Reishi extract has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat arthritis and other forms of inflammation for over 2,000 years. Also commonly known by its Latin name as “Ganoderma,” or Chinese “Ling Zhi,” Reishi is by far the most searched medicinal mushroom on the Internet with over 200,000 searches per month. And although it may not be the panacea (“cure-all”) that some hold it to be, the fact that modern research confirms it as an inflammation modulator may help explain why it has long been heralded as such in the Orient.
In fact, Chinese medical practitioners have been prescribing Reishi extract for ages in cases of arthritis, bronchitis and other conditions involving any type of inflammation. Modern research in Asia as well as in America and Europe confirm the validity of these uses. Out of 19 papers used for this article, 17 reported positive results in the use or Reishi extract for arthritis. Only two were studies were inconclusive, both of which were conducted by the same research team.
An American study conducted in 1993 by Lin et al. concluded that a water extract of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) demonstrated “significant anti-inflammatory activity.” A study out of India ten years later found that an extract of Reishi decreased inflammation in conditions of acute edema and chronic edema by 56% and 60%. Seven additional research papers were found during the writing of this article that all concluded that Reishi is a potent anti-inflammatory medicinal mushroom.
Other Reishi studies have been performed which more directly relate to arthritis. A 2006 report by Kenneth Blum et al. provided support that clinical evidence demonstrates the effectiveness and safety of natural substances for joint health, such as glucosamine sulfate , chondroitin sulfate, and Ganoderma lucidum [Reishi].
The same year, another study summarized findings that Reishi in combination with a Chinese herbal remedy known as San-Miao-San demonstrated a positive “immunomodulatory effect” on rheumatoid arthritis. (Immunomodulatory = helps to balance immune response.)
The answer as to how, precisely, Reishi extract accomplishes this “immunomodulatory effect” may have been given by another Chinese study the following year, which states that an isolated Reishi polysaccharide peptide “significantly inhibited” RASF, which is an indicator of rheumatoid arthritis. (RASF stands for “Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts.”)
Five additional studies are included in the references that report positive findings between Reishi and arthritis. One goes so far as to state that Reishi shows favorable results when compared to prednisone (an arthritis-drug), and is free from the side effects. In extension of this, a separate study also found that not only was Reishi extract free of the side effects of prednisone, it could also help balance the existing side effects of prednisolone* such as cell toxicity and proteinuria. (*Prednisolone is the active compound of prednisone. The liver breaks down prednisone and converts it to prednisolone.)
In conclusion, the majority of research on the use of Reishi extract for inflammation or arthritis appears to support its effectiveness. Please remember that it is very important to always consult a licensed medical doctor before using any herb for medicinal purposes.
Note on name confusion: The name “Reishi” is Japanese for the perennial tree mushroom that American naturalists refer to as “Varnished Conk.” In China, it is known as “Ling Zhi.” All these names usually refer to the species Ganoderma lucidum, which for the sake of distinction from other types of Reishi may sometimes be called “Common Reishi” or “Red Reishi.”
Other species frequently referred to as Reishi include: Ganoderma tsugae (Hemlock Reishi, common on Hemlocks in Eastern U.S.), Ganoderma sinense (“Black Reishi), Ganoderma resinaceum (Red Reishi), Ganoderma japonicum (Purple Reishi) and Ganoderma neo-japonicum (no common name or simply Reishi).
Dr. Rafael works as a herbal researcher and writer since the mid 90’s, specializing in medicinal mushrooms. Click here for organic mushroom products and free articles on mycomedicinals. References: Go to this page, click on reference number.
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