REISHI MUSHROOM (Ganoderma lucidum)

Latin: Ganoderma lucidum
Chinese: Ling zhi
English: Spirit plant

WHAT IT DOES: The fruiting body of reishi mushroom is sweet in taste and neutral to slightly warming in action.  It calms the spirit, soothes nerve irritation; strengthens immunity; slows aging; strengthens the heart, lungs and liver; and relaxes spasms.


SAFETY ISSUES: None known.

• Syrup: four to six milliliters (ml) per day
• 1:5 tincture: 10 milliliters (ml) three times per day
• Concentrated 5:1 tablet: 500 mg two to three times per day
• Dried powder: three to 15 grams per day

The once extremely rare and precious reishi mushroom is now cultivated and widely available.  It is a very potent immune system and longevity tonic.  Traditionally used to “nourish the heart and pacify the spirit” it has also been found to have numerous other health benefits.  At our clinic we use several mushrooms to strengthen the immune system to prevent cancer and support cancer treatment, including the royal agaricus mushroom and chaga mushroom.  Note that the fruiting body contains more useful healing compounds than the mycelium.

Each mushroom has its own unique energy that gives us clues about when to use it clinically.  Reishi is the most calming of the medicinal mushrooms, so I use it when there is immune deficiency with signs of nerve (Vata) weakness, irritation and anxiety.  It can be also be used in formulas for insomnia and general nervousness/anxiety.  According to medicinal mushroom expert Terry Willard, PhD, it combines well with maitake mushroom.

Scientific research reveals that Reishi calms the central nervous system, and exerts a blood-pressure lowering effect beneficial to the heart (Lee et al., 1990).  It is now employed in China for treatment of autoimmune diseases, and to calm hypersensitivity (reported in Huang, 1999).  Like many other medicinal mushrooms, reishi mushroom can be used to treat cancer patients due to its ability to activate NK cells, macrophages, T lymphocytes, and cytokines, all important immune system components (Wang et al., 1997).  Kee Chang Huang reports that reishi “exerts a synergistic effect with other anticancer chemotherapeutic agents or radiotherapy, to augment the clinical therapeutic effect in the treatment of cancer patients” (1999).  However, use of herbs in cancer should be put into proper perspective.

Research Highlights

• Reishi has been shown in several studies to lower cholesterol levels, helping to prevent atherosclerotic changes in the blood vessel walls (reported in Huang, 1999).

• Clinical studies on over 2000 patients in China have shown a very high (60-90%) effectiveness in the treatment of chronic bronchitis (reported in Huang, 1999; Tasaka et al., 1988).