Herb of the Month – Ganoderma lucidim

🌿 This month’s herb of the month is the Reishi or Ganoderma lucidim.
Family: Ganodermataceae

🌿Botanical name and description

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is a macrofungus in the medicinal mushroom family that grows mainly on hardwood trees as decayers, or symbiotics (3,1), and is known by different names in various cultures. In Japan, it is commonly called “Reishi,” which translates to “spiritual potency.” In China, it is referred to as “Lingzhi,” meaning “divine mushroom,” and in Korea, it is called “Youngzhi,” meaning “mushroom of immortality” (2). The appearance of Reishi is fan-shaped or semicircular, with a dark red or brown hue, ochre-coloured edges, and light brown flesh, and the name “Lucidum” comes from the Latin root, meaning ‘bright’, or shiny (1). Reishi grows on the stumps of deciduous hardwood trees such as oak, maple, magnolia, or acacia, and is found in temperate climates such as Europe, Asia, and North America (3). Reishi is dried, ground down, and turned into tablets, capsules, teas, broths, and tinctures, and is widely used around the world today for various health conditions and ailments (4).

🌿 History and traditional use

Long known as the “mushroom of immortality”, Reishi has been used to promote well-being and longevity since ancient times in traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean medicine (5). The use of Reishi was first recorded over 2000 years ago in Shen Nong’s Materia Medica to enhance vitality, strengthen the immune system, and extend the lifespan (5). Many Emperors and Chinese nobility consumed Reishi daily as a tonic, especially during times of stress (4). In the Daoist and Buddhist religions, Reishi was used in many spiritual practices to achieve immortality and spiritual enlightenment and was often used during meditations to calm the mind and improve focus (7). The use of Ganoderma lucidim spread from China to Japan and became an integral part of Japanese medicine for its anti-ageing properties with the word “Reishi” translating to “10,000-year mushroom” (7).

🌿 Actions and usage today

Today, Ganoderma lucidum is known for its diverse pharmacological properties, such as anticancer, hypoglycaemic, immunomodulatory, cytotoxic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, apoptogenic and antioxidant effects, mainly attributed to its triterpenes and polysaccharides (2,5). These compounds are primarily responsible for Reishi’s anticancer actions by suppressing cell proliferation, metastasis, and invasion, while promoting apoptosis, and stimulating the immune system (5). Naturopaths and herbalists today use Reishi to treat various conditions, including neurasthenia, prolonged illness-related debility, insomnia, anorexia, dizziness, chronic hepatitis, high cholesterol, hypertension, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer support and bronchial coughs in the elderly (3). Additionally, Reishi is used to support conditions such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and lingering pathogens (post-viral fatigue), whether they be viral, bacterial, or fungal in nature (3).

🌿 Science and clinical trials

Recent scientific research has identified around 400 bioactive compounds in Ganoderma lucidum responsible for the many therapeutic actions recorded (5). Pharmaceutical researchers are actively investigating the chemical and biological properties of Reishi for potential new drug formulations based on recent studies confirming Reishi’s benefits for preventing and treating gastrointestinal, and extraintestinal diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and microbial infections (7).

In recent studies, Reishi has shown promise in treating metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity due to its blood sugar and cardiometabolic regulating properties, and there is current interest in its potential role in preventing and treating coronavirus infections based on the inhibitory effects in-vitro (1,6). Reishi is considered an untapped natural source of novel bioactive compounds with significant value in industry and medicine, particularly in drug development for infectious diseases in Africa (3). Numerous bioactive components isolated from Reishi are currently under investigation for their potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties against emerging diseases (3,7).


1. Cör D, Knez Ž, Knez Hrnčič M. Antitumour, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant and Antiacetylcholinesterase Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum Terpenoids and Polysaccharides: A Review. Molecules. 2018 Mar 13;23(3):649. doi: 10.3390/molecules23030649. PMID: 29534044; PMCID: PMC6017764.

2. Ekiz E, Oz E, Abd El-Aty AM, Proestos C, Brennan C, Zeng M, Tomasevic I, Elobeid T, Çadırcı K, Bayrak M, Oz F. Exploring the Potential Medicinal Benefits of Ganoderma lucidum: From Metabolic Disorders to Coronavirus Infections. Foods. 2023 Apr 3;12(7):1512. doi: 10.3390/foods12071512. PMID: 37048331; PMCID: PMC10094145.

3. El Sheikha AF. Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Ganoderma lucidum “Lingzhi, Reishi, or Mannentake” as Functional Foods: Current Scenario and Future Perspectives. Foods. 2022 Apr 1;11(7):1030. doi: 10.3390/foods11071030. PMID: 35407117; PMCID: PMC8998036.

4. Isabel C.F.R. Ferreira, Sandrina A. Heleno, Filipa S. Reis, Dejan Stojkovic, Maria João R.P. Queiroz, M. Helena Vasconcelos, Marina Sokovic, Chemical features of Ganoderma polysaccharides with antioxidant, antitumor and antimicrobial activities, Phytochemistry, Volume 114, 2015, Pages 38-55,ISSN 0031-9422.

5. Oke MA, Afolabi FJ, Oyeleke OO, Kilani TA, Adeosun AR, Olanbiwoninu AA, Adebayo EA. Ganoderma lucidum: Unutilized natural medicine and promising future solution to emerging diseases in Africa. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Aug 22;13:952027. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.952027. PMID: 36071846; PMCID: PMC9441938.

6. Venturella G, Ferraro V, Cirlincione F, Gargano ML. Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Use, and Clinical Trials. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 10;22(2):634. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020634. PMID: 33435246; PMCID: PMC7826851.

7. 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: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/