Reishi mushrooms, also called Lingzhi mushrooms, are classified as a fungus in the genus Ganoderma. They are identified as polypores, which are soft and flat with the cap shaped like a kidney. Depending on age, Reishi is typically white at the cap and get browner downwards. There are two known varieties of Reishi mushroom. The first one is those that grow in North America, which are sessile and have no to small stalk while the second is found in tropical regions. The latter is known to have a longer and narrower stalk.
The ancient Chinese people first used Lingzhi mushrooms during the Han Dynasty, which made them one of the oldest therapeutic mushrooms known. They were used to treat various conditions including anxiety, depression, skin problems, and blood circulation.
Reishi mushrooms are known to have curative properties since their first discovery more than 2000 years ago. There are also reports that Reishi mushrooms help improve severe conditions of prostate cancer, kidney disorders, HIV, and liver diseases.
To prepare Reishi, it is first sliced thinly or pulverized. Then it is added to a pan of boiling water, covered, and simmered for at least two hours. The outcome is a dark liquid with a bitter taste, although red Reishi is usually bitterer than its black counterpart. To produce a more concentrated liquid, the process may be repeated. Note that Reishi is too bitter for use on soup.
Lingzhi mushrooms come in different forms. At present, they are regulated as a health supplement in the United States, and only a few people prepare it the traditional way. They are offered in capsule, powder, tablet, and liquid form. They are available in online stores and local pharmacies.
The proper dose of Reishi depends on many factors including age and health condition of the user. There is no scientific information regarding the appropriate dose for using Reishi, which is why it is important to follow recommended dose printed on labels.
While Reishi is mostly considered useful, appropriate use is significant to prevent side effects. Common side effects due to overdosing include:
- Dryness of the mouth including the nasal area
- Bloody stools
- Stomach upset
- Bleeding nose
Reishi wine, on the other hand, can trigger the occurrence of skin rashes while inhaling Reishi spores can cause allergies.
Pregnant women, as well as lactating mothers, should not take Reishi supplements or any form of Reishi. More studies and information are yet needed to clear this case.
Because Reishi mushrooms help lower blood levels, they should not be taken by people with low blood and thrombocytopenia, a form of a clotting disorder.
Reishi mushrooms widely benefit people with different health conditions. However, similar to other medications, proper precautions must be observed before and when taking Reishi in any form.