The Ganoderma lucidum Reishi mushroom is a type of medicinal edible mushroom which has been used for thousands of years due to its healing properties, which is why it is regarded as a superfood. Also known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, these mushrooms have incredible anti-inflammatory properties which are linked to longevity, an improved immune function, and to mental clarity. It was called the “king of mushrooms” for centuries.
What is Reishi?
Reishi is the most studied medicinal mushroom with more medicinal properties that exists today. There are different types of natural reishi, but the best one is Ganoderma lucidum, which is unfortunately quite scarce. Until fairly recently, it was found in one out of a thousand mushrooms in eastern countries.
This is why the Ganoderma is extensively cultivated so that it can be sold in Europe and the United States. Its consumption has become so common that its demand has grown by a 30% in the last ten years and it is expected to continue to do so in the coming years, all due to its healing power.
Previously, reishi was badly regarded by society and it was reserved only for the nobility and emperors, who actually consumed it regularly. But years have gone by and it has become one of the mushrooms with more medicinal properties that exists today. Therefore, the consumption of reishi is much higher than 20 years ago.
One of the best things about reishi mushrooms is that they have a great potential when compared to medications that are non-toxic and that produce almost no side effects. In fact, most people notice a quick improvement in their energy levels, mental abilities and moods, while experiencing a relief of the pain, discomfort, allergies, digestive problems and infections.
Origins of the Reishi mushroom
Throughout history, in holistic medical practices, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), reishi mushrooms have been regarded as substances similar to adaptogen herbs. This means that it can help us to deal with the negative effects of stress on our health, such as an increased inflammation, lack of energy, damaged blood vessels, and several types of hormone imbalances. Research has repeatedly proven that reishi mushrooms have antioxidant properties that strengthen the body’s defenses against cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, allergies, infections, and more.
The reishi mushroom grows wild on rotting trunks and the remnants of trees. Reishi is found in six different colors, although the red variety is the most commonly used and industrially cultivated in East Asia and North America.
It is native to the Far East and its use goes back to ancient China, as we have seen before. The royalty used this valuable mushroom in hopes of achieving immortality, and as a catalyst for calm and reflection. Chinese medicine now uses it as a treatment against fatigue, asthma, insomnia, and coughing.
The Ganoderma lucidum mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 4.000 years to treat all types of liver disorders, high blood pressure, arthritis and other diseases. Today, we know that it can have positive effects on patients with cancer and liver disease thanks to the information available from human research along with evidence from animal tests. However, the number and quality are very limited. Other promising uses for which there is still no convincing evidence are against diabetes, heart disease, pain, Russula subnigricans poisoning and proteinuria (protein in the urine).
It is also believed that the reishi lucidum mushroom reduces the cholesterol levels and has anticoagulant effects, so it could be useful to prevent coronary heart disease.
It has also been suggested that it has antioxidant effects that contribute to the overall well-being of the patients. The pharmacopoeia of Ben Cao Gang Mu from the 16th century describes that the reishi mushroom has the ability to affect the vital or heart energy, to soothe the chest area, to increase the intellectual capacity and to improve the memory.
Reishi is currently regulated in the United States, where it is regarded as a food supplement. The pharmacopoeia of the Republic of China from the year 2000 has also listed it as an authorized ingredient for the treatment of dizziness, insomnia, palpitations, shortness of breath, coughing and asthma. At this time, there are no good quality clinical studies available to support the uses of reishi, so it is an issue that needs further testing.
Properties of Reishi
We have already seen some of the functions of reishi throughout history and in traditional Chinese medicine. Nowadays, this mushroom has been ranked among the ten most effective natural therapeutic substances in the world, since it contains a great number of active ingredients such as:
- Polysaccharides (Beta-glucans: immune system enhancers)
- Triterpenes: anti-inflammatory and allergenic elements that improve the condition of the liver
- Mineral Salts (Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Germanium, Calcium)
- Complex B vitamins (particularly vitamin B9)
- 17 essential amino acids
- Sterols and cortisone-like substances
- Adenosine and guanosine with anti-platelet, myorelaxing (skeletal muscle) and sedative effects on the CNS
What are the uses of Reishi?
- Anti-Stress toner
- Anti-aging effect
- It improves the brain waves during sleep
- It has an anti-tumor capacity
- It is an antioxidant agent
- It works as an anti-inflammatory agent
- It is a good anti-bacterial agent
- It also has anti-viral properties
- It regulates the sugar in blood
Reishi to prevent diseases
In Japan, there has been extensive research on reishi lucidum in cancer research. Therefore, it can be a good ally in the prevention of oncological processes. Dr. Morishige states that this is due to the polysaccharides called Beta-D-glucan that strengthen our immune system. His vast experience with reishi has also led him to confirm that high amounts of vitamin C enhance the effectiveness of this mushroom (the dose will depend on each case and on our doctor’s advice).
Reishi improves the number and effectiveness of phagocytic neutrophil lymphocytes during treatments with chemotherapy. It alleviates intestinal disorders and reduces the nausea and vomiting caused by different chemotherapy treatments.
It has been proven that Ganoderma lucidum can restore the functioning of the p53 gene in Colon tumors, helping the organism to fight the tumor which supports the chemotherapy for cancers that alter this gene. It has also been found that some compounds of reishi molecules could help to treat some tumors such as ganoderic acid T in lung tumors.
Benefits of Reishi for health
This mushrooms provides several benefits which can be classified according to its medicinal properties:
- It isolates, stops and reduces the excessive production and release of histamine, which improves bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis
- It improves the functioning of the suprarenal glands, normalizing the secretion of their hormones
- It prevents the predisposition to allergies
- It reduces some symptoms of auto-immune diseases, like the pain (thanks to the endorphin) and the inflammation (thanks to ganoderic D acid and lanostine)
- It can lower the blood pressure between a 10 and 20%, both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. It improves the blood flow to the heart, reduces the consumption of oxygen on behalf of the heart, it is useful for the treatment of angina pectoris
- It reduces the concentration of cholesterol in more than a 50% in patients that use the mushrooms for more than 4 months due to the presence of low density lipoproteins (oleic acid)
- It mitigates the symptoms of tiredness
- It reduces the stress and chronic fatigue
- It improves some of the symptoms of neuropsychriatic disorders such as: insomnia, nervous anorexia and Alzheimer
- It purifies the blood and regulates the immune system
- Normalize and balance the different functions of the organism without causing harmful effects (adaptogen)
- Its main action mechanism is the blood, cleaning and eliminating the excess of impurities which facilitates the proper functioning of the circulatory system and favoring the immune response
- It activates the body’s auto-defenses
- It restores and normalizes the functioning of damaged hepatic cells (hepatic regenerator)
- It lowers the inflammation of the liver thanks to the regenerating action of the polysaccharides, which improves the hepatitis
- It accelerates the breakdown of alcohol
- It prevents the oxidations caused by toxic substances
- It prevents cirrhotic states.
- Reishi works similarly to insulin by inhibiting the synthesis of glucose and facilitating their entry to the cells
- It reduces the levels of glucose in the blood
- It improves the symptoms of diabetic people
- Reishi improves the auto-immune response in the case of Mellitos-type Diabetes
- It prevents diabetes and avoids some of its complications
- It regulates the blood pressure (adaptogen)
- The Triterpenes from reishi are the components that reduce the high levels of blood pressure
- Ganoderma is called the elixir for a long life
- It is one of the best antioxidant agents
- Ganoderma is a powerful anti-aging element
- It is capable of increase the IQ and improving the memory
- It increases the vitality and combats the apathy
- It is used for asthenia
- It supports the suprarenal glands (Strengthens and stimulates)
- It prevents cancer
- It increases the strength of the muscles and the anaerobic and anabolic resistance
- Ganoderma helps to clean and activate the intestinal flora to prevent certain bacteria and fungi such as: Candida albicans or Helicobacter pylori. Even though its main use is more related to protecting the liver and protect against those contaminant agents that can cause respiratory diseases such as the flu, colds, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, or laryngitis. It also helps to detoxify and excrete toxins from our body.
How to take reishi
It is available fresh, in powder, tincture or capsules. Natural fresh reishi cannot be digested and dry powder cannot be digested, unless it is an extract or herb.
You can cook the mushroom like any other, but it is not easy to find it.
Much has been said about the proper dose of reishi but, for the time being, it has been concluded that taking capsules is usually more beneficial for people because, apart from controlling the dose, there is always less chance of forgetting to take the proper dose.
Moreover, Ganoderma capsules provide all the advantages, benefits and properties from this medicinal mushroom.
You always have to start with a low dose to see how your body reacts. Each organism is different and each person will need a more or less high dose of reishi depending on several factors; disease, age, weight and physical condition. That is why starting with a dose of one gram is the best thing to do. Once our body has adapted, the dose can be gradually increased up to 7 grams per day. In some cases, in China, Japan or Korea, they even take doses of 10 grams of extract per day, but this is a high dose.
Reishi mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in all types of patients and, surprisingly, very few side effects have been recorded. The lucidum reishi mushroom is listed as class 1: Herbs that can be consumed when used properly. Occasionally, it can produce some mild digestive discomfort and skin rashes, but these side effects seem to fade and are only a threat to sensitive people with a damaged immune system.
If you notice any of the following side effects when using a product with this element, stop using reishi mushrooms and visit your doctor to make sure you are not reacting badly, having an allergic reaction, or experiencing liver toxicity:
- Dry mouth
- Dry or itchy throat
- Itching in the nasal area
- Severe indigestion or upset stomach
- Bloody stool
- Skin rashes
If you are pregnant or lactating, it is better to avoid using reishi unless you consult your doctor. There is not a lot of research that involves pregnant women. Do not take reishi mushrooms in the following cases because they can increase the blood pressure, affect blood clotting, and increase the risk of bleeding: you had suffered any type of bleeding disorder; you just underwent a surgery; you are taking medications for blood pressure, anticoagulants, chemotherapy or immunosuppressive medications; or if you have problems with blood clotting.
Studies and Bibliography:
- Cheuk W1, Chan JK, Nuovo G, Chan MK, Fok M. Regression of gastric large B-Cell lymphoma accompanied by a florid lymphoma-like T-cell reaction: immunomodulatory effect of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi)? 2007 Apr;15(2):180-6.
- Eo SK, Kim YS, Lee CK, Han SS. Possible mode of antiviral activity of acidic protein bound polysaccharide isolated from Ganoderma lucidum on herpes simplex viruses. 2000 Oct;72(3):475-81.
- Futrakul N, Panichakul T, Butthep P, Futrakul P, Jetanalin P, Patumraj S, Siriviriyakul P. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses endothelial cell cytotoxicity and proteinuria in persistent proteinuric focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) nephrosis. 2004;31(4):267-72.
- Zhou GQ, Zhao HY, Lu C. Effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on intestinal mucosal immune system in H22 liver cancer bearing mice. 2009 Apr;29(4):335-9.
- Jiang D, Wang L, Zhao T, Zhang Z, Zhang R, Jin Y, Cai Y, Wang F. Restoration of the tumor-suppressor function to mutant p53 by Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in colorectal cancer cells. 2017 Jan;37(1):594-600. doi: 10.3892/or.2016.5246. Epub 2016 Nov 15.
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