Ganoderma lucidum (G. lucidum), better known as Reishi, is a medicinal mushroom widely used by Chinese Traditional Medicine for its medicinal properties.
Reishi was first described in China, about 2,200 years ago, in the oldest book on medicinal plants, the ‘Shénnóng Bencao Jing’. Reishi was used then as an important part of the Fu Zheng therapy, which aimed to restore the body’s balance.
There are several varieties of Ganoderma lucidum, which differ mainly by colour. Red Reishi is the most studied species, and is the most potent from a therapeutic point of view, as it possesses a greater amount of bioactive substances.
Red Reishi is composed of polysaccharides, triterpenes, proteins, and amino acids.
The elements with the highest bioactivity found on Red Reishi are the polysaccharides, more specifically the beta-glucans. They are part of the mushrooms’ cellular wall and are responsible for its antitumoral, immunomodulatory and hypertensive effects on the human body.
Other active components found on Red Reishi are triterpenes, a group of active natural compounds present in most plants, which protect them from infections. In humans, they help in the relief of allergy symptoms, in optimizing oxygen use and improving the liver function. They also have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, and help control blood pressure.
What makes Reishi stand out from other medicinal mushrooms is the bioactives’ combination: the polisaccharydes and the triterpenes. These ingredients, when combined, have their effects enhanced.