5 Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum) Benefits, Dosage, & Risks

Be mindful of this fungi before integrating it into your regular diet plan.

Medically reviewed by Madhu Sharma, RD
Written by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health
Edited by Arshiya Syeda
Fact-checked by Sindhu Koganti, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

The benefits of Ganoderma mushrooms will convince you to add this ingredient to your diet. They are loaded with essential nutrients and beneficial bioactive compounds and help boost immunity and reduce cancer risk, contributing to a longer life (1).

Several other potential benefits of this superfood have been discovered in recent studies. This article discusses the benefits of Ganoderma mushrooms, their nutritional profile, and their risks. Keep reading.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Reishi Mushrooms

What Is It?
It is a fan-shaped fungus native to East Asia.

What Are Its Benefits?
It may aid in cancer prevention, fight depression, boost the immune system, and improve heart health.

Who Can Consume It?
All can consume it except those who are taking medications for blood pressure and blood clotting.

How Often?
You can consume it regularly but in moderation.

Avoid consuming reishi mushrooms if you experience stomach pain, or vomiting, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What Are Ganoderma Mushrooms?

Ganoderma mushrooms are also called reishi mushrooms and are considered natural medicine for many ailments. They are fungi growing in the humid and hot regions in parts of Asia. The mushrooms have been recognized for their medicinal benefits over 2000 years ago, which have even been documented in ancient scriptures (1).

These mushrooms are large and black, with a glossy exterior and a woody texture. It is also the best and the most commonly used adaptogen mushroom that promotes wellness and longevity.

The major bioactive compounds in the mushrooms are terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides, and polysaccharides. They also contain proteins with all the essential amino acids.

They have a low fat content and a higher concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (1).

protip_icon Trivia
Reishi mushrooms have a woody, earthy, and bitter taste when consumed fresh. To temper their bitterness, they are mostly consumed as tea after boiling them in hot water for several hours.

These constituents of the mushrooms contribute to most of their health benefits.

What Are The Health Benefits of Ganoderma Mushrooms?

Ganoderma mushrooms can play a major role in cancer prevention. They may also help treat depression and boost the immune system. Some studies also suggest that they may have a beneficial effect on heart health.

1. May Aid Cancer Prevention

In ancient China, the dried powder of the ganoderma mushroom was used as a cancer chemotherapy agent. In recent studies, the mushroom was also found to suppress the migration of breast and prostate cancer cells (2).

Another study focused on the mushroom’s ability to enhance tumor response to treatment and even stimulate host immunity (3). The study, however, warranted the need for more evidence before considering ganoderma mushroom as a first-line treatment for cancer.

The polysaccharides in the mushrooms also play key roles in cancer treatment. They have been found to show potential preventive effects against cancers of the lungs, liver, skin, blood, and colon (4).

2. May Help Fight Depression

Image: Shutterstock

Rat studies shed light on the anti-depressant potential of the ganoderma mushrooms (5).

The mushroom was found to have anti-depressant properties similar to that of fluoxetine, a drug used in depression treatment (6).

In another study, the extracts of ganoderma mushrooms had a therapeutic effect on patients dealing with neurasthenia (a medical condition associated with emotion disturbance). Groups given the mushroom extract were found to show better responses to treatment (7).

3. May Enhance Immunity

Woman with low immunity may benefit from reishi mushroom
Image: Shutterstock

Ganoderma mushrooms possess potent immunostimulating properties and are often considered the primary choice of treatment for any immune deficiency disease. In mice studies, these could boost the immune response in the organisms, which was reduced due to heavy-load exercise (8).

The polysaccharides in the mushrooms achieved this by elevating the concentrations of peripheral white blood cells and boosting the function of cell macrophages (8).

Some types of ganoderma mushrooms were also found to modulate inflammation pathways in white blood cells (9).

4. May Promote Heart Health

Woman with heart problems may benefit from reishi mushroom
Image: Shutterstock

Ganoderma mushrooms were used in ancient China to strengthen cardiac function (1).

Another study shows that the mushrooms may help assist with cholesterol reduction in individuals with diabetes. The mushrooms were also found to elevate good cholesterol levels (10).

But another study did not find any significant link between ganoderma mushrooms and cardioprotection (11).

The cardioprotective properties of ganoderma mushrooms are yet to be investigated. Hence, consult your doctor before consuming them to ensure that cardiovascular health is unaffected.

5. May Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Woman with low blood sugar may benefit from reishi mushroom
Image: Shutterstock

Extracts of ganoderma mushrooms have been observed to have anti-diabetic potential. In mice studies, these mushrooms increased plasma insulin levels and reduced plasma sugar levels (12).

These mushrooms were also found to prevent the progression of diabetic renal complications (13). They were identified to be potentially beneficial in treating type 2 diabetesi  XA chronic condition where the body fails to produce and use sufficient insulin, causing abnormally high blood sugar levels. . They achieve this by suppressing certain enzymes involved in gluconeogenesisi  XThe process of creating glucose by the liver from non-carbohydrate substances like proteins or fats. .

Ganoderma mushrooms are also thought to improve the antioxidant status of an individual. This way, they may protect your body’s cells from free radicals. However, there is no concrete research to establish this. The mushrooms may improve antioxidant status, given the presence of beneficial compounds.

protip_icon Trivia
Before the cultivation of Reishi mushrooms began, they had to be collected from the wild and were so rare that they were reserved for only the royalty. Since the 1970s, they have been mostly cultivated and made available for mass consumption.

Ganoderma mushrooms are being extensively studied only since recent times. As the future unfolds, we expect to discover more such beneficial effects. All of those can be attributed to the nutritional profile of the mushrooms, which we will look at in the following section.

What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Ganoderma Mushrooms?

Ganoderma mushrooms are composed of various bioactive compounds, including terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides. They are especially rich in lysine and leucine, two essential amino acids. The mushrooms are also significantly higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

In addition, about 28% of the mushrooms is carbohydrate, 5% is crude fat, 59% is crude fiber, and 8% is crude protein (1).

Looking at the nutritional profile, we might feel ganoderma mushrooms are the real deal. Of course, they are replete with powerful nutrients to provide nutrition, and energy, and maintain vitality. But there is another side of science that has questioned their safety.

protip_icon Fun Fact
The term Lingzhi literally translates to spirit mushrooms. Shamans in China used to make a psychedelic brew with Reishi mushrooms that enabled them to speak to the spirits of their ancestors.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Ganoderma Mushrooms?

Woman with liver issues as a side effect of reishi mushroom
Image: Shutterstock

There was a case of liver damage following intake of the mushrooms. A woman who had taken a formulation of ganoderma mushroom experienced serious hepatotoxicityi  XA chronic chemical-driven liver injury or damage due to exposure to a group of drugs or any herbal substance. . She saw gradual improvements in her symptoms once she stopped her intake. In this case, the woman consumed not the mushrooms but their powdered formulations (14).

Another such hepatotoxic case was observed in two patients who had taken ganoderma mushroom powder (15).

Some other sources even hint at the possibility of ganoderma mushrooms being potentially harmful to pregnant and breastfeeding women. These mushrooms may also increase the risk of bleeding disorders and lower blood pressure way too much. However, there is no concrete research to prove this. But it is better to be on the safer side. If you have any specific medical condition or are pregnant/breastfeeding, please check with your doctor before taking ganoderma mushrooms.

What Is Their Ideal Dosage?

The ideal dosage for ganoderma mushrooms is yet to be established. While the recommended dose of the actual mushroom is not known, the dosage of the mushroom extract can range between 1.4 to 3 grams per day (11). However, this also is a rough assumption. Do check with your doctor for the right dosage for you.

Ganoderma mushrooms, also known as reishi mushrooms, are fungi with medicinal properties and anti-inflammatory effects. The many benefits of Ganoderma mushrooms can be attributed to their rich bioactive compounds and nutritional profile that help promote wellness. The consumption of these mushrooms may aid in cancer prevention, help fight depression, enhance immunity, lower cholesterol levels, provide liver support, blood sugar regulation, and treat type 2 diabetesi  XA chronic condition where the body fails to produce and use sufficient insulin, causing abnormally high blood sugar levels. . However, they may also cause liver damage and bleeding disorders and lower blood pressure way too much if taken in excess. Hence, consume them in the recommended dosage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ganoderma mushroom good for weight loss?

Some research suggests it may be good for weight loss, based on animal studies. But more research is warranted (16).

Do the mushrooms help you sleep?

Some sources say they do. But there is less information available on this.

Is mushroom coffee healthy?

Yes, it can be. It can have similar benefits to the mushrooms. But do check with your doctor before taking the beverage.

Can Reishi mushrooms help with anxiety and stress?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that compounds present in the mushrooms might help with anxiety and stress relief. However, there is scope for more research to find out the effects of mushrooms on anxiety and stress.

How do Reishi mushrooms affect fatigue?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Reishi mushrooms have immune-boosting properties, which may help overcome fatigue and improve overall health. Further research in the future will reveal more about the particular mechanisms.

Are Reishi mushrooms safe for people with liver or kidney problems?

Reiki mushroom has potential health benefits for the liver and kidney. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the mushroom can interact with other drugs and exacerbate existing kidney and lung issues. Exercise caution and consult a doctor before consuming it.

Are there any specific preparations of Reishi mushrooms that are more effective for certain health conditions?

You can combine Reiki mushrooms with other vegetables, whole-grain pasta, and tofu, and make sauces, to prepare healthier dishes.

Are there any risks associated with consuming Reishi mushrooms for people with autoimmune diseases?

There is limited research available on the immunomodulatory effects of Reishi mushrooms. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the mushroom potentially can suppress autoimmune responses, but it might also interact with other drugs and medication.

Key Takeaways

  • The immunomodulatory activities of Reishi mushrooms may help treat immune deficiency conditions in the body.
  • These mushrooms were used as a traditional remedy for healing cardiac diseases and bettering respiratory health.
  • People with diabetes may benefit from these mushrooms as they may prevent its progression.
  • However, consuming them in powdered form may lead to liver complications.

Check out this video to know about the health benefits of reishi mushroom! Learn how this ancient superfood can help boost immunity, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being.


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