Latin: Ganoderma lucidum (other species)
Parts Used: Fruiting body
Taste/Energetics: Bitter, slightly warm
Properties: Adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, cardiac tonic, immunomodulatory, anxiolytic, hepatoprotective, anti-viral.
Actions: Known as the herb of immortality, Reishi is a mushroom with an ancient history of use and is one of the most commonly used herbs throughout the world. Reishi has long been esteemed for its tonic properties that help improve ones ability to resist illness and stress as well as augment stamina and energy levels. Reishi has been studied extensively and shown to improve immune system function, lowers blood pressure, strengthens cardiac function, reduces palpitations, arrhythmia and angina. Reishi is also an anti-inflammatory that is useful for helping those with asthma, arthritis and neuralgia. Reishi has been studied for its ability to combat cancer and especially for liver cancer. Studies have shown that it has a hepatoprotective function that make it useful for liver cancer as well as for damage done to the liver via drugs and alcohol.
In terms of mental health, reishi is known to “calm shen” in Chinese medicine. Shen is a term for the heart spirit and one’s emotional and mental balance. When the “shen” is disturbed by trauma and shock, one can develop symptoms such as anxiety, depression, confusion, panic and insomnia. The light dims from the eyes. This is where I work with reishi the most- for folks with PTSD that appear distant, disturbed, unhappy in their hearts. Reishi restores the light in the eyes.
I also tend to offer it generally as a rich fortifying tonic that will help restore strength, vitality and help improve resistance to illness. It is gentle enough to be taken by most anyone.
Dosage: The key aspect of working with reishi is understanding that there are a variety of constituents that have different functions. The polysaccharides that improve immune function are best extracted by hot water in a decoction. The triterpenes, including the potent ganoderic acids, are what give reishi its grounding, calming, adaptogenic qualities as well as its anti-inflammatory, hypotensive and anti-viral qualities. The triterpenes require high percentage alcohol to adequately extract them.
That means the best way to take reishi is to take both a water extract (decoction) and an alcohol extraction of the herb. Often people suggest taking a double extraction where both ways of working with reishi are combined together. I review this in greater detail in*********** and give my own notes about this as well as how to do this in your own kitchen.
In terms of dosage I recommend 5-20 grams of reishi decoction a day and 1-2 ML of reishi tincture to 3 x/day. I do not recommend any powdered raw reishi as the constituients require water and/or alcohol extraction to truly receive any benefit. A lot of bunk out there on the market. If you can cook you can make yourself top notch reishi medicine pretty easily for a fraction of the price and at far greater quality than what is usually available in the market.
Reishi is fairly mild in effect but starts to really work cumulatively when taken over a period of weeks and even months. In general one purchases organically grown Ganoderma lucidum but there are a number of other species of Ganoderma (applanatum, oregonense) that also have very similar properties and can be harvested in the wild if done ethically. In particular I find that G. oregonense has particularly strong attributes.
Contraindications: This is really a pretty gentle herb but one should be careful if taking immune-modulating, blood thinning or hypotensive drugs.
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Reishi the Great Healer by Jon Keyes