A Reishi Mushroom a Day May Keep the Doctor Away

By Dr. Cathy Sabota, Horticulture Specialist

During the past 50 years, Asian countries have conducted an abundance of research on the medicinal value of several edible mushrooms. Their claims include reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol, enhancement of the immune system, cancer therapy, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, treatment of anaphylactic shock, anti-HIV properties, increase of oxygen utilization, and antioxidant properties (Chen and Miles, 1996). Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Lentinula edodes (Shiitake), Hericium erinaceum (Lions Mane), Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster mushroom), and Grifola frondosa (Maitake) are just a few of the cultivated mushroom species that have been analyzed for medicinal value.

In the United States (US), the phytopharmaceutical value of these mushrooms has only recently been recognized and clinical trials have been established to determine the medicinal characteristics of these mushrooms (Kimmons, 2003; Underwood, 2003). Shiitake mushrooms are the most common specialty mushrooms grown in the US. The principal medicinal component, a polysaccharide, has been identified as lentinan. However, reishi, maitake, oyster, and lions mane are also reported to have significant medicinal value. Over the next year each edition of this newsletter will document clinical trials or research recommendations for the use and effectiveness of various mushrooms. While the recommendations given by researchers are assumed to be accurate, you should always check with a physician before using any food supplements as alternatives to prescribed medications. Today's mushroom is Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi).

Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) is documented to have medicinal value but its extract is considered as a nutriceutical. The medicinally effective component of mushrooms may vary depending upon what is to be treated. The actual level of these components in a measured volume of mushroom may also vary depending on how the mushroom was grown and the extraction process. It is important to know what dose works best for an ailment if it is intended to afford a cure or to alleviate certain sickness. Because the toxic, lethal and effective dosages are yet to be determined, the usual dosage given is generally based on personal experience with patients suffering from different illnesses (Soo, 2004).

In a recent study by Teow Sun Soo at the MARA Institute of Technology in Malaysia, Reishi was used in small clinical (12 to 48 human subjects per trial) trials to determine its effectiveness against various ailments. Each capsule contains 500 mg of reishi extract. The following discussion includes the recommendations made by Soo as a result of his research (Soo, 2004).

The reishi extract has been shown to be effective in completely curing migraine headaches. It is believed that oxygen shortage in the brain (hypoxia) is at the core of the pathogenesis of a migraine attack. Once a certain threshold of oxygen deprivation is reached, the migraine attack bursts out. The usual dose is 3 capsules, 3 times a day, before meals.

As an anti-inflammatory agent, the extract is effective in substantially alleviating the problems and pain related to rheumatism or osteoarthritis and gout. The patients should see significant effects within a week. The dosage is 3 capsules, 3 times daily, before meals.

In treating hypertension or hypotension the extract has been shown to be highly effective in a very large number of cases treated. In the more successful cases blood pressure is back to normal within 2 months and in some cases within 2 weeks. The recommended dosage is 1 capsule 3 times daily for five days, increasing to 2 capsules 3 times daily for one week and then to 3 capsules 3 times daily. It is very important that hypertension patients start with only 1 capsule as a higher dose might increase the blood pressure of the patient. Positive results should be obtained within 30 days. Once the desired fall in blood pressure has been achieved, the daily dose can generally be reduced. For maintenance therapy 2 capsules, 2 times daily are usually sufficient.

The extract has been found effective in reducing and in some cases eliminating asthma attack. The recommended dosage begins with 1 capsule 3 times daily for five days, increasing to 2 capsules 3 times a day for 1 week and then to 3 capsules, 3 times daily. It is important that the patient starts with a low dose as a higher dose might initially trigger an asthma attack.

The extract is effective in reducing blood sugar level and the amounts of insulin required for diabetic patients. The effectiveness of the treatment is reduced the longer the patient has been a diabetic. For non-insulin dependent patients it is possible to have a better cure. Patients should see significant effects within 1 to 2 months. The usual dose recommended is 3 or 4 capsules, 3 times daily depending on the severity of the condition.

The extract is effective in regaining stamina and energy or debility due to prolonged illness especially for cancer patients after undergoing radio and/or chemotherapy. They are able to eat and sleep well. The dosage is 2 capsules 3 times daily.

The extract is effective in clearing up a large variety of skin allergic conditions either due to food or airborne allergens. The dosage prescribed is 3 capsules, 3 times daily.

Ganoderma extract has been found to be useful in detoxifying the kidney and improving its overall function. Patients receiving hemodialysis should find that the duration and frequency of the treatment could be reduced. The usual dosage is 3 or 4 capsules 3 times daily depending on the severity of the condition for as long as required.

The extract has been shown to be effective in completely curing insomnia within one month in a very large number of cases treated. The usual dose is 3 capsules, 3 times daily.

The extract has been found to be effective as a hypocholesterolemic agent. The usual dosage is 4 capsules, 3 times daily. Patients should see results within a month.

The extract has been shown to be effective in relieving or eliminating constipation problems. The recommended dosage is 3 capsules, 3 times daily. The patients should see results within 1 to 2 weeks.

The extract has been found to be effective in reducing and also curing hemorrhoids depending on the severity of the case. Patients should see results with 30 days. The usual dose is 3 or 4 capsules, 3 times daily depending on the severity of the condition.

The extract has been shown effective in reducing or eliminating excessive menstrual pain and irregularities. Treatment has to be maintained for 2 or 3 cycles for it to be effective. The usual dosage is 3 capsules 3 times daily. Patient needs to stop taking the capsule during the actual period.

Ganoderma extract has been found effective in addressing a variety of cardiovascular problems. It improves the circulatory system with excess oxygen. It also eliminates the conditions of angina pectoris and palpitation. The recommended dosage is 1 capsule 3 times daily for five days, increasing to 2 capsules, 3 times daily for one week and then to 3 capsules 3 times daily. Patients should starts with only 1 capsule per dose as a higher dose might initially increase the blood pressure of the patient.

Ganoderma extract has been shown to be very effective in treating Lupus erythematosis autoimmune disease. Patients should take 3 capsules 3 times daily.

The extract is highly effective in improving and in most cases curing Hepatitis A, B, and C within a period of three months. The recommended dosage is 4 capsules 3 times daily. Patients should be cured within three months.

Ganoderma extract is effective in arresting epilepsy. Patients should take 3 capsules 3 times daily and may expect to see results after a week.

Ganoderma extract has also been found effective for both gastritus and gastric ulcer. The usual dosage is 3 capsules, 3 times a day after meals. Patients should see results in 3 to 4 weeks.

Ganoderma extract is useful for people leading a hectic life with heavy schedule. The usual dosage is 2 capsules, 3 times daily reducing to 1 capsule, 3 times daily for maintenance.

The experiences in fighting cancer are more inconsistent, however, extract has been shown to be effective in regressing tumors. The results depend on the type of cancer and the severity of the condition. It is recommended that it be used in combination with the prescribed therapy. The Ganoderma extract can be highly effective in substantially reducing or eliminating the side effects of radio and chemotherapies if it is taken preceding, together and after the treatments. It can prevent side effects like hair loss, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, loss of appetite and insomnia. The recommended dosage is 6 capsules, 3 times daily as long as required.

Patients with impaired immunity have found Ganoderma extract beneficial in boosting or modulating their immune system. The usual dosage is 4 capsules, 3 times daily. Patients could expect to see results in 1 to 2 months. Patients taking the extract for the first time can be subject to temporary symptoms, which are reflective of the efficacy of the nutriceutical in cleansing the body systems. These may include sleepiness, abnormal sweating, thirstiness, loose stool, frequent urination, bloating and possibly some rashes.


References

Chen, A., Miles, P. (1996). Biomedial research and the application of mushroom nutriceuticals from ganoderma lucidum mushroom biology and mushroom production: Proceedings of the 2nd international conference, June 9-12, 1996. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University: World Society for Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products. P. 161-175.

Kimmons, T. (2003). Coauthor of effects of management on the yield and high-molecular-weight polysaccharide content of shiitake (Lentinula edodes) mushrooms. Personal Communication.

Soo, Teow Sun. (2004). Effective dosage of the extract of ganoderma lucidum in the treatment of various ailments. Mushworld. Retrieved July 28, 2004.


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