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Reishi Mushroom

 

Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Related Terms

  • Acid protease, Chi zhi, coumarin, Enhanvol®, ergosterol, fungal lysozyme, fungus, fu zhen herb, ganoderans, ganoderic acids, ganoderals, ganoderols, Ganoderma tsugae extract, ganodermic acids, Ganodermataceae (family), Ganopoly®, he ling zhi, holy mushroom, hong ling zhi, ling chi, ling chih, ling zhi (Chinese), ling zhi-8, linzhi extract, mannentake, mannitol, mushroom, mushroom of immortality, mushroom of spiritual potency, polysaccharides peptide, rei-shi, shiitake, spirit plant, sterols, Sunrecome®, triterpenoids, triterpene, varnished polypore, young ji, zi zhi.
  • Combination product examples: PC-SPES (baikal skullcap, chrysanthemum, ganoderma, isatis, licorice, Panax ginseng, Isodon rubescens and saw palmetto); Echinacea/Astragalus/Reishi formula.

Background

  • Reishi mushroom, also known as ling zhi in China, grows wild on decaying logs and tree stumps. Reishi occurs in six different colors, but the red variety is most commonly used and commercially cultivated in East Asia and North America.
  • Reishi mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years to treat liver disorders, high blood pressure, arthritis, and other ailments. In modern times, the available data from human trials together with evidence from animal studies suggest that reishi mushroom may have some positive benefits for cancer and liver disease patients. However, the number and quality of trials is very limited. Other promising uses for which there is still inconclusive evidence include diabetes, heart disease, pain, Russula subnigricans (a type of mushroom) poisoning, and protein in the urine. Reishi is also believed to reduce cholesterol levels and have a blood-thinning effect, which may make it useful in heart disease prevention.
  • Some experts believe that reishi promotes longevity and maintains vitality of the human body. In the 16th Century pharmacopeia Ben Cao Gang Mu, reishi was described as being able to affect the life energy, or qi, of the heart, repair the chest area, increase intellectual capacity, and banish forgetfulness.
  • Reishi is currently regulated in the United States as a dietary supplement. It is also included in the 2,000 Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China as an agent approved for the treatment of dizziness, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, cough, and asthma. At this time, there is a lack of strong research supporting the use of reishi.

Evidence

 

Uses based on scientific evidence 

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.

Grade* 

Arthritis 

A combination of reishi mushroom and San Miao San (a mixture of several Chinese herbs) may help reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. These herbs lacked an effect on swelling. More research with reishi mushroom alone is needed.

C 

Cancer 

Reishi has been shown to have anti-cancer and immune enhancing effects in nonhuman research. In human research, Ganopoly®, a reishi extract, resulted in improved quality of life and enhanced immune responses in people receiving treatment for advanced cancer. It is important to note that these data were published by authors affiliated with the manufacturer of Ganopoly®. Further research is needed to reach conclusions.

C 

Chronic hepatitis B 

Early evidence showed that Ganopoly® treatment decreased the amount of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in the blood. This virus is hard to clear from the body and recurrence after treatment is common. The affiliation of authors to the manufacturer of the drug is noteworthy. Further well-designed research is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.

C 

Diabetes mellitus type 2 

Non-human research showed that reishi lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In limited human research, Ganopoly® slightly improved diabetes markers. The authors are closely related to the manufacturer of Ganopoly®. Further research is needed.

C 

Heart disease 

In limited human research, Ganopoly® improved symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain, increase heart rate, and shortness of breath. Blood pressure and cholesterol were also decreased. The authors are closely related to the manufacturer of Ganopoly®. Further research is needed to draw conclusions.

C 

Heart disease prevention 

In early human research, reishi lacked an effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels (which increase heart disease risk). Further research is needed.

C 

High blood pressure 

Ancient Chinese monks utilized the reishi mushroom to calm their minds for meditation. Early research suggests that reishi may lower blood pressure. Future research is needed to make conclusions.

C 

Pain (postherpetic) 

Early research showed reishi extract to be effective in decreasing postherpetic pain (pain after herpes lesions heal). Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C 

Poisoning (Russula subnigricans) 

In early research, reishi has shown a beneficial effect in treating poisoning with Russula subnigricans. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C 

Proteinuria (protein in the urine) 

Early research showed reishi to be effective in decreasing protein in the urine in people with kidney disease. Further research is needed to draw conclusions.

C 

 

*Key to grades: 

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

For full grading rationale, click here.

Uses based on tradition or theory 

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional

Adaptogen (decrease stress), altitude sickness, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, asthma, blood cleanser, blood thinner, bronchitis, cough, dizziness, fatigue, hormonal disorders, immune system enhancement, insomnia, kidney inflammation, lipid lowering (cholesterol and triglycerides), liver disorders, low white blood cell count, memory, muscular dystrophy (muscle loss and weakness), myasthenia gravis (muscle weakness and fatigue), neurasthenia (chronic weakness and fatigue), nerve disorders, pain (general), poisoning (general), sedative, seizure, tension, ulcers.


Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to any parts of Ganoderma lucidum or any member of its plant family. Skin reactivity to spore and whole body extracts have been reported. Sensitivity reactions to reishi may include dry mouth, nosebleed, and nose and throat dryness

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Acute and long-term studies have found Ganoderma lucidum to be generally well-tolerated in recommended doses for up to 16 months. The most common adverse events reported are skin rash, dizziness, and headache.
  • Reishi may also cause bloody stools, bone pain, breast tenderness, diarrhea, inflamed skin, influenza, insomnia, itching, light-headedness, loss of libido, mild stomach discomfort, nausea, sore throat, and runny nose.
  • Reishi may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Reishi may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Reishi may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people with low blood pressure or in those taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Use cautiously in people taking amphetamines.
  • Use cautiously in individuals with immune or thyroid disorders or those using agents for the immune system or the thyroid.
  • Use cautiously in patients with stomach, intestine, skin, muscle, bone, nervous system, hormonal, or breathing disorders.
  • Use cautiously in patients with liver disorders or in those taking agents damaging to the liver.
  • Avoid in patients with known allergy or sensitivity to reishi, any of its parts, or members of its plant family. Allergic reactions to reishi have included dry mouth, nosebleed, and nasal and throat dryness.
  • Avoid in pregnant or lactating women, or in children, due to lack of sufficient safety information.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Not recommended due to lack of sufficient data.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Reishi may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Reishi may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Reishi may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
  • Reishi may also interact with adenosine, agents that affect the immune and nervous systems, agents that lower cholesterol, anesthetics, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antiretroviral agents, antiviral agents, heart agents, hormonal agents, liver-damaging agents, lung agents, musculoskeletal agents, pain relievers, skin agents, stomach and intestine agents, thyroid hormones.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Reishi may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Reishi may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Reishi may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Reishi may also interact with adenosine, anesthetics, antibiotics, anticancer herbs and supplements, antiretroviral herbs and supplements, antiviral herbs and supplements, heart herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements for the stomach and intestines, herbs and supplements that affect the immune and nervous systems, herbs and supplements that affect the thyroid, herbs and supplements that lower cholesterol, hormonal herbs and supplements, liver-damaging herbs and supplements, lung herbs and supplements, musculoskeletal herbs and supplements, pain relievers, selenium, skin herbs and supplements.

Authors

Selected References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Cheuk W, Chan JK, Nuovo G, et al. Regression of gastric large B-Cell lymphoma accompanied by a florid lymphoma-like T-cell reaction: immunomodulatory effect of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi)? Int J Surg Pathol 2007 Apr;15(2):180-6.
  2. Chu TT, Benzie IF, Lam CW, et al. Study of potential cardioprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): results of a controlled human intervention trial. Br.J.Nutr. 2012;107(7):1017-1027.
  3. Gordan JD, Chay WY, Kelley RK, et al. "And what other medications are you taking?". J.Clin.Oncol. 4-10-2011;29(11):e288-e291.
  4. Haniadka R, Popouri S, Palatty PL, et al. Medicinal plants as antiemetics in the treatment of cancer: a review. Integr.Cancer Ther. 2012;11(1):18-28.
  5. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane.Database.Syst.Rev. 2012;6:CD007731.
  6. Li EK, Tam LS, Wong CK et al. Safety and efficacy of Ganoderma lucidum (lingzhi) and San Miao San supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Arthritis Rheum 2007 Oct 15;57(7):1143-50.
  7. Lindequist U, Rausch R, Fussel A, et al. [Higher fungi in traditional and modern medicine]. Med.Monatsschr.Pharm. 2010;33(2):40-48.
  8. Liu J, Shiono J, Shimizu K, et al. Ganoderic acid DM: anti-androgenic osteoclastogenesis inhibitor. Bioorg.Med.Chem.Lett. 4-15-2009;19(8):2154-2157.
  9. Mahajna J, Dotan N, Zaidman BZ, et al. Pharmacological values of medicinal mushrooms for prostate cancer therapy: the case of Ganoderma lucidum. Nutr.Cancer 2009;61(1):16-26.
  10. Olaku O and White JD. Herbal therapy use by cancer patients: a literature review on case reports. Eur.J.Cancer 2011;47(4):508-514.
  11. Sliva D, Loganathan J, Jiang J, et al. Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum prevents colitis-associated carcinogenesis in mice. PLoS.One. 2012;7(10):e47873.
  12. Wanmuang H, Leopairut J, Kositchaiwat C, et al. Fatal fulminant hepatitis associated with Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) mushroom powder. J Med Assoc Thai 2007 Jan;90(1):179-81.
  13. Wicks SM, Tong R, Wang CZ, et al. Safety and tolerability of Ganoderma lucidum in healthy subjects: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Chin Med 2007;35(3):407-14.
  14. Xu Z, Chen X, Zhong Z, et al. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides: immunomodulation and potential anti-tumor activities. Am.J.Chin Med. 2011;39(1):15-27.
  15. Zhuang SR, Chen SL, Tsai JH, et al. Effect of citronellol and the Chinese medical herb complex on cellular immunity of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy/radiotherapy. Phytother.Res. 2009;23(6):785-790.
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