Reishi
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Reishi Usage

Written by FoundHealth, sshowalter.

What Is Reishi Used for Today?

Reishi (like its fungi “cousins” maitake , Coriolus versicolor , and shiitake ) is marketed as a kind of cure-all, said to strengthen immunity , help prevent cancer , and also possibly treat cancer as well. It is also said to be useful for autoimmune diseases (such as myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis ), viral infections, high blood pressure , diabetes , enhancing mental function , altitude sickness , ulcers , common colds and insomnia . However, while there has been a great deal of basic scientific research into the chemical constituents of reishi, reliable double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are all but nonexistent. (For information on why such studies are essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? )

For example test tube studies indicate that reishi has immunomodulatory effects. 1 2 3 4 This means that reishi may affectthe immune system, but not necessarily that it strengthensit. (Alternative medicine proponents often blur the difference between these two ideas.) However, one, small, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial failed to find any significant immunomodulatory effects. 5 Other weak evidence hints that reishi may have chemopreventive properties, suggesting that it may help prevent cancer. 6 However, a great many substances fight cancer in the test tube, while few actually help people with the disease.

Other highly preliminary forms of evidence suggest that reishi may have antiviral effects 7 8 9 10 11 12 and possibly antibacterial effects as well. 13 However, it is a long way from studies of this type to meaningful clinical uses.

Contemporary herbalists regard reishi as an adaptogen, a substance believed to be capable of helping the body resist stress of all kinds. (For more information on adaptogens, see the article on Ginseng .) However, there is no meaningful evidence to support this claim.

One questionable double-blind study performed in China reportedly found reishi helpful for neurasthenia. The term neurasthenia is seldom used in modern medicine; it generally indicates fatigue due to psychological causes. 14

References

  1. Bao X, Fang J, Li X. Structural characterization and immunomodulating activity of a complex glucan from spores of Ganoderma lucidum.Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001;65:2384-2391.
  2. Bao XF, Wang XS, Dong Q, Fang JN, Li XY. Structural features of immunologically active polysaccharides from Ganoderma lucidum.Phytochemistry. 2002;59:175-181.
  3. van der Hem LG, van der Vliet JA, Bocken CF, Kino K, Hoitsma AJ, Tax WJ. Ling Zhi-8: studies of a new immunomodulating agent. Transplantation. 60(5):438-43.
  4. Wang YY, Khoo KH, Chen ST, et al. Studies on the immuno-modulating and antitumor activities of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) polysaccharides: functional and proteomic analyses of a fucose-containing glycoprotein fraction responsible for the activities. Bioorg Med Chem. 2002;10:1057-1062.
  5. Wicks SM, Tong R, Wang CZ, et al. Safety and tolerability of Ganoderma lucidum in healthy subjects: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35:407-414.
  6. Wang YY, Khoo KH, Chen ST, et al. Studies on the immuno-modulating and antitumor activities of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) polysaccharides: functional and proteomic analyses of a fucose-containing glycoprotein fraction responsible for the activities. Bioorg Med Chem. 2002;10:1057-1062.
  7. el-Mekkawy S, Meselhy MR, Nakamura N, et al. Anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-1-protease substances from Ganoderma lucidum. Phytochemistry. 1998;49:1651-1657.
  8. Eo SK, Kim YS, Lee CK, Han SS. Possible mode of antiviral activity of acidic protein bound polysaccharide isolated from Ganoderma lucidum on herpes simplex viruses. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;72:475-481.
  9. Eo SK, Kim YS, Lee CK, Han SS. Antiherpetic activities of various protein bound polysaccharides isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;68:175-181.
  10. Eo SK, Kim YS, Lee CK, Han SS. Antiviral activities of various water- and methanol-soluble substances isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;68:129-136.
  11. Kim YS, Eo SK, Oh KW, Lee C, Han SS. Antiherpetic activities of acidic protein-bound polysacchride isolated from Ganoderma lucidum alone and in combinations with interferons. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;72:451-458.
  12. Min BS, Nakamura N, Miyashiro H, Bae KW, Hattori M. Triterpenes from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum and their inhibitory activity against HIV-1 protease. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1998;46:1607-1612.
  13. Yoon SY, Eo SK, Kim YS, Lee CK, Han SS. Antimicrobial activity of Ganoderma lucidum extract alone and in combination with some antibiotics. Arch Pharm Res. 1994;17:438-442.
  14. Tang W, Gao Y, Chen G, Gao H, Dai X, Ye J, Chan E, Huang M, Zhou S. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. J Med Food. 8(1):53-8.
 
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