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Reishi Mushroom

Plant Part Used

Fruiting body.

Active Constituents

Polysaccharide/peptide complex, including beta-1,3-glucans; triterpenes, including ganoderic acids; nucleosides, including adenosine; fatty acids, sterols and ergosterols.(1)

[span class=alert]This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]


Reishi mushroom is called the "mushroom of immortality" in China and has been used as a tonic and strengthening medicine for thousands of years. Uses in traditional healing include increasing intellectual capacity and memory, promoting agility, and lengthening the life span.(2) Reishi is reported to have some of the most active polysaccharides in the plant kingdom. Polysaccharides are claimed to have immunomodulating activity. Reishi is also reported beneficial as an antioxidant, antihypertensive, hypoglycemic, antiviral, and hepatoprotective agent.(25)

Interactions and Depletions


Dosage Info

Dosage Range

150-300mg (standardized extract), 3-4 times a day, with food.

Most Common Dosage

250mg (standardized extract), 4 times a day, with food.


[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 4% triterpenes and 10-12.5% polysaccharides (ß-1,3-glucans).


Frequently Reported Uses

  • Anti-Herpetic, Antiviral
  • Anti-Hypertensive
  • Immunomodulating
  • Tonic, Antifatigue Agent
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Antitumor
  • Adaptogen, Tonic
  • Adjunctive Support In Chemotherapy And Radiation
  • Cardiovascular Support (Angioplasty, Angina, Bypass)

Other Reported Uses

  • Anti-Inflammatory.
  • Hypoglycemic Activity
  • Antioxidant
  • Increases Cellular Oxygenation

Toxicities & Precautions


Reishi mushroom has been reported safe in recommended doses.(27)


Some individuals may show allergic respiratory reactions to Reishi mushroom.(3)

Health Conditions

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals with bleeding disorders.(4)

A case report of fatal, fulminant hepatitis was associated with a Reishi supplement in China (Lingzhi).(28) However, Reishi is used for liver health and due to possible contaminants in Chinese supplements, including heavy metals; this case report needs to be verified with other studies before making recommendations on Reishi safety in hepatic disorders.

Side Effects

Rare side effects such as dryness of the mouth, throat and nasal areas, stomach upset, and loose stools may occur in some individuals.(5)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.



Reishi extracts have been reported to significantly increase the life-span of fruit flies by significant amounts (16-17 percent) in several studies, and also enhancing endurance and cellular oxygenation.(6) Reishi has been reported to inhibit superoxide activity and hydroxyl radical activity in vitro, supporting its role as an antioxidant.(7) The results of a double-blinded, placebo controlled study indicated a lowering of cholesterol and an increase in antioxidant activity.(8) The constituents with antioxidant activity have been reported to include the triterpenes.(9)


Polysaccharides in Reishi are reported to product immune-modulating activity.(29) The major immunomodulating effects of Reishi include mitogenicity and activation of immune effector cells such as T cells, macrophages and natural killer cells resulting in the production of cytokines.(30)

Reishi exerts cytotoxic effects on cancer cells by altering proteins involved in cell proliferation and/or cell death, carcinogenesis, oxidative stress, calcium signaling and ER stress.(31)

Reishi extracts have been reported to inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animals.(10),(11) In one study, an isolated polysaccharide from Reishi (b-1, 3-glucan) was administered to laboratory mice and was reported to produce tumor inhibiting rates of greater than 90 percent, with complete tumor regression of over 75 percent of the mice.(12) A study of 48 patients with advanced stage carcinomas (including renal, gastric and breast cancers) were administered an extract of Reishi mushroom (1:10w/v) before chemotherapy.(13) Researchers have indicated that Reishi mushroom significantly enhanced immune function in advanced-stage cancer patients.(14) Immunocompromised patients showed increased levels of CD4/CD8 ratio and T-cell counts and lowered levels of T-suppressor cell counts. Radio- and chemotherapy intolerance reportedly was reduced in the cancer patients on the Reishi extract and leukopenia from the treatments improved. The patients also showed improved vigor and appetite. Reishi also decreased the immunosuppression seen in whole body irradiated mice, showing a greater degree of recovery versus the control group.(15)

A laboratory study found that Reishi extract is cytotoxic to both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant small-cell lung cancer cells.(32) Pro-apoptotic, induced gene expression patterns were similar to the cancer cells treated with chemotherapeutic drugs, and may reverse resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs.

Other Uses

Reishi extracts have also reported hypoglycemic activity both in laboratory animals and in human subjects.(16),(33) A small 2-month open label trial of eight diabetic patients reported that an extract of Reishi produced hypoglycemic effects comparable to that of insulin and oral hypoglycemic agents.(17)

Several clinical studies using Reishi mushroom have been performed on hypertensive individuals report positive results.(18),(19) Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were decreased in hypertensive individuals, with subsequent lowering of cholesterol levels in one of the studies. It has been concluded that the mechanism of hypotensive action of Ganoderma lucidum was due to its central inhibition of sympathetic nerve activity. Reishi also has reported platelet aggregation inhibitory ability in vitro.(20)

Polysaccharides in Reishi have been reported several clinical studies to have antiherpetic properties, and has been used in treating herpes(21) and postherpetic neuralgia, decreased pain dramatically in two patients with postherpetic neuralgia recalcitrant to standard therapy and two other patients with severe pain due to herpes zoster infection.(22) The triterpenoid constituents in Reishi have reported anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-1-protease activity in vitro.(23)

Reishi has been reported to have the strongest 5-alpha reductase inhibitory activity among tested mushroom extracts.(34),(35) 5-alpha reductase is involved in steroid production, including testosterone. Increased levels are a risk factor in prostate disorders, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. A randomized, controlled human trial found that Reishi extract improved outcome measures in men with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).(36)

An extract of Reishi mushroom was reported to be synergistic when combined with cefazolin in vitro against Bacillus subtilis and Klebsiella oxytoca.(24)


  1. Chen RY, et al. Progress of Studies on the Chemical Constituents of Ganoderma Triterpene. Yao Hsueh Hsueh Pao. 1990;25(12):940-53.
  2. Jong SC, et al. Medicinal Benefits of the Mushroom Ganoderma. Adv Appl Microbiol. 1992;37:101-34.
  3. View Abstract: Horner WE, et al. Basidiomycete Allergens: Comparison of Three Ganoderma Species. Allergy. Feb1993;48(2):110-16.
  4. View Abstract: Su C. Potentiation of ganodermic acid S on prostaglandin E(1)-induced cyclic AMP elevation in human platelets. Thromb Res. Jul2000;99(2):135-45.
  5. McGuffin M ed, et al. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 1997:55.
  6. Jong SC, et al. Medicinal Benefits of the Mushroom Ganoderma. Adv Appl Microbiol. 1992;37:101-34.
  7. View Abstract: Lin JM, et al. Radical Scavenger and Antihepatotoxic Activity of Ganoderma formosanum, Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma neo-japonicum. J Ethnopharmacol. Jun1995;47(1):33-41.
  8. View Abstract: Wachtel-Galor S, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. Ganoderma lucidum ("Lingzhi"), a Chinese medicinal mushroom: biomarker responses in a controlled human supplementation study. Br J Nutr. Feb2004;91(2):263-9.
  9. View Abstract: Zhu M, et al. Triterpene Antioxidants from Ganoderma lucidum. Phytother Res. Sep1999;13(6):529-31.
  10. View Abstract: Wang SY. The Anti-tumor Effect of Ganoderma lucidum is Mediated by Cytokines Released From Activated Macrophages and T Lymphocytes. Int J Cancer. May1997;70(6):699-705.
  11. View Abstract: Yun TK. Trial of a New Medium-term Model Using Benzo(a)pyrene Induced Lung Tumor in Newborn Mice. Anticancer Res. May1995;15(3):839-45.
  12. View Abstract: Sone Y, et al. Structures and Antitumor Activities of the Polysaccharides Isolated from Fruiting Body and the Growing Culture of Mycelium of Ganoderma lucidum. Agr Biol Chem. 1985;49:2641-53.
  13. Kupin V. A New Biological Response Modifier – Ganoderma lucidum – and Its Application in Oncology. in: The 4th International Symposium on Ganoderma lucidum. Jun1992:36-39.
  14. View Abstract: Gao Y, Zhou S, Jiang W, Huang M, Dai X. Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunol Invest. Aug2003;32(3):201-15.
  15. View Abstract: Chen WC, et al. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum and Krestin on Cellular Immunocompetence in Gamma-ray-irradiated Mice. Am J Chin Med. 1995;23(1):71-80.
  16. View Abstract: Hikino H, et al. Mechanisms of Hypoglycemic Activity of Ganoderan B: A Glycan of Ganoderma lucidum Fruit Bodies. Planta Med. Oct1999;55(5):423-28.
  17. Teow SS. Effective Dosage of Ganoderma Nutriceuticals in the Treatment of Various Ailments. in: 1996 Taipei International Ganoderma Research Conference. Abstracts: Taipei International Convention Center. Taipei, Taiwan. Aug1996.
  18. View Abstract: Lee SY. Cardiovascular Effects of Mycelium Extract of Ganoderma lucidum: Inhibition of Sympathetic Outflow as a Mechanism of Its Hypotensive Action. Chem Pharm Bull.(Tokyo). May1990;38(5):1359-64.
  19. Kanmatsuse K, et al. Studies on Ganoderma lucidum. I. Efficacy Against Hypertension and Side Effects. Yakugaku Zasshi. Oct1985;105(10):942-47.
  20. View Abstract: Tao J, et al. Experimental and Clinical Studies on Inhibitory Effect of Ganoderma lucidum On Platelet Aggregation. J Tongji Med Univ. 1990;10(4):240-43.
  21. View Abstract: Eo SK, et al. Antiherpetic Activities of Various Protein Bound Polysaccharides Isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. J Ethnopharmacol. Dec1999;68(1-3):175-81.
  22. View Abstract: Hijikata Y, et al. Effect of Ganoderma lucidum on Postherpetic Neuralgia. Am J Chin Med. 1998;26(3-4):375-81.
  23. View Abstract: el-Mekkawy S, et al. Anti-HIV-1 and Anti-HIV-1-protease Substances from Ganoderma lucidum. Phytochemistry. Nov1998;49(6):1651-57.
  24. View Abstract: Yoon SY, et al. Antimicrobial of Ganoderma lucidum Extract Alone and in Combination With Some Antibiotics. Arch Pharm Res. Dec1994;17(6):438-432
  25. Sanodiya BS, Thakur GS, Baghel RK, Prasad GB, Bisen PS. Ganoderma lucidum: a potent pharmacological macrofungus. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. Dec 2009;10(8):717-742.
  26. Yue QX, Xie FB, Guan SH, et al. Interaction of Ganoderma triterpenes with doxorubicin and proteomic characterization of the possible molecular targets of Ganoderma triterpenes. Cancer Sci. Jul 2008;99(7):1461-1470. Epub 2008 Apr 16.
  27. Wicks SM, Tong R, Wang CZ, O'Connor M, Karrison T, Li S, Moss J, Yuan CS. Safety and tolerability of Ganoderma lucidum in healthy subjects: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(3):407-414.
  28. Wanmuang H, Leopairut J, Kositchaiwat C, Wananukul W, Bunyaratvej S. Fatal fulminant hepatitis associated with Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) mushroom powder. J Med Assoc Thai. Jan 2007;90(1):179-181.
  29. Boh B, Berovic M, Zhang J, Zhi-Bin L. Ganoderma lucidum and its pharmaceutically active compounds. Biotechnol Annu Rev. 2007;13:265-301. Review.
  30. Ahmadi K, Riazipour M. Ganoderma lucidum induces the expression of CD40/CD86 on peripheral blood monocytes. Iran J Immunol. Jun 2009;6(2):87-91.
  31. Yue QX, Song XY, Ma C, Feng LX, Guan SH, Wu WY, Yang M, Effects of triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum on protein expression profile of HeLa cells. Jiang BH, Liu X, Cui YJ, Guo DA. Phytomedicine. 25 Jan 2010. [Epub ahead of print]
  32. Sadava D, Still DW, Mudry RR, Kane SE. Effect of Ganoderma on drug-sensitive and multidrug-resistant small-cell lung carcinoma cells. Cancer Lett. 18 May 2009;277(2):182-189. Epub 2009 Feb 1.
  33. Seto SW, Lam TY, Tam HL, et al. Novel hypoglycemic effects of Ganoderma lucidum water-extract in obese/diabetic (+db/+db) mice. Phytomedicine. May 2009;16(5):426-436. Epub 2008 Dec 23.
  34. Liu J, Shiono J, Shimizu K, Kukita A, Kukita T, Kondo R. Ganoderic acid DM: anti-androgenic osteoclastogenesis inhibitor. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 15 Apr 2009;19(8):2154-2157. Epub 2009 Mar 4.
  35. Lee SH, Shim SH, Kim JS, Kang SS. Constituents from the fruiting bodies of Ganoderma applanatum and their aldose reductase inhibitory activity. Arch Pharm Res. Jun 2006;29(6):479-483.
  36. Noguchi M, Kakuma T, Tomiyasu K, et al. Randomized clinical trial of an ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Asian J Androl. Sep 2008;10(5):777-785. Epub 2007 Dec 20.

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