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Reishi (ling zhi)
What is reishi? What is it used for?
Reishi is a type of wild mushroom native to the coastal provinces
of China. It grows in six different colors (red is the most
common) and is usually found on decaying logs and tree stumps.
In addition to China, reishi is cultivated commercially in
North America, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.
Reishi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for
more than 2,000 years. Its Chinese name, ling zhi,
means "herb of spiritual potency," and it has traditionally
been used to treat conditions such as fatigue, weakness and
Reishi contains several ingredients with chemical properties,
including sterols, coumarin, mannitol, polysaccharides and
triterpenoids. Ganoderic acids may lower blood pressure and
decrease LDL, or bad, cholesterol. The triterpernoids in reishi
have been shown to reduce blood platelets from sticking together,
which can lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Preliminary
studies have suggested reishi may also benefit patients that
suffer from altitude sickness and hepatitis B, although these
studies still need to be confirmed.
How much reishi should I take?
Most herbalists and TCM practitioners recommend the following
- crude dried mushroom: 1.5-9 grams per day
- reishi powder: 1-1.5 grams per day (1 ml per day taken
as tincture or with tea)
What forms of reishi are
Reishi is available in both raw and dried form. Many specialty
markets also sell reishi powder, which can be used in teas
What can happen if I take too much
reishi? Are there any interactions I should be aware
of? What precautions should I take?
Continuous (3-6 months) use of reishi products may result
in dizziness, dry mouth, nose bleeds and upset stomach. Because
it may decrease the effectiveness of blood platelets, it should
not be used by people taking anticoagulant medications. It
should also be avoided by pregnant or lactating women.
As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions
Other Resources :
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- Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica
Press, 1995, pp. 96-107.
- Jin H, et al. Treatment of hypertension by ling zhi
combined with hypotensor and its effects on arterial, arteriolar
and capillary pressure and microcirculation. In: Nimmi H,
Xiu RJ, Sawada T, Zheng C (eds.) Microcirculatory Approach
to Asian Traditional Medicine. New York: Elsevier Science,
- Jones K. Reishi mushroom: ancient medicine in modern times.
Alt Compl Ther 1998;4(4):256-66.
- McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds.) American
Herbal Products Associations Botanical Safety Handbook.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, p. 55.
- Willard T. Reishi Mushroom: Herb of Spiritual Potency
and Wonder. Issaquah, WA: Sylvan Press, 1990.