Reishi is a mushroom used in Japanese/Chinese (ling-zhi) and Oriental medicine. The herb is the fruiting body of the mushroom.
Reishi an age old medicine cited thousands of years ago in texts and scripts as being a tonic for emperors known as an "elixir of life". In fact, at one time in history, it was only available to the "ruling class". Now, however, it's made its way into kitchens of people from all walks of life.
Reishi as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
Chinese medicine prescribed reishi for a multitude of maladies.
Reishi is mentioned in the first class of herbs in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing for calming, benefiting vital energy (qi), and even improving one's complexion.
The Chinese name ling zhi means "spirit plant"; in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Traditionally, reishi was used to treat hepatitis, hypertension, arthritis, nervous conditions, insomnia, lung disorders, and as a general tonic to "lighten weight and increase longevity".
Pharmacological studies have confirmed that reishi is antiallergenic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant, immunostimulant, and expectorant, and that it suppresses coughs and increases coronary blood flow.
In the past two decades, Asian clinical studies have shown that reishi is effective in treating hepatitis, lowering cholesterol, and relieving bronchitis and asthma. It is also effective in relieving altitude sickness, as a calmative in anxiety and hypertension, and for reducing blood pressure. Reishi preparations are widely used in China and Japan and are increasingly well-known in the West.
A typical preparation is a tea decoction from the dried mushroom, which Chinese medicine usually calls for 1 to 8 grams of dried mushroom per 6 to 8-ounce cup of tea.
The powdered root can be sprinkled on food or in beverages, or made as a liquid herbal extract (non-standardized), and as an encapsulated (non-standardized) product from whole mushroom tops.
Modern medicine recommends its use as a daily dietary supplement and currently all of the research on this mushroom has indicated that regular consumption of Reishi is safe and effective.
Experimental studies have shown toxicity is very low. Rare side effects include dry throat, nosebleed, and upset stomach after long-term use.
Rare skin rashes have also been reported as well as an allergic reaction in one patient who received an injectable form of the drug in China.
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