Reishi or Lingzhi mushrooms most commonly refer to two closely related Ganoderma species: Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma tsugae. Between the two, Ganoderma lucidum, or Red Reishi, is renowned in traditional Chinese medicine for its presumed positive effects on health and longevity. Its thousands of years of medicinal history make it a popular herbal supplement around the world. Although Red Reishi is just one kind of Ganoderma mushroom, it is often commonly referred to as simply Ganoderma. Advocates of Ganoderma ascribe to it a myriad of beneficial health properties. When you google it, hundreds of web pages turn up. But what does science and technology have to say?
Studies on Ganoderma
Researches in the US, Japan, China, and the UK show a link between Ganoderma intake and improvement in many health conditions. Groundwork studies have been looking into its anticancer, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, anti-clotting, cardiotonic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, liver-protective, immune-boosting, stamina-enhancing, and energizing effects. Other properties include the lowering of high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and blood sugar. It is also used as an aid to achieving weight loss, asthma control, liver detoxification, and adequate sleep. It has been administered to patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy.
What sets Ganoderma apart from other medicinal mushrooms is its combination of significant amounts of polysaccharides, triterpenes, amino acids, adenosine monophosphate, organic germanium, superoxide dismutase, and other biomolecules, whose bioactivity profiles have been studied. Several researches have shown that the polysaccharides and triterpenes may be behind Ganodermas anti-cancer, blood pressure-lowering, and immunotherapeutic properties.
Ganodermas triterpenes called ganoderic acids are structurally similar to the steroid hormones. The triterpenes give Ganoderma its bitter taste and the extent of bitterness reflects the level of triterpenes. Several studies indicate that ganoderic acids also help reduce allergic reactions. It is also said to improve the use of oxygen in the body, and prevent viral-mediated liver injury.
Ganderma also possesses micrunutrients in the form of the minerals potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, manganese, iron, and zinc.
Trivia. Since Ganoderma decays wood, there have been studies on using its decay enzymes to eradicate pollutants (in a process called bioremediation).
Ganoderma can be consumed as either a standalone or a combination oral pill. It can also be enjoyed as part of coffee, tea, or any drink or food formula.
Ganoderma has an outstanding safety profile. In fact, it is one of the safest herbal supplements to take. And yet, one should always carefully read the instruction label that comes with any product. Misuse and abuse of any item, even the safest ones, may result in a health hazard.
Some people who take Ganoderma may have headache, dehydration, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal upset. Others may temporarily experience an acne outbreak, leg swelling, body pain, and itchiness, among others. These reactions may be just a phase in the healing process. If in doubt, always talk to a doctor.
Ganoderma might interact with some medications and food supplements. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, are either very old or very young, are taking other medications and food supplements, or have an existing health condition, it is always prudent to talk to a qualified health adviser before starting on Ganoderma.