Reishi Mushroom Overview
Reishi has been used as a medicinal mushroom in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Today, scientists study reishi for its ability to help support immunity, soothe inflammation and fight stress. Reishi is also called ganoderma mushroom, youngzhi, munnertake, and lingzhi. The adaptogenic mushroom is known to help the mind and body deal with stress better. Ganoderma lucidum, the optimal species of reishi, offers high concentrations of polysaccharides, triterpenoids, antioxidants, fatty acids, sterols, nucleotides, and proteins/peptides.
We highlight the main benefits of reishi mushroom, scientific studies and guidance from a registered dietitian.
Health Benefits of Reishi Mushroom
Reishi contains over 400 bioactive properties, making it one of the most powerful medicinal mushrooms on earth. It is rich with potent polysaccharides and triterpenes. Reishi is heavily supported by modern science and has become of of the most popular gifts from the fungi kingdom. Let’s dive into some fascinating studies about the benefits of reishi.
132 participants suffering from neurasthenia, a condition that causes headaches and fatigue due to emotional disturbances, were split into two groups. Half of them received reishi (ganoderma lucidum) and the others were given a placebo. Those who took reishi reported a significant decrease in symptoms versus the placebo group. This demonstrates that reishi has the potential to alleviate issues associated with anxiousness and emotional challenges.
Reishi has been used as an immune enhancer for thousands of years. Today, modern science is demonstrating reishi’s great potential. The most commonly reported protective agent that stimulates immune function is beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that activates immune cells, T cells, natural killer cells, and cytokines that may combat tumor cells.
Reishi, specifically ganoderma lucidum, has shown potential to suppress inflammatory and allergic responses. More than 50 million people in America suffer from allergies. Allergies are a symptom of inflammation, as is the case with most chronic conditions.
Reishi has been shown in animal models to be a safe and effective adjunct therapy for sleep. Although the research is still preliminary, reishi is widely considered one of the best mushrooms for sleep.
Reishi for Cancer Research
In one study, reishi showed defensive capabilities against lung cancer patient lymphocyte suppression.
Meta‐analysis results demonstrated that "patients who had been given G. lucidum alongside with chemo/radiotherapy were more likely to respond positively compared to chemo/radiotherapy alone."
The analysis also reports "Four studies showed that patients in the G. lucidum group had relatively improved quality of life in comparison to controls."
Lingzhi - The Divine Fungus
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) prescribed reishi for thousands of years before clinical research started toting its health benefits. Lingzhi, the Chinese name for reishi, translates to “spiritual plant” or “divine fungus.” It is also known as a “three treasure” herb that balances jing (life force), qi (energy) and shen (spirit). Historically, lingzhi was hard to find in the wild and only available for royalty and extremely wealthy people.
Reishi has a tough texture and bitter taste. That's why it is commonly turned into reishi powder or tincture. We wrote a comprehensive guide on where to buy reishi mushroom supplements with the recommended dosage and additional details, but here are the main takeaways:
- Ensure that the beta-glucan concentration is specified. Beta-glucans are the compounds in mushrooms that are frequently mentioned in scientific literature for their benefits.
- There are believed to be over 2000 species of reishi. Ganoderma lucidum is the one you want that's backed by science.
- Dual-extracted mushroom supplements capture both polar (polysaccharides) and non-polar (triterpenoids) molecules for maximum effects. Make sure that the reishi mushrooms you're taking went through a dual-extraction process.
Dietitan View on Reishi
“Reishi is an antioxidant rich food with unique bioactive compounds. The benefits of reishi are well-established in scientific literature. It’s truly one of the most important and potent gifts from the fungi kingdom,” says Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition.
Citations with links to scientific research for all of the benefits and studies mentioned in this article: Reishi Studies