGA, DHT inhibition is possible. With proper inhibition, hair loss may be reversible, and hair growth can occur in a natural, undisturbed manner.

One such manner is with reishi mushroom supplementation.

A 2005 Japanese study tested 19 species of mushroom to determine their 5α-reductase inhibitory effects.

First, researchers prepared ethanol extracts of each of the 19 mushroom species included in the experiment.

In the first part of this study, scientists added the ethanol extracts to a suspension containing rat liver and prostate microsomes. The purpose of this experiment was to determine percentage of inhibitory activity of each of the mushroom samples.

Reishi Mushroom inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, thereby reducing DHT levels in the scalp.

Reishi showed the most percentage of 5α-reductase inhibition, falling between 70 and 80%. For reference, the next most-effective mushroom species, pleurotus osteratus, showed an inhibitory percentage around 60%.

Next, researchers looked at the growth rate of prostates in castrated rats. As the prostate’s size is directly proportional to testosterone levels, this experiment aimed to determine whether G. lucidum (reishi mushroom) could inhibit testosterone’s effects.

Reishi works to reduce testosterone effects on Prostate growth.

The rats were split into three groups.

The first group was the control group, receiving only testosterone. The second group received both testosterone and G. lucidum (1.5 mg/kg), and the third group received both testosterone and a 15 mg/kg concentration of G. lucidum.

While the results did show that both concentrations of reishi reduced prostate weight below that shown in the testosterone control group, the lower concentration interestingly was more effective at doing so.

For those with hair problems sufferers, what should be the main takeaway from this study?

Chiefly, reishi mushroom is an effective inhibitor of 5α-reductase, thereby reducing the amount of DHT produced within the body.

For those with AGA, this is a critical find! It means that reishi mushroom supplementation can significantly reduce DHT levels, protecting the DHT-sensitive hair follicles from miniaturization.

2. Reishi As An Antimicrobial

With antibiotic resistance rapidly increasing, natural methods of fighting various microbes has quickly come to the forefront of scientific research.

Not surprisingly, reishi and other Chinese herb medicines have underwent extensive study. This is due to their thousands of years of use as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In a study by Quereshi et al., reishi mushroom was collected, dried, crushed, and then extracted through one of three methods (methanol, ethanol, and acetone). In addition, a negative control (distilled water) and a positive control (the antibiotic Gentamycin sulphate) were also used.

Each of the five solutions was added to the plates of six different bacterial pathogens, and each plate was the incubated for 24 hours. Each of the tests was repeated three times, and the results were thus:

The antimicrobial effects of reishi mushroom extracts on bacterial strains.

Now, while known of the reishi extracts didn’t exceed the positive control results of the antibiotic, some of them did come quite close. Namely, the acetone extract against both B. subtilis and K. Pneumoniae. Additionally, all extracts did show a zone of microbial inhibition over the negative control.

You may be wondering, “what good is an antimicrobial against hair loss?”

Consider that not all forms of alopecia are due to DHT sensitivity.

Other forms of hair loss exist, caused by such things as fungal infections and bacterial overgrowth.

A woman holding up her hair with a scalp fungal infection

With the addition of an antimicrobial agent like reishi mushroom to your hair care routine, not only can you ensure that your scalp stays healthy, but you can also keep your hair follicles from becoming blocked or clogged. This will ensure that your hair strands have the best environment in which to develop and grow.

3. Reishi As An Immunomodulator

One particular form of alopecia – alopecia areata – is an autoimmune form of baldness.

The immune system works to keep the body safe against foreign attacks. These attacks include viruses and bacteria.

The patchy scalp of an Alopecia Areata sufferer.

For those with alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hairs to fall out and follicle damage. This leads to patchy hairs though, if left untreated, will lead to full hair loss over time.

There are a number of treatments which individuals with this type of alopecia undergo. And, while some may treat the hair issues at the time, it’s important for the root cause of the hair loss to be treated in order for a permanent solution to be found.

Is reishi such a permanent solution?

Well, reishi mushroom has proven to work as an immunomodulator. Essentially, this means that reishi can activate the immune system through chemical manipulation (in this case, cytokine production).

While no studies on reishi’s effect on alopecia areata currently exist, it isn’t a far jump to say that reishi may be beneficial in such treatment. After all, a proper immune response would lessen the attack on hair follicles and encourage the growth of healthy hair.

How to Use Reishi Mushroom Treatment

If you’re ready to experiment with reishi mushroom, you’ll be happy to know that there are a variety of methods you can try.

Make Your Own Reishi Shampoo

Store-bought shampoos are full of chemicals and hard on your scalp. Combat this by making your own homemade shampoos.

Ingredients:

  • Liquid castile soap (½ cup)
  • Aloe vera gel (⅓ cup)
  • Green tea (½ cup)
  • Vanilla essential oil (10 drops)
  • Reishi extract (1 cup)

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to boil, removing from heat and adding in the reishi mushroom to steep. Allow to cool to room temperature, and then discard of reishi solids.

Combine the reishi tea with the rest of the ingredients, being sure to stir thoroughly.

Apply the shampoo to wet hair, taking 2-3 minutes to massage into the scalp. The shampoo can sit for up to 5 minutes, and then rinse completely in lukewarm water.

Hair Benefits:

This potent combination has a variety of nourishing elements, while also stimulating hair growth and promoting a clean scalp.

The aloe vera gel is the main soother in this recipe, protecting the scalp from irritation and itchiness.

The reishi (which inhibits 5α-reductase) and the vanilla oil extract (which stimulates hair growth) work together to contribute to a healthy environment in which hair can grow.

Last, the various compounds found within green tea promote further hair growth and provide a powerful punch of antioxidants.

Add It To a Hair Growth Mask

Applying a hairmask to protect the hair follicles and scalp

While homemade shampoos are a fantastic start, you can always go the extra mile and create your own scalp scrubs, moisturizers, and even hair growth masks.

What You’ll Need:

  • Avocado (1 half)
  • Vanilla Essential Oil (10 drops)
  • Cherries (6, peeled and pitted)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Herbs (nettle, chamomile, reishi)

Directions:

Bring a pot (or kettle) of water to boil. Remove from heat, and add in the nettle, chamomile, and reishi. Allow to steep until water reaches room temperature, then remove herbs.

Combine the herb and mushroom tea, with the avocado, cherries, and vanilla essential oil. Add to a blender and blend the mixture at high speed until smooth.

Apply the mask to wet hair and scalp. Massage the mask into your scalp for 2-3 minutes, and then allow to sit on scalp for 15-20 minutes. Rinse the mask with lukewarm water, and then towel dry.

Hair Benefits:

This nourishing and moisturizing hair mask will benefit your scalp in a number of ways.

Of course, the reishi acts as an inhibitor of 5α-reductase. The avocado provides a variety of nutrients, while simultaneously protecting the scalp from dryness. The cherries add in a boost of antioxidants, while the vanilla essential oil works to stimulate new hair growth.

Add It To Your Diet

If you’d rather not play chemist, then you can forego the creation of your own shampoos and hair masks and instead opt for the easy method of supplementation – adding it to your diet.

Of course, reishi makes an excellent tea while providing all of the many benefits mentioned above.

You can also add it to soups, salads, and even grill it for an appetizing and nourishing side dish.

Note: Prior to consuming, soak mushrooms overnight. This will soften the husk which surrounds the mushroom, without removing any of its nutrients.

Or you can take it as a supplement.

What’s the Bottom Line?

While there have yet to be any human studies done to determine reishi mushroom’s direct effects on hair growth, the current research does show promising results for those looking to treat their genetic baldness naturally.

Of course, combining reishi with other natural treatments, such as supplementation with pumpkin seed oil and primrose essential oil, can enhance results and improve your hair growth efforts over time.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

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9 thoughts on “3 Reasons To Use Reishi Mushroom for Hair Growth – 1:) Blocks DHT”

  1. I really like the hair growth mask recipe, will be interesting to see the results with this. Thanks Will

  2. I like the shampoo recipe but many professional soap and shampoo makers will say real natural shampoo is made with lye. Do you think it would be worth it to tweak the recipe and add it?

    • Hi Brett, no I wouldn’t add Lye. Just stick to natural ingredients. Apple cider vinegar is basically the only cleaning agent you really need.

    • Hi Gabriel,

      Fresh mushrooms are best, though softgels or caps can be used if you’re unable to find fresh.

      – Steph

  3. I started taking reishi mushroom Jan 2017 for Cancer. It not only helped my Cancer but also my hair in 2019 is down my back! I’ve never ever had long hair in my entire life! This is a miracle herb!

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