encyclopedia

Reishi Mushroom

Scientific Names:
Ganoderma lucidum (Ley. ex Fr.) Kar. [Fam. Polyporaceae]

Forms:
Fresh and dried mushrooms (fruiting body and mycelium); standardized extracts containing ganoderic acids and polysaccharides.

Traditional Usage:
– Allergies

– Altitude Sickness

– Alzheimer’s Disease

– Angina

– Anti-inflammatory

– Antioxidant

– Arrhythmia

– Blood Oxygenation

– Cellular Regeneration

– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

– Circulatory Disorders

– Cleansing

– Detoxification

– Diabetes

– Energy

– Heart Health Maintenance

– Hepatitis

– High Blood Pressure

– High Cholesterol

– HIV

– Immune Deficiency

– Immune System Health

– Infections

– Inflammation

– Insulin Resistance

– Liver Health Maintenance

– Longevity Enhancement

– Memory Problems

– Pain

– Poultice

– Skin Disorders

Overview:

Reishi mushrooms, Ganoderma lucidum (Ley ex Fr.) Kar. [Fam. Polyporaceae], also known in China as Ling Chih, “mushroom of immortality” and “herb of spiritual potency” has been valued as a powerful medicinal mushroom for centuries. The stalked form of this species is believed to be the Ling Chih of the ancient Chinese. Reishi’s active ingredients have proven significant anti-inflammatory and immune stimulating activity and also inhibit malignant tumor growth. Stavinovah and other researchers (1991, 1996) found Ganoderma lucidum to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Extracts of the fruiting body were active both orally and topically. The active compound was isolated and identified and found to be equivalent in anti-inflammatory activity to hydrocortisone without the typical side effects of steroids nor the gastropathy that is the major side effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. Reishi’s anti-inflammatory activity has potential applications in preventing the development of such diverse diseases as Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease and reducing symptoms of allergies and liver conditions. According to Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy, sixteenth-century Ming Dynasty texts say that Reishi mushroom “mends the heart”. Dr. Albert Leung, a natural product pharmacist and author of the book, Better Health with (Mostly) Chinese Herbs and Food, recommends reishi for treating arrhythmia. Research shows that reishi mushroom acts as a heart tonic and improves blood flow to the heart, reduces coronary demand for oxygen and eases the chest pain of angina. One study of Chinese workers who climbed to over 15,000 feet in three days in Tibet demonstrated that reishi could significantly reduce altitude sickness symptoms. Reishi also contains substances that reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Ancient Chinese texts, dating back to 456-536 AD, document that reishi was praised for its effect of increasing memory and preventing forgetfulness in old age.

Reishi For Prevention and Treatment of Abnormal Growths:

In clinical studies Chang (1994) at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reported that applications of Ganoderma should be studied and considered for (1) cancer prevention in individuals at high risk for developing cancer (2) use in the prevention of cancer recurrence and spread (3) for improving quality of life and reducing pain in cancer patients and (4) to reduce side-effects of chemotherapy, maintain leukocyte counts and allow a more optimal dosing of chemo or radio therapeutics.

Active Ingredients:
Reishi mushrooms contain: ganoderic acids; bitter compounds; flavonoid glycosides; and polysaccharides. The spore powder is reported to contain high quality protein, with all 18 essential amino acids included. It has a combination of natural vitamins.

Suggested Amount:
Reishi mushrooms can be used to make a bitter-tasting tea with the recommended dosage of 3 to 6 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water. Candies made of the essence of Ling Chih can also be bought in some Chinese markets. Reishi supplements are typically recommended with a dosage corresponding to 3 to 10 grams of dried reishi mushroom per day. Chang (1994) recommends Ganoderma dried fruit body dosage ranges of: 1) 0.5 to 1 g per day for health maintenance; (2) 2 to 5 g per day if there is chronic fatigue, stress, auto immune, or other chronic health problems; and (3) 5 to 10 g per day for serious illness.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
None known.

Side Effects:
None known.

References:

Chang, R. 1994. Effective Dose of Ganoderma in Humans; Proceedings of Contributed Symposium 59A, B 5th International Mycological Congress, Vancouver: Pp. 117-121.

Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp.: 44 and 149. Rodale Press.

McGeer, P. and J. Rogers 1992. Anti-inflammatory agents as a therapeutic approach to Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 42: 447-449.

Stavinoha, W., Satsangi, N., & Weintraub, S. (1995). Study of the antiinflammatory efficacy of Ganoderma lucidum. In B.-K. Kim, & Y.S. Kim (Eds.), Recent Advances in Ganoderma lucidum research Seoul Korea: The Pharmaceutical Society of Korea. Pp. 3-7.

Zhang HN, Lin ZB. 2004. Hypoglycemic effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2004 Feb; 25(2): 191-5.