Reishi Mushroom Benefits for Immunity, Longevity & More

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Reishi Mushroom Benefits for Immunity, Longevity & More

Mushrooms are delicious of course (like in this homemade cream of mushroom soup recipe), but they can also be incredibly healing. Reishi mushrooms are particularly special as they are one of the oldest mushrooms used medicinally and were once reserved for only royalty!

What Are Reishi Mushrooms?

Reishi mushrooms are a group of mushrooms that are native to Japan, China, and Korea. The Chinese name for this mushroom is lingzhi, but it is best known in America as reishi (its Japanese name).

Historically, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years. In the original textbook of traditional Chinese medicine, it was the highest ranked of all plants and fungi for its benefits to the body.

It’s been said that reishi (and lingzhi) translates as a number of names including “Queen of Mushrooms,” “Possessed of Soul Power,” “Herb of Spiritual Potency,” “Mushroom of Immortality,” and “Magic Fungus.” (Hmm… I’ll pass on that last one.)

Why all the fuss? I wanted to find out.

Healing Benefits of Reishi Mushroom

I knew mushrooms could be good for you, but this “Queen of Mushrooms” has an especially amazing ability to heal and balance the body.

Regulates the Immune System

Studies show reishi mushroom may regulate the immune system as well as improve its natural ability to fight invaders. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology shows that reishi mushroom is an immune system modulator.

That means reishi is not just an immune stimulator (nor an immunosuppressant). It can actually adapt and do either depending on the body’s need at the time (pretty amazing!).

Just as reishi mushrooms can boost the immune system when there’s an infection, it can also dial it back when an autoimmunity is present. A 2002 study published in Life Science found that one way reishi mushrooms boost the immune system is by helping grow and strengthen T- and B-cells (defender cells) in the body.

Reishi mushrooms also:

  • Speed wound healing – A 2006 study found that Reishi also has advanced wound healing abilities.
  • Makes antibiotics more effective – A study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that reishi boosts the antimicrobial action of antibiotics.
  • May fight herpes – A 2000 study found that the polysaccharides and triterpenes in reishi bind to viruses and stop them from entering and attaching to healthy cells.

Protects Against Cancer

A healthy immune system will also help fight and prevent diseases (such as cancer), but this mushroom has specific mechanisms for targeting cancer.

Typical chemotherapy works by “poisoning” the body, in hopes that it will harm the cancer cells (without harming healthy cells beyond repair). Obviously, it’s not a perfect treatment (more on that here) and can cause a lot of harm to healthy cells. Reishi may be a promising supplement that can help protect the body.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Cellular Immunology shows that one compound of reishi mushrooms, ganoderic acid, can induce apoptosis (natural cell death) while reducing toxicity to healthy cells.

A 2010 Chinese study found that ganoderic acid also inhibits tumor growth and the ability of cancer cells to migrate in the body.

Lastly, a study published in Oncology Letters found that reishi makes melanoma cells more vulnerable to natural killer (NK) cells. (These are cells that are responsible for attacking tumor and viral infected cells).

Though more research is needed to bring reishi into mainstream cancer treatment, this medicinal mushroom seems to have promise.

Longevity Boosting

Reishi isn’t called the “Mushroom of Immortality” for nothing. One of its claims to fame is as a longevity herb. It makes sense that if reishi can improve immunity and reduce heart disease that it could potentially lengthen a lifespan. But what’s really interesting is how much it can boost longevity.

In a 2011 study reishi was shown to extend the lifespan of mice by 9 to 20 percent (that would be seven to 16 years for humans!).

Some of the ways reishi can boost longevity are:

  • Reduces oxidative stress – A 2005 studies shows reishi protect cellular DNA from oxidant damage that causes aging.
  • Antioxidant power – A 2011 review shows that reishi has a high level of antioxidants that help fight aging. These antioxidants can reduce dermal and cellular oxidation. In simple terms, that means reducing signs of skin aging and internal signs of cellular aging!
  • Triperpenes– This specific compound in Reishi is a type of terpenoid is known to improve circulation and help with everything from skin to mental focus.

Liver Boosting

Reishi mushroom is considered an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps the body adapt to the stressors around it. When the outside environment is particularly toxic, the liver struggles. That’s why adaptogenic herbs usually focus on liver health.

A study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that reishi protects against liver toxicity and promotes liver cell regeneration.

Additionally, a 2013 study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that the antioxidants in reishi help reduce immune functions that lower liver function.

Heart Protective

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. There are many factors that contribute to heart disease including lifestyle choices and diet. But for those already making good lifestyle choices and still haveing heart issues, reishi may be help.

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, compounds called triterpenes in reishi may help reduce blood pressure. They can also slow blood clotting. Two of reishi’s most prevalent triterpenes are ganoderic acid and sterols. Studies show that sterols can help lower cholesterol and improve blood circulation. Ganoderic acids may also improve oxygen flow.

Blood Sugar Help

It’s not uncommon for people with heart disease to also have diabetes. In people with diabetes, reishi may help reduce both cholesterol and insulin resistance, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.


Antioxidants are known to potentially protect the brain from damage because they neutralize oxidative stress. Reishi has lots of antioxidants, so it makes sense that reishi would be neuroprotective.

Researchers believe that reishi may protect the brain from oxidative damage, which protects against degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, according to a 2012 study published in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology.

But research shows that it may be more than antioxidants that help protect the brain. Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that reishi promoted the modulation of cytokines within the brain. By doing so, reishi may act as a neuroprotective herb.

Help for Seasonal Allergies

The ganoderic acids in this power mushroom can help inhibit histamine response. For this reason, it is a common supplement for those with seasonal allergies. In fact, in the book Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health, the author Tero explains a practical case when he realized the power of reishi for allergies:

A colleague of his suffered awful seasonal allergies for weeks each spring. He started taking 1,000 mg of resihi daily and his allergy symptoms disappeared almost entirely. Of course, this is just one example, but science may be able to explain why it worked for him.

When exposed to allergens, the body releases histamines which cling to cells. This causes cells to swell and leak fluid… thus the sneezing and runny nose! Since this beneficial mushroom can help inhibit this histamine reaction, it is often helpful for allergies.

Are Reishi Mushrooms Safe?

Reishi mushrooms are considered a safe herb to consume when used appropriately. The method of extraction is important though. Some adverse reactions were associated with certain extracts from contaminated sources.

Dual extraction offers the maximum benefit. In this process, the fat soluble and water soluble properties are extracted separately to get a high potency finished product. Alcohol extraction extracts the fat soluble compounds by essentially creating a tincture and using a long and slow extraction. Then, mushrooms are boiled and simmered to extract the maximum amount of water soluble compounds. The combined extract then gets concentrated and spray dried to create a powder.

Other methods may just make a tincture (fat soluble compounds only) or powder the mushroom, reducing the benefit.

Safety of reishi for small children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with liver disease hasn’t been established. It’s always best to talk with your doctor to discuss whether reishi is right for your family.

Consuming Reishi

As a medicinal herb, reishi is top notch. But as a culinary addition — I’d suggest leaving it out.

Reishi is best as a tincture, tea, or in mushroom coffee tea (where you can’t taste it at all!). I also drink it at night for help sleeping.

When choosing a tincture, look for one that is “pure yield” which means it uses very little fillers. Ideally your tincture will be close to 5% filler.

My affiliate partner, Four Sigmatic is the only brand I’ve found that uses the healthiest possible growing and manufacturing practices as well as dual extraction. I personally use their coffee, tonics, and teas and they are delicious!

These are our favorites:

  • “Chill” Hot Cacao Mix (with reishi) – No more delicious way to get the benefits of reishi. Rather than boosting energy, this one is made to support sleep and relaxation. The taste is chocolatey with a touch of cinnamon.
  • Reishi Elixir – Contains a higher therapeutic dose of reishi (1,500 mg). I promise it doesn’t taste like mushrooms either! The taste is slightly bitter, so I add some almond milk and honey for a nice calming drink at the end of a stressful day.

Even my husband who isn’t always thrilled to try my health experiments will drink these and loves them!

Other Medicinal Mushrooms

There are plenty of other mushrooms with proven therapeutic benefits. Look for more posts on them soon, and here’s another one I get in my coffee!

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Mariza Snyder, a functional practitioner. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Have you ever used reishi mushrooms or other mushrooms for their health benefits? What was your experience?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


21 responses to “Reishi Mushroom Benefits for Immunity, Longevity & More”

  1. Pippi Smythe Avatar
    Pippi Smythe

    I am looking for a list of the water soluable list of medicinal benefits and a list of the benefits of an alcohol extraction tincture. Since products sold, are not always made from both methods, it is nice if the lists were separated so we know whether or not we need the Reishi polysaccharides (water extracted) or the triterpenoid (alcohol extracted) to fix out particular illness.
    Most articles write as it it is one and the same.

  2. Angela Avatar

    I love Wellness Mama podcasts!!
    I want to start taking reishi again but I’m breastfeeding. I know there are no studies, but I was wondering if you know of mamas who take it during breastfeeding. Or other adaptations like Chaga which grows in my area.

  3. Velleda Avatar

    You state that Four Sigmatic uses the healthiest possible growing and manufacturing processes. Have you looked into or tried Host Defense brand ? Their founder, Paul Stamets, has been cultivating and researching mushrooms here in the United States for 30 years. He believes that wild harvesting medicinal mushrooms is unsustainable for the world and produces from cultivars single mushrooms and blends that have higher potency than those wild harvested.
    The powders they make are convenient to use, delicious and very economical but they also make pills and tinctures. I use them in coffee and other foods.

  4. Petra Avatar

    I gave a try reishi based on Tim Ferris’s podcast recommendation. The first contact was with mushroom coffee by four sigmatic. Then I have changed it for Ani reishi coffee which has a little bit more attractive price offer. I really like the taste of it and it does seem to help with giving me focus and clarity when at work. But I decided to go even further and started using reishi pills. Now I can say that this year Reishi has helped me kill off my allergies to cats, dust and pollen?—?I’ve been breathing in large amounts of ash pollen over the last few weeks, and it seems pollen now just bounces off me. This time last year I was in serious trouble with eyes streaming and nose running and sneezing. I hope that this is a permanent change, so I will continue to eat and drink Reishi forever. Hurrah for Reishi!

  5. Dan Avatar

    Where can i get these mushroom supplements that are the safest with best manufacturing methods and third party testing and certified organic?

  6. Jane Avatar

    I am not a coffee drinker but I now only drink coffee with reishi from ANI . The only coffee that does not hurt my stomach. I also love the beverage!!! 1 cup a day to start my day off right! I add some dark chocolate almond milk for extra flavor.

  7. Esther Avatar

    Hello, I came upon this article on Pinterest and I’m looking for something that can help my husband. He will be getting chemo soon due to testicular cancer. I know he’s going to need something for his immune system and to help with cancer. What do you suggest?

  8. Silvia Avatar

    I love using reishi tincture as it seems to help me sleep. I make my own because it’s so easy! I do a double extraction using alcohol and then water to get ever bit of goodness out of the mushrooms. I buy organic dry reishi slices and break them into chunks using a food processor. After placing enough to half fill a mason jar add vodka, the highest proof you can find. Keep in a dark area and give it a shake when you remember, hopefully daily. After 4-6 weeks strain the reishi pieces out, save that precious liquid! In a small sauce pan place the reishi pieces and add enough filtered water to just cover. Simmer over low heat for 1-2 hours. Allow to cool completely. Strain out the reishi again, all the goodness has been extracted from them. Add the water to the alcohol and store in a cool dark place. The mixture ends up being 2/3 alcohol extraction and 1/3 water extraction. The alcohol content keeps it from spoiling. I like to keep my main batch in a mason jar and pour some into a colored glass dropper bottle. I take about 10 drops a day, more if I feel I need it, usually in tea or coffee in the morning.

  9. MarieS Avatar

    I ordered the reishi elixir and tried it for the first time tonight. It mixed nicely into the hot water. I added some honey. Does it also help with low thyroid if? Hoping it helps me fall asleep more easily.

  10. Erika Avatar

    Hello Everyone,
    Wellness Mama,
    I am following your articles for years.
    Thank you for the informations.
    Can you tell me if this medicinal mushrooms are low foodmap food or not?
    Unfortunatly many healthy foods are high in the foodmap.
    I would really appreciate your help.
    Thank you

  11. Erika Avatar

    I enjoy your news letter. Thank you for the imformations. I would love to know if this and the other mushroom is low foodmap food?
    I would really apresiate your help with it.

  12. Christine Avatar

    I am currently active duty in the military and I was wondering if Reishi mushrooms were safe to use? The word medicinal is throwing me off. I have read about all there great benefits because I suffer from an autoimmune disease.

  13. Angelina L. Kagatan Avatar
    Angelina L. Kagatan

    Im very glad having read this article since we’ve been users of lingzhi for 10 years now. At last we have some studies to support why my family drink lingzhi coffee of DXN from Malaysia which have penetrated throughout the world in almost 200 countries now for more or less 25 years now

  14. Sharon Avatar

    Great article. Do you know if the Four Sigmatic products have been tested for heavy metals??

  15. Cara Avatar

    I used four sigmatics Reishi Elixir when healing my adrenal fatigue and it helped so much to calm me down and get me sleeping again!

  16. Jennifer A Peterson Avatar
    Jennifer A Peterson

    Thanks so much for this article.
    I have been trying to find the studies that are out there supporting mushrooms and cancer. The big three are reishi, chaga, and Turkey tail, all of which are native to the US. Reishi mushrooms are also sometimes called varnish conks. They are found on hemlock trees.
    My husband’s cancer doctor is pro alternative therapy, but because chaga can affect the liver, he wanted him to stay away from it during chemo. (His colon cancer went to his liver).
    Natural medicines are where this country need to turn to. We already have a few chemo drugs that are plant derived. One is from American yew called Taxol, and Irinotecan from the Chinese happy tree, and there are at least 2 other plant derived meds that I know of.

  17. Nicole Avatar

    What’s the recommended daily dose for immune modulation and brain boosting?

  18. Michelle Avatar

    My daughter struggled with seasonal allergies that easily would turn into a full blown sinus infection.i have tried some herbs in the past and she takes a quality probiotic daily. I had read that reishi mushrooms could be helpful for seasonal allergies. I started giving her one capsule a day and she didn’t have a allergy symptoms turned sinus infection all last fall or winter.

    1. Kathrina Avatar

      Hi Michelle,
      Whats the does you give to your daughter, my son is 5yo trying to figure out what dose i can give him.

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