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Reishi Mushrooms or Ling zhi: A Pharmacist's Perspective

  Written & scientifically reviewed by Isabella Truong
full grown reishi or lingzhi growing in grow bags

Key Takeaways

  • Reishi mushrooms: Traditional remedy with healing properties.
  • Reasons for taking reishi: Immune support, anti-inflammatory effects, and stress relief.
  • Bioactive compounds: Triterpenes, and beta-D-glucans, offer antioxidant, anti-tumour, and immunomodulatory benefits.
  • Who should avoid: Those on anticoagulant medication or with low blood pressure.
  • Consultation advised: Especially during pregnancy or with underlying health conditions.
  • Cautionary approach: Consider individual differences before supplementation.
  • SuperFeast product: Popular choice for incorporating reishi into a daily routine.
  • Important tip: Use warm water to activate the active compounds in powdered reishi.

Firstly, what is Reishi mushrooms?  Reishi mushrooms, technically known as Ganoderma lucidum, is a fungus used in traditional Eastern medicine for thousands of years. In Chinese medicine, it is known as Lingzhi whereas in the Japanese culture, it is known as the commonly used Reishi. This mushroom has been revered for its healing properties and has been considered the "herb of spiritual potency", or even the mushroom of immortality.

superfeast reishi ling zhi supplements

 Click Here To Check The Latest Prices On Superfeast Reishi

Why Do People Take Reishi Mushroom?

Reishi mushrooms or ling zhi have many wonderful properties which is no surprise why so many people choose to take this dietary supplement in their daily routine. Reishi is commonly known to support immune function and has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-tumour properties that may kill cancer cells. It has also been shown to aid with sleep with its adaptogenic properties in calming the nervous system and supporting the body's stress response.

This herbal medicine is also a very powerful antioxidant and studies have shown that it also may help in lowering blood pressure, blood sugar along with other health conditions.

How Do Reishi Mushrooms Help, You Ask?

The science comes down to its bioactive constituents or active compounds. These compounds are triterpenes and beta-d-glucans.

Triterpenes are phytochemicals i.e. chemicals that are produced by plants that induce a biological response, it has also been found to display potential anti-tumour properties.

Beta-D-glucans are a polysaccharide that is the most commonly found carbohydrate found in all living organisms including foods and is an essential compound or "macromolecule". It also has many biological and pharmacological properties which is why reishi mushrooms exhibit many health benefits and why people have taken this supplement for thousands of years.

Some of these biological and pharmacological properties of polysaccharides include anti-tumour, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic and anticoagulant, which is making this active constituent very popular in research.

It has been established that polysaccharides derived from mushrooms have been extensively studied for their potent antitumor and pharmacological activities, hence the coined term "medicinal mushrooms". How they exhibit these activities is how it induces the response either against the biological pathway eg inhibits the inflammatory response and thus you see a reduction in the inflammatory markers or it enhances a biological pathway eg inducing an immune response to help fight against infections in the body and boost the immune system.

Therefore, this supplement has been a popular product for many to take daily to help support their immune system.

superfeast reishi ling zhi supplements

 Click Here To Check The Latest Prices On Superfeast Reishi

Who Should Not Take Reishi Mushrooms?

While there is ample evidence highlighting the wonderful health benefits of reishi mushrooms, certain individuals should avoid consuming them. These individuals include the following:

  • People on blood thinning medication. Given the blood thinning properties, which are good at preventing potential blood clots, those on blood thinner medication or who have bleeding disorders should avoid as they don't want to increase the risk of bleeding by taking reishi mushrooms. This should also apply to those who have surgery scheduled, it is advised to stop taking reishi 1 week before surgery to minimise the risk of bleeding.
  • People with low blood pressure and taking antidiabetic medication should exercise caution as reishi has been shown to lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar (hypoglycemic effects). This is attributed to the bioactive effects of the triterpenes present in reishi.
  • Pregnant women: Whilst there is a lack of evidence of reishi use in pregnant women, it would be best practice to discuss taking it with your healthcare professional as all pregnancies vary from person to person.

As with all medications and supplements, it's not one size fits all and care and consideration should be exercised before taking them.

As a pharmacist I commonly get asked about natural medicines and supplements and "if they work?" There is a lot of information out there and can get quite overwhelming for people. Therefore, after hearing so much about medicinal mushrooms and their popularity I wanted to see for myself if it stacks up.

After reviewing the evidence and research available, there is, in fact, compelling evidence towards the wonderful benefits of medicinal mushrooms, including reishi. I've shared some of my learnings above in a way that hopefully makes sense to you much as it does for me.

Check out the review on the 4 best reishi mushrooms to see which one suits you.

My Personal Experience Taking Reishi Mushrooms?

I recently travelled to Japan for a holiday and sitting on 9+ hour flight with people coughing and splattering is not ideal, especially for someone like me who has an autoimmune condition taking immunosuppressant medications. I wanted to take something that will boost my immune system whilst travelling so that I don't get sick and ruin my holiday.

I started taking the reishi mushrooms a few days before travel and during my holiday.  Our flight was jammed-packed and of course, I could hear the coughing and sneezing nearby and so was prepared to fall sick. It's been almost 2 weeks since return and voila I am fit as a fiddle! My partner on the other hand felt a bit under the weather a few days after returning with a scratchy throat and feeling quite low energy (the onset of a cold or flu). So personally, I believe it's helped me as I'm normally the one to get sick in our household, especially after travels. What's even more interesting was I found I slept really well whilst away in our Airbnb - I usually find it hard to sleep in hotels or basically NOT my own bed. So that was an added bonus, and also a popular claim for taking reishi mushrooms where it helps calm the nervous system and aids sleep.

The reishi mushroom product that I chose to take was from SuperFeast.

Check out my short video below demonstrating how to take reishi mushrooms.

Important tip: ALWAYS use warm water when mixing your powdered reishi mushrooms. Using heat activates the bioactive compounds in the mushrooms. Therefore, adding reishi mushrooms to your tea, coffee or soups is a great way to get the added benefits into your daily routine! Also, when travelling pack your SuperFeast Reishi Mushroom in a zip-locked bag, to prevent spillage - TRUST me on this one! You're welcome!

isabella truong of the bircher bar

FAQs About These Medicinal Mushrooms

What does reishi mushroom do to the body?

Reishi mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that exhibit biological responses in the body such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic, anxiolytic and adaptogenic properties.

How long does it take to feel the effects of reishi mushrooms?

Individual responses can vary and it has been documented that responses can be seen after taking reishi for 2-3 weeks. However, some who use it to aid with sleep have claimed it has worked for them within a few days of taking it.

How long before reishi or lingzhi starts working?

I recently took reishi mushrooms whilst travelling overseas, with the hopes of boosting my immune system. Did I “feel the effects of reishi mushrooms”? No, however, for someone who suffers from an autoimmune condition and taking immunosuppressive medication, I’m prone to getting sick often especially when travelling.

What I did notice during the 8 days I was away travelling and returning home was I did not get sick. My partner on the other hand has been feeling a bit under the weather since returning and did not take the reishi mushroom and does not suffer from an autoimmune disease. So for me, I believe this has helped me and has had an effect during the 1 week of taking this supplement.

But again individual responses may vary.

superfeast reishi ling zhi supplements

 Click Here To Check The Latest Prices On Superfeast Reishi

Final Thoughts

Having gone through the claims and looking deeper into the research, the evidence is compelling to show the wonderful benefits of reishi mushrooms. The powerful properties of this superfood which deems this a "medicinal mushroom" really stacks up especially when it comes to boosting immune health and assisting in sleep.

I am still taking this product post our holiday and have incorporated this into my daily routine. I definitely have felt this has improved my immune system and am really happy I started taking this.

If you're still wondering which mushroom or mushroom supplements will work for you, check out our guide on whether you should take them and which one to take.

Isabella Truong

Isabella Truong has a Master of Pharmacy degree from The University of Canberra and her experience in health includes practicing in community pharmacy and working in the health and supplements industry for over 15 years. She’s worked with some of Australia’s largest supplement brands in Australia such as Blackmores, Bioceuticals and Thompson’s herbal.

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