Top 12 Reishi Mushroom Health Benefits | Plus Potential Side Effects

The reishi mushroom is a type of medicinal mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Reishi mushroom benefits are wide ranging, including reducing inflammation, fighting cancer, and boosting the immune system. However, there are also some potential side effects associated with reishi mushrooms. In this article, we will discuss both the benefits and side effects of reishi mushrooms, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to include them in your diet.

What is the Reishi Mushroom?

The reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzhi, is a fungus that grows in various hot and humid places throughout Asia.

This fungus has been used in Eastern medicine for many years, which is why it’s become so widely known.

Triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans are three of the molecules found in reishi mushrooms that might contribute to its health benefits.

While the mushrooms may be eaten fresh, powdered forms or extracts containing the chemical compounds found in them are also popular.

Different types of forms of reishi have been studied in cell, animal, and human trials.

The reishi mushroom has been studied in a number of ways, and the following are six of its recognized advantages. The first three have greater evidence to support them, while the others do not have quite as much conclusive evidence.

12 Health Benefits of Reishi Mushroom

1. Reishi Mushroom Strengthens the Immune System

The reishi mushroom benefits a stronger immune system. While certain details are still hazy, test-tube study have shown that reishi may alter the genes in white blood cells, which are important components of your immune system.

Furthermore, these studies discovered that some types of reishi modify inflammation pathways in white blood cells. Natural killer cells are a kind of white blood cell that can increase the activity of certain chemicals found in the mushroom.

Natural killer cells fight infections and cancer in the body.

According to other research, reishi may boost the amount of different white blood cells (lymphocytes) in those with colorectal cancer.

Although reishi mushroom’s immunological benefits have been documented in persons who are sick, some research suggests that it may help healthy people as well.

In one research, the fungus enhanced lymphocyte function, which aids in the fight against infections and cancer, in athletes subjected to stressful circumstances.

However, reishi extract had no effect on immune function or inflammation in healthy adults when used for 4 weeks.

Reishi has been shown to impact white blood cells and the immune system. More study is needed to determine the degree of the benefits in both healthy and sick people.

2. Neurodegenerative and Brain Inflammation Protection

Brain ageing and the development of amyloid-beta plaques seem to be closely linked. Some of the ways reishi helps the brain are:

  • The accumulation of these proteins is thought to be a first step in cognitive decline, and is the primary feature of Alzheimers disease.
  • Reduce or prevent the inflammation caused by amyloid beta.
  • Inhibiting the toxic effects of amyloid-beta on synapses.
  • Reducing brain inflammation, to prevent the cellular changes associated with brain ageing.

These effects are probably due to the general anti-inflammatory activities of Reishi.

3. Anti-Cancer Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms

This fungus is consumed by many people due to its supposed anti-cancer effects.

In a different research, over 4,000 breast cancer survivors were questioned and it was discovered that 59% consumed reishi mushrooms.

It has also been studied in animal tests, and several test-tube research have revealed that it may be harmful to cancer cells.

However, the findings of these studies may not always guarantee effectiveness in animals or people.

Among the most popular herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, reishi has been studied for its influence on testosterone.

Although one case study suggested that chemicals in this fungus may be used to cure prostate cancer in people, a larger follow-up research did not back this up.

Reishi mushroom has also been studied for its potential role in preventing or treating colorectal cancer.

According to some studies, reishi extract decreased the number and size of large intestine tumors by one year after treatment.

Furthermore, according to a comprehensive study of numerous studies, the fungus can help cancer patients.

The researchers discovered that these advantages including boosting white blood cell activity, which aids in the fight against cancer, and enhancing quality of life for cancer patients.

Researchers, on the other hand, recommend that reishi should be used in conjunction with traditional therapy rather than replacing it.

In addition, many of the reishi mushroom and cancer studies were not high-quality. As a result, much additional study is required.

4. Alleviates Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depression

Reishi’s immunological effects are frequently emphasized, but it offers a slew of additional benefits as well.

Improved quality of life as well as reduced fatigue and depression are just a few of the additional benefits.

Some of the same properties that make Reishi great for sleep can also decrease general stress, which allows better responses to emotional triggers. Animal studies have suggested a potential antidepressant effect, which may, in turn, decrease or protect against symptoms of anxiety.

One study on breast cancer patients found that those who received spore powder from reishi mushrooms reported “less anxiety and depression, and better quality of life. This suggests the added benefits of Reishi mushrooms to people experiencing disease-related struggles with mood and mental wellbeing.

One study using reishi mushrooms examined its effects in 132 people with neurasthenia, a strange condition that includes the side effects of aches, pains, dizziness, headaches and irritability.

After 8 weeks of taking reishi, sleep quality was improved and fatigue was reduced, according to the study.

According to another study, 4 weeks of reishi powder supplementation improved fatigue and quality of life in a group of 48 breast cancer survivors.

Furthermore, the people in the study also had reduced levels of anxiety and depression.

While reishi mushroom has potential for individuals with certain diseases or illnesses, it is uncertain if it would help those who are otherwise healthy.

5. Reishi May Improve Heart Health

The Journal of Natural Medicines published a 12-week study on reishi mushrooms and their effects on “good” HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Overall, more study is required in the field of reishi mushrooms and heart health.

Any weapons that can be added to the arsenal to combat the number-one killer of all – heart disease – are worth exploring.

Research on this aspect of the Reishi mushrooms health benefits is mixed, but shows some promising effects. Reishi can have positive effects on blood lipid levels, though results might vary in those who have other chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Antioxidant activities could decrease or prevent lipid peroxidation, the first step in plaque formation. Consuming reishi mushrooms may have beneficial effects on blood pressure. Reishi has the potential to prevent the heart damage caused by chronic diseases and unhealthy lifestyle factors.

Some data indicates that these mushrooms can also provide added benefits through reduction of LDL and total cholesterol, reduction of triglyceride production, and increased HDL. The mechanism of action is unclear here, but researchers believe that the combined effects of the beta-glucans and the triterpenes could play a role in reducing the risk of oxidative stress, thus decreasing cellular damage.

6. Reishi May Help Regulate Blood Sugar

According to several research studies, polysaccharides contained in reishi mushrooms can help to lower blood sugar levels in mice. Blood sugar levels varied after meals. Reishi mushroom reduced blood sugar in some individuals, but it increased it in others.

7. Reishi is Full of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that may help your cells remain healthy. Because of its vital function, there is a lot of interest in antioxidant-boosting foods and supplements. Many people swear by reishi mushroom’s ability to provide anti-oxidant benefits.

8. May Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation gets a bad reputation, but it is actually a helpful process. When there is injury or pathogens invading, your body sends an army of immune cells to deal with the problem. The resulting inflammatory cascade may produce symptoms such as pain, swelling, and redness. The process should be stopped as soon as you treat the trigger.

When this does not happen, it creates chronic inflammation. The damage that results appears to play a role in a substantial number of chronic, age-related conditions. One animal study suggests that a particular protein in reishi may help modulate the immune response, increasing production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and regulatory T cells. Some studies in cancer suggest that the terpenes can have anti-inflammatory effects as well.

One study of healthy subjects given a commercially produced reishi capsule showed no changes in inflammation-related biomarkers. Another study showed significant increases in antioxidant capacities of the bloodstream following supplementation with Reishi. It is possible that some of this controversy could stem from the way that the various methods for making Reishi affect the levels of the beneficial compounds.

9. Improves Sleep Quality

According to the American Sleep Association, between 37% and 40% of adults between 20 and 59 years old report that they are getting insufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation can have a number of severe side effects, including reduced productivity, increased chances of being involved in car accidents, and increased risks for chronic diseases. Taking reishi mushrooms to help with sleep may help to prevent these problems.

Make it easier to fall asleep. Improve sleep quality. Provide the body with more opportunities for repair and recovery. Here are two studies outlining these benefits: Study 1, Study 2.

That is why some people swear by having Reishi mushroom tea before bedtime.

10. Helps Balance Hormones

Because hormones are involved in everything from metabolism and appetite to the sleep cycle and temperature, keeping things in balance is crucial.

What Reishi Mushrooms Do for Hormones:

  • It appears that an active compound has the ability to normalize hormonal levels.
  • Regulating hormones at the estrogen receptors, this may help to protect against breast and other estrogen-related tumors.
  • Improve lymphatic and endocrine health of immunocompromised patients.
  • Reduce levels of 5-alpha-reductase, which keeps testosterone from turning into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the stronger form that is sometimes associated with increased prostate risk.
  • Reduce prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate).

Support healthy function by showing estrogen-like activity in individuals with low estrogen levels, such as menopausal women.

11. May Prevent Liver Damage

Data about reishi mushrooms and liver health are mixed. While in the past, there has been some evidence of some potential toxicity from some supplements, the reishi mushrooms themselves may in fact have liver protection benefits. Studies in the field suggest a potential benefit for those suffering with liver damage or Hepatitis B, perhaps because of the positive effects on immune responses. Reishi can also inhibit cells playing a key role in liver fibrosis.

12. Can Promote Healthy Gut Bacteria Balance

Research on Ganodermas benefits to gut microbiome is in its early stages, but one study on mice showed potential positive results. Giving mice a reishi preparation made from water to feed on high-fat diets reversed intestinal dysbiosis and protected them from metabolic endotoxemia. In other words, Reishi could redress intestinal balance and keep bacterial toxins out of your bloodstream. These findings indicate that Reishi could be a useful ally to combat obesity and insulin resistance, but further studies are needed to find out for sure.

Discussion on Dosage

Unlike other foods or pills, reishi mushroom supplement doses vary considerably depending on the type used.

When someone consumes the mushroom, the highest doses are observed. Depending on the size of the mushroom, doses may range from 25 to 100 grams in these situations.

Instead of eating the mushroom itself, people eat a dried extract. When compared to consuming the mushroom itself, these doses are generally 10 times lower.

For example, 50 grams of fresh reishi mushroom may be equivalent to the potency of approximately 5 grams of reishi liquid extract. The daily dosage of the mushroom extract is generally between 1.5 and 9 grams if you’re taking it in powder or capsule form.

You can find our favorite capsules, powders, and tincture’s on the following pages of our website and learn more about each individually:

Best Reishi Mushroom Supplement

Best Reishi Mushroom Powder

Best Reishi Mushroom Tincture

Best Reishi Mushroom Mushroom Gummies

Potential Side Effects

Despite its popularity, reishi mushroom has been criticized for its toxicity.

Those who took reishi mushroom for four months were almost two times as likely to experience a negative effect as those taking a placebo, according to some research.

However, the majority of these effects were minor and included an increased risk of stomach or digestive discomfort. There have been no reports of adverse health effects on the liver.

In another study, four weeks of reishi mushroom extract did not appear to harm the liver or kidneys in healthy people.

However, in two case studies, significant liver issues have been reported.

The two individuals in the case studies had previously used reishi mushroom with no difficulties, but they experienced negative effects after switching to a powdered form.

Because reishi mushroom benefits, on the other hand, contain polysaccharides that are essential for liver function and regeneration (these substances stimulate the immune system), it’s difficult to determine whether or not the mushroom itself was behind the observed liver damage or if there were issues with the powdered extract.

Limited information is available overall, and many studies on reishi mushroom have not included safety data, therefore further research is needed.

Despite the fact that reishi is generally regarded as safe, there are certain groups of individuals who should avoid it. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a blood disorder, will be having surgery, or have low blood pressure are among them.

Additional Resources:

Is reishi mushroom good for autoimmune disorders?

What kind of trees to reishi mushrooms grow on? 

Updated 10/19/2022

Bruce Wilson

Bruce Wilson

I've studied Mycology and Forest Pathology and love creating content to help other learn more about my passion. Follow along as I continue to explore the amazing world of functional fungi!

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