Reishi muschrooms, also known as lingzhi, are fungi, the properties of which have been known in Asia for more than 2 thousand years. In Far East medicine, reishi mushrooms are considered a drug for practically all diseases, including cancer. Some of these properties are confirmed by scientific studies. They prove that reishi mushrooms i.a. boost immunity and may support the fight with cancer. Check out the effects that reishi mushrooms can bring.
Reishi mushrooms (lat. Ganoderma lucidum) is a Japanese name of a kind of fungi, belonging to the family of Ganodermataceae. In the Land of the Rising Sun reishi are also known as mannentake. In China, in turn, they are called lingzhi, which means “Herb of Spiritual Potency”. In Asian countries, for more than 2 thousand years, health properties of reishi mushrooms have been used in natural medicine, but not only. Contemporary China have been considered reishi mushroom as a medicine for a long time. According to the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (i.e. the official formal list of drugs authorized for sale in China), lingzhi mushrooms enable to complement Qi (life energy), alleviate cough and asthma symptoms. Moreover, they are recommended for dizziness, insomnia, palpitations and dyspnea. Some people convince that reishi mushrooms also help in hypertension, high cholesterol level, cardiovascular diseases, liver and kidney diseases, respiratory system ailments (apart from asthma also pneumonia), chronic fatigue syndrome, stomach ulcers, viral infections (such as the flu), HIV/AIDS. Moreover, they alleviate pain which appears in shingles. However, most importantly – reishi mushrooms support cancer treatment.
There is some scientific evidence confirming the effectiveness of these fungi, however, they are mainly laboratory studies. Researchers are still studying their composition in order to better understand their health properties.
Reishi mushrooms boost immunity
As it results from the studies, beta-glucan, which appears in reishi mushrooms boosts the immune system by increasing the amount of macrophages and lymphocytes T. Therefore, we may take them in the state of lower immunity of the organism – as the Japanese professor Takashi Mizuno from the Shizuoka University convinces. Dr. Andrew Weil from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, in turn, adds that they may be an agent for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Specialists from the University of Maryland Medical Center claim that reishi mushrooms strengthen the response of the immune system, which is weakened during chemotherapy. These properties were confirmed by studies on people.
Reishi mushrooms available in pharmacies, herbal shops or health food shops are not drugs, but only dietary supplements. Therefore, their composition and activity are uncertain and they cannot be treated as medicines for various diseases. This type of preparations may only constitute complementation of a daily diet in the ingredients contained in reishi.
Reishi mushrooms may decrease sugar level in blood
In 2009, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the magazine „Phytomedicine” convinced that reishi mushrooms may decrease the level of sugar in blood. For a month, the researchers administered to the mice with diabetes 0.03 and 0.3 g/kg body mass of reishi extracts. The extracts decreased the level of glucose in blood of mice during one week, which allows to believe that they inhibit the enzyme used by the liver for the production of glucose.
Other studies on diabetic nephropathy, carried out by the researchers from the Faculty of Pharmacology of the Peking University prove that reishi mushrooms may prevent or stop the progression of diabetic liver complications. After eight weeks of probation in people with diabetes, considerable decrease of markers of oxidative stress in kidneys was noticed as well as the decrease of the level of triglycerides and sugar in blood. The results of the studies were published in 2006 in the magazine “Journal of Asian Natural Products Research”.
Reishi mushrooms – contraindications
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children.
Reishi mushrooms cannot be administered to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, as no tests were carried out on the safety of use of these mushrooms in this group of people.
Problems with blood coagulation
Before starting the supplementation, people who have problems with blood coagulation and who take anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs (e.g. aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, warfarin, heparin) should consult a healthcare professional.
Hypertension and hypotension
Reishi mushrooms may interact with drugs for hypertension. They decrease blood pressure, therefore in combination with these drugs, they may excessively lower blood pressure. For this reason, also people with hypotension should not use them.
Before and after surgery
Reishi mushrooms cannot be used for at least 2 weeks before and after surgical procedures due to their properties decreasing blood coagulation.