Principal Proposed Uses
The tree fungus known as reishi has a long history of use in China and Japan as a semi-magical healing herb. More revered than ginseng and, up until recently, more rare, many stories tell of people with severe illnesses journeying immense distances to find it. Presently, reishi is artificially cultivated and widely available in stores that sell herb products.
What Is Reishi Used for Today?
Reishi (like its fungi “cousins” maitake , Coriolus versicolor , and shiitake ) is marketed as a kind of cure-all, said to strengthen immunity , help prevent cancer , and also possibly treat cancer as well. It is also said to be useful for autoimmune diseases (such as myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis ), viral infections, high blood pressure , diabetes , enhancing mental function , altitude sickness , ulcers , and insomnia . However, while there has been a great deal of basic scientific research into the chemical constituents of reishi, reliable double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are all but nonexistent. (For information on why such studies are essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? )
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Contemporary herbalists regard reishi as an adaptogen, a substance believed to be capable of helping the body resist stress of all kinds. (For more information on adaptogens, see the article on Ginseng .) However, there is no meaningful evidence to support this claim.
The usual dosage of reishi is 2 g to 6 g per day of raw fungus, or an equivalent dosage of concentrated extract, taken with meals. In traditional Chinese medicine, reishi is often combined with related fungi, such as shiitake, hoelen, or polyporus. It is often taken continually for its presumed overall health benefits.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
If you are taking blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin , warfarin ( Coumadin ), heparin , clopidogrel ( Plavix ), pentoxifylline (Trental), or ticlopidine (Ticlid), use reishi only under a doctor's supervision.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -