Ganoderma lucidum (Curtis) P. Karst.

Last updated: 14 April 2016

Scientific Name

Ganoderma lucidum (Curtis) P. Karst.


Boletus lucidus Curtis, Fomes lucidus (Curtis) J. Kickx f., Polyporus lucidus (Curtis) Fr. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Reishi, reishi mushroom, lacquered bracket fungus [2]
China Ling zhi [3]
Korea Youngzi [3]
Japan Reishi, sachitake, mannentake [3].

Geographical Distributions

Ganoderma lucidum has been reported to occur in most parts of the world including North America (except western plains and central Rocky Mountains), on hardwoods and favors oaks in Europe, and other places. [3]

Botanical Description

No documentation.


G. lucidum starts to appear in early autumn on fir, spruce, beech, birch, alder, ash, oak, and in some regions pine and larch. [3]

Chemical Constituent

G. lucidum has been reported to contain polysaccharide/peptide complex (e.g. β-1,3-glucans), triterpenes (e.g. ganoderic acids), nucleosides (e.g. adenosine), fatty acids, sterols and ergosterols. [4]

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

G. lucidum or reishi mushroom is called the "mushroom of immortality" in China and has been used as a tonic and strengthening medicine for thousands of years. Uses in traditional healing include increasing intellectual capacity and memory, promoting agility, and lengthening the life span. [5]

Preclinical Data


G. lucidum is reported to have some of the most active polysaccharides in the plant kingdom. Polysaccharides are claimed to have immunomodulating activity, thus are beneficial as an antioxidant, antihypertensive, hypoglycemic, antiviral, and hepatoprotective agent. [6]


G. lucidum extracts have been reported to significantly increase the life-span of fruit flies by significant amounts (16-17 %) in several studies, and also enhancing endurance and cellular oxygenation [6]. G. lucidum has been reported to inhibit superoxide activity and hydroxyl radical activityin vitro, supporting its role as an antioxidant [7]. The constituents with antioxidant activity have been reported to include the triterpenes [8].

Immunomudulating activity

Polysaccharides in G. lucidum are reported to product immune-modulating activity [9]. The major immunomodulating effects of G. lucidum include mitogenicity and activation of immune effector cells such as T cells, macrophages and natural killer cells resulting in the production of cytokines [10].

Anticancer activity

G. lucidum exerts cytotoxic effects on cancer cells by altering proteins involved in cell proliferation and/or cell death, carcinogenesis, oxidative stress, calcium signaling and ER stress. [11]

G. lucidum extracts have been reported to inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animals [12][13]. In one study, an isolated polysaccharide from Reishi (b-1, 3-glucan) was administered to laboratory mice and was reported to produce tumor inhibiting rates of greater than 90 %, with complete tumor regression of over 75 % of the mice [14].

A laboratory study found that G. lucidum extract is cytotoxic to both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant small-cell lung cancer cells. Pro-apoptotic, induced gene expression patterns were similar to the cancer cells treated with chemotherapeutic drugs, and may reverse resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. [15]

G. lucidum  has been reported to have the strongest 5-α reductase inhibitory activity among tested mushroom extracts. 5-α reductase is involved in steroid production, including testosterone. Increased levels are a risk factor in prostate disorders, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. [16][17]

Hypoglycaemic activity

G. lucidum extracts have also reported hypoglycemic activity both in laboratory animals and in human subjects. [18][19]

Cardiovascular activity

G. lucidum was evaluated for its cardiovascular activity in anesthetized rabbits and rats.  Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were decreased in hypertensive individuals, with subsequent lowering of cholesterol levels in one of the studies. It has been concluded that the mechanism of hypotensive action of G. lucidum was due to its central inhibition of sympathetic nerve activity. [20][21]

Antimicrobial activity


An extract of G. lucidum  was reported to be synergistic when combined with cefazolin in vitro against Bacillus subtilis and Klebsiella oxytoca. [22]


The triterpenoid constituents in G. lucidum have reported anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-1-protease activity in vitro. [23]

G. lucidum  have been reported to have antiherpetic properties and has been used in treating herpes. [24]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

A study of 48 patients with advanced stage carcinomas (including renal, gastric and breast cancers) were administered an extract of Reishi mushroom (1:10w/v) before chemotherapy [25]. Researchers have indicated that Reishi mushroom significantly enhanced immune function in advanced-stage cancer patients [26]. Immunocompromised patients showed increased levels of CD4/CD8 ratio and T-cell counts and lowered levels of T-suppressor cell counts. Radio- and chemotherapy intolerance reportedly was reduced in the cancer patients on the Reishi extract and leukopenia from the treatments improved. The patients also showed improved vigor and appetite. Reishi also decreased the immunosuppression seen in whole body irradiated mice, showing a greater degree of recovery versus the control group [27].

The results of a double-blinded, placebo controlled study indicated a lowering of cholesterol and an increase in antioxidant activity. [28]

A clinical study on the inhibitory effect of G. lucidum (GL) on platelet aggregation has been carried out to 15 healthy volunteers and 33 patients with atherosclerotic diseases. The results showed that G. lucidum  may be an effective inhibitory agent of platelet aggregation. [29]

G. lucidum  have been reported in a clinical studies to have antiherpetic properties, and has been used in treating herpes and postherpetic neuralgia, decreased pain dramatically in 2 patients with postherpetic neuralgia recalcitrant to standard therapy and 2 other patients with severe pain due to herpes zoster infection. [30]

A small 2-month open label trial of 8 diabetic patients reported that an extract of G. lucidum produced hypoglycemic effects comparable to that of insulin and oral hypoglycemic agents. [31]

A randomized, controlled human trial found that Reishi extract improved outcome measures in men with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). [32]

G. lucidum  has been reported safe in recommended doses in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial for safety and tolerability assesment of G. lucidum in healthy subjects. [33]


Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals with bleeding disorders. [34]

Side effects

Some individuals may show allergic respiratory reactions to G. lucidum. [35]

Rare side effects such as dryness of the mouth, throat and nasal areas, stomach upset, and loose stools may occur in some individuals. [36]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

No documentation.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Laboratory studies have reported that G. lucidum  extracts may increase the effects of chemotherapy drugs. [37]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.

Case Report

A case report of fatal, fulminant hepatitis was associated with a Reishi supplement in China (Lingzhi). [37]

However, G. lucidum  is used for liver health and due to possible contaminants in Chinese supplements, including heavy metals; this case report needs to be verified with other studies before making recommendations on Reishi safety in hepatic disorders.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


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