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Benefits & Side Effects of Reishi Mushrooms

author image Heather Vale
Heather Vale is a writer, interviewer and seasoned journalist. She has authored news, entertainment and informational programming in TV, radio, print and online media. She is also a certified childhood fitness and nutrition specialist with a background in mind-body-spirit health, self-help, business, technology and pet breeding. Vale holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual arts from York University.
Benefits & Side Effects of Reishi Mushrooms
A close up of a Reishi mushroom Photo Credit luknaja/iStock/Getty Images


You’ve probably heard about the Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma Lucidum or Ling Zhi, since several companies are now offering it as a dietary supplement, and even brewing it into “healthy” coffee and tea. But what are the benefits and possible side effects of taking this Asian fungus? It turns out the pros far outweigh the cons.

Immune System Booster

The water-soluble polysaccharides, beta-glucans and hetero-beta-glucans, are active ingredients found in the red reishi mushroom, which is the highest-quality form you can get. These polysaccharides boost the immune system, fight tumors and lower blood pressure. Reishi also contains the ling zhi-8 protein, which boosts the immune system, too. Supplementing with reishi is considered to be very safe, but patients undergoing organ transplants or using immunosuppressive drugs should be careful because any immune-modulating substance can interact adversely.


Reishi is an antioxidant that promotes a feeling of overall wellness by eliminating hydroxyl free radicals and improving the body’s ability to use oxygen. This benefit can usually be felt within 10 to 14 days of taking high-quality red reishi daily, and some people find the difference in their health to be significant after two months. To get the biggest benefit, take reishi in the morning on an empty stomach and increase your intake of water to flush out toxins. Taking it along with vitamin C, another antioxidant, helps the body absorb reishi’s active ingredients by breaking down the complex polysaccarides into a more manageable size.

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Reducer

Reishi is effective at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thanks to both the polysaccharides, and another active ingredient, triterpenes, which is found in reishi in a class known as ganoderic acids.

Allergy Alleviator

Reishi reduces symptoms of seasonal allergies by acting as an expectorant, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agent. In addition, the ganoderic acids contain anti-allergenic agents that inhibit histamine release and improve liver functions. Anti-allergenic properties are also found in the immune-boosting ling zhi-8 protein.

Side Effects

Reishi is classified as a superior herb, which means it’s non-toxic and can be taken in large quantities for a long time without adverse side effects. It has been used in Asia for more than 2,000 years, and no contraindications have been reported from it directly. However, as noted, it can interfere with immunosuppressive drugs or organ transplants; in addition, sensitive people may experience symptoms of detoxification as it goes to work on the body. Those include dizziness, digestive upset, skin rashes or sore bones, and they usually go away within the first few days of taking reishi. Taking vitamin C along with the reishi can also help.

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