Reishi Mushrooms Health Benefits June 10 2014

During the Ming dynasty, the Reishi mushroom was called Ling zhi, which translates as "spirit plant" or "tree of life." Zhi is one of the ancient names for mushrooms of the polyp type, and these people (as far back as 100 AD) believed that by eating what is germinal, their bodies would become lightened and capable of spiritual transcendence. In more modern times, this amazing mushroom has been used to treat numerous ailments.


The word Reishi, meaning "divine or spiritual mushroom," is of Japanese origin, where it is also known as the phantom mushroom, or varnished conk. This reference may be related to the transformation of Buddha into rishi, meaning "forest sage." Another name, mannentake, means "ten-thousand-year mushroom," or "mushroom of immortality." The Japanese also know it as saiwai-take, "good fortune mushroom," or sarunouchitake, meaning "monkey's seat."


The wild reishi is somewhat rare, with almost all commercial products grown in sterilized environments. It grows well on elm, alder, oak, and some strains are found on conifers. It is found rarely in the Pacific Northwest. The related G. tsugae and G. oregonense grow on conifers, such as hemlock spruce, while this one prefers hardwoods, particularly maple.


Reishi (G. curtisii) is a rare yellow form of G. lucidum found growing on maple and other hardwood trees around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway of Canada. It is fairly common in eastern North America.


The annual mushroom prefers hardwood hosts, and in Japan, it almost exclusively grows wild on plum trees. In parts of Southeast Asia, the mushroom is commonly found on palm oil trees. The yellow reishi is known as kishiba in Japan.




Reishi is now cultivated in fifteen countries worldwide with annual production of up to fifteen thousand tons. This compares with only two hundred tons just fifteen years ago. The polypore is not native to my region, but under controlled conditions, reishi can typically be cultivated anywhere.



Traditional Uses

In ancient times, the mushroom's rarity led to it use primarily by those of privilege. In today's world, Reishi is considered warming, astringent, nourishing, detoxifying, and of course, tonifying in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used for various liver ailments including chronic hepatitis, lung conditions like asthma and bronchitis, nephritis of the kidneys, nerve pain, hypertension, gastric ulcers, and insomnia.


A formula of various Ganoderma species, called Fructificato Ganodermae, has been used as a bronchial tonic for more than two thousand years. Reishi beers and wines are popular in Japan and China.


The adaptogenic properties of reishi are like panax ginseng, considered beneficial in stimulating sexual prowess and endurance, as well as balancing endocrine and hormonal levels. The gift of reishi, particularly in the rare antler form, was traditionally given in Asia to men by women, or a neutral courier, as an expression of sexual interest.


Medicinal Use


Reishi has been shown to possess analgesic activity, general immune potentiation, muscle and central nervous system relaxation, cardiotonic activity, and liver and bronchial protection, as well as radiation protection.


Enhanced natural killer cell activity, improved adrenocortical function, and anti-HIV activity were found both in vivo and in vitro by the researchers. Antiviral, antitumor, and antibacterial activity have all been found, due mainly to increased immune system activation.


When mice were fed reishi water extract for two days and then injected with E. coli, they had an amazing 60 to 85 percent survival rate. Reishi also has a special affinity for the lungs. In a 1986 study, more than two thousand patients with chronic bronchitis were given a reishi syrup tablet. From 60 to 90 percent of patients showed great improvement in only two weeks, along with increased appetite.