This single mushroom may offer immune support, reduce stress and anxiety , be anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and much more. Read more about reishi mushroom to learn why it is traditionally called “The God of Fungi”.
Ganoderma lucidum /“Lingzhi” (soul/spirit) mushroom, commonly known as “Reishi mushroom”, is a potent fungus that has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Proponents claim it is especially good at modifying the immune system by increasing it when weakened, or lowering it when it is too active [ 1 ].
It has 400 different bioactive compounds reported to have a number of potential effects including modification of the immune system, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-diabetic, and anti-oxidative [ 1 ]. Proponents
May boost the immune system
May reduce inflammation and oxidative damage
May help fight cancer and infections
May protect the heart, liver, and kidneys
Insufficient evidence for all benefits
Sometimes tested as part of multiherbal complexes
Might over-activate the immune system
The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies and some animal and cell research. Although some results are promising, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of reishi mushroom for any of the below-listed uses. Remember to speak with a doctor before taking reishi supplements and never use them as a replacement for approved medical therapies.
Most people have heard about reishi for balancing immunity. Studies have identified high amounts of compounds that may strengthen the immune cells and improve general immune system health [ 2 ].
Two clinical trials on 75 people with advanced-stage cancer showed that both reishi mushroom extract and complex carbohydrates isolated from this fungus increased the counts of several immune cells (CD3+, CD4+, CD8 +, and CD56+) and the blood levels of several cytokines ( IL-2 , IL-6 , IFN-gamma ), but decreased IL-1 and TNF-alpha [ 3 , 4 ].
In a clinical trial on 40 male soccer players on a training program to improve endurance performance (‘living high-training low’), reishi mushroom helped correct the reduction in the CD4+/ CD8+ ratio caused by the training. The authors suggested this may help the players fight infections [ 5 ]. The Coronavirus pandemic is causing a lot of extra stress and anxiety, which can actually weaken your immune system and put you more at risk. Download the Stress Less guide to discover natural supplement and lifestyle recommendations designed to help you beat stress and improve your mood. Studies have shown that reishi may reduce inflammation in rheumatism, asthma, and pink eye without notable side effects [ 6 ].
Active compounds isolated from reishi mushroom worked as antioxidants in 2 clinical trials on 42 healthy people and 71 people with chest pain (angina) [ 7 , 8 ].
14 days of reishi increased anti-inflammatory/antioxidant markers and protected the blood from oxidative damage in mice. It decreased the levels of an oxidant (malondialdehyde) while increasing several antioxidant enzymes ( superoxide dismutase , glutathione peroxidase , glutathione S-transferase ) [ 9 ].
The extracts of reishi and other mushrooms showed anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity in cells. Among them, reishi was the most effective at inhibiting nitric oxide production in response to bacterial carbohydrates ( LPS ) [ 10 , 1 ].
Forty-eight breast cancer patients reported reduced anxiety and depression , as well as increased quality of life, when they received reishi spores along with their cancer treatment [ 11 ].
In a clinical trial on 132 people with neurasthenia, complex carbohydrates isolated from reishi mushroom improved fatigue and other symptoms and were well tolerated [ 12 ].
A commercial herbal formula with reishi mushroom and two herbs used in Chinese medicine (Chinese licorice and Sophora flavescens ) improved lung function (although less than prednisone ) in a clinical trial on 91 asthmatic people and a study in mice. The complex was well tolerated and caused no adverse effects in another trial on 20 people [ 13 , 14 , 15 ].
Studies revealed that compounds found in reishi effectively inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells, which may explain its benefits for asthma [ 16 , 17 , 18 ].
Below, we will discuss some preliminary research on the anticancer potential of reishi mushroom. Although the results are promising, further clinical trials are needed before establishing if this fungus and its compounds are useful in cancer therapy.
Do not under any circumstances attempt to replace conventional cancer therapies with reishi mushroom or any other supplements . If you want to use it as a supportive measure, talk to your doctor to avoid any unexpected interactions.
In a clinical trial on over 200 people with colorectal cancer, treatment with reishi mushroom extract reduced the number and size of tumors [ 19 ].
As previously mentioned, both reishi extract and a complex carbohydrate isolated from this mushroom enhanced immune responses in 2 trials on 75 people with advanced colorectal cancer, possibly helping them fight the disease [ 3 , 4 ].Similarly, a complex with citronellol and the extracts of reishi mushroom, dong quai , and dang shen ( Codonopsis pilosula ) increased immune cells in another trial on 105 cancer patients receiving chemo or radiotherapy [ 20 ].A genistein-rich extract obtained by culturing reishi mushroom with soybean extract didn’t reduce the blood levels of a prostate cancer marker (PSA) by over 50% in 52 men with a history of this disease, but 8 out of the 13 men in the active surveillance group had either no rise or a slight decline of this marker after the treatment. This extract prevented the formation of new blood vessels in colorectal cancer tumors in mice [ 21 , 22 ].Reishi spore powder decreased fatigue, anxiety, depression, and immune markers while improving the subjective well-being of 48 women with breast cancer [ 23 ].Treatment with reishi for 13 weeks reduced tumor growth and weight by roughly 50% in mice with breast cancer. Cell studies showed it inhibited the cancer-promoting mTOR pathway [ 24 ].In a cell-based study, the blood collected from patients with lung cancer suppressed the proliferation and […]