Top 10 Reishi Mushroom Benefits and Side Effects

Posted by Blair Kovacs on

The Mushroom of Immortality

The Reishi mushroom ganoderma lucidum lingzhi has been mentioned in Chinese texts from the Han dynasty, about 2,000 years ago. It has also been depicted in ancient paintings, carvings, and pieces of furniture.  Used as traditional chinese medicine for thousands of years giving it the distinction of having the oldest written record of any other medicinal mushroom

reishi mushrooms on log

Reishi has been used since ancient times in a variety of cultures.  Revered by Eastern medicine as the "queen of mushrooms."

Many believed reishi mushrooms prolonged life and prevented aging. However, because of how difficult it was to find and harvest in the wild, it was quite expensive. Pharaohs, nobles, and Chinese royalty were typically the only ones who could afford it.

The traditional Chinese texts described reishi as having therapeutic, anti-aging, and tonifying effects. It was also believed to have the ability to strengthen heart function, increase energy, and boost memory capability.

Here is a comprehensive guide on the health benefits of this amazing medicinal fungi.

What Are Reishi Mushrooms?

Ganoderma Lucidum are medicinal fungi fruit bodies that typically only grow in hot, humid locations within Asia. It has many long term benefits and few side effects, leading to its rising global popularity and commercial cultivation.

Over 400 different compounds can be found in reishi mushroom, including:

  • Triterpenoids
  • Polysaccharides
  • Nucleotides
  • Sterols
  • Steroids
  • Fatty acids
  • Proteins
  • Peptides

There are over 2,000 varieties of reishi but traditional Chinese texts referred to only six colors. 

Red Reishi

Red is the most well-known variety of reishi mushroom and is generally considered the most potent. Purple reishi, which is often referred to as black in modern times, is genetically similar to red. However, it has a more delicate taste and is effective at immune support.

Other colors include blue, black, yellow and white. These are actually not Reishi but look similar and may have lesser amounts of medicinal properties.

  • Blue reishi is known as Turkey Tail
  • Black reishi is known as Jiǎzī
  • Yellow reishi is "chicken of the woods."
  • White reishi is known Agarikon

Reishi Mushroom Benefits

Many medicinal mushrooms only have a limited amount of scientific research done on them. This makes it difficult to fully measure the effects they have on the human body.

The rich history of use combined with modern studies, provides a strong case for the medicinal benefits of the mushroom.

Depending on what you plan to use reishi for, the effectiveness of it may vary. Multiple studies support the Mushroom Benefits to:

  • Boost the immune system
  • Fight cancer
  • Increase mental wellness
  • Help with alzheimer's disease
  • Decrease fatigue

Some of the other potential benefits may need more research. These potential medicinal properties have either not been extensively studied on humans, or there is conflicting evidence regarding them.

Top 10 Reishi Mushroom Benefits

Red reishi are considered to be the most potent out of all the color variants. This is because of higher levels of ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides.

Potential reishi benefits:

  • Supports the immune system
  • Help to detox
  • Preventing, slowing the spread of, and treating cancer
  • Regulating the symptoms of various conditions
  • Improving the health and functioning of various organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys
  • Improving mental wellness and decreasing fatigue
  • Supports gut health

The mushroom also has high nutritional value, being low calorie and high protein. It contains a high amount of fiber, amino acids, and a high proportion of healthy fatty acids.

1. Boost the Immune System

The mushroom may affect the genes in white blood cells and alter their inflammation pathways. 

The mushroom contains triterpenoids, proteins, and beta-glucans. These three compounds support immune function and can help increase the reproduction and activation of immune cells.

This includes natural killer cells, a specific type of white blood cell that fights infections and cancer cells. It can also potentially increase the number of lymphocytes in those who have colorectal cancer. 

The beta-glucans inside may stimulate and enhance the immune system. This potentially prevents infections and helps with those with HIV and other conditions.

2. Fight Against Cancer

It is not only through boosting natural killer cells and lymphocytes that the mushroom benefits cancer patients.  

The mushroom contains polysaccharides, which is an anticancer agent. It is also the only known natural source of ganoderic acid, which:

The mushroom may also suppress the spread of aggressive breast and prostate cancer cells.

When used in combination with traditional cancer treatments, the mushroom helps to fight cancer and improve a patients' quality of life. 

It can suppress tumor growth without causing bone marrow suppression or toxicity in organs, such as the liver or kidney. It is also possible that it can help reduce nausea caused by chemo therapy and improve cancer treatment effectiveness.

In a study of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors, 59% consumed the mushroom. The mushroom may lead to the death of cancer cells and decrease the number and size of tumors.

It is possible that the beta-glucans in the mushroom prevent new blood vessel growth. Thus, cutting off the blood supply to cancer cells. The mushroom also contains triterpenes, potentially decreasing the development and metastasis of tumors.

It can help regulate immune cytokine levels, which are associated with the survival, growth, and progression of cancer cells. By regulating cytokine, the immune system's antitumor activity may increase.

3. Improve Gut Health

The polysaccharides present in the mushroom may have a prebiotic effect.

Prebiotics feed probiotics, which help support gut health.

beta glucans in mushrooms, benefits of beta glucans

4. Manage Fatigue, Stress and Depression

The mushrooms is an adaptogen, a type of plant that help combat stress by stabilizing and maintaining balance within the body.

This means it can potentially support the endocrine and immune systems to help relieve stress and decrease feelings of unrest. It may also increase cerebral blood flow and potentially support brain function and stimulation.

Studies have found that taking mushroom supplements can reduce fatigue in about four to eight weeks, depending on the study.

5. Maintain Cholesterol Levels

The mushroom can potentially help manage cholesterol levels through triterpenoids.

Triterpenes, alongside beta-glucans, may lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and heighten "good" HDL cholesterol.

It can also help manage the inflammation that is associated with having a high cholesterol diet.

6. Helps to Detox

The mushroom contains antioxidants and can help the body to remove toxins and free radicals.

This helps prevent cell death or cell damage caused by free radicals. By protecting your cells, you can reduce your risk for disease and help prevent premature aging.

7. Lower Blood Pressure and Improve Heart Health

The mushroom benefits heart health by improving circulation, reducing inflammation and prevents clogged arteries and blood clotting.

It also can help lower blood pressure, benefiting those who suffer from hypertension. One study has shown that it's effectiveness may be comparable to certain medications that are commonly prescribed for high blood pressure.

The mushroom contains peptides that may help lower blood pressure.

8. Manage Allergies

The mushroom may regulate the release of histamines. This potentially produces an antihistamine effect without causing many of the side effects over the counter products tend to have.

This not only potentially helps alleviate allergy symptoms, but it also may improve the oxygen supply of the body. This is especially helpful for those who struggle with asthma or other breathing problems.

9. Manage Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that inhibits the body's ability to effectively maintain blood sugar levels.

ganoderma lucidum mushroom has the potential ability to inhibit the activity of a glucose production enzyme. By inhibiting this enzyme, it may lower a person's blood sugar.

The mushroom may also reduce kidney stress. This, combined with its potential ability to lower blood sugar levels, could prevent those with diabetes from having kidney problems.

10. Improve Liver Function

The mushroom may potentially:

  • Promote liver cell health
  • Improve liver function
  • Prevent liver disease

This improves the liver's overall health and allows it to better remove toxins from the body. By promoting cell growth, this amazing mushroom can also help the liver better manage blood sugar and reduce allergy symptoms.

Reishi Side Effects

The mushroom is generally considered safe to consume. 

In most cases, there have been little to no side effects caused by consuming the mushroom. These minor side effects typically include:

  • Digestive distress
  • Dry or itchy mouth
  • Itchy throat

It is recommended that certain people avoid consuming mushrooms, including those who:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Will be undergoing surgery as the mushroom may increase the risk of bleeding
  • Have low blood pressure or a blood disorder
  • Are taking medications, especially anticoagulants, anti platelet drugs, or high blood pressure prescriptions
  • has allergic reaction or are sensitive to mushrooms

They typically only have minor side effects, you should consult your healthcare provider before consuming the mushroom.

Recommended Dosages

Depending on the type and form being ingested, the recommended dose of reishi can vary. 

Typically, the highest doses are when a person consumes a whole mushroom is anywhere from 25 to 100 grams.

The mushroom is very hard and woody so it is recommended to steep in hot water to make a medicinal tea. It has a bitter flavor, so you may want to add sugar or a similar sweetener to taste.

The recommended dosage for reishi mushroom extract is about a tenth of the dosage of a whole mushroom. This can range from about 1.5 to 9 grams daily. When taking extract, be sure to follow the instructions provided on the label.

Where to Buy Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi Mushroom, Annanda Organics Reishi

Annanda Organics cultivates certified organic Ganoderma Lucidum in our facility year round in small batches. Our medicinal mushrooms are grown on natural substrate to produce the highest quality and potent Reishi Mushroom Tea and Reishi Extract.

Their benefits are recognized for their ability to support the immune system. It also produces compounds that are antitumor antibacterial and anti-viral. These compounds are immunostimulating and can even enhance natural killer cells ability to fight cancerous cell proliferation.

There are many health benefits including using reishi supplements mushroom for cancer treatment. It has been shown that reishi can boost immune responses, improve the health and functioning of various organs. Promote an anti inflammatory response, and so much more.

Even though the mushrooms does not typically produce side effects, one should seek medical advice from your healthcare provider before consuming any mushroom supplement.

Shop Annanda Organics for quality certified organic medicinal mushrooms.

Information outlined has not been rated by the food and drug administration.