Last update: June 11, 2024

Reishi Mushrooms: The Complete Guide

Explore the facts on Reishi mushrooms with our comprehensive guide! Discover how this fungus may impact your immune system, stress levels, and overall well-being, from dosage and benefits to potential side effects.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Dimitar Marinov, MD, MBA, PhD

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Key takeaways

  • Reishi mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides and triterpenoids
  • Supports immune function, antioxidant activity, stress management, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and liver health
  • It’s not essential, but potential health benefits from bioactive compounds may support your overall health

    What are reishi mushrooms?

    Reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum or Lingzhi, are a type of medicinal mushroom that has been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years. They are known for their potential health benefits and are often consumed as a dietary supplement or used in traditional remedies.

    Reishi mushrooms are commonly associated with wellness and immune support, containing over 400 biologically active compounds. These include beta-glucans, polysaccharides, triterpenes, and terpenoids, which are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulating, properties.

    Avoid using this mushrooms as a side-dish

    Reishi mushrooms are not typically consumed as food due to their tough, woody texture and bitter taste. Instead, they are usually consumed in the form of supplements, teas, or extracts.

    Reishi mushrooms have a distinctive appearance, with a large, flat, kidney-shaped cap and a woody texture. In the wild, reishi mushrooms grow on the bases and stumps of deciduous trees, particularly maple and oak trees. They are native to several Asian countries, including China, Japan, and Korea, but are now cultivated in many other parts of the world.

    Different types of reishi mushrooms

    There are different strains or types of reishi mushrooms. The most commonly known type is Ganoderma lucidum, which is often referred to simply as reishi.

    However, the Reishi name is sometimes used more broadly to refer to several species within the genus that share similar properties. Here are some notable species often included under the term "reishi":

    1. Ganoderma lucidum
      This is the most widely known and studied type, traditionally used in East Asian medicine. It's recognized for its shiny, varnished appearance.
    2. Ganoderma tsugae
      This species is similar to Ganoderma lucidum, but it typically grows on hemlock trees. It is found predominantly in North America and parts of Asia.
    3. Ganoderma sinense
      This species is similar to Ganoderma lucidum and is used in traditional Chinese medicine. The potency can vary depending on the specific strain and growing conditions.
    4. Ganoderma curtisii
      Found in the southeastern United States, this species grows primarily on hardwood stumps and logs.
    5. Ganoderma lingzhi
      The term "Ganoderma lingzhi" is often used interchangeably with "Ganoderma lucidum" in Chinese medicine. While some sources may use "Ganoderma lingzhi" to refer to a specific cultivated strain with higher polysaccharide content, this usage is not universal, and the two names are often used synonymously.

    How do reishi mushrooms work in your body?

    What are some benefits of reishi mushrooms?

    Reishi mushrooms contain various properties that may contribute to overall well-being.

    1. Strengthen immune system

      Reishi mushrooms are believed to have immunomodulatory effects, potentially supporting a healthy immune system. Some studies suggest that the polysaccharides and triterpenoids in reishi may contribute to this property [2].

    2. Supports antioxidant activity

      The presence of triterpenes and phenolic compounds in reishi mushrooms may contribute to their antioxidant properties, helping to combat oxidative stress in the body [3].

    3. Helps manage stress

      Reishi mushrooms are often linked to adaptogenic properties, potentially assisting the body in adapting to stress. These adaptogens may help maintain balance during challenging situations [4].

    4. Reduces fatigue

      A study conducted on 132 individuals found that consuming reishi supplements for 8 weeks led to a reduction in fatigue and an improvement in overall well-being [6].

    Where are reishi mushrooms found?

    Reishi mushrooms are found naturally in several parts of Asia, particularly in East Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. They typically grow at the base of deciduous trees, especially maple and oak trees, in hot and humid locations.

    Here are some more details on the natural habitat and distribution of reishi mushrooms:

    1. East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea are the main countries where reishi mushrooms are found in the wild. They are particularly abundant in the mountainous regions of these countries.
    2. Southeast Asia: Reishi mushrooms can also be found in some parts of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
    3. North America: While not native to North America, reishi mushrooms have been cultivated in some regions of the United States and Canada.
    4. Europe: Reishi mushrooms are not native to Europe but have been introduced and cultivated in some countries, such as Italy and the Czech Republic.

    Due to their growing popularity and medicinal uses, reishi mushrooms are now commercially cultivated in many countries worldwide, often using artificial logs or substrates under controlled conditions. This has made them more widely available beyond their natural habitats.

    Delivery methods

    Reishi mushroom supplements come in various delivery methods, each offering its own set of benefits and methods of consumption. Here's a brief overview of the different delivery methods:

    Choose a method that fits your routine

    Do not overlook the delivery method. Reishi mushroom supplements come in tablets, capsules, soft gel, chewable, powders, and liquid forms—choose the one that best fits your daily routine to stay consistent.

    What to look for in reishi mushroom supplements

    When selecting a supplement, several key factors must be considered to ensure you choose a high-quality product that effectively supports your health goals and overall well-being.

    • Dosage and potency

      The dosage of reishi mushrooms in supplements varies, so it's important to choose one that aligns with your specific needs. This includes considering your age, gender, and health status, like pregnancy or existing deficiencies. The reishi mushrooms formulation can impact its potency and bioavailability, which affects how effectively your body can absorb and use it.

    • Quantity and delivery method

      The delivery method is crucial. Reishi mushroom supplements come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, chewables, and liquid forms. Your choice may depend on factors like ease of swallowing, convenience for traveling, or personal preference regarding taste and texture. Also, evaluate the quantity of reishi mushrooms to determine how long it will last based on your daily requirements.

    • Quality and manufacturing

      Quality is paramount when selecting reishi mushroom supplements. Look for products manufactured under strict quality control guidelines and those that have undergone third-party testing for purity and label accuracy. Certifications from recognized bodies can be a reliable indicator of a high-quality product. Additionally, consider the manufacturer's reputation and transparency in their production processes.


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    How and when should you take reishi mushrooms for maximum absorption?

    To get the most out of your reishi mushroom supplement, it's crucial to consider the timing and method of consumption. The following dos and don'ts offer guidance on optimizing absorption, efficiently supporting your health and wellness, and minimizing potential discomfort.


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      Take on an empty stomach for potentially enhanced absorption.

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      Consider consuming alongside water to aid digestion.

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      Add it to your routine consistently for potential benefits.

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      Speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.


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      Avoid taking it on a full stomach to avoid potential interference.

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      Do not mix with medications without consulting healthcare professionals.

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      Don’t exceed recommended doses, prioritize moderation.

    Who should take reishi mushrooms?

    Taking reishi mushroom supplements has its potential benefits, but it may not be for everyone.

    Recommended dosage

    Studies on reishi mushrooms are ongoing, and optimal dosages have not yet been established. However, there are typical dosages that have been used in trials and by many people worldwide.

    Side effects of excessive reishi mushroom consumption

    While reishi mushroom supplements are generally safe when taken within recommended limits, excessive intake can have adverse effects:

    • Digestive issues: Reishi mushrooms contain polysaccharides that may irritate the stomach and intestines, leading to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
    • Blood thinning: Reishi mushrooms may interfere with blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding, especially if taken with anticoagulant drugs or before surgery.
    • Liver damage: Reishi mushrooms may cause liver toxicity in some people, especially if taken for a long time or in high doses.
    • Allergic reactions: Reishi mushrooms may trigger allergic reactions in some people, such as rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing.
    • Hormonal imbalance: Reishi mushrooms may affect the levels of hormones in the body, such as testosterone, estrogen, and thyroid hormones.
    • Drug interactions: Reishi mushrooms may interact with some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, immunosuppressants, antihypertensives, or antidiabetics, and alter their effects or cause adverse reactions.

    Always consult your doctor

    If you're experiencing side effects, consult your healthcare provider. They may recommend a different Reishi mushroom formulation or adjust your dosage. Balancing your Reishi mushroom needs with any discomfort is crucial and should not be overlooked.

    Health made easy: your go-to resource for essential vitamins and supplements

    Frequently asked questions about reishi mushrooms (FAQ)

    Our library of expert-authored articles covers just about every question you might have about vitamins, minerals, and supplements — along with some you might not have known you had.

    Final thoughts

    Reishi mushrooms show promise in many aspects of health, from potentially boosting the immune system to reducing fatigue. It's important to use reishi mushrooms in moderation. If you have health issues or take certain medicines, talk to your doctor before adding them to your routine. Always aim for balance and get personalized advice for your overall well-being when using dietary supplements.

    Sources and references

    1. Exploring the Potential Medicinal Benefits of Ganoderma lucidum: From Metabolic Disorders to Coronavirus Infections
    2. Immuno-physiological effects of dietary reishi mushroom powder as a source of beta-glucan on Rohu, Labeo rohita challenged with Aeromonas veronii - PMC
    3. Antioxidant Activity of Mushroom Extracts/Polysaccharides—Their Antiviral Properties and Plausible AntiCOVID-19 Properties - PMC
    4. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide
    5. Ganoderma lucidum mushroom for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors - PMC
    6. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia
    7. Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Ganoderma lucidum “Lingzhi, Reishi, or Mannentake” as Functional Foods: Current Scenario and Future Perspectives


    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

    Dr. Dimitar Marinov avatar

    Dr. Marinov has years of experience in scientific research and preventive and clinical medicine. His publications in peer-reviewed journals are on nutritional status, physical activity, and musculoskeletal disorders among adolescents.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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    Get your personalized vitamin recommendations in less than 3 minutes.

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