A Magic Mushroom

The Reishi mushroom (A.K.A Ling Zhi, Ganoderma lucidum, Champignon d’Immortalite, Spirit Plant, etc.) has been used medicinally for thousands of years.  It is one of the longest-standing herbal remedies used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The ‘fruiting body’ or above-ground part and the pieces which connect one group of this mushroom to another are the parts used.  This mushroom is most revered for its anti-cancer activity and its ability to modulate immune system function.

Clinical research shows that the Reishi mushroom can regulate such cells of the immune system as T-lymphocytes, macrophages, and Natural Killer cells.  In a sense, it teaches these cells how to respond appropriately: activating them if they are unresponsive and deactivating them if they are hyperactive and attacking the body’s own tissues (as seen in autoimmune disorders).  Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder (the cardinal symptom of which is inflammation of of the tissue around the joints) has been effectively treated by means of the Reishi mushroom.  By halting the body’s attack on itself, the water-soluble polysaccharides (or the active element) of the mushroom help to relieve pain and, in some cases, even reverse the condition of Rheumatoid Arthritis (www.taodewan.com).

The anti-tumoral effects of Reishi are quite astounding.  In a study conducted in Japan, ‘after daily injection (of Reishi) in mice with cancer, it was reported that tumors in 50% of the animals had completely regressed within 10 days (Ikekawa et. al, 1968; Japanese Journal of Cancer Research; 59: 155-157).  There a few actions which come into play here:  inhibition of angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels which help to feed a tumor (taking the tumor from a dormant to a malignant state), enhancement of apoptosis or natural cellular death, and inhibition of cancer cell migration (thereby preventing metastasis).  In other research, Reishi has been noted to increase effectiveness of and reduce the possible side effects of the anti-cancer therapies chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  Pretty amazing.

In addition to immune system modulation and anti-cancer properties, it is also touted to have anti-viral, -bacterial, -oxidant activity.  It has also been seen to calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and improve longevity.

Of course, there are mild side effects that can occur whenever starting to take a new supplement (i.e. stomach upset) as a result of an initial natural detoxification process. It can be helpful to take Vitamin C along with Reishi in order to help mitigate these possible side effects.  Reishi can also have a blood-thinning effect, so it is good to consult with your doctor if you are taking an anti-coagulant such as Coumadin.

Reishi can be found in pill or powder form, extracts, or as the dried mushroom itself.  It is too tough to eat raw, but can be made into a soup or tea.

Three cheers for the Reishi mushroom!