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Reishi Mushrooms: Ultimate Guide to Their Health Benefits & Potential Risks

The Reishi mushroom is a special type of non-psychedelic fungus that has a reddish-brown cap, shiny surface and a unique kidney-like shape. In China, they’re called the “King of Mushrooms” due to their purported health benefits, which include boosting the immune system, increasing stamina, and lowering cholesterol.

Known scientifically as Ganoderma Lucidum, and affectionately referred to as Reishi or Lingzhi, this mushroom carries with it a legacy of wellness and harmony.

Unlike the mushrooms that grace our plates, Reishi has a woody texture and an earthy, bitter flavor, making it a rare choice for culinary use. Instead, its essence is captured in more accessible forms such as teas, tinctures, convenient capsules, and pure extracts, ensuring that its benefits can be seamlessly integrated into daily life.

In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits, potential side effects, and how to incorporate Reishi mushrooms into your microdosing practice.

Let’s jump in!

What is Reishi (Lingzhi mushroom)

What is Reishi Lingzhi mushroom

The Reishi Mushroom is a non-psychedelic fungus with a reddish-brown cap, shiny surface, bitter taste, and kidney shape. It is often found growing dead or weakened hardwood trees in East Asia, and it can be grown commercially.

Reishi mushrooms don’t have lines or gills underneath, giving them a unique appearance from other mushrooms. It is important to note that wild reishi can be difficult to identify accurately, and mistaken identity can be dangerous.

Related: What is Chaga Mushroom? and What are Golden Teacher Mushrooms?

Taxonomy and ecology

Wild Reishi is a rare mushroom from East Asia, although it is widely cultivated for commercial purposes. It is known by its scientific name, “Ganoderma lucidum”. 

The name Ganoderma means ‘shining skin’ in Greek, and Lucidus is derived from a Latin word meaning bright, light, or clear. In China, it is often referred to as lingzhi, while Reishi is the Japanese pronunciation of the mushroom. It is often referred to as the “mushroom of immortality” in East Asian cultures.

Ganoderma lucidum, or “red reishi” is the most common and well-studied reishi species, native to forests in China, Japan, Korea, and other East Asian countries. They favor warm, humid climates and often grow on dead or weakened hardwood trees like oak, maple, and plum.

Reishi in ancient folk medicine

Reishi mushrooms have been revered for centuries in ancient folk medicine, especially in Chinese and other East Asian cultures. Called the “mushroom of immortality” in these cultures, reishi was believed to have special powers to improve health and well-being.. It was also used as a natural remedy to help with different health challenges like increasing stamina and lowering cholesterol levels.

Uses of Reishi

Reishi traditionally has been used by East Asian cultures to promote health and longevity, as anti-aging support, in religious ceremonies as a bridge between the human and divine, and as a symbol of vitality and wealth, often reserved for use by elite members of these ancient societies. Today, Reishi is being studied for its potential health benefits such as immune support, stress reduction, and improved sleep. 

5 Surprising Reishi Mushroom Benefits

surprising health benefits of Reishi

The 5 surprising health benefits of Reishi mushrooms include improving the immune system, reducing stress and fatigue, improving sleep, helping prostate and colorectal cancer, and reducing blood sugar levels.

Improved immune system

Reishi is most well known for its potential to support immune system health. Research suggests that it might interact with the immune system by influencing white blood cell genes and activity. However, human studies are ongoing, and more evidence is needed to confirm these effects. 

In a study conducted by Y Zhang, there was a fascinating observation regarding the impact of Reishi mushroom consumption on athletes. The study observed a change in T lymphocyte activity, a critical component of the body’s immune response, potentially linked to the rich polysaccharide content of the Reishi mushroom. 

Reduced stress and fatigue

When we’re stressed, our bodies produce hormones that can make us feel anxious and tired. Reishi mushrooms act as adaptogens, helping our bodies manage stress more effectively and regain balance after stressful situations. The compounds in Reishi, like triterpenes and polysaccharides, may help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm.

Improved Sleep

The use of Reishi mushrooms for sleep improvement remains an area of active research. Some scientific studies suggest potential benefits that may be due to Reishi’s ability to reduce stress, act as an anti-inflammatory, and interact with Gaba neurotransmitters, which play a role in sleep regulation. 

Beneficial for prostate and colorectal cancer

Reishi mushrooms contain various bioactive compounds like triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and ganoderic acids with potential anti-cancer properties. However, it’s crucial to understand these properties haven’t definitively proven to stop cancer risk in humans. 

Two distinct studies by Xiaohui Zhao and Mandy M Liu show promising results for reishi in specific cancer types (prostate, colorectal). It is proposed that Reishi’s impact in these two studies may be due to its ability to stop cell growth and reduce inflammation.

Studies suggest reishi may also modulate the immune system, potentially influencing specific immune cells. While these findings are exciting, further research in humans is needed to establish their validity.

Decrease blood sugar, increase HDL (good) cholesterol

Research suggests potential benefits for reishi mushrooms in managing blood sugar and cholesterol, but conclusive evidence remains limited. Studies have observed modest decreases in blood sugar and increases in HDL cholesterol in some instances, but the mechanisms and long-term effects are not fully understood.

Ongoing research explores various mechanisms, including beta-glucans, but more robust human trials are needed to confirm their effectiveness and safety in managing these conditions.

Learn about the physical and mental health benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom here: Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom.

Possible Reishi mushroom side effects and risks

The possible side effects and risks of Reishi mushrooms include:

  • Upset stomach: This is the most common side effect, especially when taking Reishi on an empty stomach. Consider starting with smaller doses and taking it with food to minimize discomfort.
  • Digestive issues: Nausea, diarrhea, and dry mouth may occur in some individuals.
  • Skin reactions: Itchiness or mild rash is possible, particularly for those with pre-existing skin sensitivities.

Important Precautions:

  • Blood clotting: Reishi may interact with blood-thinning medications and increase the risk of bleeding. People taking blood thinners, with bleeding disorders, or scheduled for surgery should avoid Reishi unless advised by a healthcare professional.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Due to limited research, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid Reishi mushrooms.
  • Mushroom allergies: People with allergies to other mushrooms or fungal products should consult a healthcare professional before consuming Reishi.

How to take reishi mushroom

How to take Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushrooms are most commonly consumed as a tea, tincture, or in pre-dosed capsules. 

Reishi Mushroom Tea

Reishi tea can be made easily using dried reishi pieces, commonly found at health food stores. Simmer a few slices of dried reishi for 15-30 minutes. Strain to remove the mushroom pieces and enjoy!

For added flavor, consider adding other ingredients such as lemon, orange peel, or ginger. Ready made Reishi tea bags are becoming more widely available for more convenience.

Reishi Mushroom Tincture

Reishi mushroom tinctures are highly concentrated extracts, often made with an alcohol base. They can be easier to measure the dose than with tea, and when taken under the tongue, are absorbed into the body more quickly. 

You can take them directly under the tongue, mixed with water or juice, or added to smoothies or soups. 

Reishi Mushroom Capsules

Capsules offer a pre-measured, standardized dose of Reishi mushrooms, making them easier to take on the go and ensure consistent intake. For those avoiding any alcohol or who don’t like the taste of tinctures or teas, capsules can be a more pleasant way of getting the health benefits of Reishi.

Reishi mushroom dosage

Here is a guideline dosage variation based on Reishi form:

  • Reishi Powder: 1 to 1.5 grams per day.
  • Reishi Mushroom Capsules: 2-6 grams daily, depending on concentration.
  • Reishi Extract: Generally, 1-1.5 grams daily.
  • Reishi Tea: Made from 1-2 grams of dried mushroom.
  • Reishi Tincture: Generally, 1-2 ml, 1-3 times daily.

The appropriate dosage of Reishi mushrooms can differ depending on factors like age, overall health, and specific wellness goals. It’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the optimal amount for your unique needs. Be mindful of any side effects as you begin incorporating Reishi into your routine. While it may take up to three weeks to notice the benefits, Reishi can be consumed in various forms, including tea, tinctures, capsules, or as a broth, offering flexibility in how you choose to integrate it into your health regimen.

How to include Reishi Mushrooms in your microdosing practice

You can incorporate Reishi into your microdosing practice by taking a Reishi capsule or tincture when you microdose. 

Microdosing is the practice of taking a small amount of psychedelic mushrooms every few days with the intention of improving your health and well-being. Microdosing does not produce traditional psychedelic effects such as hallucinations or distorted reality.

By stacking Reishi mushrooms with your psilocybin microdose, you may experience increased benefits from your practice. This combination may be especially supportive if you are microdosing to decrease stress or anxiety or improve your sleep. 

Our three favorite microdoses to stack with Reishi Mushrooms include:

  • Find inner peace with Calm
  • Achieve peak cognitive performance with Focus
  • Unleash your inspiration with Create

How long does it take for reishi mushrooms to work?

The time taken for reishi mushroom to work depends upon the benefit you are seeking. For instance, it may produce calming and soothing effects in a few hours, but longer term impacts on immune health and inflammation may take a period of weeks to notice.

How long does the effect of Reishi last?

The effect of Reishi mushrooms can last up to a few hours and depends upon the amount of reishi mushrooms consumed, the person’s health status, and the form of mushrooms taken.

FAQs

Are Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma Lucidum) safe to take daily?

Yes, Ganoderma Lucidum polysaccharide extract (reishi mushroom extracts) are safe to take daily for up to one year for most people. Please consult with your medical doctor to make sure you don’t have any contraindications before taking Reishi.

Does Reishi make you sleepy?

Yes, reishi can make you feel calm and relaxed, making it easier to sleep.

Final Thoughts

Reishi mushroom, also known as Lingzhi or Ganoderma Lucidum, is an incredible functional mushroom that can be a great option for stacking with your microdosing practice

The potential benefits of Reishi mushroom may include improving the immune system, reducing stress and fatigue, improving sleep, helping prostate and colorectal cancer, and reducing blood sugar levels although more clinical studies on humans are required to verify the impact and mechanisms of this mushroom on our health. 

Reishi is used as a supplement, in tablets or capsules, and in tea for overall body health. It has some side effects, such as skin infection, nausea, dryness, upset stomach, etc.

References:

  • Effect of Ganoderma lucidum capsules on T lymphocyte subsets in football players on “living high-training low.” by (2008, October 1) Zhang, Y., Lin, Z., Hu, Y., & Wang, F
  • Monitoring of immune responses to a herbal immuno-modulator in patients with advanced colorectal cancer by (2006, March 1) Chen, X., Hu, Z., Yang, X., Huang, M., Gao, Y., Tang, W., Chan, S. Y., Dai, X., Ye, J., Ho, P., Duan, W., Yang, H., Zhu, Y., & Zhou, S. F.
  • Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide inhibits prostate cancer cell migration via the protein arginine methyltransferase 6 signaling pathway. Molecular Medicine Reports. by (2017, October 26) Zhao, X., Zhou, D., Liu, Y., Li, C., Zhao, X., Liu, Y., & Li, W.https://doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2017.7904
  • Inhibitory activity of medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum on colorectal cancer by attenuating inflammation. by (2021, August 28) Precision Clinical Medicine by Liu, M. M., Liu, T., Yeung, S., Wang, Z., Andresen, B. T., Parsa, C., Orlando, R., Zhou, B., Wu, W., Li, X.
Author Microdosify

By Rachel Grey

I’m Rachel Grey, a Ph.D. psychologist specializing in psychedelic therapy with psilocybin and natural plant medicines. I obtained my doctorate from the University of Toronto, where I immersed myself in the study of these transformative therapies. With over 10 years of experience, let’s embark on transformative journeys of healing, growth, and self-discovery as we explore the power of psychedelic therapy together.

Updated on November 30, 2023