Botanical: Ganoderma lucidum
Family: Ganodermataceae/Basidiomycetes/Polyporaceae (button mushroom)
Other common names: Lucky Fungus, Ganoderma, Happy Fungus, Lingzhi, Ling Chi, Chaga, Mushroom of Immortality
Reishi Mushrooms have been revered in China for thousands of years as an almost magical fungus that was believed to not only prevent serious ailments, but also help seriously ill persons to recover from disease. Modern studies have shown remarkable medical potential for the use of Reishi Mushrooms in promoting healthy heart function and combating viral infections and other serious malignant diseases. It is considered a fine herbal antihistamine, and it appears that this tasty treat is fast becoming an important support that helps to regulate the immune system and encourage overall good health!
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
The Reishi Mushroom is called the "Phantom Mushroom" in Japan, because it is so rare and difficult to find. In China, the fungus grows on old tree trunks in the coastal areas, and in Japan (Ganoderma japonicum), over ninety-nine percent of all the Reishi Mushrooms found growing in the wild are located on old Japanese plum trees. Fewer than ten mushrooms will be found on 100,000 trees! Happily, the art of growing Reishi indoors was perfected in Japan by developing an elaborate, two-year-long method of culturing wild spores on plum tree sawdust. Because of the growing popularity of the Reishi Mushroom as a food and as a remarkable medicinal source, it is now cultivated commercially in North America, China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Reishi grows in six different colors, with the red variety most commonly used. The botanical specific, lucidum, is derived from the Latin word, meaning "shiny" or "brilliant," obviously referring to the shiny, varnished surface of the Reishi Mushroom's cap, which may be reddish-orange to black. The stalk is usually attached to the cap at the side, and the fruiting body of the Reishi Mushroom is utilized for medicinal purposes. For four thousand years, the Chinese and Japanese have used the Reishi Mushroom to treat liver disorders, hypertension, arthritis and other ailments. Reishi Mushrooms have been regarded in China as the "Medicine of Kings" and "Elixir of Life" and are still used to boost energy, help the body resist disease and stress and promote longevity. In the Orient, mushrooms (including Reishi) have been used for thousands of years to maintain health and preserve youth, and their healing qualities have been passed down through the centuries. Only recently, has the scientific community of the West begun to understand the enormous medical potential that may be derived from this fungus, and many studies are being conducted into the mushrooms' great health benefits. Some of the constituents in Reishi Mushrooms include lanostanoid triterpenes (including ganoderic acids, the free radical scavengers), lucidenic acids, coumarin, heteropolysaccharides, polysaccharides (including the powerful beta-1, 3-glucan and beta-1, 6-glucan), beta sitosterol, fungal lysozyme, proteinase, lipids, riboflavin, uridine, ascorbic acid, oleic acid, amino acids, sterols (ergosterol), acid protease, enzymes and mannitol.
Reishi Mushroom is used as an herbal tonic that will not only improve vitality, but it is also thought to strengthen internal organs and normalize bodily functions. It is considered an adaptogen, an herb that maintains health by increasing the body's ability to adapt to environmental and internal stress and generally work by strengthening the immune system, nervous system and/or glandular system. As such, it works to normalize bodily functions during stressful situations that might alter those functions, helping the body to adapt and return to an overall sense of well-being.
Reishi Mushroom is believed to be a powerful immune system stimulant that wards off many types of malignant diseases by enhancing the activity of key immune cells known as T-helper cells or CD4 cells. Japanese researchers say that a hardy system may be able to resist invasions and microbes that weaker host systems may not. It should also be mentioned that Reishi does not produce some of the negative effects associated with the use of antibiotics, which can often stop the invasion of microbes, but will further weaken the immune response after continued use and are also ineffectual in cases of viruses, pollens and malignant cells.
Reishi apparently does not simply stimulate the immune system, it helps to regulate it! If the immune system is excessive, as in the case of auto-immune diseases and allergies, Reishi can have a significant positive influence. If it is deficient, as in colds, flu, chronic fatigue syndrome or hepatitis, Reishi activates the immune response. Reishi Mushroom has shown particular efficacy against wasting and degenerative conditions, such as the effects associated with the AIDS virus in laboratory tests.
Many studies are being conducted with respect to the Reishi Mushroom, and it is said to stimulate the body's production of interferon and immune system chemicals, interleukin-1 and 2, which combat several types of serious health conditions, and the polysaccharides activate macrophages (immune cells are our first line of defense against intruders). They attack unhealthy cells but not healthy ones. Reishi contains compounds called ganoderic acids, which act against serious liver ailments. It is also believed to stimulate the creation of protein in bone marrow and counteract the suppression of red and white blood cells that can often result from cyclophosphamide treatments (Cytoxan and Neosar). Ongoing studies are being conducted in Korea, Japan and China that claim the remarkable polysaccharides, beta-1, 3-glucan and beta-1, 6-glucan, have demonstrated powerful antioxidant properties. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering information, extracts of Reishi in clinical studies have demonstrated the ability to stimulate macrophages and to alter the levels of TNF and interleukins, and Reishi can increase plasma antioxidant capacity and has been shown to enhance immune response in advance-stage cancer patients.
The polysaccharide-K (PSK), a specific glucan in Reishi, was shown to extend the survival time by five years or beyond for people with serious malignant diseases of the stomach, colon/rectum, esophagus, nasopharynx and lung. Polysaccharide-P (PSP) was shown to improve the quality of life, provide substantial relief and enhance the immune status in patients suffering from these conditions, and it is thought to be very compatible with chemotherapy and radiation. Animal studies have shown that Reishi extract may alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea.
Reishi Mushroom is thought to promote healthy heart function. For thousands of years, mushrooms have been used to lower blood pressure levels and relieve hypertension in the Orient. Today's research claims that it will promote and maintain both normal blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Russian scientists found that Reishi stops the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries of lab animals, and other evidence claims that Reishi thins the blood in a manner similar to aspirin by reducing agglutination of platelets (blood clotting). The adenosine in Reishi is thought to be responsible for the inhibition of platelet aggregation, and these actions appear to reduce the risks of heart attacks, hardening of the arteries and stroke.
Reishi Mushroom is said to relieve stress and neurasthenia (fatigue due to exhaustion of the nervous system). There has been no scientific proof of this, but it is said to have a self-protecting mechanism of the central nervous system. Research at Oral Roberts University found that compounds in Reishi reduce the flow of nerve impulses through the sympathetic nervous system, keeping down emotional stress, and may help to reduce emotional outbursts. Japanese scientists say it decreases the physical pain of neuralgia and shingles by enhancing muscle relaxation, and that action may also relieve insomnia, as well as post-herpetic neuralgia (nerve pain following a herpes infection).
Reishi Mushroom was used to treat liver disorders thousands of years ago. Today's research claims that it helps to inhibit alcohol-induced fatty liver and cirrhosis, which may be beneficial for people in the earlier stages of alcoholic liver debility, who have not yet experienced severe loss of liver function. It is also thought to protect the liver against chemical damage.
As an antiviral and antibiotic, Reishi appears to stimulate the maturation of immune cells into macrophages, which engulf and digest infectious bacteria. This can prevent secondary infections from developing (particularly effective in cases of chronic bronchitis). The macrophages are active against yeast infections and may improve conditions of viral hepatitis.
Reishi Mushroom has demonstrated excellent anti-allergenic properties, and studies claim that it inhibits the growth of histamine, a chemical that causes inflammation. It is also said to be good for people with asthma, contact dermatitis, conjunctivitis or colds.
Reishi has traditionally been used as an anti-ageing herb and has been said to promote a youthful, healthy glow. It is also believed to fight age-related intellectual decline and promote memory, sharpen and improve concentration and build willpower.
Research is so new that copious information about side effects is not available; therefore, pregnant and nursing women should not use Reishi Mushroom Herbal Supplement. There should be a time break if you take it on an ongoing basis (one month's break for every three months' use), and then resume. Taking Reishi for a long period of time has caused dizziness, dry mouth and throat, nose bleeds and upset stomach. Do not use Reishi if you take blood-thinning medication (Coumadin, etc.), unless under a doctor's supervision, and Reishi may enhance the effects of other medications.