Reishi Mushroom

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Reishi Mushroom

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More
Reishi Mushroom

Common Names

  • Ling zhi
  • Lin zi
  • Mushroom of immortality

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Reishi mushroom is used in many Asian countries to increase energy, boost the immune system, and for general health. Reishi supplements come as capsules, tablets, extracts, powders, and teas.

What are the potential uses and benefits?

Reishi mushroom is used to:

  • Boost the immune system
  • Increase strength and stamina
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Treat lower urinary tract symptoms (having to pee at night, weak urine flow, peeing more times than usual, and not being able to control urine flow) in males

Reishi also has other uses that haven’t been studied by doctors to see if they work.

Talk with your healthcare providers before taking reishi supplements. Herbal supplements are stronger than the herbs you would use in cooking. They can also interact with some medications and affect how they work. For more information, read the “What else do I need to know?” section below.

What are the side effects?

Side effects of reishi may include:

  • Nausea (feeling like you’re going to throw up)
  • Insomnia (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early)
  • Liver injury
What else do I need to know?
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re on blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®). Reishi mushroom can increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re on immunosuppressants. Reishi may not be safe for you.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re taking reishi mushroom spore powder. It may increase the levels of a substance called CA72-4 in your body. This may show up on your test results and interfere with your cancer treatment.

For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Ganoderma lucidum
Clinical Summary

Reishi mushroom is a fungus that holds an important place in the traditional medical systems of China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries for its health-promoting effects. It is used as an immunostimulant by patients with AIDS and cancer. The active constituents include both beta-glucan polysaccharides and triterpenes (46) (47).

Extracts of reishi were shown to have immunomodulatory (2) (4) (5), renoprotective (9), anti-inflammatory (36), and hepatoprotective (37) properties both in vitro and in vivo. Clinical studies indicate its benefits in improving lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men (10) (20), and in exerting mild antidiabetic effects and improving dyslipidemia (29). However, randomized controlled trials do not support the use of reishi for reducing cardiovascular risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes (38) (43), and reishi did not influence blood or anthropometric measurements in patients with fibromyalgia (49). A pilot study of reishi spore powder did not find it helpful in treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (1).

Preclinical findings indicate that reishi has immunomodulatory (45) and chemopreventive effects (21) (46), alleviates chemotherapy-induced nausea (13), enhances the efficacy of radiotherapy (22), and increases sensitivity of ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin (27). It may also help prevent cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity (28).

In small clinical studies, reishi increased plasma antioxidant capacity (6) (7), enhanced both immune and tumor response in cancer patients (8) (40) (44) (50) (51), and suppressed development of colorectal adenomas (41). Remission of hepatocellular carcinoma has also been reported in a few cases in a single study (23), and a formula containing reishi and ligustrum helped maintain the quality of life in non-small cell lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (48). But a reishi extract was found to have toxic effects in leukocytes (14). Also, patients undergoing treatment for gastrointestinal cancer had higher levels of the serum tumor marker CA72-4 after taking reishi spore supplements (42). Further research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of reishi as an adjunctive cancer treatment.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Immunostimulation
  • Strength and stamina
  • High cholesterol
  • Lower urinary tract symptoms
Mechanism of Action

Beta glucans, polysaccharides present in reishi, demonstrated antitumor and immunostimulating activities (18) (40). Its triterpene compounds may inhibit tumor invasion by reducing matrix metalloproteinase expression (16), and tumor metastases by limiting attachment to endothelial cells (17). Findings also indicate that reishi induces natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity against various cancer cell lines via activation of the natural cytotoxic receptors (NKG2D/NCR) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-signaling pathways, which result in exocytosis of perforin and granulysin (31). Reishi polysaccharides were shown to increase expression of the major histocompatibility (MHC) class I and costimulatory molecules on melanoma cells, resulting in enhanced antitumor cytotoxicity (32). In ovarian cancer cells, reishi induced G2/M phase cell cycle arrest, activated caspase 3 to induce apotosis, increased p53, and inhibited Akt expression (27).

Adverse Reactions

Nausea and insomnia have been reported (43) (44).

Case reports

  • Hepatoxicity: Two cases with the use of powdered reishi mushroom, leading to death in one instance  (24) (25).
  • Pseudoparasitosis/Chronic diarrhea: In a 49-year-old man with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following prolonged consumption of powdered reishi mushroom extract (26).
  • Pseudoparasitosis: Due to similarity in structure with Clonorchis sinensis ova, in a patient with a history of long-term ingestion of reishi mushrooms  (39).
  • Hypereosinophilia with hepatic nodules: In a 61-year-old man who underwent surgery for rectal adenocarcinoma. He had been taking reishi for liver function. Eosinophil counts and liver enzymes resolved and nodules disappeared after discontinuing use (52).
Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Anticoagulants / Antiplatelets: Reishi can increase the risk of bleeding (12).
  • Immunosuppressants: Reishi can enhance immune response (8).
  • Chemotherapeutic agents: Reishi can increase plasma antioxidant capacity, and in theory may interact with chemotherapeutic agents that rely on free radicals (6).
  • Cytochrome P450 substrates: In vitro, reishi polysaccharides inhibited CYP2E1, CYP1A2, and CYP3A, and may affect the intracellular concentration of drugs metabolized by these enzymes (15) (53). Clinical relevance is not known.
Herb Lab Interactions
  • Reishi extracts may prolong INR, PT, and APTT (12).
  • Reishi mushroom spore powder was found to elevate the level of the serum tumor marker CA72-4. High levels of CA72-4 have been reported in several malignancies including gastrointestinal, ovarian, endometrium, and lung cancers  (35).
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Wang GH, Wang LH, Wang C, et al. Spore powder of Ganoderma lucidum for the treatment of Alzheimer disease: A pilot study. Medicine (Baltimore). May 2018;97(19):e0636. doi: 10.1097/md.0000000000010636
  2. Chen HS, Tsai YF, Lin S, et al. Studies on the immuno-modulating and anti-tumor activities of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) polysaccharides. Bioorg Med Chem. Nov 1 2004;12(21):5595-5601.
  3. Gao Y, Zhou S, Wen J, et al. Mechanism of the antiulcerogenic effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on indomethacin-induced lesions in the rat. Life Sci. Dec 27 2002;72(6):731-745.
  4. Hsu MJ, Lee SS, Lin WW. Polysaccharide purified from Ganoderma lucidum inhibits spontaneous and Fas-mediated apoptosis in human neutrophils through activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase/Akt signaling pathway. J Leukoc Biol. Jul 2002;72(1):207-216.
  5. Wang SY, Hsu ML, Hsu HC, et al. The anti-tumor effect of Ganoderma lucidum is mediated by cytokines released from activated macrophages and T lymphocytes. Int J Cancer. Mar 17 1997;70(6):699-705.
  6. Wachtel-Galor S, Szeto YT, Tomlinson B, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (’Lingzhi’); acute and short-term biomarker response to supplementation. Int J Food Sci Nutr. Feb 2004;55(1):75-83.
  7. Wachtel-Galor S, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. Ganoderma lucidum (“Lingzhi”), a Chinese medicinal mushroom: biomarker responses in a controlled human supplementation study. Br J Nutr. Feb 2004;91(2):263-269.
  8. Gao Y, Zhou S, Jiang W, et al. Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunol Invest. Aug 2003;32(3):201-215.
  9. Shieh YH, Liu CF, Huang YK, et al. Evaluation of the hepatic and renal-protective effects of Ganoderma lucidum in mice. Am J Chin Med. 2001;29(3-4):501-7.
  10. Noguchi M, Kakuma T, Tomiyasu K, et al. Randomized clinical trial of an ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Asian J Androl. Sep 2008;10(5):777-785.
  11. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. 3rd ed. Loveland (OR): Interweave Press; 1996.
  12. Tao J, Feng KY. Experimental and clinical studies on inhibitory effect of Ganoderma lucidum on platelet aggregation. J Tongji Med Univ. 1990;10(4):240-243.
  13. Wang CZ, Basila D, Aung HH, et al. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum extract on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in a rat model. Am J Chin Med. 2005;33(5):807-815.
  14. Gill SK, Rieder MJ. Toxicity of a traditional Chinese medicine, Ganoderma lucidum, in children with cancer. Can J Clin Pharmacol. Summer 2008;15(2):e275-285.
  15. Wang X, Zhao X, Li D, et al. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide on CYP2E1, CYP1A2 and CYP3A activities in BCG-immune hepatic injury in rats. Biol Pharm Bull. Sep 2007;30(9):1702-1706.
  16. Chen NH, Liu JW, Zhong JJ. Ganoderic Acid me inhibits tumor invasion through down-regulating matrix metalloproteinases 2/9 gene expression. J Pharmacol Sci. Oct 2008;108(2):212-216.
  17. Li YB, Wang R, Wu HL, et al. Serum amyloid A mediates the inhibitory effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on tumor cell adhesion to endothelial cells. Oncol Rep. Sep 2008;20(3):549-556.
  18. Mao T, van De Water J, Keen CL, et al. Two mushrooms, Grifola frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum, can stimulate cytokine gene expression and proliferation in human T lymphocytes. Int J Immunother 1999;15(1):13-22.
  19. Chan WK, Cheung CC, Law HK, et al. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides can induce human monocytic leukemia cells into dendritic cells with immuno-stimulatory function. J Hematol Oncol. 2008;1(1):9.
  20. Noguchi M, Kakuma T, Tomiyasu K, et al. Effect of an extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms: a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized and dose-ranging study. Asian J Androl. 2008 Jul;10(4):651-8.
  21. 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.
  22. Kim KC, Jun HJ, Kim JS, Kim IG. Enhancement of radiation response with combined Ganoderma lucidum and Duchesnea chrysantha extracts in human leukemia HL-60 cells. Int J Mol Med. 2008 Apr;21(4):489-98.
  23. Gordan JD, Chay WY, Kelley RK, et al. “And what other medications are you taking?”. J Clin Oncol. 2011 Apr 10;29(11):e288-91.
  24. Yuen MF, Ip P, Ng WK, Lai CL. Hepatotoxicity due to a formulation of Ganoderma lucidum (lingzhi). J Hepatol. 2004 Oct;41(4):686-7.
  25. Wanmuang H, Leopairut J, Kositchaiwat C, Wananukul W, Bunyaratvej S. Fatal fulminant hepatitis associated with Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) mushroom powder. J Med Assoc Thai. 2007 Jan;90(1):179-81.
  26. Wanachiwanawin D, Piankijagum A, Chaiprasert A, et al. Ganoderma lucidum: a cause of pseudoparasitosis. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2006 Nov;37(6):1099-102.
  27. Zhao S, Ye G, Fu G, Cheng JX, Yang BB, Peng C. Ganoderma lucidum exerts anti-tumor effects on ovarian cancer cells and enhances their sensitivity to cisplatin. Int J Oncol. 2011 May;38(5):1319-27.
  28. Pillai TG, John M, Sara Thomas G. Prevention of cisplatin induced nephrotoxicity by terpenes isolated from Ganoderma lucidum occurring in Southern Parts of India. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2011 Jan;63(1-2):157-60.
  29. Chu TT, Benzie IF, Lam CW, et al. Study of potential cardioprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): results of a controlled human intervention trial. Br J Nutr. 2012 Apr;107(7):1017-27.
  30. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM, Chan GC . Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jun 13;6:CD007731.
  31. Chang CJ, Chen YY, Lu CC, et al. Ganoderma lucidum stimulates NK cell cytotoxicity by inducing NKG2D/NCR activation and secretion of perforin and granulysin. Innate Immun. 2014 Apr;20(3):301-11.
  32. Sun LX, Lin ZB, Duan XS, et al. Enhanced MHC class I and costimulatory molecules on B16F10 cells by Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides. J Drug Target.2012 Aug;20(7):582-92.
  33. Boh B, Berovic M, Zhang J, Zhi-Bin L. Ganoderma lucidum and its pharmaceutically active compounds. Biotechnol Annu Rev. 2007;13:265-301.
  34. Paterson RR. Ganoderma - a therapeutic fungal biofactory. Phytochemistry. 2006 Sep;67(18):1985-2001.
  35. Liang Y, He M, Fan X, et al. An abnormal elevation of serum CA72-4 by Ganoderma lucidum spore powder. Ann Clin Lab Sci. 2013 Summer;43(3):337-40.
  36. Joseph S, Sabulal B, George V, Antony KR, Janardhanan KK. Antitumor and anti-inflammatory activities of polysaccharides isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Acta Pharm. 2011 Sep 1;61(3):335-42.
  37. Jin H, Jin F, Jin JX, et al. Protective effects of Ganoderma lucidum spore on cadmium hepatotoxicity in mice. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Feb;52:171-5.
  38. Klupp NL, Chang D, Hawke F, et al. Ganoderma lucidum mushroom for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;2:CD007259.
  39. Ko KK, Murthee KG, Koh TH, et al. Reishi (lingzhi) ingestion mistaken for persistent Clonorchis infection. Pathology. Oct 2014;46(6):576-578.
  40. Sun LX, Li WD, Lin ZB, et al. Protection against lung cancer patient plasma-induced lymphocyte suppression by Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2014;33(2):289-299.
  41. Oka S, Tanaka S, Yoshida S, et al. A water-soluble extract from culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia suppresses the development of colorectal adenomas. Hiroshima J Med Sci. Mar 2010;59(1):1-6.
  42. Yan B, Meng X, Shi J, et al. Ganoderma lucidum spore induced CA72-4 elevation in gastrointestinal cancer: a five-case report. Integr Cancer Ther. Mar 2014;13(2):161-166.
  43. Klupp NL, Kiat H, Bensoussan A, et al. A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of Ganoderma lucidum for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors of metabolic syndrome. Sci Rep. Aug 11 2016;6:29540.
  44. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Apr 05 2016;4:Cd007731.
  45. Wang C, Shi S, Chen Q, et al. Antitumor and Immunomodulatory Activities of Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharides in Glioma-Bearing Rats. Integr Cancer Ther. Sep 2018;17(3):674-683.
  46. Wu K, Na K, Chen D, et al. Effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene-1 on Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides-induced apoptosis of human prostate cancer PC-3 cells. Int J Oncol. Dec 2018;53(6):2356-2368.
  47. Guggenheim AG, Wright KM, Zwickey HL. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology. Integr Med (Encinitas). Feb 2014;13(1):32-44.
  48. Liu J, Mao JJ, Li SQ, Lin H. Preliminary Efficacy and Safety of Reishi & Privet Formula on Quality of Life Among Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Integr Cancer Ther. 2020 Jan-Dec;19:1534735420944491.
  49. Pazzi F, Adsuar JC, Domínguez-Muñoz FJ, et al. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum and Ceratonia siliqua on blood glucose, lipid profile, and body composition in women with fibromyalgia. Nutr Hosp. 2021 Feb 23;38(1):139-145.
  50. Liu H, Wang ZY, Zhou YC, Song W, Ali U, Sze DM. Immunomodulation of Chinese Herbal Medicines on NK cell populations for cancer therapy: A systematic review.  J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Mar 25;268:113561.
  51. Deng Y, Ma J, Tang D, Zhang Q. Dynamic biomarkers indicate the immunological benefits provided by Ganoderma spore powder in post-operative breast and lung cancer patients.   Clin Transl Oncol. 2021 Jul;23(7):1481-1490.
  52. Kogure T, Koiwai A, Fukushi D, et al. Hypereosinophilia with Hepatic Nodule Formation Caused by Ganoderma lucidum.  Intern Med. 2021;60(24):3897-3903.
  53. Rodseeda C, Yamanont P, Pinthong D, Korprasertthaworn P. Inhibitory effects of Thai herbal extracts on the cytochrome P450 3A-mediated the metabolism of gefitinib, lapatinib and sorafenib. Toxicol Rep. 2022 Oct 4;9:1846-1852.
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