The History and Health Benefits of Reishi

What is Reishi?

Reishi is also known as Ganoderma lucidum, or better known as, "King of Mushrooms". It grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia. Reishi contains several molecules, including triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans, that may be responsible for its health effects [1][2].

History of Reishi

The Reishi mushroom was first discovered by Chinese healers more than 2,000 years ago in the Changbai Mountains.

Healers believed that the Reishi mushroom had potent anti-aging properties, and it has long been used as a talisman of luck, healing, and wellness in Chinese culture [3].

What does it do?


Studies have previously shown that Reishi is capable of affecting genes in white blood cells (critical parts of the immune system). These same studies show that some forms of Reishi can alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells [4].

Reishi is known for promoting long-term health. Studies have backed up this claim by proving these mushrooms can increase the number of white blood cells in your body and improve function [5].  This is important as the white blood cells in our bodies fight viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that protect the body from illness 

Anti-Cancer Properties

Reishi contains polysaccharides and a class of compounds called triterpenes. Studies have demonstrated that these compounds derived from the Reishi mushroom have cytotoxic* effects on cancer cells. Patients taking Reishi experienced improved responses to chemotherapy or radiotherapy [5].

*Cytotoxic is often used to describe chemotherapy drugs that kill cancer cells [6].

Reduces Fatigue 

Reishi can also reduce the severity of chronic fatigue. This can be due to its ability to boost the immune system and fight free radical damage (thanks to the high levels of antioxidants). Reishi can also help regulate testosterone levels, which is great for energy [8]. 

Reducing the effects of chronic fatigue can lift symptoms of depression and result in feeling more uplifted.


Benefits the Skin

Reishi mushroom extract offers benefits that make products containing this special mushroom worth adding to your skincare regimen. 

Products that contain Reishi (or even eating Reishi on its own) claim to detoxify, hydrate, and work against fine lines, premature aging, and wrinkles. It also helps strengthen your skins moisture barrier, making your skin less reactive to stress from your environment. 


Reishi's nickname "King of Mushrooms" seems rather fitting as it has such great healing properties. The list of benefits goes on for Reishi as the studies continue, but we know thus far that it's array of benefits makes it worth the hype.



1. Batra, P., Sharma, A. K., & Khajuria, R. (2013). Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits. International journal of medicinal mushrooms15(2), 127–143.

2. Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 9. Available from:

3. Reishi: The “Mushroom of Immortality”. The Republic of Tea. (2017). Retrieved 4 November 2021, from

4. Cheng, C. H., Leung, A. Y., & Chen, C. F. (2010). The effects of two different ganoderma species (Lingzhi) on gene expression in human monocytic THP-1 cells. Nutrition and cancer62(5), 648–658.

5. Zhu, X. L., Chen, A. F., & Lin, Z. B. (2007). Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides enhance the function of immunological effector cells in immunosuppressed mice. Journal of ethnopharmacology111(2), 219–226.

6. Blevins Primeau, A. (2017). Reishi Mushroom and Cancer. Cancer Therapy Advisor. Retrieved 4 November 2021, from

7. Eldridge, L. (2020). Cytotoxic Actions and Precautions. verywellhealth. Retrieved 4 November 2021, from

8. Jayanthi, K. Reishi Mushroom - Promising in treatment of Depression [Ebook] (pp. 1-3). Retrieved 4 November 2021, from