Reishi mushroom health benefits and Side effects

reishi benefits

Know in one minute about Reishi benefits

Reishi mushroom has incredible health benefits therefore also known as “herb of spiritual potency”.Polysaccharides in Reishi mushrooms are one of the major bioactive compounds.

  1. High antioxidants
  2. Immune booster and good for the liver
  3. Reduce obesity
  4. Anti Aging property and antimicrobial in nature.
  5. Keeps the heart healthy and also manages diabetes
  6. Reishi mushroom tea acts as an energizer and treats fatigues
  7. Also helps in the treatment of muscle-related disorders


Name: Reishi mushroom

Scientific name: Ganoderma lucidum of Family Ganodermataceae

Common name: Lingzhi (China), Reishi (Japan), Youngzhi (Korea), Mannentake & Mushroom of immortality

Cultivated in: China, Korea, Japan & United States.


Reishi mushroom is also referred to as “herb of spiritual potency”. It is a very popular, edible, highly prized vitality‐enhancing herb.

Widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for approximately 2000 years. It is a large, dark, deep red color mushroom with a glossy exterior and a woody texture, bitter in taste (due to the presence of triterpenes, and cultivated on substrates such as grain, sawdust, wood logs, and cork residues.

Historically, Reishi mushroom polysaccharide has been emerged as one of the major bioactive components and developed into a drug named “Ji 731 Injection” in China since 1973 while also consume in the form of dietary supplements, tablet, soup, tea, powder, etc (1).

Nutritional value of Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom is highly nutritiously composed of around 90% water by weight. The remaining 10% consists of 10–40% protein, 2–8% fat, 3–28% carbohydrate, 3–32% fiber, 8–10% ash. Vitamins and minerals, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, zinc, and copper also present. It also contains approximately 400 different bioactive compounds, which mainly include triterpenoids, polysaccharides, nucleotides, sterols, steroids, fatty acids, proteins/peptides, and trace elements. The low fat and high polyunsaturated fatty acids content relative to the total fatty acids of mushrooms are considered significant contributors to the health value of mushrooms (2).

Health benefits of Reishi mushroom

Reishi benefits are analgesic, anti-aging, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-bacterial, anticancer, anti-fibrotic, anti-hypertensive effects. Also posses anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive, antioxidative, anti-platelet, anti-thrombotic, anti-ulcer properties. Other health benefits are antiviral, chemopreventive, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, and radioprotective effects.

1. High antioxidants of Reishi mushrooms

Reishi benefits because it contains a high amount of antioxidants than teas, fruits, and vegetables with no toxic side effects (3). It is a good source of polysaccharide, polysaccharide-protein, polysaccharide-peptide complex and phenolic constituents were reported to possess antioxidant activity, inhibit lipid peroxidation, and scavenge free radicals (4).

2. Immune boosting Reishi mushroom

A polysaccharide found in Reishi mushroom enhanced the function of macrophage through improving phagocytic ability and the activity of natural killer (NK) cells thus kill foreign particles and regulate and boost immune function (5).

3. Healthy liver

One of the reishi benefits is that the intake of Reishi mushrooms contains antioxidants. That is it decrease lipid peroxidation, fights harmful immune responses, and protects from chemically induced liver injury (6).

4. Anti-aging properties of Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom contains ganodermasides A, B, C, D, polysaccharides, triterpenes, and peptides which slow down aging mainly through anti-oxidation, immunomodulation, and anti-neurodegeneration (7)

5. Reishi mushroom keep the heart healthy

Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of coronary heart disease due to endothelial dysfunction caused by free oxidative radicals. However, Polysaccharide peptides mainly β-glucan of Reishi mushroom act as an antioxidant that can reduce oxidative radicals that affect the early phase of atherogenesis, endothelial dysfunction (8).

6. Regulation of hormone levels by Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom contains estrogen-like activity that binds to human estrogen receptors and regulates hormone levels to treat osteoporosis disease in menopausal women (9).

7. Antiviral properties of Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom contains polysaccharides that reduce systemic viral replication, inhibit viral attachment to cells and prevent penetration of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) into cells (10).

8. Reishi mushroom treat proteinuria

Excessive protein in urine called proteinuria (or albuminuria) which causes kidney disease. However, the intake of the Reishi mushroom improves hemodynamic flow in glomerular disease and reduces proteinuria (11).

9. Manage diabetes

Reishi mushroom contains polysaccharides, proteoglycans, that acts as a hypoglycemic agent Triterpenoids found in reishi mushroom also inhibit aldose reductase and α-glucosidase that can suppress postprandial hyperglycemia (12).

Furthermore, glycans called ganoderan A and B, which is obtained from Reishi mushroom reduces plasma glucose levels and increased the level of insulin in plasma but did not have any effect on insulin binding to isolated adipocytes Polysaccharides of reishi mushroom increase the viability of and protected pancreatic β cells from necrosis (13).

10. Antimicrobial properties of Reishi mushrooms 

p-hydroxybenzoic and cinnamic acids obtained from Reishi mushroom protect against various bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Micrococcus flavus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa,  Escherichia coli, and Salmonella typhimurium. 

It is also effective against pathogenic fungi such as Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus versicolor, Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus niger, Trichoderma viride, Penicillium funiculosum, Penicillium ochrochloron and Penicillium verrucosum

However, an antifungal protein known as Ganodermim from this mushroom protects against phytopathogenic fungi such as Botrytis cinerea, Fusarium oxysporum, and Physalospora paricola while this mushroom show demelanizing activity against A. niger only (14).

11. Radioprotective properties of Reishi mushroom

Polysaccharides act as a novel radioprotective agent that protects against γ-radiation-induced damages. Thus mushroom can be used orally radioprotector for its therapeutic significance and is freely available (15).

12. Polysaccharides of Reishi mushroom helps in the treatment of Myopathy

Reishi Mushroom polysaccharide used in form of injection called Ji Sheng Injection. Which can be applied intramuscularly for treating neurosis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, atrophic myotonia, and mul. Use to treat muscular dystrophy and various diseases caused by a defective immune system. Thus reishi mushroom injection may help various myopathy diseases and the diseases of the nervous system including demyelinating diseases (16).

13. Treat obesity

Polysaccharides obtained from Reishi mushrooms prevent dietary-induced obesity and alleviates inflammation by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota and maintaining intestinal barrier integrity (17).

14. Anti genotoxic properties of  Reishi mushroom tea

Antigenotoxic effects are prevention from genetic information damage and DNA protective effects. Thus drinking Reishi mushroom tea helps in the prevention of mutation which further leads to cancer (18).

15. Antiviral properties

The presence of triterpenoids such as ganoderic acid lucidumol B, ganodermanondiol, ganodermanontriol, and ganolucidic acid A of Reishi mushroom spores may inhibit human immunodeficiency virus protease activity which later expands HIV virus (19).

16. Treat fatigue properties of Reishi mushroom

The presence of polysaccharides β-D-Glucan in Reishi mushrooms possesses significant anti-fatigue activity by reducing glycogen consumption during exercise. It also inhibits the accumulation of blood lactic acid, accelerates lactic acid clearance, and increases tissue glycogen content resulting in less fatigue without any effect on weight loss/gain (20).

17. Anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties of Reishi mushroom

Triterpenoids and polysaccharides (β-D-glucans) which act as an anti-cancer agent by inhibition of growth of various cancer such as lung, hepatoma, prostate, colonic. leukemia, ovarian, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and induce apoptosis (21). Thus Reishi mushroom is very beneficial as a natural drug for the treatment of enhancing tumor response and stimulating host immunity with minor adverse effects (22).

Moreover, Reishi mushroom polyphenols and carbohydrate-flavonoid complexes, possess immune-modulating functions through activating the expression of cytokines associated with an inflammatory response. Therefore consumption of Reishi mushroom is beneficially exploited in anticancer and anti-inflammatory therapies against melanoma and breast cancer (23)

18. Reduce drug side effects

There are some side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting, however, intake of Reishi mushroom in the form of injection improves appetite and decreases nausea and vomiting action thus may helpful for decreasing drug-induced side effects (24).

19. Prevent metastasis

In cancer patients, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy are used to kill cancer cells directly. But some cancer cells are resistant to these treatments and can further proliferate and metastasize which is more dangerous. However, consumption of Reshi mushrooms (triterpenes, lucidenic acid, and polysaccharides) inhibits cancer metastasis and may be useful as an alternative drug because it suppresses the expression of genes responsible for cell invasiveness (25).

20. Treat hypertension

Reishi mushroom is rich in peptides which also act as an antioxidant and angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) agents, therefore, is used to reduce blood pressure and treat hypertension (26).

Side effects of Reishi mushroom

A research study suggested that intake of Reishi mushroom (encapsulated form) even at very high doses shows no adverse effect on the liver, renal, or DNA toxicity as well as antioxidant capacity in urine increased (27). However, one report shows the adverse effect of reishi mushrooms.

Risk of pseudo parasitosis

Consumption of powdered Reshi mushroom extracts resulted from the presence of reishi spores may cause chronic watery diarrhea. After discontinuation of mushroom spores ingestion, the diarrheal symptoms improved and fecal examination subsequently showed no reishi spores. Therefore, precaution should be needed before consumption (28).

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati