Reishi mushrooms grow wild on decaying logs and tree stumps in the coastal provinces of China. The fruiting body of the mushroom is employed medicinally. Reishi grows in six different colors, but the red variety is most commonly used and commercially cultivated in North America, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.1
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
6 mg per day for 8 weeks
In a double-blind trial, an extract of Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum; 6 mg per day for 8 weeks) was significantly more effective than a placebo in improving urinary symptoms in men with BPH. Reishi extract appears to work by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to its more active form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT).5
Refer to label instructions
While human research has been reported that demonstrates some efficacy for the herb in treating altitude sickness and chronic hepatitis B, these uses still need to be confirmed in well-designed human trials.6
Take zinc L-carnosine supplying 17 mg zinc twice daily
Preliminary human research demonstrates some efficacy for the mushroom reishi in treating chronic hepatitis B; however, additional clinical trials are needed.7
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions
Immune-modulating plants that could theoretically be beneficial for people with HIV infection include Asian ginseng, eleuthero, and the medicinal mushrooms shiitake and reishi. One preliminary study found that steamed then dried Asian ginseng (also known as red ginseng) had beneficial effects in people infected with HIV, and increased the effectiveness of the anti-HIV drug, AZT.8 This supports the idea that immuno-modulating herbs could benefit people with HIV infection, though more research is needed.
Refer to label instructions
A double-blind trial reported that reishi mushrooms significantly lowered blood pressure in humans.9 The trial used a concentrated extract of reishi (25:1) in the amount of 55 mg three times per day for four weeks. It is unclear from the clinical report how long it takes for the blood pressure-lowering effects of reishi to be measured.
Hawthorn leaf and flower extracts have been reported to have a mild blood pressure–lowering effect in people with early stage congestive heart failure.10 In a double-blind study, supplementation with a hawthorn extract significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. The amount used was 1,200 mg per day of an extract standardized to 2.2% flavonoids corresponding to 6 per day of dried flowering tops.11
Animal studies and some very preliminary trials in humans suggest reishi may have some beneficial action in people with diabetes.12, 13
Type 2 Diabetes
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Animal studies and some very preliminary trials in humans suggest reishi may have some beneficial action in people with diabetes.14, 15
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Reishi has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for at least 2,000 years.2 The Chinese name ling zhi translates as the “herb of spiritual potency” and was highly prized as an elixir of immortality.3 Its Traditional Chinese Medicine indications include treatment of general fatigue and weakness, asthma, insomnia, and cough.4
How It Works
How It Works
Reishi contains several major constituents, including sterols, coumarin, mannitol, polysaccharides, and triterpenoids called ganoderic acids. Ganoderic acids may lower blood pressure as well as decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. These specific triterpenoids also help reduce blood platelets from sticking together—an important factor in lowering the risk for coronary artery disease. While human research has been reported that demonstrates some efficacy for the herb in treating altitude sickness and chronic hepatitis B, these uses still need to be confirmed in well-designed human trials.16 Animal studies and some very preliminary trials in humans suggest reishi may have some beneficial action in people with diabetes mellitus and cancer.17 Two controlled clinical trials have investigated the effects of reishi on high blood pressure in humans and both found it could lower blood pressure significantly compared to a placebo or controls.18, 19 The people with hypertension in the second study had previously not responded to medications, though these were continued during the study.
How to Use It
Reishi can be taken either as 1.5–9 grams per day of the crude dried mushroom, 1–1.5 grams per day in powdered form, 1 ml per day of tincture, or as a tea.20
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
As it may increase bleeding time, reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is not recommended for those taking anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications.22
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Side effects from reishi can include dizziness, dry mouth and throat, nosebleeds, and abdominal upset. These rare effects may develop with continuous use over three to six months.23Pregnant or breast-feeding women should consult a physician before taking reishi.
1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods,Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 255–60.
2. Jones K. Reishi:Ancient Herb for Modern Times. Issaquah, WA: Sylvan Press, 1990, 6.
3. Willard T. Reishi Mushroom: Herb of Spiritual Potency and Wonder. Issaquah, WA: Sylvan Press, 1990, 11.
4. Shu HY. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Palos Verdes, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Press, 1986, 640–1.
5. Noguchi M, Kakuma T, Tomiyasu K, et al. Effect of an extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms: a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized and dose-ranging study. Asian J Androl 2008;10:651–8.
6. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, 96–107.
7. Hobbs, C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, 96–107.
8. Cho YK, Kim Y, Choi M, et al. The effect of red ginseng and zidovudine on HIV patients. Int Conf AIDS 1994;10:215 [abstract no. PB0289].
9. Jin H, Zhang G, Cao X, et al. Treatment of hypertension by ling zhi combined with hypotensor and its effects on arterial, arteriolar and capillary pressure and microcirculation. In: Nimmi H, Xiu RJ, Sawada T, Zheng C (eds). Microcirculatory Approach to Asian Traditional Medicine. New York: Elsevier Science, 1996, 131–8.
10. Schmidt U, Kuhn U, Ploch M, Hübner W-D. Efficacy of the hawthorn (Crataegus) preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II. Phytomed 1994;1(1):17–24.
11. Walker AF, Marakis G, Simpson E, et al. Hypotensive effects of hawthorn for patients with diabetes taking prescription drugs: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Gen Pract 2006;56:437–43.
12. Van der Hem LG, van der Vliet JA, Bocken CF, et al. Ling Zhi-8: studies of a new immunomodulating agent. Transplantation1995;60:438–43.
13. Jones K. Reishi mushroom: Ancient medicine in modern times. Alt Compl Ther 1998;4:256–66 [review].
14. Van der Hem LG, van der Vliet JA, Bocken CF, et al. Ling Zhi-8: studies of a new immunomodulating agent. Transplantation 1995;60:438–43.
15. Jones K. Reishi mushroom: Ancient medicine in modern times. Alt Compl Ther 1998;4:256–66 [review].
16. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, 96–107.
17. Jones K. Reishi mushroom: Ancient medicine in modern times. Alt Compl Ther 1998;4:256–66 [review].
18. Kammatsuse K, Kajiware N, Hayashi K. Studies on Ganoderma lucidum: I. Efficacy against hypertension and side effects. Yakugaku Zasshi 1985;105:531–3.
19. Jin H, Zhang G, Cao X, et al. Treatment of hypertension by ling zhi combined with hypotensor and its effects on arterial, arteriolar and capillary pressure and microcirculation. In: Nimmi H, Xiu RJ, Sawada T, Zheng C. (eds). Microcirculatory Approach to Asian Traditional Medicine. New York: Elsevier Science, 1996, 131–8.
20. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, 96–107.
21. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998,166–9.
22. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998,166–9.
23. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 55.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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