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9 Benefits and Side Effects of Reishi Mushroom (4 Contraindications To Be Noted)[Updated Feb/2023]

Reishi Mushroom (ganoderma lucidum) is one of the most famous traditional Chinese herbs, which has been used for thousands of years and is classified as a medicine in ancient medical texts, meaning that it has health preservation, vitality, anti-aging, longevity and other benefits

In empirical medicine, what are the effects of Reishi Mushroom? Are there any side effects and contraindications? See text analysis for details

What is Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)?

Reishi Mushroom (ganoderma lucidum) is a mushroom plant of the porous family, mainly parasitic in broad-leaved trees, because the wild number is very small, and can only be found in specific tree species, so it is extremely precious and has the reputation of dream mushrooms

In recent years, artificial cultivation has been successful and can be produced in large quantities, so its pharmacological effects have gradually been revealed, and the most important ingredients are the following two

  • Polysaccharides: For example, β-glucans may have anti-tumor immunomodulatory effects
  • Triterpenes: have the effect of protecting the liver, lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, reducing the production of histamine (hormones that promote allergies).

How do you eat Reishi Mushroom (ganoderma lucidum)?

Because Reishi Mushroom (ganoderma lucidum) is not approved for use in any condition, there is no official recommended dosage.

Fresh Reishi Mushroom (ganoderma lucidum) is non-toxic but may be too hard or bitter to eat directly.

Generally, fresh Reishi Mushroom (ganoderma lucidum) is dried and ground into powder before use, or sliced and soaked in hot water for tea.

What are the recommended proven benefits of Reishi Mushroom (ganoderma lucidum)?

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) has liver protection effect

The liver plays a vital role in regulating a variety of metabolic functions and physiological processes, such as the metabolism of nutrients, bile secretion and synthesis of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, and vitamin storage. Its detoxifying ability makes it especially important in maintaining good health.

Hepatic diseases are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with obesity, alcoholism, unhealthy lifestyles, biological factors (bacterial, viral, and parasitic), and autoimmune diseases (immune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis) being common causes of liver damage.

A 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study of 42 healthy middle-aged volunteers with mild liver dysfunction (GOT, GPT, and fatty liver) showed that consumption of Ganoderma lucidum significantly increased total antioxidant capacity, plasma total thiols and glutathione content, and significantly increased antioxidant enzyme activity. Note 1

In addition, the liver function index GOT and GPT of the Ganoderma lucidum treatment group continued to decrease, and the abdominal ultrasound showed that the liver shape was reversed from mild fatty liver to normal.

*Conclusion: Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has antioxidant and liver protection effects, but it is limited by the small sample size, and more studies are still needed to support it

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) promotes immune function

The immune response includes two stages: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. The first category includes physical and chemical barriers and cellular roles such as macrophages, dendritic cells, natural killer cells, neutrophils and cytokines, interleukines, nitric oxide, and molecules such as superoxide anions

The second is T lymphocytes (TCD4+ and TCD8+) and B lymphocytes and their products such as antibodies and cytokines as mechanisms of action.

In a randomized controlled trial (28 days, 40 male soccer players), Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) helped improve the decrease in CD4+/CD8+ ratio caused by living high-training low. Note 2

*Conclusion: For the decline of immune function caused by high-intensity exercise training, oral administration of Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) may bring positive help

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) is beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease with a well-defined pathophysiological mechanism

The pathological features are associated with cytoskeletal changes caused by the accumulation of amyloid peptides in brain tissue and excessive phosphorylation of microtubule-associated Tau proteins in neurons, mainly affecting the medial temporal lobe and associated neocortical structures

The most common cognitive symptoms include short-term memory deficits, executive and visuospatial dysfunction, and motor use disorders, and pathogenesis factors associated with aging, presence of the APOE4 gene, low educational and occupational levels, family history, moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, and cardiovascular risk factors.

One preliminary randomized controlled trial (6-week, 42 Alzheimer’s patients) noted that oral Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) spore powder capsules did not significantly help Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and quality of life improvement compared with placebo (as measured by Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, World Health Organization Quality of Life Questionnaire, Neuropsychiatric Index). Note 1

*Conclusion: Oral Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has no obvious benefit in improving Alzheimer’s disease, but due to the small sample size and the short intervention period, more studies are still needed to further verify

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) is beneficial for epilepsy

Epilepsy is an ancient disorder that has been recorded historically from the time of the ancient Babylonians to modern times, most often occurring in childhood and old age, and seizures are defined as abnormal electrical perturbations caused by networks of neurons

There are several known risk factors for epilepsy in adults, including: head trauma, central nervous system infections such as neurocysticercosis, stroke, embolism and bleeding, central nervous system malignancies, especially cortical tumors such as gliomas and metastases, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

A retrospective study (8 weeks, 18 people with epilepsy) found that oral administration of Ganoderma lucidum spore powder significantly reduced the number of seizures per week compared with before treatment, but did not significantly help reduce the duration of each seizure and improve the quality of life. Note 2

*Conclusion: Oral administration of Ganoderma lucidum spore powder may be helpful in reducing seizure frequency, but due to the lack of control group, too short intervention period and small sample size, more precisely designed studies are still needed for further verification

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) is beneficial for cancer treatment

Cancer is caused by abnormally differentiated cells in the human body, characterized by uncontrolled growth and expansion through blood vessels and lymphatic system, and is the most common cancer of colorectal cancer

In recent years, although cancer detection, chemotherapy, and various biobasic therapies have continued to evolve, the cure rate has not changed much, so various adjuvant therapies have also emerged

A Cochrane Review (5 randomized controlled trials, 373 participants) pointed out that to date, there is no clear and objective evidence to confirm the use of Ganoderma lucidum in first-line cancer treatment and improve long-term survival. Note 1

However, if Ganoderma lucidum is used in addition to conventional chemoradiotherapy, it can improve the treatment response rate and modify host immunity, and slow down the immunosuppressive effect of treatment

*Conclusion: The use of Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) in addition to conventional cancer treatment may improve treatment efficiency and immune function, and improve the quality of life of patients

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) prevents cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that refers to any of the coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, rheumatic/congenital heart disease, and venous thromboembolism

According to the World Health Organization, about 75% of early-onset cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by improving risk factors, such as dyslipidemia, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, etc

A Cochrane Review (5 randomized controlled trials, 398 participants) noted that the limited evidence available to Ganoderma lucidum did not produce significant effects on cardiovascular risk factors such as glycated hemoglobin, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, body mass index, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, and triglycerides. Note 2

*Conclusion: Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) cannot significantly improve a variety of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, which needs to be further verified by more large studies

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) is beneficial for male lower urinary tract symptoms

Lower urinary tract symptoms in men often affect people aged 50 to 80 years, with an incidence of up to 90%, divided into storage period symptoms (urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, nocturia) and urination symptoms (low flow rate, hesitation, incomplete emptying feeling)

Common causes are benign prostatic hyperplasia, detrusor muscle weakness or hyperactivity, prostatitis, urinary tract infection, prostate cancer, and neurologic disorders

A randomized, double-blind controlled study (12 weeks, 88 men with mild to moderate lower urinary tract symptoms) found that Ganoderma lucidum improved the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) compared with placebo, but there was no significant difference in quality of life score, highest urine flow, mean urine flow, residual urine, prostate volume, serum prostate-specific antigen, or testosterone levels. Note 3

*Conclusion: Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) may be helpful in improving lower urinary tract symptoms in men, but the results still need to be confirmed by more large experiments

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) is beneficial for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic widespread pain disease with a prevalence rate of between 2% and 5% in the population, and it is seven times more common in women than in men, especially in the population of reproductive age.

In addition to the main symptom of pain, it may be accompanied by fatigue, poor sleep quality, mood disorders, restless legs, irritable bowel and bladder, cognitive dysfunction, and chronic headache.

A randomized, double-blind controlled study (6 weeks, 64 women with fibromyalgia) noted that the use of Ganoderma lucidum improved performance test scores, including aerobic endurance, lower extremity flexibility, and speed. Note 4

*Conclusion: Oral administration of Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) may have a positive effect on the improvement of fibromyalgia

  1. Reishi Room (Ganoderma lucidum) delays aging and increases lifespan (animal experiments)

Thanks to the advancement of modern medicine, the average life expectancy of human beings has been increasing, from 100 years old 40 years ago to more than 80 years old now, and how to achieve healthy and disease-free aging is almost a topic that everyone wants to know.

In addition to activating immunity and reducing diseases, Ganoderma lucidum also has eye-catching results for delaying aging, and it was confirmed in an animal study that Ganoderma lucidum can greatly extend the life span of laboratory mice by up to 148 days, which is equivalent to 16 years if converted to humans. Note 5

Unlike other studies, this experiment used a generally considered reasonable dose, equivalent to 1,050 mg for 75 kg of adults, and therefore holds hope for human anti-aging.

Are there any side effects of Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)?

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and is relatively safe according to medical records, but because there are still few relevant human studies, it must still be used with caution.

Possible side effects or adverse effects reported in the literature include dry mouth, itchy throat, gastrointestinal upset, rash, nosebleeds, and bloody stools.

Safety precautions

1. Do not use if pregnant or lactating women (due to unknown safety)

2. Patients with low blood pressure or taking blood pressure lowering drugs should not use (because Ganoderma lucidum may have blood pressure lowering effect), common blood pressure lowering drugs are: Captopril (metcaptopropronic acid), enalapril, losartan, valsartan, diltiazem, Amlodipine hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide

3. Patients with poor coagulation function or taking anticoagulant drugs should not use (because taking large doses of Ganoderma lucidum may affect coagulation function), common anticoagulant drugs are: aspirin, clopidogrel, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, dalteparin (dalteparin sodium), Enoxaparin, heparin, warfarin

4. Discontinue use 3weeks before surgery (because taking large doses of Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) may affect coagulation function and increase the risk of bleeding during surgery)


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