The Reishi mushroom also referred as Ganoderma lucidum or linh zhi1; has long been regarded as boosting energy and life2. Reishi was initially used in traditional oriental medicine for its healing properties and more recently is growing in popularity here in the U.S. I was intrigued by some of the traditional stories I read about Reishi, how it was referred to as a, magical mushroom and those that ate it will live forever3. In another story, it is said that the first emperor of China became so obsessed with Reishi (BC 259-210) that he burned all the books because he wanted to be the only one with all the knowledge and only re-wrote the books he agreed on3. After this, I wanted to know more about this magical mushroom and to my surprised I found out that Reishi has unique properties that have been used to treat patients with serious ailments such as cancer, HIV, and a myriad of other chronic diseases.
Reishi, once was rare to find, however, in the last 20 years Reishi has become widely cultivated making it more available and affordable1. Reishi is found growing on oak, chestnut trees and stumps, usually in the late summer or fall3. This mushroom can have varying characteristics depending on the environment it grows. The top of a Reishi is shiny with a kidney-shape cap and concentric rings throughout it3. The top is reddish brown color with a stem growing to the side instead of the center3. If you are not a mushroom connoisseur it may be difficult to identify, as the colors vary. Today, most of us will find Reishi at our local natural or herbal stores and even online. You may also find Reishi in products to increase energy, sexual stamina, and overall health1.
This healing mushroom is rich in nutrients and healing properties and it is mainly used for its medicinal components. Although Reishi is not easily digested due to the hardness 4; it is usually processed further to extract its abundance of vitamins (C, E, B-carotene and selenium2) and minerals (Mg, Ca, Zn, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Ge)1. Current research has so far discovered two bioactive ingredients that give Reishi its healing abilities, polysaccharides and triterpenes2. Triterpenes, have been identified to have medicinal properties that improve cells by blocking certain enzymes like B-galactosidase and angiotensin (converting enzyme) and preventing damage to the liver, and reduce cholesterol and much more2. Reishi is also high in Polysaccharides that have medicinal bioactive anti-oxidative properties that help fight severe ailments and balance the immune system2. One study showed that polysaccharides prevented the growth of Sarcoma (cancerous tumor) by more than 95%2. Until now, I had never heard of an herbal medicine like Reishi to have so many healing properties and treat a so many illnesses.
Reishi has been used for over 2000 years in Asia5 and has sparked a lot of interest in research to discover more about its medicinal properties. In Japan, the government has approved Reishi to be used as a drug for cancer treatment3. In France, a study was performed on patients with Oral Human Papillomavirus (HPV) using two medicinal mushrooms: Trametes versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi). Patients took 2 capsules for 2 months and 87.8% were cleared of the HPV6 infection. Another study was done on Melanoma and Triple-Negative Breast Cancerous cells. Their finding concluded that Reishi could be a new approach to treating cancer and inflammation do to the medicinal properties that benefits the immune system7. Additional studies have successfully found compounds in Reishi to inhibit HIV5. In other words, research is validating that Reishi indeed has medicinal properties that can help treat severe ailments such as cancer and HIV.
There are different ways one can enjoy the benefits of Reishi. According to the book Medicinal Mushrooms, Reishi can be taken in, “…syrups, soups, teas, injections, tablets and tinctures, or as bolus containing powdered medicine and honey. The dose in tincture form (20%) is 10 ml 3x/day; in tablet from (for insomnia) the dose is 1 g tablets, 3 tablets 3x/day. The syrup dose is 4 to 6 ml per day”1. The dosage will vary depending on the condition being treated. There is very little research on the side effects of Reishi. However, I did come across Kaiser Permanente.org website and it mentioned, Reishi should not be taken with blood thinning medication because it could interfere with the process. Therefore, one should consult their doctor before considering Reishi when taking other medications. On the contrary, keep in mind that medicinal herbs such as Reishi have been used in other countries longer than any western medication has been around. I believe in healing the body naturally and to me natural medicine is a safer alternative worth exploring.
I was captivated by the history and folklore of the Reishi mushroom. I am in awe of all the healing properties of this mushroom and how it helps with many severe illnesses. The use of Reishi mushroom has expanded beyond the borders of Asia. Herbalist doctors in the U.S, Canada and in Europe are now using Reishi for its medicinal properties. According to Dr. Terry Willard and publisher of Reishi Mushroom Herb of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder he states; Reishi is the, “herb of spiritual potency and medical wonder”3. Perhaps it was referred as the magical mushroom because it can heal the body and the spirit.
- Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. The Book Publishing Company; 2003.
- Huie CW, Di X. Chromatographic and electrophoretic methods for Lingzhi pharmacologically active components. J Chromatogr B. 2004;812(1):241-257. doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2004.08.038.
- Willard T. Reishi Mushroom Herb of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder. Sylvan Press; 1990.
- Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, Benzie IFF. Ganoderma Lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi). CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/. Accessed October 23, 2017.
- Akbar R, Yam WK. Interaction of ganoderic acid on HIV related target: molecular docking studies. Bioinformation. 2011;7(8):413-417.
- Donatini, Bruno. Medicinal Mushrooms. Control of Oral Human Papillomavirus (HPV), by Medicinal Mushrooms, trametes versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum: A Preliminary Clinical Trial. 2014;16(5): 497-487
- Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Anticancer and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Ganoderma lucidum Extract Effects on Melanoma and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Treatment. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/3/210. Accessed October 18, 2017.