In China and Japan, the medicinal mushroom called Reishi has been valued for thousands of years and is still considered a symbol of good luck and immortality. Whether liver disease, allergies, inflammation, heart disease, or cancer: there is hardly any other medicinal mushroom that can be used in so many different ways. But which active ingredients are responsible for this? What should be considered when using it? How is Reishi tea prepared and how can an extract or syrup be made from the Reishi? Follow us into the world of the legendary Reishi medicinal mushroom!
Reishi is one of the oldest medicines known to man
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the most important medicinal mushrooms and one of the oldest medicines known to mankind. It occurs worldwide and grows mainly on deciduous trees – its favorite tree is the oak.
In German-speaking countries, the Reishi goes by the name “Shining Lackporling”, while in Chinese folk medicine it has been used for healing purposes as the magical “Ling Zhi” for around 4,000 years.
Unlike e.g. B. the shiitake or the oyster mushroom, which are both medicinal and edible mushrooms, the reishi is not one of the edible mushrooms. It is a purely medicinal mushroom, its consistency is very hard and it also tastes bitter.
The fact that Reishi has nevertheless gained so much popularity speaks for its extraordinary healing powers.
Medicinal Mushroom Reishi – It helps with these diseases
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Reishi is still used today, e.g. B. used in the following conditions:
- Chronic hepatitis
- weakened immune system
- high blood pressure
- heart diseases
- stomach ulcers
- kidney inflammation
- joint inflammation
In addition, Reishi is considered an extremely effective tonic that can help people who are suffering from a serious illness such as cancer to regain their strength. So it’s no coincidence that Reishi is called the “mushroom of eternal life”.
Another highly interesting effect concerns age spots, which, according to folk medicine, should slowly but surely disappear if the Reishi mushroom is taken regularly.
A medicinal mushroom that helps regulate the immune system and has a histamine-inhibiting effect and could therefore be integrated into a naturopathic concept for allergies and autoimmune diseases is the Chaga mushroom.
Reishi – The most important active ingredients at a glance
The diverse application possibilities of Reishi are due to a whole range of active ingredients, with two groups of substances, in particular, have stood out. These are on the one hand specific polysaccharides and on the other hand triterpenes from the large family of secondary plant substances.
- Reishi contains more than 100 different highly effective polysaccharides, including the so-called sulfated polysaccharides, which are even recommended to prevent influenza or other viral diseases due to their good antiviral effect. Yes, even in HIV, this group of drugs showed surprising results. The polysaccharides in Reishi stabilize the human immune system so well that numerous pathogens no longer stand a chance.
- The triterpenes protect the Reishi itself from attack by microorganisms and have a strong antibacterial, calming, and anti-inflammatory effect on the body. About 140 highly active triterpenes were found in Reishi. counteract liver insufficiency, curb histamine release (therefore protect against allergies) and lower both high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, the triterpenes strengthen the cardiovascular system and prevent tumor formation.
And yet the healing effect of Reishi – as with all other natural medicines – is not due to individual active ingredients, but to the overall composition. In contrast to this, conventional medicine usually tries to isolate individual active ingredients and market them in the form of a drug at a high cost. In the case of Reishi, however, more and more scientists are fortunately interested in researching the mode of action of the entire medicinal mushroom or the Reishi extract, so that Reishi is now one of the best-studied medicinal mushrooms in the world and in the PubMed study database with well over 1000 studies is listed.
Reishi activates the immune system
It has already been proven in many studies that Reishi activates the immune system. So e.g. B.Dr. Zhang and his colleagues at Freie Universität Berlin isolated a proteoglycan (sugar-protein compound) called GLIS from which Reishi found in laboratory studies that GLIS increased the B-lymphocytes (B-cells) of the spleen three to fourfold elevated.
The B cells belong to the white blood cells and are responsible for the production of antibodies in the body. dr In another study, Bao from the Chinese Academy of Sciences came to the conclusion that the polysaccharides in Reishi not only increase the number of B cells, but also the number of T cells. In the body, T cells are constantly on the lookout for degenerate cells or cells that are infected by viruses, which they then eliminate.
This activation of the immune system prevents diseases on the one hand, and on the other hand supports the body’s self-healing powers in the case of existing diseases (e.g. in the case of cancer, but also in the case of many other chronic diseases).
However, Reishi has a dual effect on the immune system and thus also helps with autoimmune diseases. Because if the immune system overreacts or reacts incorrectly, the Reishi dampens this reaction and reduces it to a healthy level.
Malaysian researcher Dr. Teow Sun Soo recommends taking 1500 to 3000 mg of Reishi extract 3 times a day to strengthen and activate the immune system. After two weeks, the dose can be reduced to 1000 to 1500 mg per day.
Reishi in cancer therapy
Numerous scientific studies have shown that Reishi is effective against various cancers. For example, Japanese researchers led by Dr. Liu from Kyushu University in Fukuoka found that Reishi extract inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells.
dr Gao from Massey University in New Zealand treated 34 patients with various advanced tumors with 1800 mg daily of Reishi extract and came to the conclusion that the patient’s resistance could be significantly increased as a result.
This resulted in tumor growth being inhibited. Due to these positive results, Reishi has long since been officially used in accompanying cancer therapy in Japan.
The tumor-inhibiting properties are attributed to the interaction between the immune-stimulating polysaccharides, the triterpenes, which are toxic to tumor cells, and other anti-cancer substances typical of Reishi.
In addition, the medicinal mushroom is able to alleviate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy and to improve the general well-being of cancer patients, as it stimulates the appetite, relieves pain, promotes sleep, and has an overall strengthening effect.
Reishi and vitamin C: combination therapy against cancer
dr Fukumi Morishige of the Linus Pauling Institute for Science and Medicine in California has been researching the effects of Reishi for decades now.
He has now treated more than 300 cancer patients with a high dose of Reishi extract (2 to 10 g daily). Doctors had already classified most of these patients as hopeless.
The first side effect was diarrhea. However, a solution was quickly found: when the Reishi extract was combined with vitamin C (6 to 12 g daily), there was no diarrhea. In addition, this combination therapy reduced the susceptibility to infection and normalized antibody production.
dr Morishige has i.a. treated a 50-year-old woman with breast cancer after metastases were found in her lungs as a result of her breast surgery. The patient took 6 g of Reishi extract daily for six months – and the lung cancer disappeared! This is just one healing success of many because Dr. Morishige has been able to help numerous cancer patients who have already given up on Reishi therapy.
This therapy has proven to be particularly successful in the follow-up treatment (e.g. after surgery or chemotherapy) of lung cancer, brain tumors, liver cancer, pancreatic and kidney cancer in order to prevent possible recurrences.
dr Morishige firmly believes that Reishi is not only excellent for treating cancer but is also the best preventive method to prevent cancer. Because around 20 percent of all cancers are due to inflammation – and Reishi has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Reishi for arthritis, neurodermatitis and allergies
The Reishi has a fundamentally positive effect on inflammation in the body, which is thanks to the triterpenes. Interestingly, these have a similar effect to the anti-inflammatory cortisone and curb the release of histamine.
But unlike cortisone, therapies with Reishi have no side effects!
In practice, Reishi has already shown good effects on joint inflammation (e.g. arthritis), but also on inflammatory processes of the skin (e.g. neurodermatitis). It relieved the redness, swelling, and itching associated with the diseases.
Reishi protects and detoxifies the liver
In TCM, Reishi is considered the best liver remedy of all and is recommended for the treatment of numerous liver diseases. On the one hand, the natural ingredients help to strengthen liver functions and, on the other hand, to detoxify the liver and protect it from liver diseases.
Even in the therapy of existing liver diseases (hepatitis A, B, and C), Reishi is a recommended accompanying measure.
The Reishi has proven to be particularly helpful in those cases in which the liver was not too badly damaged. So e.g. For example, in a Chinese study, 355 hepatitis B patients were treated with the so-called Wulingdan pill, which is sometimes made from the fruiting body of Reishi: around 92 percent of the test subjects improved their previously poor liver values significantly.
Reishi helps HIV-infected people
Like many chronic liver infections, AIDS is caused by a virus. Here, the clinical reports are increasing, according to which the immune-stimulating polysaccharides even seem to have a positive effect on HIV-infected people.
According to a study published in The North American Journal of Medical Sciences, the antiviral triterpenes of Reishi medicinal mushroom are able to significantly increase HIV protease (an enzyme necessary for the virus to multiply). inhibit and thus prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
The so-called protease inhibitors (HIV drugs) are also based on this principle, but unlike Reishi, they are associated with numerous side effects (e.g. indigestion or nausea), which lead to a reduction in the quality of life.
Furthermore, the Reishi should also be against other viruses. B. glandular fever (EBV) or influenza viruses. It not only does this causally (fighting viruses) but – as already mentioned – also preventively and purely symptomatically by helping against tiredness and sleep disorders – both symptoms that are associated with a viral disease.
Reishi calms the nerves and promotes sleep
There are many people in Asia who drink Reishi tea regularly, so it has long been known that Reishi makes you relaxed and sleepy. Prof. Shojiro Inoue from the Tokyo Medical Dental University followed up on these field reports and was able to prove that Reishi tea actually has a sleep-inducing effect.
This is attributed to the fact that the medicinal mushroom has a sedative (calming) effect on the brain cells and calms the central nervous system. The professor also found that this effect only occurs at low doses – as in the case of Reishi tea. High doses of a Reishi extract, on the other hand, have not proven to be helpful for sleep disorders.
The positive thing about Reishi tea is that – unlike sleeping pills – it is neither hypnotic nor narcotic and does not become addictive even after prolonged use.
Reishi Tea – The Preparation
According to the Hungarian-German mycologist (mushroom expert) Jan Ivan Lelley, professor at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, preparing a reishi tea is the easiest way to use the medicinal mushroom for targeted self-medication.
- For a cup of tea, you need 1 heaped teaspoon of mushroom powder or 1 tablespoon of grated mushrooms.
- Pour boiling water over the medicinal mushrooms.
- Then cover the jar and let the tea steep for 15 minutes.
- After pouring off the liquid through a sieve, the tea is ready to drink.
Tips: Since Reishi tea tastes bitter, honey can be used to sweeten it. The tea can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and drunk both cold and warm.
Reishi strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Researchers have found in several studies that medicinal mushroom increases blood flow and reduces oxygen consumption in the heart muscle. Apparently, it is the triterpenes in Reishi that can also naturally lower blood pressure and prevent a heart attack.
In a large-scale clinical study at a university clinic in Tokyo, 53 patients with high blood pressure were treated with Reishi extract for six months, which resulted in a lasting reduction in blood pressure in almost 50 percent of the subjects.
Another study examined the effects of Reishi on cholesterol levels and the cardiovascular system in seven Chinese hospitals. Bad LDL cholesterol was reduced in 70 percent of patients after taking Reishi for several months.
Reishi relieves chronic respiratory diseases
In the 1970s, a large study was carried out in various Chinese hospitals, in which around 2000 patients with chronic bronchitis took part. The subjects received Reishi extract tablets. Within 2 weeks, up to 91 percent of the patients had a significant improvement in their condition.
Another positive effect of the therapy was that the appetite of the often emaciated study participants could be increased. Are there chronic respiratory diseases with reduced oxygen supply, which e.g. B. leads to exhaustion, shortness of breath, or shortness of breath, the Reishi is particularly helpful because it increases the oxygen saturation of the blood. This was also proven by the following studies.
Reishi is effective for altitude sickness
Chinese researchers have conducted two studies on people suffering from altitude sickness. This occurs at altitudes between 2,500 and 5,500 meters and leads to an oxygen deficiency, which can lead to edema in the lungs and other body tissues (e.g. the brain). Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, palpitations, dizziness, and vomiting.
However, if measures are taken to increase the oxygen saturation of the blood again – e.g. B. taking the Reishi mushroom – not only the symptoms of altitude sickness disappear.
All those who smoke, suffer from circulatory disorders, have a heart defect, or have increased oxygen consumption through physical exertion at work or during sports benefit from an increase in the oxygen saturation of the blood.
In the first study, more than 200 Chinese soldiers received a Reishi preparation three times a day, and 97 percent of the subjects no longer experienced altitude sickness. Nearly 1,000 Chinese mountaineers took part in the second study.
While 83 percent of the Reishi group no longer had headaches and 96 percent no longer felt the urge to vomit, 80 percent of the subjects in the control group continued to suffer from altitude sickness.
Reishi – application forms and dosage
Reishi can be taken in a variety of ways, including syrups, soups, powders, capsules, tea, injections, and tinctures. In TCM, the usual daily dose is between 1500 mg and 9000 mg of mushroom powder.
To maintain health, 1500 mg to 5000 mg of mushroom powder is recommended daily, in the case of serious illnesses such as e.g. B. cancer, the dose should be set higher.
Another form of the extract is tincture. The usual dosage of a tincture is 10-20 ml (2-4 teaspoons) 3 times a day. It’s easy to make your own reishi tincture:
- 450 g Reishi powder
- 1.8 liters of water
- 0.5 liters of alcohol
- Mix the reishi powder with the water in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover the pot with a lid and let the mixture simmer for half an hour.
- Allow the liquid to cool and pour it into a glass jar.
- Now you can add the alcohol and close the jar.
- Leave the tincture in a warm place for 2 weeks.
- Filter the tincture through a clean linen cloth and fill it into sealable dark glass vials.
It is very important for the success of the treatment that both the form of application and the dosage are discussed individually with an experienced doctor or naturopath and adapted to the rest of the therapy. Incidentally, many Chinese and Japanese healers swear by Reishi combination therapies.
Reishi – combination therapies often work even better
Aristotle recognized that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As you already know, the combination of Reishi and vitamin C has proven its worth. However, you should make sure that you take in natural vitamin C, which e.g. B. in sea buckthorn, rose hips or the acerola cherry is present in considerable amounts. Vitamin C ensures that the absorption of the active ingredients in Reishi is improved and the immune system is additionally supported.
In addition, several studies have shown that the combination of Reishi and green tea prevents cancer cells from growing. So have Dr. Jia-Shi Zhu of the Pharmanex Research Institute in Utah, and his team of researchers found that the ingredients in the two components produce a synergistic effect, meaning that reishi and green tea enhance each other’s effects when taken at the same time.
Furthermore, Dr. Thyagarajan from the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis found in his investigations that reishi and green tea prevent breast cancer cells from penetrating into neighboring tissue, i.e. from forming metastases.
Last but not least, Reishi is often administered together with other medicinal mushrooms, since in many cases the combination seems to make more sense than an isolated individual dose.
So e.g. B. Hericium is usually used successfully together with Reishi for chronic pain, while Reishi and Cordyceps are particularly suitable for combating burnout symptoms and general weakness, treating chronic lung diseases, or increasing performance.