Reishi mushrooms are hitting the headlines as a fungus to watch out for in health terms. We often talk about fungus for their positive health benefits although not all are good for you. However, along with Lions Mane, Shitake, good old field mushrooms, truffles and many others, reishi is clearly an interesting addition to our nutrition.
Taste wise, reishi mushroom is often described as rather woody and tough to eat leaving a slightly bitter, almost rancid flavour. Typically, both the fruiting body and the mycelium are used in the medicine part.
The scientific name is Ganoderma lucidum (Leyss. ex Fr.) Karst.. It is a Basidiomycetes fungus from the order Polyporales.
In ancient times this popular medicinal mushroom was a key folk remedy throughout Asia because of its many health benefits (Cilerdzi et al., 2014; Cohen et al., 2014). According to two famous Chinese plant medical books, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (25 to 220 A.D., Eastern Han Dynasty) and Ben Cao Gang Mu by Li Shi‐Zhen (1590 A.D., Ming Dynasty), G. lucidum was used to treat heart diseases, including myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and arrhythmia among many other conditions.
Champignon Basidiomycète (French), Champignon d’Immortalité (French), Champignon Reishi, Champignons Reishi, Ganoderma, Ganoderma lucidum, Hongo Reishi, Ling Chih, Ling Zhi, Mannentake, Mushroom, Mushroom of Immortality, Mushroom Of Spirituality etc.
Benefits And Uses Of Reishi Mushrooms And Its Extracts
Ganoderma lucidum has been extensively applied in clinical practices in China for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including cardiac issues and dysfunction (Gao et al., 2004; Chu et al ., 2012).
One of the early clinical studies showed it was highly effective in the treatment of hypertension (Jin et al., 1996; Sun, 1996). It is not a cure though for this condition.
- fighting infections especially viral ones like flu, swine flu
- bronchial issues including asthma
- general boosting of the immune system
- an antithrombotic
- has fat-lowering or hypolipidemic properties
- helping reduce high blood cholesterol conditions
- helping ameliorate liver and kidney diseases
- reducing chronic fatigue syndrome
- reducing insomnia
- when used with other products especially some herbs, used to treat prostate cancer.
Contains a range of potentially useful compounds which have yet to be properly characterised. These have been shown in certain cell line experiments to have detrimental activity against some tumours and to boost the immune system. There is considerable interest in a range of fatty acids with a 19 carbon chain length that appear to inhibit tumour proliferation and even induce apoptosis in certain cell lines (Gao et al., 2012).
Taking reshi extracts for at least a year are claimed to reduce noncancerous tumours in the colon and rectum. These are known as colorectal adenomas and whilst the research is in its early phases, there is some interesting evidence being presented that indicates it can reduce the number of lesions. There is a concerted effort to understand more about the fungus in dealing with cancerous lesions (Jin et al., 2009).
Taking a specific reishi mushroom product called Ganopoly, daily for 12 weeks is claimed to reduce the circulation of hepatitis B virus in the blood. It is believed to improve liver function too especially in people with this particular virus (Gao et al., 2002).
Reishi Mushrooms And Diabetes
Again early work is suggesting particular reishi derived products such as Ganopoly reduces haemoglobin levels but not the high blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Taking a reishi extract for 12 weeks does not affect cholesterol levels in people with hypertension (high blood pressure) and with high cholesterol.
Ganoderma lucidum has also shown great effect on decreasing cell senescence (Choi et al., 2014) and has antioxidant properties (Deepalakshmi et al., 2013).
2014). Biological activity of Ganoderma lucidum basidiocarps cultivated on alternative and commercial substrate. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 155, pp. 312–319 (Article). , , , , & (
2014). Chemical composition and nutritional and medicinal value of fruit bodies and submerged cultured mycelia of culinary‐medicinal higher Basidiomycetes mushrooms. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 16, pp. 273–291., , , , , , … (
2013). In vitro and in vivo antioxidant potentials of an ethanolic extract of Ganoderma lucidum in rat mammary carcinogenesis. Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, 11(6), pp. 621–627 (Article) ., , , & (
2004). A phase I/II study of ling zhi mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.: FR.) Lloyd (Aphyllophoromycetideae) extract in patients with coronary heart disease. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 6, pp. 327–334., , ; , & (
Gao, P., Hirano, T., Chen, Z., Yasuhara, T., Nakata, Y., & Sugimoto, A. (2012). Isolation and identification of C-19 fatty acids with anti-tumor activity from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum (reishi mushroom). Fitoterapia, 83(3), pp. 490-499.
Gao, Y., Zhou, S., Chen, G., Dai, X., Ye, J., & Gao, H. (2002). A Phase I/II Study of a Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst.(Ling Zhi, Reishi Mushroom) extract in patients with chronic hepatitis В. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 4(4).
Jin, X., Ruiz Beguerie, J., Sze, D. M. Y., & Chan, G. C. (2009). Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2.
Jin, H.‐m., Zhang, G.‐p., Cao, X., Zhang, M., Long, J., Luo, B., … Wang, Z. (1996). Treatment of hypertension by ling zhi combined with hypotensor and its effects on arterial, arteriolar and capillary pressure and microcirculation. In: H. Nimmi, R. J. Xiu, T. Sawada, & C. Zheng (Eds.), Microcirculatory approach to Asian traditional medicine (pp. 131–138). New York, NY: Elsevier Science.
1996). Effective dosage of the extract of Ganoderma lucidum in the treatment of various ailments. State College, PA: The Pennsylvania State University. (