The Reishi – Ganoderma lucidum

Lingzhi mushroom – Reishi, the “mushroom of eternal life” primarily regenerates the liver and therefore has a detoxifying effect. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect due to its high triterpene content.

Scarcely another mushroom has been as venerated as the Reishi in East Asia since time immemorial. It has been attributed magical powers for more than 4000 years and today these have been scientifically proven!

This medicinal mushroom is native to Asia as well as Europe. It flourishes in moist locations and grows individually or sociably on tree stumps and logs of deciduous trees, especially oak. The wooden mushroom has a kidney-shaped appearance with a surface that is shiny as if it is polished, ranging from brown to crimson and displaying a whitish edge during the early stage. The pulp is light brown. The caps measure from six to 20 centimetres. The typically lateral, knobby stalks grow up to 15 centimetres long.

Main areas of use in mycotherapy:

Reishi is used as medicine in China and has even been classed as more valuable then ginseng.

In the famous medicinal book “Shen Long Ben Tsao” from around 2000 years ago, all the herbs known at the time are divided into three classes. Reishi is among the highest value group, also called the “herbs of God”. It topped all other plants as the “king of healing plants”, “mushroom of long life” or “growth of spiritual power”.

From a present-day perspective, this veneration is easy to understand, because almost everything that was written about the effect of the Reishi in ancient China has been verified in scientific studies. At the time, the term immune defence was not known, but the very same was meant when it was emphasised: Reishi helps to overcome diseases and raises life expectancy. It can help us to stay healthy and not to become ill in the first place, because it has both a preventive and a healing effect. In any case, it supports the energy system of the body.

This healing mushroom has a strong positive effect on all inflammations in the body due to its high triterpene content. Its triterpenes work similarly to cortisone and inhibit the release of histamine, which is responsible for swelling, redness and itching. Inflammations, in particular, have emerged recently as a central problem in the body. Recent research has shown: if the complex inflammatory process derails, it can also lead to a heart attack, cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer’s. The Reishi therefore plays a central role with regard to the lasting maintenance of our health or to our healing.

The Reishi is one of the most important mushrooms for any kind of allergies. The triterpenes it contains reduce the release of histamine. Inflammations of the skin and the mucosa are eased. It regulates the immune system and thereby stimulates and supports the self-healing powers of our body, also in case of viral infections such as Herpes zoster and Herpes simplex.

This mushroom especially regenerates the liver and therefore cleanses the blood and detoxifies. It also has a particular effect in case of chronic hepatitis. Due to the improved liver metabolism, blood lipid levels are reduced.

Its triterpenes, the ganodermic acids, inhibit cholesterol synthesis and lipid accumulation, lower blood pressure and counteract thrombocyte aggregation.

Apart from its association with the liver, Reishi has a strong association with the lungs. It is exceptionally beneficial against asthma, chronic bronchitis, coughing and respiratory distress. Reishi is particularly beneficial against chronic respiratory diseases with a reduced oxygen supply, as it improves the oxygen saturation of the blood with its germanium content. This is also very helpful for sportspeople, especially because it is also a tonic that provides energy and raises endurance. A study reports about 900 soldiers in Tibet spending time at an altitude of 4700 metres. Despite the lack of oxygen, after taking Reishi they were almost entirely free of side effects such as nausea or headache. A control group showed significantly more symptoms of altitude sickness.

The improved oxygen supply to the body also has a positive effect on cardiac activity: Reishi improves the oxygen supply to the cardiac muscle, helps against narrowed coronary arteries, arrhythmia, strong blood pressure fluctuations and cardiac weakness.

As Reishi has a strong organ association with the liver, it is to be used for skin complaints. Due to its detoxifying and blood-cleaning effect, all forms of skin complaint are eased. The anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic effect is also very beneficial here.

Reishi is also very advantageous in cases of fibromyalgia, due to its detoxifying effect. Furthermore, it has a positive effect on the vegetative symptoms often associated with it, by exerting a balancing effect on the vegetative nervous system in sympathicotonic conditions.

It can also be used for muscular dystrophy and it has a particularly relaxing effect on tense muscles. The adenosine contained in this medicinal mushroom has a calming and relaxing effect on the muscles and therefore has an effect counter to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The stimuli transmission between the nerve and the contraction of the smooth muscles is reduced. Reishi with its high triterpene content also helps to regulate the increased release of histamine during stress.

This medicinal mushroom leads to an improvement of neurological complaints, especially a lack of strength, nerve weakness, forgetfulness, inner unrest and insomnia.

Reishi can reduce oxidative stress through the activation of superoxide dismutase, glutathione S-transferase and laccase.

Effects proven by studies:

  • the release of histamine is reduced by the triterpenes it contains
  • the overall cholesterol in the plasma and liver are lowered due to a reduced cholesterol synthesis and/or an accelerated cholesterol metabolism
  • Reishi is used for acute and chronic hepatitis. It has an anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effect in liver cirrhosis
  • oxidative damage to the liver and kidneys can be prevented
  • the pain and skin complaints of Herpes zoster are reduced
  • it has a direct antiviral effect on the Herpes simplex virus, preventing binding to the host cell and penetration
  • regardless of whether intake is before or after radiotherapy, there is a quicker restoration of the original leukocyte, erythrocyte and thrombocyte level
  • Reishi protects the nerves and stimulates the differentiation of nerve cells
  • Reishi can be used for muscular dystrophy

Areas of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Characteristics: sweet, warm to neutral

  • affects the stomach, spleen, lungs, liver, kidneys and heart
  • calms and nourishes the heart
  • activates Qi and Xue, nourishes the blood
  • shifts toxins and disperses accumulation
  • eliminates heat and mucosa
  • astringent
  • calms the mind
  • tonic
  • sedative
  • for inflammations, high blood pressure, liver disease, cancer, insomnia, cough, dizziness, lack of appetite, asthma, bronchitis, stomach ulcer, arthritis, neurasthenia, nephritis, altitude sickness, muscular dystrophy
  • for immunomodulation


  • K.Tasaka: “Antiallergic constituents in the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum.(I) Inhibitory effect of oleic acid on histamine release”; Agents and Actions, vol. 23, 3 / 4 (1988)
  • Hiroshi Koda: “The Biologically Active Constituents of Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) Karst. Histamine Release – Inhibitory Triterpenes”; Chem. Pharm. Bull., 33(4), 1367- 1374 (1985)
  • K.Tasaka: “Antiallergic constituents in the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum.(II) The inhibitory effect of cyclooctasulfur on histamine release”“; Agents and Actions, vol. 23, 3 / 4 (1988)
  • Yearul Kabir: “Dietary Effect of Ganoderma lucidum Mushroom on Blood Pressure and Lipid Levels in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats (SHR).”; J. Nutri. Sci. Vitaminol., 34, 433-438, 1988
  • Guo-Liang Zhang: “Hepatoprotective role of ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide against BCG-induced immune liver injury in mice.”; World J. Gastroenterol 2002 August 15; 8(4): 728-733
  • Ying-Hua Shich: “Evaluation of the Hepatic and Renalprotective Effects of Ganoderma lucidum in Mice.”; Am. Journal of Chinese Med., Vol. 29, Nos.3-4, pp. 501-507, 2001
  • Yasuyo Hijikata, Seika Yamada: “Effect of Ganoderma lucidum on Postherpetic Neuralgia!”; Am. Journal of Chin. Med., Vol. XXVI, No. 3-4, pp. 375-381, 1998
  • Hsue-Yin Hsu: “Radioprotective Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum (Leyss. Ex. Fr.) Karst after X-ray Irradiation in Mice.”; Am. Journal of Chin. Med., Vol. XVIII, Nos. 1-2, pp. 61-69, 1990
  • William M.W. Cheung: “Ganoderma extract activates MAP kinases and induces the neuronal differentiation of rat Pheochromocytoma PC12 Cells.”; FEBS Letters 486 (2000) 291-296
  • Seong-Kug Eo: “Possible mode of antiviral activity of acidic protein bound polysaccharide isolated from Ganoderma lucidum on herpes simplex viruses.”; Journal of Ethnopharmacology 72 (2000) 475-481
  • Prof. Dr. med. Ivo Bianchi: “Moderne Mykotherapie”; Hinckel Druck, 2008
  • Hobbs, C.: “Medicinal Mushrooms”; Botanica Press, 1995

Note: The described effects are based on taking medicinal mushroom powder made from the whole mushroom. Please consult your therapist before use.

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