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Reishi Mushroom: Benefits, Side Effects, And Usage Guide
Jan 21, 22
Tags: Reishi
This article has been vetted by the Onnit Advisory Board. Read more about our editorial process.
Author: Sony Sherpa

Reishi Mushroom: Benefits, Side Effects, And Usage Guide

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reishi, also known as lingzhi mushroom, is the king of superfood mushrooms. This reddish-orange fan-shaped fungus has been used in Asian countries for many years for its medicinal and health benefits. 

The reishi mushroom grows on the base of deciduous trees and can be consumed fresh. However, the bitter taste can be off-putting for many people looking to take advantage of reishi mushroom benefits. 

Supplements are a popular alternative for those who want to reap the reishi mushrooms benefits. This article will explain Reishi mushroom benefits and Reishi mushroom side effects. If you are keen to take advantage of reishi benefits, you may want to consume it daily—this detailed guide will help you determine whether this is a good idea. 

What Are Reishi Mushrooms?

For people who haven't used red reishi before, the question "what is reishi mushroom?" is very common. This question is often asked even before people understand what is reishi mushroom good for. 

Mushroom reishi, nicknamed rishi mushroom and also known as Ganoderma lucidum in the botanical community, is a medicinal fungus with a glossy dark exterior and woody texture. Native to the hot and humid parts of the Asian continent, Reishi is called mannentake in the Japanese language. 

Reishi, rightly nicknamed as the “herb of spiritual potency,” has paramount nutritional value. It contains a host of bioactive molecules that is responsible for the numerous reishi health benefits. 

Reishi mushrooms are available in the form of dietary supplements, tea, and powder. However, irrespective of whether you use reishi mushroom extract or other types of products, you will always end up getting the same benefits of reishi. 

Health Benefits Of Reishi Mushrooms

As noted earlier, reshi benefits are numerous. Reishi extract can produce positive results in a wide range of health problems. Some of the most popular reishi mushroom health benefits include fighting the following health problems: 

  • High high cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Stronger immune system
  • Fatigue
  • Flu symptoms 
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

1. Helps Kill Cancer Cells

    Among the most known benefits of reishi mushroom is its ability to fight cancer cells. The immune-enhancing property of the Reishi is responsible for its anti-cancer benefits(1). The polysaccharides, ganopoly, and beta-d-glucan stimulate the immune system whereas triterpenoids inhibit the growth and invasion of cancer cells. When the fungus is used regularly, researchers have shown that the cancer benefits of reishi mushrooms can create a very positive impact on the health of people suffering from different types of cancers. 

    A 2004 study(2) tested the anti-cancer properties of the various medicinal superfood mushrooms. Reishi demonstrated the highest  ability to kill cancer cells . The reishi mushrooms benefits on cancer are brought about by the ability of the fungus to put a brake on cell division and induce death (apoptosis) in tumor cells. These anti-tumor benefits reishi mushroom effects were seen in(3) cancers of the lung, soft tissues, liver, white blood cells, breast, ovary, colon, and bladder.

    Another one of mushroom reishi benefits when it comes to dealing with cancerous cells is that the fungus blocks the formation of new blood vessels that provide nutrition to the tumor cells. In a study of prostate cancer(4), Reishi vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and transforming growth factor-beta (TFG-B) were observed. These two factors are primarily involved in making new blood vessels in cancers.

    Research—Clinical trials to be more specific—have been carried out to demonstrate the benefits of the red reishi mushroom in patients with advanced cancer. 65% of cancer patients reported an increase in their quality of life(5). This shows that the reishi mushroom benefit on cancer plays a key role in improving the quality of life among people with cancerous cells in their bodies. 

    2. Protects Against Stomach And Liver Injuries

    Appearing on the major reishi mushroom benefits list, the reishi's ability to fight against stomach and liver injuries is revered in the medicine industry. Information from Animal studies(6) has shown that reishi mushroom extract has a potent protective effect on the liver and stomach.

    The extract of the red reshi mushroom protected the liver from damage caused by carbon tetrachloride. In the study(7), hepatic markers for liver injury (aspartate and alanine transaminases) were measured. The biochemical markers remained normal even after the administration of hepatotoxic substances. Many other studies have also demonstrated(8) the protective effect of the Reishi mushroom on chemical-induced hepatic injuries.

    Reishi mushroom supplement is also beneficial in acetic acid-induced gastric injuries. The red reishi mushrooms accelerated the healing of gastric ulcers by 40-56%. Orally administered polysaccharide fraction of Reishi mushroom restored(9) the gastric mucus and prostaglandin levels in mouse models.

    3. Alleviates Symptoms Of Asthma

    Rishi mushrooms have been shown to have a major benefit in the prevention of Asthma. One of the well-known reishi mushroom benifits, the fungus is capable of alleviating the symptoms of Asthma and preventing Asthma attacks. 

    Chronic inflammation of the airways is one of the factors leading to the development of asthma. Allergic substances are also known to trigger asthma causing obstruction of the airways and difficulty in breathing.

    Ganoderma mushroom is a powerful medicinal mushroom that exhibits both anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties(10). Several studies have also documented the role of Reishi in alleviating the symptoms of asthma.

    A herbal formula containing 62.5% of lingzhi mushroom was found to be safe and well-tolerated(11) in adults with asthma. The Ganoderma lucidum benefits for asthma aid in improving oxygen utilization thus strengthening respiratory functions in people with asthma. The reishi benefit for asthma was also found to be equally effective(12) as systemic steroids in controlling asthma.

    4. Combats Oxidant Injury

    The antioxidant benefits of reishi extract, attributed to polysaccharides and triterpenoids, help prevent chronic diseases and cancer. Oxidant injury leads to an increased risk of mutation which ultimately causes cancer. Antioxidants also protect the cells of the immune system. This means that one of the benefits reishi mushroom provides is boosting the overall immunity in the consumer's body.

    The cells in our body can be damaged by many harmful oxygen-derived free radical molecules like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme that breaks down these oxygen-derived free radicals so that they can no longer damage the cells. 

    Polysaccharides of Reishi mushrooms have been shown to mimic(13) the function of SOD. The hot water extract of the mushroom also had protective actions(14) against the DNA-damaging effects of H2O2.

    To prove the red reishi benefits in combating oxidant injury, a double-blinded placebo-controlled study(15) investigated the effect of lingzhi mushroom supplements. A 4-week supplementation of the reshi mushrooms was given to patients. 

    They were assessed for the risk of coronary heart disease, DNA damage, inflammation, liver and renal toxicity along with immune and antioxidant status. The coronary heart disease biomarker profile improved after 10 days because of the health benefits of reishi mushroom. The follow-up study showed no evidence of renal, liver, or DNA toxicity with the intake of the mushroom.

    5. Fights Infections

    One of the most vital rishi mushroom benefits is its ability to wade off infections. Reishi mishroom polysaccharides inhibit the replication of many pathogenic viruses(16) like Herpes Simplex Virus (Type 1 and 2), Hepatitis B virus, Influenza A, and vesicular stomatitis virus. Inhibitory effects on HIV(17)  and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) have also been reported with the triterpenoids of Reishi mushrooms.  

    EBV is the cause of infectious mononucleosis, commonly known as the kissing disease. The mushroom also has anti-fungal properties. Which can be attributed to ganodermin protein in Reishi. All this suggests that reshi mushroom benefits are capable of keeping users safe from some of the most common health problems. 

    6. Helps Adapt To Stress And Promotes Mental Clarity

    Reishi mushrooms are a part of the adaptogen family of mushrooms. Adaptogen mushrooms can help the body to adapt and cope with stressful situations. They relax the mind, helping the body to process the stress. This means that consuming reishi mushroom capsules can reduce the risk of depression, which is usually caused by advanced stress. 

    Stress can negatively impact the immune system.  Reishi mushroom powders contain an adaptogenic herb called Ashwagandha. The root of this herb is long known to help balance bodily functions

    The reishi supplement also plays a role in calming(18) the frazzled nerves and overactive mind. Lingzhi mushroom also reduces(19) body ache, pain, and mental irritability.

    Stress triggers the release of steroid hormones from the adrenals into the circulation. These hormones maintain and restore stress-related body homeostasis. Reishi supplement has been shown to improve the function of adrenal glands, helping the body to adapt to stress.

    Incorporating reshi mushroom, its powder, or supplements in your daily life willpromote restful sleep . A relaxed and rested mind can cope with stressful situations and anxiety. So if you are experiencing burnout, financial strains, and employment instability, consider taking Reishi mushroom.

    7. Lowers Blood Sugar In Diabetes

    One of the lesser-known reishi tincture benefits is that the fungus can fight diabetes. The polysaccharides isolated from the fruiting body of mushrooms have been shown to have a blood sugar lowering effect. 

    The mushroom exhibited a significant hypoglycemic effect(20) on diabetes-induced mice. Reishi lowered the blood sugar levels by up to 50%. and the hypoglycemic effect persisted for 24 hours. There was also an increase in the plasma insulin levels which is a key hormone in lowering blood sugar. 

    Adult individuals with type 2 diabetes were given polysaccharide supplements of the mushroom. This study(21) was carried out on 71 patients who were either given the mushroom extract or placebo for 12 weeks. At the end of the study period, plasma glucose levels and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) were measured, both of which measure the amount of glucose in your blood. There was a significant decrease in both values, indicating the hypoglycemic effect of Reishi. 

    If you are currently suffering from diabetes, the results generated by the research studies described above show that reishi tea benefits could help you balance your blood sugar levels. The red reishi mushroom benefits could easily improve your quality of life by functioning as a treatment for diabetes. 

    8. Has A Role In Heart Health

    One of the main reishi mushroom uses is in the treatment of heart conditions. The benefits of reishi mushroom products include regulating compounds that tend to affect the overall health of the heart. If you think you might be at the risk of heart disease—due to genetics or other underlying conditions—taking advantage of reishi mushroom tea benefits could protect your heart. 

    Triterpenes and beta-glucans derived from Reishi mushroom reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and total cholesterol. The reishi mushroom pills also can reduce blood pressure levels through their angiotensin-converting enzyme-like effect. 

    There is also a reduction in platelet aggregation(22) and inhibition of synthesis of cholesterol associated with the mushroom.

    Another randomized double-blind trial designed to investigate the reishi mushroom powder benefits on the heart reported(23) no significant changes in blood pressure, glycemic index, white blood cell numbers cortisol levels, body mass index-(BMI), and, antioxidant capacity. Therefore, additional studies are required to establish the benefits of the Reishi mushroom in heart health.

    9. Boosts The Immune System

    A vital benefit of reishi mushroom, the fungus improves the body's ability to fight off health problems. Reishi mushroom boosts immune surveillance in the body. This is a monitoring process by cells of the immune system. Immune surveillance detects and destroys foreign particles, infected cells, and cells that are being transformed into cancer.

    The red reishi mushroom capsules also enhance(24) the proliferation and maturation of key cells of the immune system including T and B lymphocytes, Natural Killer cells, dendritic cells, and cells of the spleen. They are also found to alter(25) the pathways of inflammation in white blood cells.

    What Are Some Reishi Side Effects?

    What Are Some Reishi Side Effects?

    Now that we have answered the question "what does reishi mushroom do?", you may want to know about the reishi mushroom side effects. Although Reishi mushroom is power-packed with many health benefits, it is not without side effects. 

    The good news, however, is that it is possible to enjoy the reishi powder benefits without having to worry about reishi side effects. The only thing you have to do to enjoy maximum mushroom powder benefits while enjoying maximum safety is using theright reishi dosage

    Always consult your healthcare provider before starting reishi mushroom powder or any other fungal supplement. It is also wise to inform them of existing medical conditions and current medications.

    These mushrooms should not be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women. This means that if you are currently carrying a baby in your womb and are wondering what is reishi good for, this may not be the right question to ask. Pregnant women are advised to wait until they have their bouncing baby boy or baby girl before they can enjoy the reishi mushroom extract benefits.

    The extract of the mushroom is possibly safe for use for up to a year. The powdered form of the mushroom is possibly safe for use for up to 16 weeks. 

    Now that you are familiar with what are reishi mushrooms good for, we will go ahead and look at some of the major side effects associated with this fungus. The side effects of Reishi mushroom are:

    • Rashes and skin sensitivity
    • Nausea
    • Insomnia
    • Itching
    • Dizziness
    • Changes in bowels (diarrhea or constipation)
    • Blood in stool
    • Nosebleed
    • Liver injury
    • Respiratory allergy
    • Dry mouth
    • Stomach upset
    • May significantly lower the blood pressure
    • May significantly lower the blood sugar levels
    • Increases the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders

    It is worth noting that while reishi mushroom uses benefits are numerous, even a single reishi mushroom side effect could make your life very uncomfortable. Therefore, when researching what do reishi mushrooms do or what are the benefits of reishi mushroom, be sure to talk to your doctor so that he/she can look at your medical history and show you how to use reishi mushroom the right way. 

    How Can The Mushroom Be Used?

    There are several ways to enjoy the reishi mushroom effects. To enjoy the reishi immune support, you can start taking the mushroom raw. However, for you to enjoy reishe mushrooms or reiki mushroom raw, you will need to be brave enough to tolerate its bitter taste. If you are wondering are reishi mushrooms edible, you should know that eating the mushroom raw is safe, as long as you do not go too overboard with your dosage. 

    Another way to find out the answer to the question "what does reishi mushroom do for you?" is to enjoy the benefits of reishi tea. The fruiting body of Reishi can be used to make soups or tea. The liquid obtained from simmering the mushroom can also be mixed with honey or fruit juice.

    For those who cannot enjoy the raw mushroom, the Reishi supplement is available in the form of powders and extracts. Reishi mushroom powder benefits and reishi liquid extract benefits are just the same as raw mushrooms. This means that taking advantage of the benefits of reishi mushroom powder will generate the same effects as those of someone enjoying reishi spores benefits.

    The powders can be put into capsules to make the red reishi mushroom pills--this creates an easy way for you to enjoy the health benefits of reishi mushroom powder every day. Reishi powder benefits or the benefits of red reishi mushroom can also be enjoyed when the ground reishi mushroom is added to smoothies or drinks.

    It is also worth noting that you can enjoy the reishi mushroom benefits by using tinctures. The reishi mushroom tincture benefits can be taken advantage of by simply dripping a couple of drops under your tongue. 

    A good time to take the mushroom is in the evening or during dinner. Taking Reishi mushroom closer to bedtime will be beneficial for sleep due to its calming and mildly sedative effect.

    How Long Does It Take For Reishi Mushroom To Work?

    Reishi mushrooms are superfood fungi. Once you start taking the mushroom, they take time to settle and build in your system. The body requires a certain time to adjust to the new reishi mushroom supplements. 

    The reishi mushroom supplement benefits may take weeks or even months to show up in your system. This means that it may be a while before you can start seeing the mushroom's ability to fight infections and generate positive health results. 

    Do not get discouraged if you don’t experience the benefits sooner. Do not increase or exceed the daily dose recommended to you by your healthcare provider. You need to exercise patience to experience the many amazing benefits of Reishi.

    Final Thoughts

    Traditionally known as the mushroom of immortality, red Reishi mushroom benefits are valuable for long-term vitality. Reishi mushroom benefits include improving immune functions, strengthening respiratory function and structure, helping ease fatigue and stress, fighting cancer cells, and improving heart health. 

    However, even with so many benefits, it is not without some side effects. Nausea, allergy, bleeding tendencies, dry mouth, and altered bowel habits are some of Reishi mushroom side effects. It is advised that you consult your healthcare provider before starting the mushroom supplement. With a go-ahead from your doctor, you can enjoy the many Reishi mushroom health benefits.

    References

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