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Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Common names: Ling chih, ling zhi
Parts used and where grown: Reishi mushrooms grow wild on decaying logs and tree stumps in the coastal provinces of China. The fruiting body of the mushroom is employed medicinally. Reishi occurs in six different colors, but the red variety is most commonly used and commercially cultivated in North America, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.1
In what conditions might reishi be supportive?
¥ altitude sickness
¥ chemotherapy support
¥ hepatitis ¥ HIV support
¥ high blood pressure
¥ high triglycerides
Historical or traditional use: Reishi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years.2 The Chinese name Ling zhi translates as the 'herb of spiritual potency' and was highly prized as an elixir of immortality.3 Its traditional Chinese medicine indications include treatment of general fatigue and weakness, asthma, insomnia, and cough.4
Active constituents: Reishi contains several constituents, including sterols, coumarin, mannitol, polysaccharides, and triterpenoids called ganoderic acids. Ganoderic acids seem to help lower blood pressure as well as decrease low density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglyceride levels. These specific triterpenoids also help to reduce blood platelets from sticking togetherÑan important factor in lowering the risk for coronary artery disease. While human research demonstrates some efficacy for the herb in treating altitude sickness and chronic hepatitis B, these uses still need to be confirmed.5
How much should I take? Many people take reishi as 1.5-9 grams of the crude dried mushroom per day, 1-1.5 grams per day in powder form, 1 ml per day of tincture, or as a tea.
Are there any side effects or interactions? Side effects from reishi can include dizziness, dry mouth and throat, nose bleeds, and abdominal upset; these rare effects may develop with continuous use over three to six months. As it may increase bleeding time, reishi is not recommended for those taking anti-coagulant (e.g., blood-thinning) medications. Pregnant or lactating women should consult a physician before taking reishi.
1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 255&endash;60. 2. Jones K. Reishi: Ancient Herb for Modern Times. Issaquah, WA: Sylvan Press, 1990, 6. 3. Willard T. Reishi Mushroom: Herb of Spiritual Potency and Wonder. Issaquah, WA: Sylvan Press, 1990, 11. 4. Shu HY. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Palos Verdes, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Press, 1986, 640-41. 5. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, 96-107.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.