Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum): Benefits and Warnings

Reishi mushrooms, also known as Lingzhi, are important medicinal mushrooms. They were called the “elixir of immortality” or the “mushroom of spiritual potency.” Practitioners have extensively used Reishi mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Japanese Kampo Medicine. This article will help you understand the health benefits and warnings before using Ganoderma lucidum.


Lingzhi or Reishi mushroom (scientific name: Ganoderma lucidum) was mentioned in the original Chinese Materia Medica, compiled around 2000 years ago, along with Turkey tail mushroom and Sasa bamboo leaf. In Chinese and Japanese herbalism, Lingzhi mushrooms are revered as potent healers, promoting longevity, vitality, and overall well-being. Their rich history, cultural, and scientific research significance continue to influence their use in modern health practices.


  • The cap is shiny, smooth, and often resembles varnished wood.
  • Colors vary, but common shades include reddish-brown, dark brown, or even black.
  • The cap can grow up to 10-20 centimeters (4-8 inches) in diameter.
  • Reishi mushrooms have a woody texture. Wild Reishi mushrooms are commonly found on hardwood trees, such as oaks and maples.

Five Reasons to Use Reishi Mushroom

  1. Immune System Support

Beta-glucans and Polysaccharides: Reishi mushrooms are rich in β-glucans, a type of glucopolysaccharide. Research has demonstrated that these polysaccharides can both amplify and balance immune responses1,2.

  1. Liver Support

Researchers suggest that triterpenoids from Reishi mushrooms promote liver health4,5,6.

  1. Antioxidant Power

Triterpenoids: Reishi mushroom fruiting body contains hundreds of triterpene compounds. These bioactive molecules also contribute to reducing inflammation and oxidative stress3.

  1. Longevity

373 patients participated in randomized clinical trials studying the effect of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom). The study showed that Lingzhi mushrooms help strengthen immune system functions and improve quality of life with minimal side effects, including nausea and insomnia9.

  1. Vitality

The polysaccharides and Triterpenoids in Reishi mushrooms support vital physiological functions such as immune systems, blood glucose, inflammatory response, and cardiovascular system12. They would help you stay healthy and active.

  • Reishi mushrooms may slow down the blood clotting process. If you have any bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants), exercise caution when using Reishi mushroom extracts.
  • Reishi mushroom may lower blood sugar levels. Exercise caution if you are on diabetes medications.
Reishi Mushroom Fruiting body and Mycelium
  • Japanese researchers have studied Reishi mushroom mycelia extracts in a controlled clinical trial with 198 patients for 12 months. 96 subjects took 1.5 g/day of Reishi mushroom mycelia extract, and 102 subjects didn’t receive Reishi. The study suggested positive results in supporting patients’ colorectal health14. Other pre-clinical research with Lingzhi mushroom mycelia extract indicates that it enhances glucose transport to the liver and helps support healthy blood glucose levels13.
  • Resihi mushroom fruiting body contains a rich array of bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, triterpenoids, steroids, fatty acids, amino acids, enzymes, nucleosides, vitamins, and minerals15.
  • Polysaccharides are extracted from the mycelium and fruit body. The different growth stages of Lingzhi mushrooms are marked by different components, structures, molecular weights, and effects of Reishi’s polysaccharides15.
  • The fruiting body and mycelia of the Reishi mushroom have slightly different health-promoting active compounds. The Reishi mushroom contains 243 identified Ganoderma triterpenoids and 20 steroids. Some are found in the fruiting body, others in the mycelium, and the rest in the spore15. To cover more ground, taking both extracts of the Reishi mushroom fruiting body and mycelium would be a good idea. 
  1. Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 9. Available from:
  2. Chen, S.-N.; Nan, F.-H.; Liu, M.-W.; Yang, M.-F.; Chang, Y.-C.; Chen, S. Evaluation of Immune Modulation by β-1,3; 1,6 D-Glucan Derived from Ganoderma lucidumin Healthy Adult Volunteers, A Randomized Controlled Trial. Foods 2023, 12, 659.
  3. Abate M, Pepe G, Randino R, Pisanti S, Basilicata MG, Covelli V, Bifulco M, Cabri W, D'Ursi AM, Campiglia P, Rodriquez M. Ganoderma lucidumEthanol Extracts Enhance Re-Epithelialization and Prevent Keratinocytes from Free-Radical Injury. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2020 Aug 29;13(9):224. doi: 10.3390/ph13090224. PMID: 32872510; PMCID: PMC7557611.
  4. Wu X, Zeng J, Hu J, Liao Q, Zhou R, Zhang P, Chen Z. Hepatoprotective effects of aqueous extract from Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher basidiomycetes) on α-amanitin-induced liver injury in mice. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(4):383-91. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i4.60. PMID: 23796220.
  5. Zhang J, Wang W, Cui X, Zhu P, Li S, Yuan S, Peng D, Peng C. Ganoderma lucidum ethanol extracts ameliorate hepatic fibrosis and promote the communication between metabolites and gut microbiota g_Ruminococcus through the NF-κB and TGF-β1/Smads pathways. J Ethnopharmacol. 2024 Mar 25;322:117656. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2023.117656. Epub 2023 Dec 26. PMID: 38154526.
  6. Wu, H., Tang, S., Huang, Z., Zhou, Q., Zhang, P., & Chen, Z. (2016). Hepatoprotective Effects and Mechanisms of Action of Triterpenoids from Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes) on α-Amanitin-Induced Liver Injury in Mice. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 18(9), 841–850.doi:10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v18.i9.80 
  7. Raman, J., Lakshmanan, H., Hyun-Jae, S., Jang, Ky. (2022). The Nutritional and Pharmacological Potential of Medicinal Mushroom “Ganoderma lucidum(Lingzhi or Reishi)”. In: Arya, A., Rusevska, K. (eds) Biology, Cultivation and Applications of Mushrooms . Springer, Singapore.
  8. AL-jumaili et al. /The Role of Ganoderma lucidum Uptake on some Hematological and Immunological Response in Patients with Coronavirus (COVID-19), Sys Rev Pharm 2020;11(8):537-541  
  9. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM, Chan GC. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 5;4(4):CD007731. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007731.pub3. PMID: 27045603; PMCID: PMC6353236.
  10. Wong JH, Ng TB, Chan HHL, Liu Q, Man GCW, Zhang CZ, Guan S, Ng CCW, Fang EF, Wang H, Liu F, Ye X, Rolka K, Naude R, Zhao S, Sha O, Li C, Xia L. Mushroom extracts and compounds with suppressive action on breast cancer: evidence from studies using cultured cancer cells, tumor-bearing animals, and clinical trials. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2020 Jun;104(11):4675-4703. doi: 10.1007/s00253-020-10476-4. Epub 2020 Apr 9. PMID: 32274562
  11. Figueiredo, L., Régis, W.C.B. Medicinal mushrooms in adjuvant cancer therapies: an approach to anticancer effects and presumed mechanisms of action. Nutrire42, 28 (2017).
  12. Seweryn, E.; Ziała, A.; Gamian, A. Health-Promoting of Polysaccharides Extracted from Ganoderma lucidumNutrients2021, 13, 2725.
  14. Oka S, Tanaka S, Yoshida S, Hiyama T, Ueno Y, Ito M, Kitadai Y, Yoshihara M, Chayama K. A water-soluble extract from culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia suppresses the development of colorectal adenomas. Hiroshima J Med Sci. 2010 Mar;59(1):1-6. PMID: 20518254.
  15. Yang, Y., Zhang, H., Zuo, J. et al.Advances in research on the active constituents and physiological effects of Ganoderma lucidumbiomed dermatol 3, 6 (2019).
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