June 06, 2022 6 min read

Reishi is a rare, edible mushroom with a lengthy history of medicinal use. In ancient Chinese medicine, it's sometimes used to create a “shen tonic,” or a concoction that helps balance the Yin and Yang energy in the blood, sometimes also called a “soul balancing tonic.”

According to modern research, though, the mushroom may have even more unlocked potential. If you’re curious about how this medicinal mushroom may fit into your daily wellness routine, here’s what you should know about Reishi Benefits:

Key Benefits

Research is still limited, but some of the primary benefits of Reishi may include:

  • Supplying fiber, vitamins,and antioxidants
  • Helping to manage stress and mood
  • Improving immune functions
  • Hempling to manage blood sugar and blood pressure

Below, we’ll dissect the research available and highlight 11 Reishi benefits you should know:

1. Reishi is a nutritional powerhouse.

According to one review regarding Reishi's nutritional composition, the mushroom contains polysaccharides, peptides, and triterpenoids, which may be the bioactive compounds behind many of Reishi's health benefits. Additionally, they contain a selection of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins that are essential to a balanced daily diet, making it a good nutritional supplement. Some compounds that you'll find in Reishi include:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Rubidium
  • Cesium
  • Amino acids
  • Fiber
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium

The good news is you can get a hearty dose of most of these compounds whether you incorporate fresh Reishi into your diet or choose a high-quality supplement. Some people choose to do both to get the most out of their Reishi wellness routine.

A few small reishi mushrooms growing on a moss covered log in the forest

2. Reishi may boost immunity.

It’s true that Reishi has many historic uses for cleansing the body and balancing blood energy. Even today, though, many Asian cultures use Reishi as an immune system stimulant for patients with certain immune-system disorders, like HIV or cancer.

Furthermore, a 2014 study highlighted Reishi as one of four functional mushrooms with prominent immune stimulating effects. This benefit is most often pinned on Reishi's beta-glucan content because the beneficial polysaccharides are known to potentially help prevent infection and stimulate crucial immune functions.

3. It may provide neuroprotective effects.

Some sources suggest that Reishi could help prevent neurodegeneration as we age, but more evidence is needed to understand how these benefits may be useful to adults with a healthy brain. For now, most evidence points towards Reishi's potential benefits against neurodegenerative disorders, like dementia. One study found that Reishi may provide some benefit against Alzheimer’s disease. Another study suggests that may even help to protect the brain from damage caused by seizures.

It’s unclear how to best use Reishi to reap these neuroprotective effects, but daily doses could be useful for general brain-boosting and wellness benefits.

4. It could help relieve stress.

Reishi is frequently labeled an adaptogen, or a substance that positively impacts the body's stress response. One study found that Resihi supplementation improved the pain and mood changes surrounding a condition caused by chronic exhaustion.

Other evidence suggests that Reishi, as well as other adaptogenic mushrooms, may also help to improve mood. In this survey of nutritional habits, those who regularly consumed mushrooms reported significantly lower rates of depression. Various smaller trials have verified similar results, claiming that consuming more mushrooms in general may help reduce both depression and anxiety.

Regular daily doses are the key to getting the most out of adaptogenic supplements. Start with a small dose of Reishi each day and increase until you notice optimal benefits.

A bowl of reishi capsules that are used for convenient daily dosing

5. It may support liver health.

One animal study found that Reishi mushroom spores may help boost the regeneration of liver cells, which can improve the liver’s ability to detoxify the body. Liver function is crucial to digestion, but also to general health since it’s one of the primary ways that the body eliminates toxins that cause illness and inflammation.

To best support liver function using Reishi, consider incorporating Reishi into your regular diet.

6. It may have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Like many other mushrooms, Reishi is loaded with antioxidants that may help boost general wellness. One way that antioxidants do this is by lowering the amount of free radicals in the body, which can help prevent oxidative stress that leads to inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to a range of chronic diseases, and is also one of the major factors behind brain fog, fatigue, and low-mood.

To reap the potential anti-inflammatory effects of Reishi, you need to incorporate a regular daily dose in order to allow for systemic benefits to take place.

7. Anticancer Benefits

Various studies have investigated Reishi's potential anticancer benefits, and many people swear by the benefits of using Reishi alongside common cancer therapies. In fact, one study suggests that Reishi could inhibit some of the negative side effects associated with chemotherapy.

More evidence is needed to understand exactly how this may work, but one study did find that Reishi may shrink tumors. Another study suggests that Reishi contains a number of beneficial terpenes that may inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors altogether.

Make sure you talk to your doctor before you use Reishi if you are already undergoing other cancer therapies.

8. It may soothe allergies.

According to one study, Reishi may have antihistamine effects. This study found that it may help to increase oxygen flow in the body to relieve systemic allergies.

To reap these benefits, many people incorporate small daily doses of Reishi, increasing the dose slowly over time until symptoms are relieved.

9. It may lower bad cholesterol.

Some evidence suggests that Reishi's beta glucans and terpene content may both work hand in hand to help lower bad cholesterol, though more evidence is needed to confirm these effects.

To best reap these benefits, you should consider making Reishi a regular part of your daily diet.

10. It could lower blood pressure.

One animal study from 2014 reports that Reishi could help to lower blood pressure, which could make it beneficial for those who have high blood pressure. Just keep in mind that it may be unsafe to take Reishi alongside other blood sugar-lowering medications because it could cause the blood sugar to drop too low, so always discuss Reishi supplementation with your doctor first.

11. It could help lower blood sugar, too.

Some evidence suggests that Reishi may help to bring down blood sugar levels, meaning it could work as a part of a healthy nutritional routine for those with diabetes. One small, double-blind, placebo controlled study found that Reishi may help to lower blood sugar, which may pose some benefits for those with type 2 diabetes.

Another study found that these effects may also help to reduce kidney stress in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Kidney stress is one of the most common complications related to diabetes.

Keep in mind that it may be unsafe to combine Reishi with other medications that are used to lower blood pressure. Always talk to your doctor before using Reishi if you take blood sugar-altering medications.

A few slices of dried reishi and a cup of reishi tea to show some examples of how reishi can be used in your everyday wellness routine

Conclusion

Most of the research available to help us understand Reishi’s benefits involves animal trials that may or may not accurately translate to human studies. More evidence is needed to understand how Reishi can be used to effectively target specific health ailments. Of course, anecdotal evidence and historical records both point us to a common belief–reishi can be dually beneficial for the body and the mind.

To reap Reishi benefits safely and effectively, you need to look for a high-quality Reishi supplement that’s made by a trusted manufacturer. Avoid products that are contaminated or do not come with lab reports for quality assurance. To learn more about how to use Reishi to your advantage, you may want to read:

Resources

  1. “Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23557365/
  2. “Reishi Mushroom” https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/reishi-mushroom
  3. “Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684115/
  4. “Neuroprotective effect of preadministration with Ganoderma lucidum spore on rat hippocampus” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0940299310002332
  5. “Anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects of oligosaccharides from Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes)” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266379/
  6. “A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15857210/
  7. “Mushroom intake and depression: A population-based study using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005-2016” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34333177/
  8. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake” https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/biomedres/31/4/31_4_231/_article/-char/ja/
  9. “Protective effects of Ganoderma lucidum spore on cadmium hepatotoxicity in mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22659462/
  10. “Therapeutic potential of Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) P. Karst. against the declined antioxidant status in the mitochondria of post-mitotic tissues of aged mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20044182/
  11. “And What Other Medications Are You Taking?” https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JCO.2010.32.8054?view=long&pmid=21245436&
  12. “Ganoderic acid T inhibits tumor invasion in vitro and in vivo through inhibition of MMP expression” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1734114010702528
  13. “Suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses by pharmacologically potent fungus Ganoderma lucidum” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24948193/
  14. “Hypotensive Effects and Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitory Peptides of Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi) Auto-Digested Extract” https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/9/13473
  15. “Study of potential cardioprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): results of a controlled human intervention trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21801467/
  16. “A Magic Mushroom That Fights Cancer & Diabetes” https://www.foodmatters.com/article/a-magic-mushroom-that-fights-cancer-diabetes

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