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Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a mushroom which grows on plum trees in Japan. This mushroom is also called ling-zhi, ling chih, and the "phantom mushroom." This last name is because there are very few of these mushrooms — less than 10 mushrooms can be found on every 100,000 trees. Reishi has been used in Asia for millennia to stimulate the immune system, increase energy, and promote longevity.
Western medicine has begun using reishi as an adaptogen, a substance which adapts itself to correct whichever imbalances exist in the body. It is used in herbal medicine in order to strengthen the immune system and reduce chemotherapy side effects, asthma, allergies, and mushroom poisoning. It is possible that reishi can also protect the human body against some kinds of cancer, because it may stop the formation of breast and uterine fibroids. It also contains ganoderic acids to prevent liver cancer.
For centuries, reishi has been used in Asia to treat chronic stress. Recent research at Oral Roberts University showed that reishi inhibits nerve impulses through the central nervous system and reduces emotional stress. This effect has been used in Japan to treat physical pain that occurs with neuralgia and shingles. Reishi is also used to prevent and treat memory loss.
Clinical studies have shown that reishi can lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol in animals and humans. Some people who do not respond to prescription medication for high blood pressure improved while using reishi. Reishi is also used to detoxify the body and to prevent cirrhosis of the liver in early stage alcoholics.
Reishi can be bought at many health food stores as well as from herbalists. It comes in capsules, tablets, tinctures, extract, and teas. Fresh reishi mushrooms can also be eaten, but only if cooked first. The normal dosage of reishi is between 2 and 6 grams of raw mushroom eaten once per day, or around 150 to 300 mg of extract taken three or four times a day.
This herb should not be used by anyone who is allergic to mushrooms or mold. No one should use reishi continuously for more than three months at a time. When used for longer than three months, nosebleeds, upset stomach, dry throat, and bloody stools may occur.
The best reishi is the red form and made in Japan.