REISHI “QUEEN” OF THE MUSHROOMS
“Asian history has more medical documentation on Reishi than any other mushroom. In 2005, it took away my grandfather’s chest pains for 5 years…beginning on the day he started using it.
For advanced-stage cancer, asthma, depression and a long list of conditions, I think Reishi. But for cardiovascular, it is my #1 pick.”– Jeff Primack, author of Conquering ANY Disease, The Ultimate High-Phytochemical Food-Healing System
The Chinese Royalty had it pretty good. Anything rare and precious in the life-promoting and extending realms were reserved for them, and that held true for certain types of the 38 genus’ of Reishi Mushrooms. For those who like to look things up in biological/medical sources, this one is called Ganoderma lucidum.
Reishi is born in the hard-wood forests. Its preferred environment is the stump of a dead maple or oak tree from which it draws nourishment and begins recycling of the tree back into the soil of life. One of the most well-known mushrooms, Reishi is available in tinctures/extracts/oils drops in powder and capsule forms.
What’s different about the Reishi Mushroom? Well, for starters, Reishi’s hard, wood-like nature makes it NOT a culinary mushroom. Make sure you get a properly-extracted supplement. Breaking up that woody-ness (called chitin) for human absorption is necessary to unlock its medicine. Note: This is generally important in mushrooms; and is especially important Reishi. Lots of supplements out there may not actually absorb well. The correctly-processed supplements show their effects on even tough, chronic issues within a few days to a few weeks.
One of Reishi’s unique qualities is the phytochemical compound called Adenosine, which is such a powerful vasodilator that it is used in Emergency Rooms with heart attack patients. Adenosine is also found in the Cordyceps Mushroom, the compound is even stronger in Reishi.
“Adenosine is the main element to the central nervous system-inhibiting effects of Reishi. The extract was found to have similar actions as adenosine, but the drug was a little bit more potent. We isolated adenosine as the inhibitor of platelet aggregation.”
– Published in Phytotherapy Research (1987) and Chemical Pharmaceutical Bulletin (1985)
Here’s a partial list of Reishi’s many healing attributes, starting with some of the slightly more “unusual” action areas covered by the Reishi Mushroom.
- Got High Altitude Sickness? (Used by mountain climbers, it oxygenates the blood. Daily use starts 10-14 days prior to a climb.)
- Dizzy? Got Tinnitus? (no known Western Cure)
- Insomnia/Anxiety/Depression? Enhance your sense of Mental Well-Being?
- Rheumatoid Arthritis? (stops synovial fibroblasts)
- Pain Relief? (50mg Reishi powder has a comparable anti-inflammatory effect to 5 milligrams of hydrocortisone)
- Got Viruses? HIV, Epstein-Barr (associated with some cancers), Herpes zoster, & Herpes simplex
- Diabetes & Blood Sugar issues?
- Chronic bronchitis?
- Cancer Tumors (even late stage—inhibit growth and lung metastasis)
- Taking Chemo or Radiation and want to reduce the bad side effects?
- Got Liver or Lung Issues? (Cordyceps Mushroom helps too)
- Plagued with Heart Irregularities, High Blood Pressure or HypoCholesterolemia?
- Parkinsons’ or Alzheimers?
- Looking for Longevity? (Powerful antioxidants, cardio and neuroprotective agents)
…THIS MUSHROOM MAY BE FOR YOU. Ask your Doctor of Chinese Medicine.
CHINESE MEDICINAL USES
Oftentimes different mushrooms work together to create the broadest/deepest healing effects, so don’t be surprised to hear them used together in a supplement such as Immune Builder which we carry at the clinic. It contains Maitake Gold, Coriolus, Reishi, Shiitake and Agaricus blazei mushrooms.
Although Reishi has been used for centuries for many conditions (as per the list above), it is formally “approved” and listed in the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (published in 2000) for these conditions determined by the authors/authorities to have had adequate, modern research:
- Shortness of Breath
- Allergies, Cough & Asthma
For those of you with a serious science bent, many studies are listed in the Resource and References section at the end of the article.
Operational/Functional Insights for a few Conditions:
I like to know HOW things work. If you do too, read on to learn how Reishi compounds operate to help restore health. Many studies can be found in Medicinal Mushrooms – A Clinical Guide, pages 60-63. (See Resources Section below.)
ALLERGIES – A combination of immunomodulatory and strong anti-inflammatory activities with various tumour and inflammatory mediators/path signalers “contributes to its efficacy in the treatment of allergies and other inflammatory conditions”. For specific scientific description and studies, see pg 61 of Medicinal Mushrooms. And, get this! One Chinese herbal formula which contains Reishi has been reported to completely block anaphylactic reactions in a mouse model study on peanut allergy.
HYPERTENSION – “G. lucidum has a broad range of action on cardiovascular health. Polysaccharides and triterpenes …have shown hyperlipidaemic, hypotensive, and anti-thrombotic effects.” The Reishi polysaccharide Ganopoly improves ECG and lowers chest pains, palpitation and shortness of breath. That last info was from a double-blind, randomized, multi-centre study. Again, check the Medicinal Mushrooms book, a great clinical guide.
The drug Adenosine, a Vasodilator administered via IV’s in emergency care centers, is made from a phytochemical found in Reishi. It helps regulate the heart and open vascularity. Both Cordyceps and Reishi have adenosine, and both are 100% non-toxic, even at high doses.
“G. lucidum (Reishi) has a long history of traditional use in the treatment of cancer and is credited with many cases of spontaneous remission.” (Medicinal Mushrooms Guide) Its unique triterpenes show significant cytotoxic activity against different cancer cell lines such as lung, breast and prostate cancer. Reishi works its magic thru increasing the number of NK (Natural Killer) cells while it disturbs/disrupts signaling pathways which support cancerous growths. And, along with the tumor reductions often come the beneficial side effects of better sleep, more energy and a sense of well-being. If radiation and chemotherapy are used, Reishi reduces the ill effects of those treatments.
In conjunction with the immune-modulatory and anti-inflammatory effects which lend it to treating autoimmune conditions such as R.A., there is a “proteoglycan fraction” in Reishi which inhibits production of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (per an invitro study in 2007). One mechanism for this is via the disruption of a signaling pathway called “NF-kB transcription pathway”.
LIVER DISEASE – Reishi is “hepatoprotective”, (protects the liver) at least in part, because triterpenes (precursors to steroids and hormones) block platelet-derived growth factor receptors, thus inhibiting the activation and proliferation of hepatic stellate cells, a key event in hepatic fibrosis (Fibrosis of the Liver).
Reishi’s traditional name is “Spirit Mushroom” which highlights its sedative and stress/anxiety-relieving action (the triterpenoids again). It’s been a favorite of Chinese Herbalists for centuries.
Traditionally known as the “mushroom of immortality’, Reishi delivers broad-spectrum cardiovascular, neurological and immunological benefits. Plus it supports stable blood sugar regulation and cholesterol control, has anti-inflammatory properties and powerful antioxidants, all of which has made Reishi a staple in Chinese Medicine since at least 600 years B.C.
In plain language, Reishi appears to stop the free-radical damage to the healthy brain hormones called tyrosine and dopamine. Medicinal Mushrooms, A Clinical Guide, states: “The tyrosinase inhibiting activity of mushrooms like Ganoderma lucidum may play a role in controlling the development of PD.”
TOXICOLOGY & DRUG CAUTIONS
This is a real concern with the Mushroom family, as some are very toxic. Good news for us: The toxicity profile of this mushroom is low. Occasionally, sensitive people may experience digestive upset or skin rash. That may be improved by taking a little food with the mushroom. I have one patient who takes a couple tablespoons of apple sauce with their mushroom capsules, and that solved her digestive issue.
Blood Thinning Drugs: Be careful if you are on a blood thinner or coagulator because Reishi does thin the blood. Hmmm….maybe this is an opportunity to explore a switch to Reishi and other foods with the phytochemicals to help you? The side effects are generally beneficial ones from food! Of course, check with your M.D., and make an appointment to see Dr. David Martin or one of our Medicinal Food Consultants.
Hypoglycemic Medication: This mushroom also works with the blood sugar regulation. Anyone on a diabetic medication should be cautious and work with their doctor. (Who knows…it could help them need less of the prescription drug!)
Immune Suppressant Drugs: Everything I read states that medicinal mushrooms are to be used with great care– or avoided– with organ transplant patients and others who are on anti-rejection/immune-suppressing drugs.
“Ask your Doctor of Oriental Medicine if Medicinal Mushrooms are for you!”
Other Articles in the Mighty Mushroom Series:
In Praise of Fungi,
Dr. David and Deb Martin
And all the Providers at Lotus Blossom Clinic
Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Chinese Medicine, Food Healing Science, Energy Healing, Natural Esthetics/Facials, Emotional Breakthrough Coaching and more.
SOURCES FOR THIS ARTICLE INCLUDE:
Medicinal Mushrooms, A Clinical Guide, by Martin Powell, 2010 and 2014.
Conquering Any Disease, The Ultimate High-Phytochemical Food-Healing System, by Jeff Primack, updated 2015.
The Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms, by Mark Stengler, N.D., 2005.
Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, by John K. Chen & Tina T. Chen; Copyright 2004 by Art of Medicine Press, Inc.; ISBN: 0-9740635-0-9
Reishi Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum, Standards of Analysis, Quality Control, and Therapeutics: Published in American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium, September 2000, Editor: Roy Upton, Herbalist, and Research Associate: Diana Swisher BA.