Reishi mushrooms are among several medicinal mushrooms that have been used for hundreds of years, mainly in Asian countries, for treatment of infections. More recently, we have also used them in the treatment of pulmonary diseases and cancer. We have approved medicinal mushrooms adjuncts to standard cancer treatments in Japan and China for over 30 years and have an extensive clinical history of safe use as single agents or combined with chemotherapy. Reishi mushroom benefits.
The reishi mushroom is also known as lingzhi.
Why do people take reishi mushroom?
Reishi mushroom has been used to help enhance the immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue. People also take reishi mushroom for health conditions such as,
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
- Liver or kidney disease
- Respiratory diseases (such as asthma)
- Viral infections (such as the flu)
- Cancer and support during chemotherapy
- Pain during and after a shingles outbreak.
- Building strength and stamina
There is some scientific evidence of its effectiveness, including lab research and some small human studies. Researchers are beginning to look at the chemical makeup of this mushroom to better understand how and whether it really works for each of these conditions.
Doses may depend upon factors that include:
- Your age.
- Condition for which the mushroom is being prescribed
- Form of the mushroom
- Your overall health
But each of these is a typical oral daily dose:
- 1.5 to 9 grams of crude dried mushroom
- 1 to 1.5 grams of reishi powder
- 1 milliliter of reishi solution (tincture)
Can you get reishi mushroom naturally from foods?
Reishi mushroom is cultivated and sold as a food, but it may be tough and bitter.
When taken for health reasons, it is usually dried or taken as an extract, such as in the form of:
6 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom (Plus Side Effects and Dosage)
Eastern medicine makes use of many different plants and fungi. Interestingly, the reishi mushroom is popular.
It has a variety of potential health benefits, including boosting the immune system and fighting cancer. However, its safety has recently come into question.
This article will tell you what you need to know about the potential benefits and risks of reishi mushroom.
The reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzhi, is a fungus that grows in various humid locations in Asia (1Trusted Source).
For many years, this fungus has been a staple in Eastern medicine (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
Within the mushroom, there are several molecules, including triterpenoids, polysaccharides and peptidoglycans, that may be responsible for its health effects (3Trusted Source).
While they can eat the mushrooms themselves fresh, it is also common to use powdered forms of the mushroom or extracts that contain these specific molecules.
We have tested these different forms in cell, animal and human studies.
Below are 6 scientifically studied benefits of the reishi mushroom. The first three are backed by stronger evidence, while support for the others is less conclusive.
1. Boost the Immune System
One of the most important effects of the reishi mushroom is that it can boost your immune system (4Trusted Source).
While some details are still uncertain, test-tube studies have shown reishi can affect the genes in white blood cells, which are critical parts of your immune system.
Also, these studies have found that some forms of reishi may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells (5Trusted Source).
Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom can increase the activity of a white blood cell called natural killer cells (6Trusted Source).
Natural killer cells fight infections and cancer in the body (7Trusted Source).
Another study found reishi can increase the number of other white blood cells (lymphocytes) in those with colorectal cancer (2Trusted Source).
Although most immune system benefits of reishi mushroom have been seen in those who are ill, some evidence has shown that it can help healthy people, too.
In one study, the fungus improved lymphocyte function, which helps fight infections and cancer, in athletes exposed to stressful conditions (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
However, other research in healthy adults showed no improvement in immune function or inflammation after 4 weeks of taking reishi extract (10Trusted Source).
Overall, reishi affects white blood cells and immune function. We need more research to determine the extent of the benefits in the healthy and ill.
Reishi mushroom can enhance immune function through its effects on white blood cells, which help fight infection and cancer. This may occur primarily in those who are ill, as we have seen mixed results in those who are healthy.
2. Anti-Cancer Properties
Many people consume this fungus because of its potential cancer-fighting properties (11, 12Trusted Source).
In fact, one study of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors found that around 59% consumed reishi mushroom (13Trusted Source).
Several test-tube studies have shown it can lead to the death of cancer cells (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Yet the results do not equate to effectiveness in animals or humans.
Some research has investigated if reishi could be beneficial for prostate cancer because of its effects on the hormone testosterone (17, 18Trusted Source).
While one case study showed molecules found in this mushroom may reverse prostate cancer in humans, a larger follow-up study did not support these findings (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
We have also studied Reishi mushroom for its role in preventing or fighting colorectal cancer (2Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
Some research showed that one year of treatment with reishi decreased the number and size of tumors in the large intestine (21Trusted Source).
Also, a detailed report of multiple studies showed the mushroom can beneficially affect cancer patients (22Trusted Source).
These benefits included increasing the activity of the body’s white blood cells, which help fight cancer, and improving quality of life in cancer patients.
However, researchers state reishi should be administered in combination with traditional treatment rather than replacing it (22Trusted Source).
Also, many of the studies of reishi mushroom and cancer were not high quality. Because of this, we need much more research (11, 23Trusted Source).
Although reishi mushroom appears to hold some promise for cancer prevention or treatment, we need more information before it becomes part of standard therapy. However, it may be appropriate to use besides normal care sometimes.
3. Could Fight Fatigue and Depression
Reishi’s effects on the immune system are often most emphasized, but it has other potential advantages.
These include reduced fatigue and depression, and improved quality of life.
One study examined its effects in 132 people with neurasthenia, a poorly defined condition associated with aches, pains, dizziness, headaches and irritability (24Trusted Source).
The researchers found fatigue was reduced and well-being was improved after 8 weeks of taking the supplements.
Another study found they reduced fatigue, and they improved quality of life after 4 weeks of taking reishi powder in a group of 48 breast cancer survivors (25Trusted Source).
Also, the people in the study also experienced less anxiety and depression.
While reishi mushroom may hold promise for people with certain diseases or illnesses, it is not clear if it would benefit those who are otherwise healthy.
Some preliminary studies have shown reishi mushroom could decrease anxiety and depression and improve quality of life in those with certain medical conditions.
4–6. Other Potential Benefits
Besides its effects on the immune system and quality of life, reishi mushroom has been studied for its potential to improve other aspects of health.
4. Heart Health
One 12-week study of 26 people showed reishi mushroom may increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease triglycerides (26Trusted Source).
However, other research in healthy adults showed no improvement in these heart disease risk factors (10Trusted Source).
A large analysis showed no beneficial effects for heart health after examining five different studies containing around 400 people. The researchers found that consuming reishi mushroom for up to 16 weeks did not improve cholesterol (27Trusted Source).
Overall, we need more research regarding reishi mushrooms and heart health.
5. Blood Sugar Control
Several studies have showed molecules found in the reishi mushroom can decrease blood sugar in animals (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
Some preliminary research in humans reported similar findings (30).
However, most research has not supported this benefit. After evaluating hundreds of participants, researchers found no benefits for fasting blood sugar (27Trusted Source).
I saw mixed results for blood sugar after meals. Sometimes, reishi mushroom lowered blood sugar, but in other cases, it was worse than a placebo.
Again, more research is needed here.
6. Antioxidant Status
Antioxidants are molecules that can help prevent damage to your cells (31).
Because of this important function, there is substantial interest in foods and supplements that can enhance antioxidant status in the body.
Many claim that reishi mushroom is effective for this purpose.
However, several studies have found no change in the levels of two important antioxidant enzymes in the blood after consuming the fungus for 4 to 12 weeks (10Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).