Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
What is Reishi Mushroom?
The reishi mushroom is a purplish-brown fungus with a long stalk, brown spores, and a fan-shaped cap with a shiny, varnish-coated appearance. Reishi grows on decaying wood or tree stumps, preferring the Japanese plum tree but also found on oak. The mushroom is native to China, Japan, and North America but is cultivated throughout other Asian countries. Cultivation of reishi is a long, complicated process. The reishi grows in 6 colors, each thought to have different characteristics and known as: Aoshiba (blue reishi), Akashiba (red reishi), Kishiba (yellow reishi), Shiroshiba (white reishi), Kuroshiba (black reishi), and Murasakishiba (purple reishi).
Ganoderma lucidum (Leysser ex Fr.) Karst. Family: Polyporaceae.
Reishi, ling chih, lingzhi (ling zhi), "spirit plant," Ganopoly
What is it used for?
Reishi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years for treating fatigue, asthma, cough, and liver ailments, and to promote longevity. The Chinese name lingzhi means "herb of spiritual potency." A Japanese name for the reishi is mannentake, meaning "10,000-year-old mushroom." Reishi's use is documented in the oldest Chinese medical text, which is more than 2,000 years old. Cultivation of reishi began in the 1980s. A survey conducted in Hong Kong found G. lucidum to be the third most common herbal preparation taken by preoperative surgical patients.
The polysaccharide content of reishi mushroom is responsible for possible anticancer and immunostimulatory effects. Reishi may also provide hepatoprotective action, antiviral activity, and beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and diabetes. Few clinical trials have been conducted.
What is the recommended dosage?
The Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China recommends 6 to 12 g reishi extract daily. Ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) in doses up to 5.4 g daily (equivalent to 81 g of the fruiting body) for 12 weeks has been used in a few clinical trials.
Contraindications have not yet been identified.
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Adverse reactions are mild and may include dizziness, GI upset, and skin irritation.
There are few reports of toxicity with the use of reishi mushroom.