Drugs A - Z
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)
Generic Name: Reishi mushroom
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Chi zhi, Enhanvol®, fungus, fu zhen herb, Ganoderma tsugae extract, Ganopoly®, he ling zhi, holy mushroom, hong ling zhi, ling chi, ling chih, ling zhi (Chinese), ling zhi-8, Linzhi extract, Mannentake, mushroom, mushroom of immortality, mushroom of spiritual potency, polysaccharides peptide, rei-shi, shiitake, spirit plant, Sunrecome®, triterpene, young ji, zi zhi.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), 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.
The reishi mushroom is a derivative of the Far East with its usage dating back to ancient China. Royalty would utilize this precious mushroom in the hopes of obtaining immortality and promoting calmness and thought. Chinese medicine now includes therapy with reishi for fatigue, asthma, insomnia, and cough.
Ganoderma lucidum 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 Ganoderma lucidum 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 poisoning, and proteinuria (protein in the urine). Reishi is also believed to reduce cholesterol levels and has an anticoagulant ("blood-thinning") effect, which may make it useful in coronary heart disease prevention.
Some experts believe that Ganoderma lucidum promotes longevity and maintains vitality of the human body. Reishi's major benefit appears to be its immunomodulating action, improvement of liver function, and improvement and restoration of the normal functions of the respiratory system. Antioxidant effects, which contribute to the overall well-being of patients, have been proposed. 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, palpitations, shortness of breath, cough, and asthma. At this time, high quality clinical trials supporting the use of reishi mushroom are lacking. More proven therapies are recommended at this time.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: 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 provider.
Reishi has been shown to have antineoplastic and immunomodulatory effects in animal studies. One clinical trial and two case reports exist on advanced cancer patients using Ganopoly®, aGanoderma lucidumpolysaccharide extract. Results show improved quality of life and enhanced immune responses, which are typically reduced or damaged in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. It is important to note that these data were published by the same group of authors who are affiliated with the manufacturer of Ganopoly®. Well-designed long-term studies are needed to confirm these results and potential side effects.
Chronic hepatitis B:
Based on positive laboratory evidence, a clinical trial using Ganopoly® or placebo was conducted in chronic hepatitis B patients. Ganopoly® treatment decreased the level of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA. This virus is notoriously hard to clear from the body and recurrence after treatment is common. Again, 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.
Coronary heart disease:
A clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effect of Ganopoly® on coronary heart disease in human. Ganopoly® treatment improved the major symptoms (e.g., angina (chest pain), palpitations, and shortness of breath), decreased abnormal ECG appearance, and decreased blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels in these patients. Long-term study is needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Ganopoly® before it may be recommended for CHD. The authors are closely related to the manufacturer of Ganopoly®.
Diabetes mellitus type 2:
Based on animal studies that demonstrated the blood sugar and lipid-lowering activities ofGanoderma lucidum(ling zhi, reishi mushroom), a clinical study was conducted to evaluate the effect of Ganopoly® versus placebo in diabetic patients. The treatment of Ganopoly® slightly decreased the levels of plasma glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin and improved other markers for diabetes. Long-term studies with larger sample size are needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Ganopoly® in treating diabetic patients. The authors are closely related to the manufacturer of Ganopoly®.
High blood pressure:
Ancient Chinese monks utilized the reishi mushroom to calm their minds for meditation. Theory would lead one to believe that the physiological effects of decreasing blood pressure may have lead to the calming effect precipitated by the ingested reishi. Preliminary data suggest that reishi may exert a blood pressure-lowering effect; however, the currently available evidence in this area is weak. Future studies are warranted to validate the results of these small studies and to provide clinical usefulness of reishi as a possible treatment for high blood pressure.
Reishi extract was effective in decreasing postherpetic pain (pain after herpes lesions heal) in one case series. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Poisoning (Russula subnigricans):
Ganoderma lucidumhas shown a beneficial effect in treating RSP in one small trial. Further well-designed clinical trials are needed to confirm these results.
Proteinuria (protein in the urine):
One clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effect ofGanoderma lucidumin treating kidney disorder patients with persistent proteinuria resistant to steroids with or without immunosuppressants.Ganoderma lucidumtreatment decreased proteinuria in the small number of patients in this study. This trial provides good preliminary data, but long-term studies with a larger amount of patients are needed to evaluate the effects ofGanoderma lucidumon proteinuria.
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 did not reduce swelling. More research with reishi mushroom alone is needed.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. 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 healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Adults (over 18 years old)
2-6 grams per day of reishi as raw fungus or an equivalent dosage of concentrated extract has been taken with meals. In clinical trials studying cancer, chronic hepatitis B, coronary heart disease, or diabetes, doses of 600-1,800 milligrams have been taken three times daily. For high blood pressure, Linzhi extract (reishi) has been used in doses of 55 milligrams a day for four weeks. For pain management in herpes zoster, 36-72 grams of dry weight per day for up to 10 days have been studied. Other doses used are 500-1,125 milligrams per day for the treatment of proteinuria (excess protein in the urine) or 100 grams of reishi boiled in 600 milliliters water per dose for poisoning.
Children (under 18 years old)
Insufficient available evidence to recommend.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy/hypersensitivity to any constituents of Ganoderma lucidum or any member of its family. Skin reactivity to spore and whole body extracts have been reported. Hypersensitivity reactions to reishi and its derivatives may occur including dry mouth, nosebleed, and nasal 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.
Use cautiously in patients who are taking diabetes/hypoglycemic drugs because reishi may lower blood sugar.
Low blood pressure may occur upon the utilization of reishi and its derivatives.
Due to "blood thinning" capabilities, gastric bleeding could result from the use of reishi. Reishi may prolong bleeding time and caution is advised in those patients with bleeding disorders (ulcers, hemophilia) or taking anticoagulants. Diarrhea and bloody stools may occur with supplemental doses. Mild gastrointestinal discomfort including nausea and diarrhea has been found in a small percentage of cancer patients taking Ganoderma lucidum as Ganopoly®.
Severe liver inflammation that led to death has been linked to reishi mushroom powder.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Not recommended due to lack of sufficient data.
Interactions with Drugs
A study conducted on the antiherpetic activity of the acidic protein bound polysaccharide (APBP) that was isolated from capophores of Ganoderma lucidum had synergistic effects when administered with the prescription antiviral drug acyclovir.
Reishi and anticoagulants or NSAIDs may theoretically lead to additive effects or an increased risk of bleeding. Reishi may cause bleeding due to prolongation of prothrombin time. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits platelet aggregation.
Ganoderma lucidum may cause additive blood pressure-lowering effects.
Based on animal study, Ganoderma lucidum may cause an additive blood sugar-lowering effect.
Reishi with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor drugs ("statins") may result in additive effects.
Theoretically, the use of reishi and protease inhibitors may result in additive effects.
The risk of liver damage may increase when reishi mushroom powder is taken with drugs that are known to damage the liver.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Reishi and anticoagulant herbs and supplements may theoretically lead to additive effects, increasing bleeding risk.
The risk of liver damage may increase when reishi mushroom powder is taken with herbs or supplements that are known to damage the liver.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Tracee Rae Abrams, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Stephen Bent, MD (University of California, San Francisco); Heather Boon, BScPhm, PhD (University of Toronto); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Cynthia Dacey, PharmD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dana A. Hackman, BS (Northeastern University); Lisa Scully, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Nova Southeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Nazhiyath Vijarian, MD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Shannon Welch, PharmD (Northeastern University); Denise Wong, PharmD (Northeastern University); Jen Woods, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Kui Xu, PhD (Northeastern University).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough 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.
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.
Eo SK, Kim YS, Lee CK, et al. Possible mode of antiviral activity of acidic protein bound polysaccharide isolated from Ganoderma lucidum on herpes simplex viruses. J.Ethnopharmacol 2000;72(3):475-481.
Futrakul N, Panichakul T, Butthep P, et al. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses endothelial cell cytotoxicity and proteinuria in persistent proteinuric focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) nephrosis. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc 2004;31(4):267-272.
Gao Y, Dai X, Chen G, et al. A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Study of Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt: Fr.) Lloyd (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Polysaccharides (Ganopoly®) in Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 2003;5.
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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.
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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.
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