Reishi Mushroom

Reishi Mushroom Reishi mushrooms grow in the coastal areas of China and are cultivated in Taiwan, Korea, North America, and Japan. It is referred to as the “herb of spiritual potency”, or hing zhi. They are found on fallen tree stumps and decomposing logs. There are six varieties of color, but red mushrooms are used primarily in Asia and North America. Medicinal benefits come from the fruiting part of the mushroom.

Reishi is used to treat asthma, coughs, weakness and fatigue, and insomnia. Polysaccharides, coumarin, sterols, mannitol, and triterpenoids called ganoderic acides are the primary constituents of the mushroom.

Ganoderic acids may be able to lower cholesterol and blood pressure in addition to inhibit blood platelets from sticking together. Although not yet proven, these acids may also be able to treat chronic hepatitis B, altitude sickness, cancer, and diabetes mellitus.

Recommended Dosage

  • Take 1.5-9 grams of dried mushroom daily
  • Take 1ml of tincture or in tea daily
  • Take 1-1.5 grams in powdered form daily

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Reishi Mushroom (Reishi Mushroom Extract, Ganoderm)

Found to be an adaptogen, new research demonstrates the reishi mushroom is effective against chronic fatigue syndrome, restoring vitality and supports adrenal function. Reishi mushrooms also contains phytomedicinals demonstrated to lower blood glucose levels in diabetics (B.K. Kim, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Korea). Reishi Mushroom has also demonstrated help in regenerating the liver, and protects the liver against chemical damage while improving conditions of viral hepatitis. Reishi also has demonstrated effectiveness in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, reduces coronary symptoms and high blood pressure.

Lately, Japanese research indicates that reishi mushroom protects against cancer, being a powerful immune stimulating agent with particular effectiveness against wasting and degenerative diseases such as AIDS. As an adaptogen, reishi mushroom also has proven effective in reversing some of the side effects of chemotherapy, helping the body and especially the lymphatic system rid itself of poisonous toxins. Clinical studies have recently demonstrated that Reishi stimulates T-cell activity and inhibit some replication of the HIV virus. Reishi also seems to act as an antihistamine, relieving the allergic response, and is antiinflammatory in nature.

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Reishi mushroom asthmaReishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is particularly beneficial for individuals with asthma and other respiratory complaints. "It has a healing effect on the lungs," she says. "Reishi is good for respiratory strength and for coughing". At least one population study confirms this claim. When more the 2000 Chinese with chronic bronchitis took reishi syrup during the 1970s, within two weeks, 60 to 90% felt better and reported an improved appetite, according to "Medicinal mushrooms," by Christopher Hobbs, published in Herbs for Health, Jan/Feb 97.

For four millenia, the Chinese and Japanese have used reishi mushroom as a medicine for liver disorders, hypertension, and arthritis. Through in vitro and human studies, today’s researchers have found that reishi has anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties. In vitro experiments also indicate that reishi may help fight cancer tumors. In addition, a protein isolated from reishi – Ling Zhi-8 – may reduce the risk of transplant rejection

Reishi mushroom also has non-material benefits. Beinfield explains, "Reishi is said to elevate the spirit; it’s a mood-elevating substance." Traditionally, reishi is believed to help transform the individual into a more spiritual being. Just as mushrooms transform decayed material on the ground into life-giving nourishment, reishi converts metabolic and psychic waster (hostility and other negative feelings), thereby raising the spirit and unshackling the mind. Individuals can consume reishi every day to support immune function, peace of mind, and physical vigor. Reishi is available in syrups, soups, teas, tinctures, tablets, and by injection. Form and dosage should be decided with the help of a healthcare professional.

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Reishi Mushrooms "The Medicine of Kings"

For over 2000 years Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) have been recognized by Chinese medical professionals as a valuable remedy. Its Chinese name Lingzhi, means "spiritual potency". Reishi mushrooms are regarded by the Chinese as the "Medicine of Kings". Dr. Shi-Jean Lee, the most famous Chinese medical doctor of the Ming Dynasty, strongly endorsed the effectiveness of Reishi in his famous book, Ban Chao Gang Moo ("Great Pharmacopoeia"). He stated that the "long-term taking of Reishi (Lingzhi) will build a strong, healthy body and assure a long life."(2)

A Mushroom for the Nerves
Reishi mushrooms have been traditionally recommended by Chinese and Japanese herbalists for insomnia due to their "sleep-promoting factor".(1) Long-term use causes a significant promotion of slow wave sleep1. Reishi mushrooms are prescribed in China for a number of psychiatric and neurological afflictions, including diseases involving the muscles, anorexia, and debility following lengthy illnesses.(3)

In Japan, the dried "mycelium" of Reishi the root-like body that produces mushrooms has been found to be highly effective in the treatment of neuroses caused by "environmental stress".(1) In addition, in an eight-month study of Alzheimer’s disease, patients taking a Reishi mycelium product demonstrated significant improvement.

In China, Reishi is used for its muscle relaxing and analgesic (pain-inhibiting) effects. In one study, Reishi alleviated anxiety in 18 of 20 patients after four months’ use. It was concluded that the mushroom has an essentially "calmative function", but is neither a narcotic nor a hypnotic.


Reishi as a Cardiotonic
For centuries, Reishi has been known as a cardiotonic herb. It was prescribed routinely to those with a "knotted and tight chest" symptoms consistent with both stress and/or coronary artery disease-related angina. Researchers in China found that Reishi improved the blood flow and lowered oxygen consumption in the heart muscle.(3) Similar results were also found by Japanese scientists.(1,4 ) They found that Reishi contains ganoderic acids (which belong to a group of natural substances called "triterpenes") which lower high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and inhibit platelet aggregation (the clumping together of blood cells), which can lead to heart attacks and other circulation problems. In fact, Reishi’s triterpenes are so important that in Japan they are used to determine Reishi’s quality and authenticity.

In a six-month clinical trial performed in a university hospital in Tokyo, nearly half (47.5%) of 53 hypertensive patients lowered their blood pressure by 10-19 mmHg, and 10% of the subjects dropped their pressures 20-29 mmHg (both systolic and diastolic readings) after taking Reishi extract.1 Similar results were observed in a Chinese clinical trial without any side-effects.(1) Another large Reishi study in China found that low density lipoprotein (LDL the harmful cholesterol) levels dropped in 68% of 90 patients following only one to four months of Reishi use.

Recently, Russian scientists have taken an interest in Reishi. They found that in addition to all the cardiovascular benefits mentioned above, Reishi showed a significant preventive and therapeutic action against plaque build-up ("plaque" is a fatty goo which is comprised of a combination of oxidized cholesterol, calcium, and degenerated white blood cells ["foam cells"]. It is deposited on the walls of arteries which restricts blood flow by narrowing the passage within arteries resulting in atherosclerosis).

Reishi in Cancer Research
Studies of Reishi in cancer research have been largely conducted in Japan, where Reishi was scientifically proven to have an anti-tumor effect. This research has continued in Korea, Japan, and China.

An example of Reishi’s cancer-fighting potential occurred in the summer of 1986. A 39 -year old Japanese woman approached Dr. Fukumi Morishige, M.D., Ph.D, a renowned Japanese surgeon and a member of the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, for help in treating her lung cancer. It was a complicated case, and she had been refused an operation by several hospitals. Hopeless, she returned home where she found her husband had collected Reishi in the forests. He boiled the mushroom and gave it to her to drink as a tea.

While this was going on, she begged Dr. Morishige to do something for her cancer, regardless of its very advanced stage. From what was evident six months earlier, Morishige was surprised when he found no increase in swelling. Then he looked at her X-rays. Something wasn’t right: her tumor showed as only a trace on the X-ray. When she told him she had been drinking Reishi tea, Morishige operated with great curiosity. He was "astonished" to find only scar tissue, and although cancerous cells remained, they were now benign.


That was the impetus for Dr. Morishige to begin his studies of Reishi as a treatment for cancer especially cases given up as hopeless. Dr. Morishige now believes that Reishi is also an effective cancer preventive. The active anti-cancer constituents in Reishi are called Beta-D-glucan. Beta-D-glucan is a polysaccharide basically a huge sugar molecule made up of many little sugar molecules chained together bound to amino acids. These intricate sugars stimulate or modulate the immune system by activating immune cells such as macrophage and helper T-cells, as well as increase the immunoglobin levels (immunoglobins are specific types of antibodies) to produce a heightened response to foreign cells, whether bacteria, viruses, or tumor cells.

One interesting and important finding by Dr. Morishige was that the effectiveness of Reishi could be increased by combining it with high doses of vitamin C. Polysaccharides are huge molecules absorbed by the body with difficulty. Vitamin C helps to break down these huge molecules to much smaller molecules called oligoglucan, which can be easily absorbed. Vitamin C thus increases the bioavailablity of Reishi, and therefore, synergistically increases Reishi’s immune-stimulating and anti-cancer effects.

Anti-Allergic /Anti-Inflammatory Actions
During the 1970s and 1980s, Reishi’s anti-allergy action became the subject of ongoing research in both China and Japan. Studies showed that Reishi extract significantly inhibited all four types of allergic reactions, including positive effects against asthma and contact dermatitis. In 1990, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found that Reishi could be effectively used in treating stiff necks, stiff shoulders, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the fine membrane lining the eye and eyelids), bronchitis, rheumatism, and improving "competence" of the immune system without any significant side-effects.(6)

Part of the anti-inflammatory effect of Reishi may be due to its free radical scavenging effect. Reishi extract significantly elevates the free radical scavenging ability of the blood, especially against the particularly harmful hydroxyl radicals. The hydroxyl radical scavenging effect of Reishi is so strong that even after the Reishi extract was absorbed and metabolized the scavenging action still continued.

Healing the Liver
Reishi is commonly prescribed in China for the treatment of chronic hepatitis. In treatments lasting 2 to 15 weeks, the overall rate of efficiency was 70.7 to 98.0%.(4) In Japan, Reishi extract has been reported to be effective in treating patients with liver failure.(1) In animal studies of mice with carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatitis, the extent of liver damage was significantly inhibited by continuous dosing with Reishi tincture, and the regeneration of the liver was promoted.(7)

Recent Applications
As the "Medicine of Kings", Reishi is widely used for different purposes. It is used for symptomatic relief of arthritis and of menopausal anxiety. It is also used in treating allergic asthma, hypertension, hypothyroidism, bronchitis, insomnia, general anxiety and stress, and cardiovascular problems. Reishi also is often the main ingredient in herbal formulas for immune dysfunction syndromes, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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Se conoce como reishi a la especie fúngica Ganoderma lucidum. El reishi ha sido usado a lo largo de los tiempos por diferentes culturas. Los Japoneses lo llaman reishi y así es como se está dando a conocer en occidente, sin embargo los chinos y los coreanos lo conocen como Ling Chi, o Ling Zhi, (Hongo de la Inmortalidad). Bien conocido por sus propiedades curativas, estimulantes y regenerativas, este hongo fue representado en el arte antiguo Oriental más que cualquier otro hongo: se encuentra pintado en los tapices reales, frecuentemente con sabios famosos de la época.

El reishi está tradicionalmente asociado a la realeza, la salud, la recuperación, la longevidad, el poder sexual, la sabiduría y la alegría.

El primer registro histórico del Reishi fue en la época del primer emperador de China, Shih Huang Ti, de la Dinastía Chin (221-207ac), conocido en el mundo por haber construido la Gran Muralla. Este hongo, de poca apariencia, que crece en madera y de sabor agrio, es un rey en Asia. Su producción mundial se eleva a 4 300 toneladas por año. Sólo en Asia, 4.3 millones de gente comen reishi regularmente.

El reishi es famoso porque puede desacelerar procesos de envejecimiento efectivamente, como arrugas y ojeras, en gran parte debido a sus propiedades antioxidantes, pero posee además otras excelentes propiedades. Es muy rico en calcio, hierro, zinc, manganeso y cobre.

El reishi estimula los linfocitos T, las células asesinas, en el cuerpo y apoya a un sistema inmunológico débil. Sus acciones anti hipertónico, anti colesterol y anti trombosis están comprobadas centíficamente, son atribuidas a su contenido los trioerpene y B-glucanos. Estas sustancias también inhiben la producción de histaminas en el cuerpo, que hacen difícil a la vida de los alérgicos.
Han sido publicados estudios sorprendentes con este hongo en el tratamiento de hepatitis y cáncer, con cuotas de mejoría de hasta 95 por ciento

Reishi regenera los pulmones, amplifica los bronquios, y ayuda así con asma y bronquitis, tonifica el corazón y apoya al hígado en su función de detoxificación, en especial después de toma de medicamentos que hacen daño al hígado.
Entre sus acciones, comprobables por la ciencia, también cuenta la inhibición de dolor por el sistema nervioso central. También tiene una acción relajante al sistema nervioso y la musculatura lisa, por ejemplo de la matriz, del estomago y los intestinos.

Por esta multitud de beneficios tampoco nos sorprende que el hombre europeo de la edad de piedra más famoso, “Ötzi”, traía el reishi consigo en una bolsa bien guardada (vivió hace 5 300 años, lo encontraron en los alpes, entre Italia y Austria).

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Reishi Mushroom, Ling-Chi
(Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi Mushroom sculpture
Reishi Mushroom
Sculpture, acrylic paint
This polypore’s cap has a distinct varnished appearance, making it one of the easiest to recognize. 1-14 inches wide, the often overlapping, fan- to kidney-shaped, tough, corky caps are shiny, dark red, often with a tan zone near the margin.
Reishi Mushrooms From Above
Reishi Mushroom, From Above
The cap’s underside is white, becoming beige with age, with pores too small to see without magnification.
Reishi Mushrooms, From Below
Reishi Mushroom, From Below

The lateral stalk, if it exists, is 1-4 inches long, 1/4 to 1-5/8 inches thick, also shiny red.

You can find it from spring through fall, growing on the base of deciduous trees (it prefers maple) as well as logs and stumps, throughout much of the world. This woody mushroom persists through the winter.

Called "the mushroom of immortality," people in the Far East have been using this mushroom for centuries as a tonic. There’s evidence that it strengthens the immune system and helps the body fight off a variety of ailments, and it’s even used for cancer in traditional Chinese medicine.

Too tough to eat (perhaps you could boil it in a soup when it’s very, very young and still somewhat soft), you saw off about a tablespoon of the mushroom, simmer it 2 hours, covered, over low heat, and drink the tea.

Reishi Mushroom painting
Reishi Mushroom
Pen-and-ink, watercolor pencils drawing
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Reishi Mushroom

The reishi mushroom has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, especially in the far East, such as China and Japan.

They are not the only mushrooms used for their therapeutic and medicinal properties…other popular varieties include the maitake and shiitake mushrooms.

The reishi is also called "Ganoderma Lucidum"; in China, they refer to it as "Ling Zhi."

Medicinal and Therapeutic Uses of the Reishi

Reishi mushrooms have many uses, but some of the more prominent ones include:

– boosting immune function
– reducing stress, and inducing relaxation
– fighting fatigue and boosting energy and vitality levels. Used to fight chronic fatigue
– beneficial for bronchitis and asthma (due to anti-inflammatory properties it harbors)
– acting as an anti-coagulant (blood thinner)
– fighting allergies

Some of the more speculative health benefits of the reishi mushroom include:

– helping to lower cholesterol levels
– lowering blood pressure
– used to enhance skin health and beauty (chinese women use it for this purpose)

Although many more studies are needed, some experts say that reishi mushrooms have anti-cancer properties.

Specifically, the reishi contains polysaccharides that, in studies on mice, have been shown to fight cancer tumors, and enhance the immune system.

Other compounds present in the reishi mushroom include triterpenes, which may be responsible for its beneficial effects on lowering blood pressure.

Anti-histamines naturally present in the herb also may account for its alleged allergy alleviating effects.

Precautions on the Reishi

As always, pregnant or nursing women should refrain from using nutritional or herbal supplements without having consulted with their physician first.

People taking blood thinners (anti-coagulant medications) should avoid reishi as well unless speaking with their physician since the reishi mushroom has blood thinning effects as well.

Many people use reishi without exhibiting any unpleasant side effects. However, some people do report some adverse reactions. Here are some of the ones that have been reported:

– dry mouth
– nausea, upset stomach
– diarrhea
– skin rashes
– nosebleeds

If symptoms arise, reduce dosage or discontinue use.


Dosage of reishi mushroom depends on what you’re taking it for.

Here are some guidelines espoused by experts:

– For Heart Disease: take 1,500 mg of reishi daily
– For Bronchitis: Take 1,500 mg of reishi daily while the condition persists
– For immune system enhancement: Take 500 mg of reishi mushroom three times per day.
– If taken as a general health supplement, take 500 mg two times daily

Available forms of Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms can be purchased and taken in many forms, including: supplements, capsules, powder, teas, and coffees.

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