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Reishi Mushrooms: Which Benefits Do They Really Have?

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Reishi Mushrooms

Another Monday Research Review, another mushroom! If we keep this up, we’ll have to rename it “Mushroom Monday”.

But, there’s so much room for things to say, and these are fun guys to write about, as we check the science for any spore’ious claims…

Why do people take reishi?

Popular health claims for the reishi mushroom include:

  • Immune health
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Protection against cancer
  • Antioxidant qualities
  • Reduced fatigue and anxiety

And does the science agree?

Let’s take a look, claim by claim:

Immune health

A lot of research for this has been in vitro (ie, with cell cultures in labs), but promising, for example:

Immunomodulating Effect of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) and Possible Mechanism

(that is the botanical name for reishi, and the Chinese name for it, by the way)

That’s not to say there are no human studies though; here it was found to boost T-cell production in stressed athletes:

Effect of Ganoderma lucidum capsules on T lymphocyte subsets in football players on “living high-training low”

Cardiovascular health

Here we found a stack of evidence for statistically insignificant improvements in assorted measures of cardiovascular health, and some studies where reishi did not outperform placebo.

Because the studies were really not that compelling, instead of taking up room (and your time) with them, we’re going to move onto more compelling, exciting science, such as…

Protection against cancer

There’s a lot of high quality research for this, and a lot of good results. The body of evidence here is so large that even back as far as 2005, the question was no longer “does it work” or even “how does it work”, but rather “we need more clinical studies to find the best doses”. Researchers even added:

❝At present, lingzhi is a health food supplement to support cancer patients, yet the evidence supporting the potential of direct in vivo anticancer effects should not be underestimated.❞

~ Yuen et al.

Check it out:

Anticancer effects of Ganoderma lucidum: a review of scientific evidence

Just so you know we’re not kidding about the weight of evidence, let’s drop a few extra sources:

By the way, we shortened most of those titles for brevity, but almost all of the continued with “by” followed by a one-liner of how it does it.

So it’s not a “mysterious action” thing, it’s a “this is a very potent medicine and we know how it works” thing.

Antioxidant qualities

Here we literally only found studies to say no change was found, one that found a slight increase of antioxidant levels in urine. It’s worth noting that levels of a given thing (or its metabolites, in the case of some things) in urine are often quite unhelpful regards knowing what’s going on in the body, because we get to measure only what the body lost, not what it gained/kept.

So again, let’s press on:

Reduced fatigue and anxiety

Most of the studies for this that we could find pertained to health-related quality of life for cancer patients specifically, so (while they universally give glowing reports of reishi’s benefits to health and happiness of cancer patients), that’s a confounding factor when it comes to isolating its effects on reduction of fatigue and anxiety in people without cancer.

Here’s one that looked at it in the case of reduction of fatigue, anxiety, and other factors, in patients without cancer (but with neurathenia), in which they found it was “significantly superior to placebo with respect to the clinical improvement of symptoms”.


  • Reishi mushroom’s anti-cancer properties are very, very clear
  • There is also good science to back immune health claims
  • It also has been found to significantly reduce fatigue and anxiety in unwell patients (we’d love to see more studies on its benefits in otherwise healthy people, though)

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