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Reishi Mushroom: Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects

7 min read
Reishi mushroom

Reishi Mushroom: Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects

7 min read

Medically reviewed by

You’re probably here because you heard all about the magical fungi called reishi, and you want to see for yourself if it’s as great as people say.

Reishi mushroom is an adaptogenic mushroom that has been around for over 2000 years, with good reason.

This mushroom is said to have numerous health and healing properties that no one would like to miss out on. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have side effects.

So in this blog post, we’ll be discussing in detail:

  • What Reishi mushroom is
  • The benefits of Reishi mushroom
  • The side effects of taking Reishi mushroom
  • The best Reishi mushroom dosage for you

In this guide:

What is Reishi mushroom?

Reishi mushroom belongs to a class of mushrooms known as adaptogens. Adaptogens are a class of herbs, roots and mushrooms popularly used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. They are believed to assist your body in adapting to various forms of stress.

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is a reddish-brown, woody fungus with a shiny, varnished appearance and a bitter taste. It grows on trees, dead or decaying hardwoods, to be specific.

For the longest time in Chinese medicine, Reishi has been used to enhance the immune system, reduce inflammation, and promote overall health and wellness. This is why it is also called the “mushroom of immortality,” even though immortality is practically unattainable.

This mushroom is believed to contain many bioactive compounds, such as polysaccharides, triterpenes, and antioxidants, which are responsible for its therapeutic properties.

What is reishi mushroom good for
Reishi mushroom is a fungi that grows on trees or decaying hardwood.

Is Reishi mushroom legal in the UK?

Yes, reishi mushroom is legal in the UK

It is considered a food supplement, doesn’t contain psychoactive ingredients and can be sold in health food stores and online retailers.

However, it is important to note that any health claims made about Reishi mushrooms or any other food supplement must comply with EU regulations. These regulations prohibit the promotion of any health claims that are not supported by scientific evidence.

What are the benefits of Reishi?

Reishi mushroom is extremely popular and has been used for as long as it has for its believed health benefits. These benefits range from it having the ability to boost the immune system and even fight off cancer.

Yes! Although scientific studies are yet to fully support Reishi’s alleged cancer-fighting properties, so don’t get too optimistic.

Nonetheless, here are some of the benefits you may be able to attain by making constant use of Reishi mushrooms.

Reishi alleviates stress

Reishi mushrooms contain adaptogens, and like we previously said, these are substances that can help the body adapt to stress and regulate the body’s response to physical, chemical, and biological stressors.

Whenever your body is stressed, it triggers a reaction from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

Reishi is believed to be able to regulate the HPA axis and reduce the release of stress hormones. This, in turn, can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety.

But how true is this?

In a study conducted to show the anxiety-reducing properties of Reishi, it was discovered that people in this study experienced less anxiety and depression after taking Reishi for about 48 weeks. Additionally, their fatigue was reduced, and their quality of life improved.

Reishi boosts the immune system

The ability of reishi to boost the immune system is probably one of its most important benefits.

The bioactive compounds found in reishi are said to have immunomodulatory properties. This means they can stimulate or suppress the immune system and may help the body fight diseases like cancer and infections.

Some of the ways Reishi mushrooms may help boost the immune system include:

1. Activation of immune cells 

Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which are complex polysaccharides that can bind to immune cells like macrophages and natural killer cells. This binding activates these cells and stimulates them to attack and eliminate foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. 

This particular point is backed up by research in cancer patients which found Reishi mushroom capable of increasing the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells. 

2. Modulation of cytokines 

Cytokines are proteins that act as messengers in the immune system, signalling immune cells to respond to infections and injuries. Reishi mushrooms are thought to regulate the production and release of cytokines, which can help promote a balanced immune response.

3. Stimulation of antibody production

Reishi mushrooms have also been said to stimulate the production of immunoglobulins, or antibodies, which are proteins that help the body recognise and fight foreign invaders.

Reishi possesses anticancer properties

Reishi mushroom is believed to possess anticancer properties, although more research is needed to understand these properties and how far their extent goes.

However, this doesn’t change the fact that many people consume Reishi mushrooms primarily because of their potential to fight off cancer.

In a study of over 4000 breast cancer survivors, 59% consumed Reishi mushroom.

Additionally, several test-tube studies have shown that Reishi mushrooms can lead to the death of cancer cells.

Other ways Reishi mushroom is purported to fight against cancer include:

1. Apoptosis induction 

Apoptosis is a process of programmed cell death essential for maintaining healthy cell growth and preventing the formation of cancer cells. Reishi mushrooms have been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, which can help prevent their proliferation and growth.

2. Inhibition of angiogenesis

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels in the body, which is essential for tumour growth and progression. Reishi mushrooms are believed to inhibit angiogenesis, which can help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Even though Reishi mushroom holds much promise in cancer treatment and prevention, more research must be carried out before it becomes a standard treatment.

Reishi mushroom benefits
Always visit a healthcare provide if you consider taking Reishi mushroom while undergoing cancer treatment.

Reishi as an antioxidant

Many people claim Reishi mushrooms possess potent antioxidant properties. For those who don’t know, antioxidants protect the body’s cells from oxidative stress, a harmful process that can cause damage to cells and tissues over time.

So, Reishi is thought to scavenge free radicals, which can help protect cells from oxidative stress

Claims have also been made that Reishi mushrooms can enhance the activity of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase. Both enzymes protect cells from oxidative damage by neutralising free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Reishi mushrooms have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative damage.

Despite all of this, more research is needed to be conclusive on this particular benefits of Reishi mushrooms.

What are the side effects of Reishi?

Although certain benefits of Reishi mushrooms cannot be denied, some people have still questioned their safety.

Reishi mushrooms are generally considered safe for most people when consumed in food or supplement form. 

However, like all supplements and herbs, reishi mushrooms may cause side effects in some people, especially at higher doses. Some possible side effects of taking Reishi mushrooms include:

  • Allergic reactions 
    Some people may be allergic to reishi mushrooms, resulting in symptoms like skin rash, itching, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing.
  • Gastrointestinal distress 
    High doses of reishi mushrooms or long-term use of supplements may cause gastrointestinal upset, like stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, nausea, or bloating.
  • Blood-thinning 
    Reishi mushrooms may have blood-thinning effects, which can benefit some people but can also increase the risk of bleeding in others.
  • Low blood pressure 
    In some instances, Reishi may have blood pressure lowering effects. Of course, this is beneficial if you have high blood pressure, but for some, it may cause low blood pressure.

Outside these possible side effects of taking
Reishi mushrooms, certain groups of people should probably avoid Reishi except if given the go-ahead by a doctor. These people include pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with blood disorders, those with underlying health conditions and if you’re taking certain medications. 

How do I use Reishi mushrooms?

Reishi mushrooms can be consumed in various forms, including fresh, dried, powdered, or as supplements. Most often than not, how you use Reishi depends on your preference. That said, here are some of the most common ways to use Reishi mushrooms.

Reishi mushroom powder

Reishi mushroom can be dried, dehydrated, and ground into powder. The powder can be added to smoothies, juices, or other drinks for a quick and convenient way to consume the mushroom.

Reishi mushroom tea

If you’re a big fan of tea, this might be an option you’ll be interested in. Not to mention Reishi mushroom tea is one of the most popular ways to consume it.

To make reishi tea, simmer dried reishi mushrooms in water for about 30 minutes. Strain the tea and add honey or other sweeteners if desired.

Reishi mushroom tincture

These are concentrated liquid extracts of Reishi mushrooms made by soaking them in alcohol and water for several weeks. They are typically taken orally, usually mixed with water or another liquid.

Reishi mushroom as a culinary item

Reishi mushrooms can be added to soups, stews, or other savoury dishes for flavour and nutrition. Fresh or dried reishi mushrooms can be sliced and added to recipes or reconstituted in hot water before use.

Reishi mushroom capsules or tablets

Reishi mushroom supplements are also available in capsule or tablet form and can be taken daily as a dietary supplement. Just follow the recommended dosage on the label or as directed by a healthcare provider.

Dried reishi mushrooms that will be turned into reishi mushroom powder
Reishi mushroom can be dried and turned into various supplements, from powders to capsules.

What is the ideal Reishi mushroom dosage?

There is no ideal Reishi mushroom dosage; just like they say different strokes for different folks.

The dose of Reishi mushroom can vary based on different factors, including age, health status, and consumption method. It may also vary depending on the mushroom’s desired effects and individual sensitivity to its active compounds.

However, some sources suggest that a daily dose of 1-6 grams of dried Reishi mushroom or 0.5-2 mL of a Reishi mushroom tincture may be effective for immune support, stress reduction, and other health benefits.

The highest dose of Reishi you can take may range from 25 to 100 grams depending on the mushroom, and this only happens when you consume the mushroom itself.

But, always speak to a healthcare provider or a qualified herbalist before using reishi mushrooms, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

How long does it take for Reishi mushroom to work?

Like its dosage, the time it takes for reishi mushrooms to work can vary depending on several factors, including your health status, the form of the mushroom and the health condition targeted.

In general, some people may start to notice the effects of reishi mushroom within a few days of use, while for others, it may take several weeks or even months to see significant results.

Final words

While it may seem like a magical cure-all, it’s important to remember that there is still much research to be done on the potential benefits and side effects of Reishi mushroom.

That being said, there is still evidence to suggest that Reishi can provide various health benefits, such as reducing stress and boosting the immune system. 

Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying new supplements, especially if you’re taking any medications or have underlying health conditions.

If you decide to give Reishi a try, start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed. And remember, supplements should never replace a healthy diet and lifestyle.