Eastern medicine makes use of many different plants and fungi. Interestingly, the reishi mushroom is particularly 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.
What Is the Reishi Mushroom?
While the mushrooms themselves can be eaten fresh, it is also common to use powdered forms of the mushroom or extracts that contain these specific molecules.
These different forms have been tested 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
While some details are still uncertain, test-tube studies have shown that reishi can affect the genes in white blood cells, which are critical parts of your immune system.
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.
Overall, it is clear that reishi impacts white blood cells and immune function. More research is needed 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 mixed results have been seen in those who are healthy.
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2. Anti-Cancer Properties
Yet the results of these studies do not necessarily equate to effectiveness in animals or humans.
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.
Although reishi mushroom appears to hold some promise for cancer prevention or treatment, more information is needed before it becomes part of standard therapy. However, it may be appropriate to use in addition to normal care in some cases.
3. Could Fight Fatigue and Depression
Reishi’s effects on the immune system are often most emphasized, but it has other potential advantages as well.
These include reduced fatigue and depression, as well as improved quality of life.
The researchers found that fatigue was reduced and well-being was improved after 8 weeks of taking the supplements.
What’s more, 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 that reishi mushroom could decrease anxiety and depression as well as improve quality of life in those with certain medical conditions.
4–6. Other Potential Benefits
In addition to 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
Overall, more research is needed in regard to reishi mushrooms and heart health.
5. Blood Sugar Control
Some preliminary research in humans reported similar findings (30).
Mixed results were seen for blood sugar after meals. In some cases, reishi mushroom lowered blood sugar, but in other cases, it was worse than a placebo.
Again, more research is needed here as well.
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.
A small amount of research has shown that reishi mushroom could improve good cholesterol or blood sugar. However, the majority of the research indicates that it does not improve cholesterol, blood sugar or antioxidants in the body.
Dosage Recommendations Vary Based on the Form Used
The highest doses are seen when someone consumes the mushroom itself. In these cases, doses may range from 25 to 100 grams, depending on the size of the mushroom
Additionally, some supplements use only certain portions of the extract. In these cases, the recommended doses may be much lower than the values reported above.
Because the suggested dose can vary widely based on which form of the mushroom is used, it is very important to know which type you are taking.
The dose of reishi mushroom varies based on the form of the fungus, so it is important to know which form you are using. Consuming the mushroom itself provides higher doses, while extracts provide lower doses.
Possible Side Effects and Dangers
Despite its popularity, there are those who have questioned the safety of reishi mushroom.
However, these effects were minor and included a slightly increased risk of upset stomach or digestive distress. No adverse effects on liver health were reported.
Both of the people in the case studies had previously used reishi mushroom without problems but experienced adverse effects after switching to a powdered form.
This makes it difficult to know for certain if the mushroom itself was responsible for the observed liver damage or if there were problems with the powdered extract.
Nevertheless, there are several groups of people who should probably avoid reishi.
These include those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a blood disorder, will be undergoing surgery or have low blood pressure (36).
Some studies of reishi mushroom have not provided safety information, but others have reported that several months of taking it is likely safe. Nonetheless, several cases of severe liver damage have been associated with reishi extract.
The Bottom Line
Reishi mushroom is a popular fungus used in Eastern medicine.
It may boost the immune system through its effects on white blood cells, particularly in people who are ill, such as those with cancer.
This fungus may also be able to decrease the size and number of tumors in certain types of cancer, as well as improve quality of life for some cancer patients.
Most human research has shown that it does not improve cholesterol, blood sugar or antioxidants, but it may be effective at reducing fatigue or depression in some cases
Listed as a cancer treatment by the Japanese Government, the Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) whilst native to China is now found growing throughout the world (though extremely rare to find in the wild). It is known as the Mannentake or ‘10,000-year mushroom’ in Japanese thanks to it’s powerful medicinal and life-promoting properties.
Traditionally associated with royalty, sexual health, prowess, longevity, wisdom and happiness the Reishi mushroom continues to revered as a miracle tonic elixir world-wide and alongside Ginseng, is considered one of the most valued medicinal foods in Chinese medicine, earning it’s stripes as a true ‘super-food’.
Scientifically proven to have strong anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and immune supporting qualities, the Reishi mushroom also boasts the ability to increase focus and mental clarity, and up until the 20th Century, was reserved exclusively for consumption by kings, nobles and priests, hence it’s aptly earned the nickname, “the king of mushrooms”.
Due to the dry and woody texture and bitter taste of Reishi Mushrooms, they are solely used as a medicinal mushroom which we sell in whole, powdered or capsulated form. Reishi mushrooms are often brewed into a tea and drank.
Grown on sterilised and supplemented untreated hardwood sawdust. It takes us 3-4 months to grow our Reishi Mushrooms.