Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum or Lingzhi, is a fungus that grows in hot and humid places in Asia. It has been used in Eastern medicine for hundreds of years as a treatment for various infections, lung diseases, and cancer. To reap the full benefits of this medicinal mushroom, you can consume it raw or you can take it in the form of powder or extract.
Overall Health Benefits of Reishi Mushroom
- Improves symptoms of diabetes [1-6]
- Lowers blood pressure [7-8]
- Boosts sexual vitality 
- Speeds up wound healing [10-11]
- Prevents and treats nerve damage [12-13]
- Lowers bad cholesterol 
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular diseases  [15-16]
- Prevents Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and boosts cognitive health [17-21]
- Prevents cancer [22-27]
- Protects organs [28-31]
- Wards off depression and improves mood [32-33]
- Promotes weight loss [34-35]
- Prevents bone abnormalities and lowers risk of fractures [36-37]
- Boosts immune function [38-41]
How Reishi Mushroom Works
Reishi mushroom is consists of several molecules such as triterpenoid, polysaccharide, and peptidoglycans which are responsible for its medicinal properties. These molecules are known to have beneficial effects on cancer, immune function, sleep quality, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and quality of life.
Proven Health Benefits of Reishi Mushroom
Improves Symptoms of Diabetes
Several lines of clinical evidence support the anti-diabetic properties of reishi mushroom:
- A study showed that reishi mushroom can prevent the development of diabetic complications. 
- In type 2 diabetic rats, reishi mushroom supplementation for 5 weeks resulted in a significant decrease in fasting plasma glucose levels in the oral glucose tolerance test. 
- A study showed that the polysaccharides in reishi mushroom were proven to have positive effects on diabetic complications. 
- A study showed that reishi mushroom may have mild antidiabetic effects. 
- In adult male Sprague–Dawley rats, consumption of reishi mushroom spore powder for 4 weeks significantly reduced blood glucose level. 
- In glucocorticoid-induced diabetic rats, consumption of reishi mushroom reduced blood sugar levels in a dose-dependent manner. 
Lowers Blood Pressure
Evidence suggests that reishi mushroom has blood pressure-lowering effects:
- In hypertensive rat strain, administration of reishi water extract reduced blood pressure after 7 weeks. 
- A study showed that reishi mushroom works like angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, a blood pressure medication. 
Boosts Sexual Vitality
In male Wistar rats, oral administration of ethanol extract of reishi mushroom significantly increased their mounting behavior and mating performance.  This suggests that reishi mushroom may have beneficial effects on libido.
Speeds up Wound Healing
Studies also support the beneficial effects of reishi mushroom on the wound healing process:
- In rats with acetic acid-induced ulcers, reishi mushroom accelerated the healing process, suggesting that the herbal preparation may help prevent and treat peptic ulcers. 
- A study found that reishi mushroom can enhance wound healing activity by stimulating the accumulation of collagen and proteins at the site of injury. 
Prevents and Treats Nerve Damage
- A study showed that Ganoderma lucidum extract ameliorates Parkinsonism pathology via regulating mitochondrial function, autophagy, and apoptosis. 
- In mice, oral administration of ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum, significantly increased the time spent in target quadrant (TSTQ) and decreased the escape latency (EL) in Morris water maze model 
Lowers Bad Cholesterol
A study conducted in hamsters and pigs showed that reishi mushroom administration reduced the levels of low-density lipoprotein, also known as the “bad cholesterol.” 
Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
Studies also show that reishi mushroom can protect against cardiovascular disease:
- A study showed that reishi mushroom can protect the heart by scavenging free radicals. 
- In rats, reishi mushroom protected the heart from Adriamycin-induced toxicity. 
- A study conducted in hamsters and pigs showed that reishi mushroom can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. 
Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Boosts Cognitive Health
An overwhelming body of clinical evidence suggests that reishi mushroom can help protect against cognitive dysfunction:
- A study showed that alcohol extracts from reishi mushroom, including ganoderic acid and lucidone A, can help delay the progression of AD. 
- A study found that polysaccharides from reishi mushroom have the capacity to protect brain cells against oxidative stress-induced programmed cell death (apoptosis). 
- A study showed that reishi mushroom can help improve cognitive health via its role in the development of nerve cells in the brain. 
- In a mouse model of AD, reishi mushroom enhanced neurogenesis (nerve cell formation) and alleviated cognitive deficits. 
- In mice, oral administration of reishi mushroom improved learning and memory. 
Several studies show that reishi mushroom has potent anti-cancer properties:
- A cell study found that reishi mushroom exerts its anti-cancer properties by inducing programmed cell death of cancer cells. 
- A study showed that reishi mushroom’s anticancer effects are attributed to its efficacy in reducing cancer cell survival and growth, as well as increasing the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs. 
- A study found that the bioconstituents of reishi mushroom inhibited signaling pathways necessary for lung cancer cell growth. 
- In rats, supplementation with water extract from reishi mushroom protected against colon cancer by restoring the intestinal flora. 
- A study showed that reishi mushroom suppressed protein synthesis and tumor growth by affecting survival and proliferative signaling pathways. 
- In rats with breast cancer, administration of reishi extract significantly reduced the number of cancer cells by protecting against lipid peroxidation. 
Studies also found that reishi mushroom can help improve organ health:
- In rabbits with urinary bladder dysfunction, oral administration of reishi mushroom for 3 weeks protected against injury associated with impaired blood flow. 
- In mice, reishi mushroom alleviated against liver dysfunction and liver insulin resistance. 
- In human liver cells, reishi mushroom protected against oxidative damage induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide. 
- In mice, reishi mushroom protected against cyclophosphamide-induced liver injury. 
Wards off Depression and Improves Mood
Studies show that reishi mushroom also has antidepressant effects:
- In rats, treatment with reishi mushroom produced antidepressant-like effects. 
- In mouse models of anxiety, reishi mushroom demonstrated a significant increase in the time spent in light cubicle, which is suggestive of an anti-depressant effect. 
Promotes Weight Loss
Evidence suggests that reishi mushroom has beneficial effects on obesity:
- In obese mice, reishi mushroom reduced weight and fat mass by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota. 
- A cell study found that reishi mushroom inhibited the formation of fat cells. 
Prevents Bone Abnormalities and Lowers Risk of Fractures
There’s also a good deal of evidence supporting the benefits of reishi mushroom on bone health:
- In glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis rat model, oral administration of reishi mushroom protected against osteoporosis. 
- In a rat model of osteoporosis, reishi mushroom administration prevented bone loss. 
Boosts Immune Function
The immune-boosting properties of reishi mushroom are backed by scientific evidence:
- A study reported that reishi mushroom helps activate immune effector cells, such as natural killer cells, lymphocytes, and macrophages. 
- A study found that the components of reishi mushroom, such as ganoderic acid, danoderiol, danderenic acid, and lucidenic acid, are responsible for its immune-modulating effects. 
- A study reported that reishi mushroom modulates the activity of inflammatory substances such as IL1-α, IL-6 and TNF-α. 
- In children aged 3 to 5 years, administration of a yogurt containing reishi mushroom increased the frequency of immune system cells in the blood, including CD8+ T lymphocytes, and natural killer cell counts. 
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- Chung-Hsiung Huang, Wei-Kang Lin, Shun‐Hsien Chang & Guo-Jane Tsai (2020) Evaluation of the hypoglycaemic and antioxidant effects of submerged Ganoderma lucidum cultures in type 2 diabetic rats, Mycology, DOI: 10.1080/21501203.2020.1733119.
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