Reishi/Ganoderma lucidum

July 30 2009 post. I found a verrry interesting item while reading “Jaymun’s Journey” (see: Thanks, Dave! Incidentally, I am so thankful and happy that Jaymun is home now, what a relief!), which then led me to the following abstract: Wowiezeewie!

In September, I will ask Sherlock if she can get me the full study…in the meantime, we will have to be content with what can be gleaned from the abstract, such as this glorious titbit: Ganoderma lucidum extract has a profound activity against leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma cells and may be a novel adjunctive therapy for the treatment of hematologic malignancies. Profound effect??? That sounds super…but what is this stuff?

Well, ganoderma lucidum is a mushroom species…a fungus that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years, making it one of the oldest mushrooms known to have been used in medicine, as we can read in its write-up in Wikipedia: Perhaps many of you will recognize, as I did!, the Japanese word for this mushroom: Reishi. Ah yes. It seems to be another one of those fix-all-and-more remedies…it is used to treat conditions as diverse as rheumatism, heart problems, asthma, fatigue, psoriasis, high blood pressure, HIV and…cancer. And more…

I urge you to have a look at the above Wikipedia link. The “History” section is absolutely fascinating. For instance, the oldest book in oriental herbal medicine (2,000 years old!) states the following: “The taste is bitter, its energy neutral, it has no toxicity. It cures the accumulation of pathogenic factors in the chest. It is good for the Qi of the head, including mental activities… Long term consumption will lighten the body; you will never become old. It lengthens years.” Uhm…never become OLD?!!! Words escape me at the moment…

In Chinese, by the way, it is called “lingzhi,” which means “herb of spiritual potency” and my personal favourite: “mushroom of immortality.”

Wikipedia also provides suggestions on how to cook this mushroom as well as a list of scientific studies backing its rather impressive anti-this and anti-that properties. Can you tell that I am excited? There are also heaps of studies on the mushroom of immortality in PubMed…I have already found a reliable source and will buy some of the, er, immortal extract, even though I don’t have the time now to go through any of these studies (but what I have read is enough to convince me to give it a whirl…)…

Update. September 9 2009 post. On July 30th, I posted about Reishi, or Ganoderma lucidum, and its murderous effect on leukemic, lymphoma and MM cell lines. At the time, I had been able to read only the abstract.

Soon thereafter, a blog reader (thank you!) kindly let me know that the full study is available online: Slight problem: my online copy (I hope this doesn’t happen to everyone!) comes to an abrupt halt at the end of page 7, which means that the final Discussion points are missing, as are the references. Very peculiar. As usual, though, Sherlock (grazieee!) came to the rescue by sending me the complete study, so I was able to fill in the missing bits.

Let’s see. Since the full study (or rather, most of it!) is online, I won’t make but a few comments. Reishi was tested against the above-mentioned cell lines together with other five herbs with known anti-cancer activities (see above link, the Discussion part, page 7) and was found to be the most active of all. It was especially effective against the blood cancer cell lines.

The following excerpt is from page 8, my mysteriously “missing” online page: Taken together, our study is the first to examine the effects of G. lucidum extract on a large panel of hematologic cell lines. Our results show that G. lucidum extract has activity against leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma cells and may be a novel adjunctive therapy for the treatment of hematologic malignancies. Further research is planned to isolate the triterpenoid constituent of G. lucidum (ganoderic acid) and to examine its anti-cancer potential.

I bought a Reishi extract while in the U.S. this summer and plan to test it, on myself of course!, at some point this winter. Interesting times lie ahead…I hope!


  1. Margaret, my warm advise- not to try Reishi.I did it in 2006 and my IgG jumped from 3530 to 3860 and paraprotein from 2.5 to 2.8 g/dL. It took to me two months to reduce it back (with large amounts of curcumin and EGCG).


    1. I realize this is an old post, however, just returned from a naturopath consult. She said to NOT take resishi or any substance that stimulates the immune system. According to sources, reishi does just that:
      (look under ‘purported uses’)

      I started reishi a few months ago and my IgA level increased (whereas before it was decreasing). I too will stick with curcumin and IP6.


  2. Steve,

    With all due respect, your naturopath is barking up the wrong tree.

    Reishi does not stimulate the immune system, it modulates the immune system. Meaning – it can boost it but it can also slow it down, based on your body’s normal state of homeostasis. It operates within the body’s natural thresholds.

    It is a so-called ‘biological response modifier’. The immune system is the first and most important line of defense against pathogens and ‘non-self’ things, which includes cancerous cells and such. Medicinal mushrooms are excellent and proven tools to help against cancer and during treatment – the research reports are overwhelming.

    That said, Reishi might not always be the best choice. It contains triterpenes, and not everybody responds well to those due to genetic wiring.

    2017 research showed the majority of Reishi in the US is actually not even Reishi, so it is very well possible you’ve consumed a contaminated or plain fake product !! links to that article.

    A more stable mushroom is Turkey Tail (Coriolus versicolor) which contains similar active compounds including so-called ‘PSK’ and ‘PSP’. Google for more information !

    Reliable and well-referenced information on how to choose a decent product (there are not much, most are useless) and what makes mushrooms a great health-tool is here

    Take care!!

    1. Hi Bob, Addressing your comments in reverse order, I generally consume
      Host Defense products. Not sure if you consider that brand ‘fake’.

      The ND may be at least partial right – or completely, depending on how much
      weight one puts on different sections of studies and abstracts.

      For instance, a PDF from the American Herbalist Guild:

      Has the term immunomodulating for the ‘antler form’, but immunostimulating under ‘biological effects’.

      GreenMedInfo (which sources pubmed, medline and others) has the following reishi and cancer article:

      has the term ‘immunopotentiation’ – which is not ‘modulating’ from what I can tell.

      The same article states:
      Key active constituents :
      Beta and hetero-Beta-glucans (antitumour, immunostimulating )
      Ling Zhi-8 protein (anti-allergenic, immuno-modulating)

      It would appear Turkeytail might be a better option.

  3. Hi Steve,

    The compounds in medicinal mushrooms responsible for the immune modulating effects are beta-glucans. Check this excellent article about what they do:

    You’ll see the correct term is ‘modulating’. Many people mix up the definitions or are only looking at one aspect, which causes confusion.

    Glucans trigger certain processes in the body, leading to an immunological response. That response happens within the natural thresholds of the body; it is not a pharmaceutical-like effect which can lead to over-stimulation. The body regulates the immune-response itself. This includes calming down an overactive immune response, like in the case of allergies, for which e.g. Reishi works great as well.

    As for Host Defense Reishi, I would not recommend that product if you are after therapeutic effects. It does not specify any bioactives (glucans, triterpenes, polyphenols), it is not based on fruiting bodies but on biomass (the combination of mycelium and grains) and contains a lot of starch (undigested grains) as a result of that. In some Host Defense products over 70% of starch was found !! (2016 AOAC research article investigating the percentages of beta-glucan in several mushroom supplements) It is also not an extract, meaning most people will have trouble digesting it.

    In short, you don’t know if it contains anything useful, and since there are plenty of products that do specify active ingredients I would always choose one of those.

    Host Defense is popular because the well-known Paul Stamets is running the company, but that does not mean the products are automatically worthwhile I’m afraid

    1. HI,

      I would like to know which form (and brand) of Reishi mushroom sold on Amazon has reference to a MM patient helped by it. I just got some Reishi mushroom powder made by OM as it was recommended by a friend. Anyone familiar with it?

      Thank you.

  4. Has anybody tried the mushroom supplement Agaricus blazei Murrill?
    I first read about its allegedly miraculous properties a few years ago, but at the time all I could find about it was on websites with fat, flowery, purple writing and the like, so I figured I’d wait until someone somewhere came up with some sort of proper research. I’ve just found this:
    – and as my numbers are going up I’m thinking of giving it a go. Do any of those who recommend/don’t recommend Reishi know about this one? I used to take maitake extract but stopped when I progressed to MM.

    1. Dear Charlotte,
      I trust my reply finds you well. I am reading Margaret’s blog for some time now, since my father was diognosed with MM in February 2019
      I was going to write to Margaret abour Agaricus Blazei .
      Please, read the following study as well
      My father started taking Agaricus Blazei together with Krill oil at the end of May.
      Since then we have not done any tests concernig kappa or lamda, but we are about to them in the next weeks
      Of course, he is taking Curcumin also
      I shall write when I have the results
      Did you start taking it? I would appreciate it if you share your experience with me
      Best wishes

      1. Thank you very much for the link Kremena. It’s very interesting.
        I will look at this more closely.

        Concerning Japanese studies, there are others on myeloma therapy (2006 and 2012) that studied vitamin K2. It would induce apoptosis of myeloma cells.
        But it is a vitamin that manages the coagulation, so to take under medical supervision, and in addition I do not know what doses.

        You have also concerning lipids :

        Lipids Involved in Cause of Myeloma in One of Three Patients


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