Ganoderma lucidum is a large, woody, and tough mushroom used for various herbal remedies. More commonly known as reishi or lingzhi, this mushroom may have beneficial effects on the immune system, cardiovascular system and prostate gland. Although ganoderma extract is generally safe and most side effects are mild, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center cautions that many of its claimed uses are for serious diseases. People should obtain medical attention in addition to using ganoderma extract to treat serious illness, and consult with a physician about possible interactions of ganoderma with medication.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Ganoderma extract improves lower urinary tract symptoms in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, according to the MSKCC. The extract inhibits an enzyme involved in this disorder. BPH causes symptoms of frequent urges to urinate, nighttime urination, decreased urinary flow and incomplete bladder emptying.
Immune System Stimulant
Some patients with HIV/AIDS or cancer use ganoderma extract to boost the immune system, as noted by the MSKCC. This extract can stimulate production of various types of white blood cells that help prevent and fight against infection, and people with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy are more susceptible to infectious disease. Ganoderma also increases antioxidant activity in plasma, beneficial because antioxidants eliminate free radicals that can cause cell damage. Additionally, ganoderma has anti-tumor properties, according to the MSKCC.
Ganoderma has blood-thinning properties; it inhibits platelet aggregation. This can be beneficial for people with increased risk of blood clots. The component adenosine may be responsible for this effect, as explained by the MSKCC. Adenosine also normalizes irregular heart rhythms. In products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, adenosine is a prescription drug for certain cardiovascular problems.
Another effect of adenosine is widening arteries, which may help lower high blood pressure. The University of Maryland Medical Center calls evidence for this effect “weak” and recommends consulting with a doctor before taking ganoderma for high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Ganoderma extract may help strengthen the body and provide blood pressure support for people with endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and heart valves. The UMMC warns that people with this serious condition should obtain medical treatment rather than relying solely on ganoderma as a remedy.
Ganoderma also may be helpful as a treatment for Lyme disease, according to the UMMC. Lyme disease is the most common tick-caused illness in the United States and often is not diagnosed until it causes chronic arthritis. A smaller percentage of patients with Lyme disease develop heart abnormalities and neurological symptoms. Ganoderma may be beneficial as an addition to antibiotic therapy.