Reishi mushroom

Dr.Abhay Kumar Pati, Author, Best Nutrition Inc USA,,,

Reishi mushroom/Lingzhi mushroom commonly known as mushroom of immortaillity, is a species complex that encompasses several closely related fungal species of the genus Ganoderma like Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma tsugae and Ganoderma sichuanense. G. sichuanense etc. are used as medicinal mushrooms in TCM for more than 2,000 years. An amazing fact is that Lingzhi is also listed in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium.

Types- Only six kinds of Reishi have been studied elaborately to uncover potential health benefits – red, black, blue, white, yellow and purple Reishi. Out of these notably significant health enhancing effects have been demonstrated by red and black reishi out of which red one possesses superior immunomodulating properties due to its higher polysaccharide content.

Parts used – The fruiting body (above-ground part) and mycelium (filaments connecting a group of mushrooms) are used as medicine.

Other  popular common names:

Basidiomycetes Mushroom,  Champignon Reishi, Champignons Reishi, Ganoderma, Ganoderma lucidum, Hongo Reishi, Ling Chih, Ling Zhi, Mannentake, Mushroom, Mushroom of Immortality, Mushroom of Spiritual Potency, Red Reishi, Reishi, Reishi Antler Mushroom, Reishi Rouge, Rei-Shi, Spirit Plant.

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Reishi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years for treating fatigue, asthma, cough, liver ailments and to promote longevity and well-being. 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.

 What are the active ingredients?

Water-soluble polysaccharides mainly β-glucans are one of the active ingredients found in Red Reishi. Another active ingredients are closely related lanostane triterpenoids known as ganoderic acids (A, B, C and D) in Reishi. The remarkable potentials of water soluble polysaccharides  are of  anti-tumor, immune modulating and anti-hypertensive effects . The triterpenes have anti-allergic potential  by inhibiting histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions.

The key active constituents :

Beta, hetero-β-glucans and polysaccharide peptides-Peptidoglycans (antitumor, immunostimulating)

Ling Zhi-8 protein (anti-allergenic, immuno-modulating)

Ganoderic acids – lanostane triterpenoids (anti-allergenic agents, cholesterol and blood pressure reducing, carcinostatic effect)

It also contains other compounds such as polysaccharides (such as β-glucan), coumarin, mannitol, steroids, lectines and nucleosides/nucleotides.

Medical uses

Anti-allergic activity: Studies showed that Reishi extract significantly inhibited all four types of allergic reactions including positive effects against asthma and contact dermatitis.

Anti-Inflammatory Activity- Reishi extract is considerably used in treating stiff necks, stiff shoulders, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the fine membrane lining the eye and eyelids), bronchitis, rheumatism and improving “competence” of the immune system without any significant side-effects

Anticonvulsant effects: An aqueous  extract from Reishi mycelium significantly reduces convulsion  and psychomotor seizures in mice.

Diabetes: Several compounds in G. lucidum (including polysaccharides, proteoglycans, proteins and triterpenoids) may have hypoglycemic effects. In vitro evidence suggests that protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B is a promising therapeutic target in diabetes, and a G. lucidum proteoglycan can inhibit this enzyme. Secondly, G. lucidum demonstrates inhibition of aldose reductase and α-glucosidase, which can suppress postprandial hyperglycemia.  A novel characterized proteoglycan named FYGL-n and related polysaccharides Ganoderan B and C enhanced insulin secretion and decreasing hepatic glucose output (along with increased adipose and skeletal muscle glucose disposal) and normalized serum lipids in a murine model of diabetes

Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Previous clinical evidence suggested that G. lucidum may have antioxidant, cardio protective and glycemic regulatory potency.

Cancer: The use of G. lucidum has also been explored as a complementary adjunct treatment in patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. A recent meta-analysis of five randomized control trials exhibited  that patients recovered more positively when given G. lucidum alongside their chemotherapy regimen, and the studies also  exhibited that patients had improved immune functions that was measured by their elevated levels of immune response cell. This seemingly broad and non-specific anti-cancer mechanism of action is not limited to one bioactive molecule. Triterpenoids (Ganoderic acids and alcohols, as well as Lucidenic acids) polysaccharides (regular, and selenium containing ones) and peptidoglycans have all been implicated for their anticancer properties.

Gastrointestinal Health: Recent murine studies suggest that G. lucidum may positively impact gut microflora to attenuate metabolic risk factors contributing to obesity

Hepatoprotection: G. lucidum significantly decreased serum ALT and AST levels in mice livers injured with α-amanitin. G. lucidum extracts has also been demonstrated to possess significant liver protective activity against several hepatotoxic agents like Galactoseamine, Benzopyrene and CCl4 induced liver toxicity studies.

Immunostimulation: G. lucidum contains beta glucans and other polysaccharides to stimulate innate immune function and signaling and activate dendritic cells.

Neuroprotection: G. lucidum protected dopaminergic neurons through inhibition of microglia.


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