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Reishi Mushrooms: Benefits and Side Effects

October 6, 2021

Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) are a staple of traditional Eastern medicine. You can tell that this mushroom is believed to be a powerful remedy by its name in Chinese, ​ling zhi​, which translates to “herb of spiritual potency,” according to PeaceHealth.

They’re included in supplements, extracts, tea blends and even in coffee products. But you’ll want to talk to your doctor before taking any reishi mushroom — especially if you’re on medications.

The Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms

1. It’s Linked to Better Immunity

Animal and lab studies suggest that complex sugars found in these mushrooms called beta-glucans may improve immune response, per Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), including one small study of patients with late-stage cancer. More research is needed.

The reishi mushroom contains antioxidant properties and is linked to improved immune response.

2. It’s Gut-Healthy

Edible mushrooms have medicinal properties.

These types of mushrooms can account for better prebiotics to stimulate the gut microbiota, according to a September 2017 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.​ Prebiotics help support helpful bacteria and other organisms in the gut, leading to increased gut health.

The study explained that mushrooms contain various active polysaccharides and can act as immune-supporting agents to activate healthy gut microbiota. These types of mushrooms may play a significant role in regulating gut microbiota, which can improve gut health.

3. It Might Be Helpful for Cancer Therapy

An April 2015 study in Cochrane Database System Review studied reishi and other mushrooms as alternative medicine and complementary therapy for people with cancer to manage the symptoms and cope with the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

The study suggested promising results of these extracts as an immune system support supplement in cancer treatment that potentially had anti-tumor effects.

This was only one study though — MSKCC recommends avoiding reishi if you have cancer and are treating it.

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