Have you heard of Ganoderma lucidum? Maybe you know it by its other name, reishi mushroom? If not, mushrooms are one of the most popular superfoods on Earth. And – even better – there is resaerch on rishih mushrooms too. This makes evaulating it to know if it works, much easier. In this review, Ill break down the reishi mushroom research to help you know best if it can help you. Does reishi mushroom work? In some cases, yes. In other cases, not so much. Let's go to the science and see if it's right for you.
1 What Is Reishi Mushroom?
Reishi mushroom – Ganoderma lucidum is a type of mushroom. There are over 5000 types of mushrooms, Another name for it is Lingzhi mushroom. Reishi mushroom appears to have a variety of specialized molecules which might help it work in many different ways.
Ganoderma has research on them for a variety of health conditions. But what are they good for? Let's now summarize the evidence below and put the focus on human research. Human research is most important for us because we are humans (I hope we are, at least).
2 Ganoderma And Blood Pressure
Can reishi mushroom help lower blood pressure? Researchers in Hong Kong gave 1.44 g of reishi to 26 people with hypertension for 12 weeks. They saw no change in blood pressure or body mass index (BMI) in either placebo or Ganoderma groups.They did notice a small decrease in insulin resistance and triglyceride levels. An increase in good (HDL) cholesterol was also noted.
When it comes to does it work, I think better studies need to be done.
3 Ganoderma And Dementia
Experiential evidence hints reishi mushroom may reduce the development of beta-amyloid plaques which form in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease. Sounds promising. So can reishi help people preserve memory? Researchers in China tested reshi mushroom powder in 42 people with Alzheimer's disease for 6 weeks. These researchers saw no improvement in the peoples memory. This is contrary to lab animal evidence which suggest the mushroom can bolster memory.
4 Ganoderma And Arthritis
Researchers in Hong Kong, gave reishi mushroom or a placebo to 65 people with rheumatoid arthritis. for 24 weeks. The amount of reishi used was 2.4 grams per day. Those taking ganoderma were also given 2.4 grams of an herb called San Miao San (SMS). Blood tests were taken and people completed questioners to gauge their pain level. After 24 weeks, significant improvements in arthritis pain were recorded in those getting the Ganoderma and SMS combination. There were no changes however in any immune system cells measured in the investigation.
Other studies also suggest this combination may help arthritis suffers too. While this all sounds great, it doesn't prove reishi improved arthritis pain because it was used in combination with another herb.
5 Reishi And Viruses
There is evidence reishi plus another mushroom Trametes versicolor may help clear HPV virus from the body after 2 months of use. These French investigators noted an 88% clearance of the virus. Older research also suggests a combination of reishi and other mushrooms might be effective against herpes virus too.
6 Ganoderma And Diabetes
Test tube and lab mice evidence suggests reishi mushroom can reduce blood sugar. But what about people?
Researchers in 2012 noted reishi might have “mild anti-diabetic effects” after 12 weeks of use. These researchers used 1.44 grams of ganoderma per day. This study was also referenced above in the blood pressure section.
Researchers in Australia gave 3 grams of reishi to 84 people with type II diabetes for 16 weeks. Their study showed reishi has no effect on blood sugar or hemoglobin A1C levels.
Conclusion: lab animal studies suggest reishi may benefit diabetes but human research is not so strong.
7 Ganoderma And Cancer
Can reishi mushroom prevent help people with cancer? Researchers in China, have noted reishi extracs can stimulate natural killer cells (NK cells) and other parts of the immune system in mice. The extract seemed to slow the growth of lung cancer cells but did not kill off the lung cancer cells. Other studies involving lab animals also suggest immune stimulating effects. But what about people?
When researchers in China gave mushrooms to 48 women with breast cancer, they observed it reduced their fatigue. Researchers in New Zeleand gave 30 patients with advanced lung cancer an extract of reishi called Ganopoly for 12 weeks. They noted the immune systems of some of the people improved. That said, other aspects of their immune system did not change. Test tube evidence suggests it may help reduce the spread of colon cancer cells.
In a review of previous research, it was concluded while the mushroom could be used alongside conventional cancer therapies, it should not be used in place of them. Most importantly, they say, “It remains uncertain whether Ganoderma lucidum helps prolong long-term cancer survival”.
8 Ganoderma And The Prostate
Can this mushroom help the prostate? One study involved 88 men with lower urinary tract infections. They were given reishi mushroom (6 mg/ day) or a placebo for 12 weeks. The men taking reishi mushrooms reported better improvement in urinary symptoms. No changes in testosterone, PSA, or prostate size were noted.
9 Ganoderma And Weight Loss
No studies have specifically investigated whether reishi mushroom helps people lose weight. I saw no evidence that these mushrooms helps people lose weight. Researchers looking at the heart health effects of ganoderma saw no changes in body mass index when people took it for 12 weeks.
10 Ganoderma Supplements
There are many mushroom supplements out there. Which one is the best? I don' think that question can be answered. While various websites tout their benefits, very few supplements have been clinically tested. As such, I don't think price has to matter when it comes to picking a supplement. As long as its quality made, they should all work about the same.
How do you know if you are getting a quality mushroom supplement? That answer may be more difficult than previously thought. Researchers tested 19 different brands of reishi mushroom supplements. Only 5 supplements contained any reishi. Unfortunately this study did not disclose which supplements failed. Regardless, it appears to show a very poor quality when it comes to ganoderma supplements.
When evaluating supplements here are a couple of tricks:
- Google the address of the company. What do you see? If you see a building with the company name, that's good. If you see a strip mall, then this might not be so good.
- Search the google results for the company name and look at what else shares that address. Is it the Fed Ex Store? If yes, that might not be so good.
When considering a supplement, consider whether it provides an extract or is derived from the whole mushroom. Personally, I think whole mushroom supplements would better because it would provide a wide spectrum of nutrients rather than an isolated extract.
11 Reishi Mushroom Side Effects
What is the toxicity of mushrooms? While people have been eating mushrooms for thousands of years, there are still some things you should consider when it comes to supplements. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than the recommended amount for the first week to see how you respond.
- some have reported diarrhea and GI problems.
- Don't take reishi supplements if you are allergic to mushrooms
- Ganoderma might have a blood pressure lowering effect.
- Ganoderma might be a natural blood thinner.
- Stop taking reishi supplements at least 2 weeks before having surgery.
- Speak to your doctor first if you have cancer.
- Speak to your doctor first if you have liver problems.
- Speak to your doctor/pharmacist/dietitian if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Researchers in Thailand have reported a case of liver failure from resihi supplements. Here, a 47 year old woman with a history of schizophrenia who had used reishi mushrooms for years without issues. Two months after switching to a powdered supplement (400 mg/day) she was admitted to the hospital with liver failure, where she died. The name of the supplement was not mentioned.
Researchers in Canada, noted at higher levels, extracts of the mushroom might have toxic effect on human cells. On the last page of the study researches make the following statements I feel are worth reading —especially for those who currently have cancer:
1. ” We believe that it cannot be concluded with certainty that G. lucidum causes immunostimulation. Given that there were consistent significant decreases in cell viability demonstrated, this suggests that G. lucidum does cause toxicity in cells of the immune system.”
2. “Therefore, if patients are willing to use G. lucidum as an adjunctive to chemotherapy at lower concentrations, caution should be used, as the potential for toxicity does appear to exist.”
3. “Additionally, further research is required to verify plasma concentrations after oral use of G. lucidum to determine whether high toxic levels are reached.”
4. “As well, caution needs to be exercised when planning studies of the use of G. lucidum or its extracts in the therapy of patients with cancer.”
Reishi Mushroom Questions
12 Do Reishi Mushrooms Get You High?
There is no evidence reishi mushrooms cause intoxication or a legal high. See the kratom review.
13 Can Reishi Rid The Body Of Candida?
It looks like no studies have looked at ganoderma and candida.
14 Can Reishi Mushrooms Grow Hair?
Preliminary evidence suggests ganoderma can inhibit an enzyme involved in hair loss. That enzyme is called 5α-reductase. This is also how some hair growth drugs work too. While this is interesting, research on reishi growing hair is lacking. So, whether it reverse hair loss or not is open to speculation.
15 Can Reishi Help PCOS?
Ganoderma seems to inhibit the enzyme 5α-reductase which is involved in turning testosterone in the DHT. This enzyme also plays a role in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). That said, there seems to be no conclusive proof taking reishi mushroom supplements can reverse PCOS.
16 Can Reishi Help Asthma?
Ganoderma, seems to have anti-inflammatory properties. In theory, this may help the airways of people with asthma. But, no studies have looked at reishi and asthma to see if it works or not.
17 Is Organic Reishi Better?
It might be especially if you are concerned with pesticides. Studies however don't compare organic vs. non organic mushrooms. None of the human studies specially said they used organic reshi. So, I think this is an individual decision.
18 Can Reishi Help The Thyroid Work Better?
There is a lack of evidence for Ganoderma lucidum reversing thyroid disease. No investigations seem to have looked at its effect on thyroid function or TSH levels or thyroid auto-antibodies. So I can't say either way. See the black seed oil review.
19 Does Reshi Help Autoimmune Diseases?
There are many autoimmune diseases. While there is some evidence for rheumatoid arthritis, for other issues, the answer is less clear.
20 Does Reishi Raise Hormone Levels?
It does not seem to raise estrogen or testosterone levels. It might reduce some other hormones but its really hard to know for sure because of the lack of human research.
21 Does Reishi Increase Energy?
Some people online say it does but the research is less clear. One study did find reishi improved fatigue in women with breast cancer. That's interesting but there is still room for more research.
22 Does Reishi Interfere With Birth Control Pills?
There is no research or reports of women getting pregnant while taking reishi and birth control pills.
23 Does Ganoderma Work?
Mushrooms are healthy and have been eaten for thousands of years. The research summarized above shows in some cases, reshi supplements may also have benefits. But, despite the hype, most of the proof for reishi supplements stems from lab animal and test tube studies. While there are some human studies, there are not as many as some might lead you to believe.
Before trying reishi mushrooms, speak to your doctor /pharmacist/dietitian about whether a mushroom supplement is right for you. I think it's a good idea to get a full blood test first —and do it again after about a month – to see if anything has changed. I think that's the best thing to do to know for sure if reishi is right for you.