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Red Reishi Mushrooms, also known as ganoderm and lingzhi mushrooms, are a mushroom in the fungi family Ganodermataceae. They are a unique rather unique medicinal mushroom that have shown a lot of therapeutic potential for improving the function of the immune system.12https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939212 They have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine in Asia, notably in the Han Dyanasty over 2,000 years ago. It has often been referred to as the “mushroom of immortality” throughout Asian countries.14https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939212
Red Reishi mushrooms have not been studied quite as extensively as other herbs in traditional medicine such as ashwagandha, however preliminary evidence is very promising and user reports are quite positive. It’s primary benefits appear to come from anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulating properties.
Reishi’s Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, and Immune System Modulator
Reishi has been shown to posses quite potent anti-inflammatory properties14https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1993921217https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25271985. It’s anti-inflammatory actions are seen by improving free-radical scavanging and reducing the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines.16https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12916709
Similarly, the mushrooms also appear to boast strong antioxidant properties, which primarily come from protecting the blood against oxidative stress and by inhibiting nitric oxide production.13https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2527198515https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25271860. Reishi has also been shown to increase the activity of natural killer cells (cells which fight cancer and tumors). Furthermore, some studies have shown that reishi may reduce inflammation by modulating white blood cell activity.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20574926
Preclinical trials have indicated that reishi may play a large role in regulating immune health1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16230843 as well as metabolic and cellular function. Other studies have suggested that they may support cognitive ability, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular function as well.
Reishi supplementation may even act as a modulator of the immune system – activating or deactivating specific parts of the immune system as needed to maintain an optimal state of immune response.18https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16169168
Interestingly, the mushroom has also demonstrated antimicrobial and antiviral activity.19https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2351021712https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939212 It may even be highly effective for enhancing wound healing20https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25271863 from the heighten immune system activity.21https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23510214
Benefits to Organ Health
One study found that supplementation of these mushrooms was able to dramatically improve kidney function by reducing the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines and cell cytotoxins.22https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15567896
One rat study found that supplementation could protect the liver against daily alcohol consumption23https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26058418, while another animal study demonstrated potent liver-protecting qualities as well.21https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23510214
Supplementation was shown to have beneficial effects on HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol), blood pressure, and insulin levels.
Where to Buy Red Reishi Mushrooms
Dosage and Side Effects
A standard dosage for a full fruiting body extract is about 400-500mg taken 1-3 times daily.
There are over 400 bioactive molecules within these mushrooms14https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939212: polysaccharids, triterpenoids, nucelotides, alkaloids, fatty acids, and fungal immunomodulatory proteins. While there is some research under way regarding each of these individual bioactive molecules and their effects on the body, it’s unclear which of these compounds is the most beneficial.
There is a variety of mechanisms at play, and it would appear that there is no individual bioactive molecule that is solely responsible for all of the benefits of the mushrooms. As such, the entire fruiting body is typically supplemented to ensure that none of these compounds avoid extraction.
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