Reishi Mushroom, Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum)


Hyperlipidemia, hypertension, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Mechanism of Action

Heart disease is associated with decreased mitochondrial function in cardiac muscle cells. Ganoderma lucidum has been shown to protect against mitochondrial dysfunction in animal models of cardiotoxicity.1 Some of its cardioprotective effects are thought to be attributable to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Heart cells are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress and damage. Extracts of G. lucidum protect heart cells by supporting antioxidant enzyme systems including manganese-superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione S-transferase, catalase, and glutathione, which has the effect of reducing lipid peroxidation, advanced oxidation protein products, and reactive oxygen species in heart muscle and heart mitochondria.2,3 Ganoderma lucidum also supports mitochondrial energy production via Krebs cycle enzymes and electron transport, further protecting against oxidative damage.4

Animal models of diabetes suggest that the G. lucidum polysaccharides confer antioxidant and vascular protective effects.5 Experimental studies show that the polysaccharides protect cardiac muscle cells by lowering blood glucose and activating anti-inflammatory enzymes. Ganoderma lucidum has been shown to protect the heart from reperfusion injuries and against irreversible cardiomyocyte injury in animal models of cardiac ischemia.6 Animal models of cardiotoxicity suggest it may also protect the heart from ethanol-induced oxidative damage.7 Lanosterol derivatives from G. lucidum may inhibit cholesterol synthesis.8 Ganoderma lucidum may also decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by inhibiting sympathetic nervous system activity.9

Evidence-Based Research

A randomized controlled trial compared G. lucidum to placebo on a range of biomarkers for antioxidant status, heart disease risk, DNA damage, immune status, and inflammation as well as for markers of liver and renal toxicity. The study found that plasma antioxidant markers increased after ingestion of G. lucidum and that 10 days of supplementation improved cardiovascular biomarker profiles.10 Another clinical trial found that plasma antioxidant capacity increased significantly compared with controls with supplementation of 0.72 g/day of G. lucidum.11 It has also been shown to be protective against cardiotoxicity and nephrotoxicity after ingestion of Russula subnigricans.12

Safety in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

To date, no human studies have investigated the effects of G. lucidum in pregnancy or lactation.

General Safety

Human investigations have found no association of liver, renal, or DNA toxicity with the use of G. lucidum.10,11,13

Injectable forms of G. lucidum developed in China are reported to be safe according to the parameters measured.14 A safety study dosed healthy volunteers with either 2 g of G. lucidum or placebo twice a day for 10 days. Subjective questionnaires, electrocardiograms, complete blood counts, blood chemistry analysis, and urinalysis showed no adverse effects.15

A study of men more than 50 years old with lower urinary tract symptoms were administered G. lucidum at various doses, and it was reported that 6 g/day was most effective. The study reported no major adverse effects and found that G. lucidum was well tolerated even at this high a dose.16


Crude G. lucidum at 100 g is traditionally decocted with water. This is approximately equivalent to 500–600 mL/100 g of dried slices or powder. Studies have used 10, 25, 50, and 250 mg/kg. Up to 1.5 g/day of G. lucidum/mycelium powder is typical for traditional use.

Traditional Uses

Ganoderma lucidum, referred to as Lingzhi in China, is a woody mushroom highly regarded in traditional medicine. It is widely consumed in the belief that it promotes health and longevity, lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease, and boosts the immune system.



Int J Cardiol. 2013;165(1):117–25. Ganoderma lucidum ameliorate mitochondrial damage in isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction in rats by enhancing the activities of TCA cycle enzymes and respiratory chain complexes. Sudheesh NP, Ajith TA, Janardhanan KK.

2 Clin Nutr. 2010;29(3):406–12. Therapeutic potential of Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) P. Karst. against the declined antioxidant status in the mitochondria of post-mitotic tissues of aged mice. Sudheesh NP, Ajith TA, Ramnath V, Janardhanan KK.

3 Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2003;38(2):85–8. Antioxidant effect of Ganoderma polysaccharide peptide. You YH, Lin ZB.

4 Biogerontology. 2009;10(5):627–36. Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) P. Karst enhances activities of heart mitochondrial enzymes and respiratory chain complexes in the aged rat. Sudheesh NP, Ajith TA, Janardhanan KK.

5 Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2010;35(3):339–43. Effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on hemodynamic and antioxidation in T2DM rats. Xue H, Qiao J, Meng G, Wu F, Luo J, Chen H, Zheng H, Xu J.

6 Patol Fiziol Eksp Ter. 2008;(1):22–5. Ganoderma lucidum extract in cardiac diastolic dysfunction and irreversible cardiomyocytic damage in ischemia and reperfusion of the isolated heart. Lasukova TV, Arbuzov AG, Maslov LN, Burkova VN.

7 Phytother Res. 2004;18(12):1024–6. Antioxidant activity of Ganoderma lucidum in acute ethanol-induced heart toxicity. Wong KL, Chao HH, Chan P, Chang LP, Liu CF.

8 Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1989;37:531–3. Ganoderic acid and its derivatives as cholesterol synthesis inhibitors. Komoda Y, Shimizu M, Sonoda Y, Sato Y.

9 Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1990;38:1359–64. Cardiovascular effects of mycelium extract of Ganoderma lucidum: inhibition of sympathetic outflow as a mechanism of its hypotensive action. Lee SY, Rhee HM.

10 Br J Nutr. 2004;91(2):263–9. Ganoderma lucidum (“Lingzhi”), a Chinese medicinal mushroom: biomarker responses in a controlled human supplementation study. Wachtel-Galor S, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF.

11 Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2004;55(1):75–83. Ganoderma lucidum (‘Lingzhi’); acute and short-term biomarker response to supplementation. Wachtel-Galor S, Szeto YT, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF.

12 Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2003;23(4):278–80. Clinical observation on treatment of Russula subnigricans poisoning patients by Ganoderma lucidum decoction. Xiao GL, Liu FY, Chen ZH.

13 Int J Urol. 2010;17(6):548–54. Medical mushrooms used for biochemical failure after radical treatment for prostate cancer: an open-label study. Yoshimura K, Kamoto T, Ogawa O.

14 Int J Med Mushrooms. 2014;16(5):411–9. Development of Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) polysaccharides injection formulation. Jiang Y, He A, Liu Y, Xie B, Li Y, Deng Y,
Liu X, Liu Q.

15 Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(3):407–14. Safety and tolerability of Ganoderma lucidum in healthy subjects: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Wicks SM, Tong R, Wang CZ, O’Connor M, Karrison T, Li S, Moss J, Yuan CS.

16 Asian J Androl. 2008;10(4):651–8. Effect of an extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms: a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized and dose-ranging study. Noguchi M, Kakuma T, Tomiyasu K, Kurita Y, Kukihara H, Konishi F, Kumamoto S, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Matsuoka K.