Reishi, ling zhi (China) (Ganoderma lucideum, G. tsugae) is a varnished-looking mushroom.
They are gorgeous when fresh since the caps are liver-red to a reddish brown and distinctively glossy.
Ganoderma is from the Latin gan, meaning “shiny”, derma meaning “skin”, and lucideum meaning “brilliant”.
The surface is arranged in lumpy zones with colour progressing to white or yellow along the edge.
Lucideum grows on hardwoods (maple, elm, oak, alder) while tsugae species prefers conifers, especially hemlock.
There are no known poisonous look-a-likes.
They can reach up to a foot (30 cm) across and rarely found in the wild anymore. Most of the 15,000 tons sold world-wide is cultivated under sterile conditions in at least 15 countries.
A rare yellow species (G. curtisii)
(called kishiba in Japan) can sometimes be found growing on hardwood trees around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada as well as other parts of eastern North America.
Because the husks on the pores are so hard, reishi does not germinate as quickly as other mushrooms and therefore, difficult to find in the wild.
Reishi is also too tough and bitter to eat so it is generally cut up for teas or its medicinal substances extracted for supplements.
Reishi is found in six colours: red, white, black blue, yellow, and purple but it is the RED that is most prized, medicinally effective, and studied.
Reishi is considered to be one of the greatest of the traditional Chinese medicines, ranking up there with ginseng.
Evidence-based healing benefits of Reishi include:
- has antioxidant properties that prevent oxidative-caused conditions
- effectively treats various liver disorders
- improves chronic kidney dysfunction
- improves recovery time for herpes outbreaks
- decreases urinary tract infections in men with enlarged prostates
- inhibits liver tumors and prevents metastasis
- prevents chemically-induced liver fibrosis
- inhibits leukemia cells from forming
- protects against pathological changes in Parkinson’s patients
- protects against radiation and chemotherapy toxicity
- treats Sjögren syndrome
- speeds healing of stomach ulcers
- has anti-diabetic effects
- has anti-aging effects
- suppresses the growth of prostate cells thus preventing enlargement
- reverses resistance to drug-sensitivity and drug-resistance in those with lung cancer
- prevents inflammatory responses
- treats and prevents Rheumatoid Arthritis
- increases death of leukemia cells
- inhibits such viruses as HIV and Epstein-Barr
- has anti-cancer effects including for bladder, prostate, liver, ovarian, breast, and melanomas