Ancient Asian healers heralded Reishi mushroom for its ability to lengthen life. Reishi was used throughout Japan, Korea, Tibet and China to heal a myriad of disorders. The common name of Lingzhi mushroom in Chinese medicine means “immortal mushroom. It’s common name in Japanese means “immortality plant.”
These descriptions of the Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) have recently been proven out by modern research. Studies have found that Lingzhi boosts the immune system, improves liver health, inhibits the growth of cancer and defers conditions related to mortality such as heart disease.
No wonder it was called the immortality plant. And it grows throughout the world, including in North America.
Liver benefits and increased longevity
A 2017 clinical study published in the journal, Pharmaceutical Biology has proven out Reishi’s ability to improve liver health. Researchers from Taiwan’s Chung Shan Medical University and Taichung Hospital tested 42 healthy people for over a year.
For six months, half the group was given 450 milligrams of Reishi mushroom powder in capsules each day. The other half received a placebo. Then after a month off, the people in the group given the placebo during the first six months were given the Lingzhi capsules and the other group was given the placebo.
The researchers gave the subjects a panel of blood tests and liver tests before, after and during the supplementation periods.
The researchers found that the Reishi mushroom significantly reduced liver enzymes – showing improved liver health. They also found the mushroom supplementation significantly boosted antioxidant capacity. The mushroom boosted glutathione levels and total thiol levels – all markers for increased antioxidant status.
These elements are related to longevity. Why? Because aging is specifically related to oxidation levels. When the body has higher antioxidant status, this means the body can neutralize oxidation before it damages organs and tissues.
The researchers confirmed the mushroom increased longevity and boosted liver health:
“The outcome of the present intervention demonstrated the antioxidation, anti-aging and hepatoprotective [liver protective] nature of GL by effectively curbing oxidative stress.”
We’ve discussed how Reishi and other mushrooms boost liver health.
Liver benefits confirmed
Other studies have confirmed Reishi’s ability to boost liver health. In a 2016 study from the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, researchers found that the triterpenoids from Reishi – called Ganoderma triterpenoids – reduced ALT (alanine aminotransferase ) enzymes by up to 51 percent, AST (aspartate aminotransferase ) enzymes by as much as 33 percent. They also found the Ganoderma triterpenoids reduced oxidative damage to liver cells. The researchers concluded:
“Our results showed that Ganoderma triterpenoids had potent cytoprotective effect against oxidative damage induced by t-BHP in HepG2 cells, thus suggesting their potential use as liver protectant.”
Lingzhi inhibits various cancers
A number of studies over the past few decades have shown that Reishi can inhibit different types of cancers. This research has become more focused over the past few years.
A 2017 study from Italy’s National Cancer Institute tested Lingzhi mushroom against melanoma cancer cells and triple-negative breast cancer cells. They found that G. lucidum inhibited release of products these cells utilize to stay alive. The researchers also showed that Reishi helped prevent cancer cells from migrating.
The researchers concluded:
“Taken together, these results indicate the possible use of Ganoderma lucidum extract for the therapeutic management of melanoma and human triple-negative breast cancer.”
A number of other studies have confirmed that Lingzhi inhibits a number of types of cancers. A 2010 review from Taiwan’s Tainan University of Technology analyzed the research and found that Reishi inhibited cancer growth by affecting the following elements within cancer cells and tumor tissues:
• Activator protein-1(AP-1)
• Beta1-integrin (ITGB1)
• Interleukin (IL)
• Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)
• Nitric oxide (NO)
• Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB)
• Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
• Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1
• Urokinase plaminogen activator (uPA)
• uPA receptor (uPAR)
Reishi Boosts endurance and fitness
Multiple studies have also shown that Lingzhi mushroom boosts endurance and physical fitness. For example, a 2015 study from Spain’s University of Extremadura studied 64 women with fibromyalgia. The women took 6 grams of Reishi per day or a placebo (carob tree bean powder) for six weeks.
The researchers tested the women’s fitness levels, along with endurance testing. The study found those who took the Lingzhi mushroom had significantly improved physical condition. They had more endurance and better workout capacity.
The researchers concluded:
“These results may indicate that Ganoderma lucidum might be a useful dietary supplement to enhance physical performance of the patients suffering from fibromyalgia.”
We’ve discussed that Reishi and Cordyceps boost testosterone and fitness capacity.
Reishi – the mortality mushroom
These studies and many others have confirmed what the ancient Asian healers knew about Lingzhi mushroom: It healed a number of disorders, helped prevent a number of diseases, boosts physical fitness and immunity, and lengthens lifespan.
Should we say more?
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Collado Mateo D, Pazzi F, Domínguez Muñoz FJ, Martín Martínez JP, Olivares PR, Gusi N, Adsuar JC. Ganoderma Lucidum improves physical fitness in women with fibromyalgia. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Nov 1;32(5):2126-35. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9601.
Chiu HF, Fu HY, Lu YY, Han YC, Shen YC, Venkatakrishnan K, Golovinskaia O, Wang CK. Triterpenoids and polysaccharide peptides-enriched Ganoderma lucidum: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its antioxidation and hepatoprotective efficacy in healthy volunteers. Pharm Biol. 2017 Dec;55(1):1041-1046. doi: 10.1080/13880209.2017.1288750.
Weng CJ, Yen GC. The in vitro and in vivo experimental evidences disclose the chemopreventive effects of Ganoderma lucidum on cancer invasion and metastasis. Clin Exp Metastasis. 2010 May;27(5):361-9. doi: 10.1007/s10585-010-9334-z.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.