Reishi is considered a longevity herb in Chinese medicine and has been in use in that tradition for more than four thousand years. In the Taoist tradition, Reishi is said to enhance spiritual receptivity, and it is used by monks to calm the spirit and mind. It is known to normalise blood pressure and blood sugar levels, lower levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol), and inhibit histamine release and blood platelet aggregation. It also activates the phagocytosis of macrophages and stimulates interferon production and activity, thereby supporting the immune system, and inhibits the activity of staphylococcus and streptococcus.
In Japan, reishi is known as the “phantom mushroom” because of the difficulty in finding it. Although over 99 percent of all wild reishi mushrooms are found growing on old Japanese plum trees, fewer than ten mushrooms will be located on 100,000 trees. The art of growing reishi indoors was perfected by Shigeaki Mori, who developed an elaborate, two-year-long method of culturing wild reishi spores on plum-tree sawdust. The fruiting body (cap and stem) of the mushroom is employed medicinally.
Reishi grows in six different colours, but the red variety is the most commonly used. It is now cultivated commercially in North America, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. In China, it is known as ling zhi.
Anti-tumour (animal studies). Hypotensive, antiviral, immunostimulant, antitussive, expectorant. Antihistamine. Antibacterial.
Adjunct therapy in cancer chemotherapy or radiotherapy; Chronic infections, chronic immune deficiency; To slow ageing, as a tonic for the elderly, convalescence; HIV/AIDS; Autoimmune disease Postviral syndromes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia
Liver Cirrhosis and Alcoholism.
Reishi, when fed to rats, helps protect liver cells from damage induced by carbon tetrachloride poisoning. It may be beneficial for people in earlier stages of alcoholic liver disease who have not yet experienced severe loss of liver function.
Reishi stimulates the maturation of immune cells known as macrophages, which engulf and digest infectious bacteria. This may prevent secondary infections from developing into cases of chronic bronchitis.
Reishi may be a useful agent to fight cancer. The most essential components of reishi are its triterpenes and polysaccharides, which inhibit tumour invasion by limiting metastases. Reishi can increase plasma antioxidant capacity and enhance the immune response in advanced-stage cancer patients. In one study, patients with advanced cancer in different tissues who took 1,800 milligrammes of oral Ganopoly (an extract of reishi) three times a day experienced an increase in T cells and of natural killer (NK) cells. Reishi may counteract the suppression of red and white blood cells that can result from cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) treatment by stimulating the creation of protein in the bone marrow. However, more work is needed to determine whether Reishi should be used for patients with cancer.
High Blood pressure.
There is evidence that reishi can lower both blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Scientists at Oklahoma’s Oral Roberts University found that compounds in reishi reduce the flow of nerve impulses through the sympathetic nervous system, the portion of the nervous system activated by emotional stress. Russian scientists screening mushrooms as potential cholesterol-lowering drugs have found that reishi extracts stop the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries of laboratory animals. Two controlled clinical studies have investigated the effects of reishi on high blood pressure in humans. Both found it could lower pressure significantly as compared with a placebo. The subjects with high blood pressure in the second study had not previously responded to medications.
Eastern physicians have recognised for centuries that reishi can reduce emotional outbursts during long-term stress. Exactly how reishi does this has not been studied, but it is likely due to the herb’s effects on the central nervous system. Additionally, doctors at the Hijitaki Clinic in Tokyo have found that reishi helped to decrease physical pain dramatically in two people with neuralgia and two other people with shingles (herpes zoster).
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Powder: 20,000 – 27,000mg (Decocted Tea)
• Ratio Extract: 1000 – 3,000mg (30% Polysaccharides)
Reishi should be avoided by people who have known allergies to other mushrooms or moulds. It should not be used continuously for more than three months at a time. If you take reishi on an ongoing basis, you should take a one-month break every three months, and then resume.
Interactions with other drugs
If you are taking blood-thinning medications such as heparin or warfarin (Coumadin), you should use reishi only under a doctor’s supervision. Do not use reishi with immunosuppressant drugs, antihypertensives, or chemotherapy.
Balch, P. A., & Bell, S. J. (2012). Prescription for herbal healing (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Avery.
- Bone, K. (2007). The ultimate herbal compendium: a desktop guide for herbal prescribers. Warwick, Qld.: Phytotherapy Press.
- Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
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