Reishi mushrooms are a type of fungus that grow naturally in the forests of Japan and China. Some people use them as a form of alternative medicine to treat various ailments. The mushroom is also sometimes called ling chi, ling zhi, or the mushroom of immortality. There are six varieties of reishi mushrooms, however, red reishi is most commonly used in herbal medicine, as it is reported to be the most potent.
Reishi has an unpleasant, bitter taste. Despite this, some people add ground reishi mushroom to coffee, tea, or soup for health benefits. Reishi mushroom is also available at natural health stores, in the form of capsules or extracts.
There are many ailments that reishi mushroom is purported to alleviate. Reishi is often taken to boost the immune system, particularly in patients with cancer or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It may also be taken to lower blood pressure, fight fatigue, and ward off viral infections. Some patients take it to prevent cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. Reishi may even be taken to relieve anxiety and insomnia, as well as to calm allergic reactions.
These mushrooms are considered to be an alternative medicine, rather than a traditional treatment accepted by mainstream doctors. Due to this, there is no standard dose for reishi mushroom. People should discuss an acceptable dosage with a doctor before using it, particularly if they have a medical condition.
Reishi has the potential to cause some side effects, which may be more severe if the herb is used in large doses for a long period of time. These effects can include upset stomach, bloody stools, and nosebleeds. Some people may experience dry mouth, throat, and nasal passages, as well as itchiness. Patients may also experience an allergic reaction from breathing in the spores of the plant. A rash may also appear from drinking reishi wine.
The safety of using reishi mushroom while pregnant or breastfeeding is unknown. Women should avoid using this herb under these circumstances. In addition, people with low blood pressure should avoid reishi, as it may cause pressure to drop to excessively low levels. People with thrombocytopenia, a clotting disorder, may be at a higher risk for bleeding while taking reishi.
Some drug interactions may also occur with this herb. It may interact with drugs for high blood pressure, anticoagulants, and immunosuppressants. Reishi may also interfere with chemotherapy drugs. Before taking reishi mushrooms or any other herbal medicine, patients should always seek the advice of a doctor.