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Reishi Mushroom: From Tradition to Today       

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has an amazing history of treating various ailments. Early writings that praised the medicinal properties of Reishi dated back to the second century B.C. in the book titled “Shen Nong’s Materia Medica”. Ancient medical scholars described that Reishi ‘strengthen the body’s resistance’ and ‘consolidate the constitution of patients’.[1]

Where does Reishi Mushroom come from?

Reishi is an Eastern fungus, which was (and still is) traditionally used in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. In China, the mushroom’s name is likened to ‘spiritual potency’ and ‘the essence of immortality’. The proliferation of Reishi Mushroom documented in art began in 1400AD, which is testimony to the amazing value of the Reishi Mushroom. Most of these images are associated with Taoism. The images also extend beyond religious drawings and Reishi appears in paintings, carvings furniture, and also woman’s accessories.[2]

Modern textbooks and medical journals describe the 30 years of clinical research that confirm Reishi’s powerful beneficial effects on the immune system. In one study, 134 sick individuals were given Reishi at a dose of 1800mg/day. The good news is that cellular immunity was increased by 80% of the patients. The results showed significant elevations in plasma IL-2, IL-6, INF-g, and Natural Killer cells.[3] These are the chemicals and cells that kill infections.

Reishi Mushroom In Vitro Testing

In vitro testing (external testing environment) of Reishi Mushroom reveals some interesting mechanisms, unlocking the secrets of how this ‘magic mushroom’ benefits the immune system. Firstly, Reishi Mushroom improves the functions of the Antigen Presenting Cells, which are the cells that identify the invader to the waiting immune system. It also boosts both the cellular and humoral immune systems which are the two main branches of the immune system. More specifically, Reishi also boosts the macrophage function. The macrophages are the cells that digest pathogens and destroy them. Further studies demonstrated that interleukin (IL)-1 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) productions significantly increased in mouse peritoneal macrophages treated with Reishi polysaccharides.[4]

The traditional medicine evidence is strong enough to show the clinical benefits of Reishi Mushroom. Supporting this evidence is that modern medicine has caught up with centuries of tradition and has also found in vivo (in people) and in vitro (test tube or plate) experiments that Reishi Mushroom boosts immunity. Between the two forms of evidence, there is ample reason to take Reishi to help boost your ailing immune system and to help fight infections.

REFERENCES

[1] Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Immuno-modulation by Ganoderma lucidum Zhi-Bin Lin. J Pharmacol Sci 99, 144 – 153 (2005)

[2] Chapter 9 Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi). Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Sissi Wachtel-Galor, John Yuen, John A. Buswell, and Iris F. F. Benzie. 2011

[3] Gao Y. H, Zhou S. F, Jiang W. Q, Huang M, Sai X. H. Effects of Ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunol Invest. 2003;32:201–15.

[4] Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Immuno-modulation by Ganoderma lucidum Zhi-Bin Lin. J Pharmacol Sci 99, 144 – 153 (2005)