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Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushroom has been used for thousands of years in many Asian cultures as a traditional medicine to enhance health and prolong life. It is also known as lingzhi.

Why do people take reishi mushroom?

Reishi mushroom has been used to help enhance the immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue. People also take reishi mushroom for health conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Respiratory diseases (such as asthma)
  • Viral infections (such as the flu)
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer and support during chemotherapy
  • Pain during and after a shingles outbreak

There is some scientific evidence of its effectiveness, including lab research and some small human studies. Researchers are beginning to look at the chemical makeup of this mushroom to better understand how and whether it really works for each of these conditions.

Doses may depend upon factors that include:

  • Your age
  • Condition for which the mushroom is being prescribed
  • Form of the mushroom
  • Your overall health

But each of these is a typical oral daily dose:

  • 1.5 to 9 grams of crude dried mushroom
  • 1 to 1.5 grams of reishi powder
  • 1 milliliter of reishi solution (tincture)

Can you get reishi mushroom naturally from foods?

Reishi mushroom is cultivated and sold as a food, but it may be tough and bitter.

When taken for health reasons, it is usually dried or taken as an extract, such as in the form of:

  • Liquid
  • Capsule
  • Powder

What are the risks of taking reishi mushroom?

Side effects. When used over three to six months,reishi mushroom can cause dryness in your:

  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Nasal passages

It can also cause:

  • Itchiness
  • Stomach upset
  • Nosebleed
  • Bloody stools

Risks. Taking reishi mushroom may be riskier if you have low blood pressure or are taking therapy to raise your blood pressure.

Higher doses of reishi mushroom might make bleeding more likely in people who have a very low platelet count.

Also, avoid using reishi mushroom if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, because there hasn't been enough study on its safety in these circumstances.

Interactions. Talk to your doctor before taking reishi mushroom if you are using anti-coagulant or anti-platelet drugs such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Warfarin
  • Heparin

Reishi mushroom may also interact with high blood pressure medications.

Also discuss possible interactions if you are taking other herbs or supplements that may prevent normal blood clotting or lower blood pressure. Ginkgo and fish oil are two examples.

Tell your doctor about any supplements you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications or foods. He or she can let you know if the supplement might raise your risk.

The FDA does not regulate supplements.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on December 01, 2012

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