What is Reishi Mushroom?
The reishi mushroom is a purplish-brown fungus with a long stalk, brown spores. And a fan-shaped cap with a shiny, varnish-coated appearance. Reishi grows on decaying wood or tree stumps, preferring the Japanese plum tree but also found on oak. The mushroom is native to China, Japan. And North America but cultivated throughout other Asian countries. Cultivation of reishi is a long, complicated process. The reishi grows in 6 colors, each thought to have different characteristics and known as. Aoshiba (blue reishi), Akashiba (red reishi), Kishiba (yellow reishi). Shiroshiba (white reishi), Kuroshiba (black reishi). and Murasakishiba (purple reishi).
Ganoderma lucidum (Leysser ex Fr.) Karst. Family: Polyporaceae.
Reishi, ling chih, lingzhi (ling zhi), “spirit plant,” Ganopoly
What is it used for?
Reishi has been use in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years. For treating fatigue, asthma, cough, and liver ailments, and to promote longevity. The Chinese name lingzhi means “herb of spiritual potency.” A Japanese name for the reishi is mannentake, meaning “10,000-year-old mushroom.” Reishi’s use documented in the oldest Chinese medical text, which is more than 2,000 years old. Cultivation of reishi began in the 1980s. A survey conducted in Hong Kong found G. lucidum. To be the third most common herbal preparation taken by preoperative surgical patients.
The polysaccharide content of reishi mushroom handles possible anticancer and immunostimulatory effects. Reishi may also provide hepatoprotective action, antiviral activity. And beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, rheumatoid arthritis. chronic fatigue syndrome, and diabetes. Few clinical trials conducted.
What is the recommended dosage?
The Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China recommends 6 to 12 g reishi extract daily. Ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) in doses up to 5.4 g daily (equql to 81 g of the fruiting body). For 12 weeks has been use in a few clinical trials.
Contraindications not yet identified.
Information about safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
Adverse reactions are mild and may include dizziness, GI upset, and skin irritation.
There are few reports of toxicity with the use of reishi mushroom.
1. Reishi Mushroom. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. August 2008. Accessed October 14, 2008.
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6 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom (Plus Side Effects and Dosage)
Eastern medicine makes use of many different plants and fungi. The reishi mushroom is particularly popular.
It has a variety of potential health benefit. including boosting the immune system and fighting cancer. But, its safety has recently come into question.
This article will tell you what you need to know about the potential benefits. and risks of reishi mushroom.
What Is the Reishi Mushroom?
The reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum. And lingzhi, is a fungus that grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia (1Trusted Source).
Within the mushroom, there are several molecules, including triterpenoids. polysaccharides and peptidoglycans, that may be responsible for its health effects (3Trusted Source).
While the mushrooms themselves eaten fresh. it is also common to use powdered forms of the mushroom. or extracts that contain these specific molecules.
These different forms tested in cell, animal and human studies.
Below are 6 scientific studied benefits of the reishi mushroom. The first three backed by stronger evidence. while support for the others is less conclusive.
1. Boost the Immune System
One of the most important effects of the reishi mushroom. it can boost your immune system (4Trusted Source).
While some details are still uncertain. test-tube studies have shown that reishi can affect the genes in white blood cells. which are critical parts of your immune system.
These studies have found that some forms of reishi may alter inflammation pathways. in white blood cells (5Trusted Source).
Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom. can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell. called natural killer cells (6Trusted Source).
Natural killer cells fight infections and cancer in the body (7Trusted Source).
Another study found that reishi can increase the number of other white blood cells. (lymphocytes) in those with colorectal cancer (2Trusted Source).
Although most immune system benefits of reishi mushroom have seen in those who are ill. some evidence has shown that it can help healthy people, too.
In one study, the fungus improved lymphocyte function. Which helps fight infections and cancer. in athletes exposed to stressful conditions (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
But, other research in healthy adults showed no improvement in immune function. Or inflammation after 4 weeks of taking reishi extract (10Trusted Source).
It is clear that reishi impacts white blood cells and immune function. More research needed to determine the extent of the benefits in the healthy and ill.
Reishi mushroom can enhance immune function through its effects on white blood cells. which help fight infection and cancer. This may occur in those who are ill, as mixed results seen in those who are healthy.
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2. Anti-Cancer Properties
Many people consume this fungus. due to its potential cancer-fighting properties (11, 12Trusted Source).
In fact, one study of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors. found that around 59% consumed reishi mushroom (13Trusted Source).
Yet the results of these studies do not equate to effectiveness in animals or humans.
Some research has investigated if reishi could be beneficial for prostate cancer. Due to its effects on the hormone testosterone (17, 18Trusted Source).
While one case study showed that molecules found in this mushroom may reverse prostate cancer in humans. a larger follow-up study did not support these findings (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Some research showed that one year of treatment with reishi decreased the number. and size of tumors in the large intestine (21Trusted Source).
What’s more a detailed report of many studies indicated that the mushroom can affect cancer patients (22Trusted Source).
These benefits included increasing the activity of the body’s white blood cells. which help fight cancer, and improving quality of life in cancer patients.
researchers state that reishi should administered in combination with traditional treatment. rather than replacing it (22Trusted Source).
What’s more, many of the studies of reishi mushroom and cancer were not high-quality. Because of this, much more research is needed (11, 23Trusted Source).
Although reishi mushroom appears to hold some promise for cancer prevention or treatment. more information needed before it becomes part of standard therapy. But, it may be appropriate to use also to normal care in some cases.
3. Could Fight Fatigue and Depression
Reishi’s effects on the immune system are often most emphasized. but it has other potential advantages as well.
These include reduced fatigue and depression, as well as improved quality of life.
One study examined its effects in 132 people with neurasthenia. a defined condition associated with aches, pains, dizziness, headaches and irritability (24Trusted Source).
The researchers found that fatigue reduced. and well-being improved after 8 weeks of taking the supplements.
Another study found that fatigue reduced and quality of life. improved after 4 weeks of taking reishi powder in a group of 48 breast cancer survivors (25Trusted Source).
What’s more, the people in the study also experienced less anxiety and depression.
While reishi mushroom may hold promise for people with certain diseases or illnesses. it is not clear if it would benefit those who are otherwise healthy.
Some preliminary studies have shown that reishi mushroom could decrease anxiety and depression. as well as improve quality of life in those with certain medical conditions.
4–6. Other Potential Benefits
Also its effects on the immune system and quality of life. reishi mushroom studied for its potential to improve other aspects of health.
4. Heart Health
One 12-week study of 26 people showed that reishi mushroom may increase “good” HDL cholesterol. and decrease triglycerides (26Trusted Source).
But, other research in healthy adults. showed no improvement in these heart disease risk factors (10Trusted Source).
Moreover, a large analysis demonstrated no beneficial effects for heart health. After examining five different studies containing around 400 people. The researchers found that consuming reishi mushroom for up to 16 weeks did not improve cholesterol (27Trusted Source).
More research needed about reishi mushrooms and heart health.
5. Blood Sugar Control
Some preliminary research in humans reported similar findings.
But, the majority of research has not supported this benefit. After evaluating hundreds of participants. researchers found no benefits for fasting blood sugar (27Trusted Source).
Mixed results seen for blood sugar after meals. In some cases, reishi mushroom lowered blood sugar, but in other cases, it was worse than a placebo.
Again, more research needed here as well.
6. Antioxidant Status
Antioxidants are molecules that can help prevent damage to your cells.
Because of this important function. there is large interest in foods. and supplements that can enhance antioxidant status in the body.
Many claim that reishi mushroom is effective for this purpose.
But, several studies have found no change. in the levels of two important antioxidant enzymes in the blood. after consuming the fungus for 4 to 12 weeks (10Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
A small amount of research has shown that. reishi mushroom could improve good cholesterol or blood sugar. But, the majority of the research indicates that it does not improve cholesterol. blood sugar or antioxidants in the body.
Dosage Recommendations Vary Based on the Form Used
Unlike some foods or supplements. the dose of reishi mushroom can vary based on which type is use (12Trusted Source).
The highest doses seen when someone consumes the mushroom itself. In these cases, doses may range from 25 to 100 grams, depending on the size of the mushroom.
A dried extract of the mushroom is use instead. In these cases, the dose is approximately 10 times less than. when the mushroom itself consumed (10Trusted Source).
For example, 50 grams of reishi mushroom. itself may be comparable to approximately 5 grams of the mushroom extract. Doses of the mushroom extract vary but range from approximately 1.5 to 9 grams per day (27Trusted Source).
Additionally, some supplements use only certain portions of the extract. In these cases, the recommended doses may be much lower than the values reported above.
Because the suggested dose can vary based on which form of the mushroom is use. it is very important to know which type you are taking.
The dose of reishi mushroom varies based on the form of the fungus, so it is important to know which form you are using. Consuming the mushroom itself provides higher doses, while extracts provide lower doses.
Possible Side Effects and Dangers
Despite its popularity. there are those who have questioned the safety of reishi mushroom.
Some research found that those who took reishi mushroom for 4 months. were almost two times as likely to experience a side effect as those taking a placebo (22Trusted Source).
But, these effects were minor. and included a increased risk of upset stomach or digestive distress. No adverse effects on liver health reported.
Other research also indicated that four weeks of taking reishi mushroom extract. Did not produce any detrimental effects on the liver or kidneys in healthy adults (10Trusted Source).
Both of the people in the case studies had before used reishi mushroom without problems. but experienced adverse effects after switching to a powdered form.
This makes it difficult. to know for certain if the mushroom itself was responsible for the observed liver damage. or if there were problems with the powdered extract.
It is also important to note that many studies of reishi mushroom have not reported safety data. so limited information is available (22Trusted Source).
Still, there are several groups of people who should avoid reishi.
These include those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a blood disorder. will be undergoing surgery or have low blood pressure .
Some studies of reishi mushroom have not provided safety information. but others have reported that several months of taking it is likely safe. Nonetheless, several cases of severe liver damage associated with reishi extract.
The Bottom Line
Reishi mushroom is a popular fungus used in Eastern medicine.
It may boost the immune system through its effects on white blood cells. particularly in people who are ill, such as those with cancer.
This fungus may also be able to decrease the size and number of tumors in certain types of cancer. as well as improve quality of life for some cancer patients.
Most human research has shown that it does not improve cholesterol. blood sugar or antioxidants. but it may be effective at reducing fatigue or depression in some cases.