Red reishi is one of seven different varieties of Ganoderma mushroom, each with a different colour.
The red reishi, Ganoderma lucidum, was referred to in Traditional Chinese Medicine as ling zhi – the mushroom of immortality and has been used medicinally for over 3000 years. Although it is too woody and fibrous for culinary use, it is widely taken in the form of tablets or capsules.
Reishi contains ganodermic acids which have a structure similar to steroid hormones. It has beneficial actions on many body systems, and has been found to lower blood pressure, reduce abnormal blood clotting and increase blood flow and oxygen uptake in the peripheries. It also enhances energy levels and gives a more restful night’s sleep.
A Japanese study of over 50 people with essential hypertension found that taking Reishi extracts for 6 months lowered average blood pressure from 156/103 mmHg to 137/93 mmHg – an improvement of 19/10 mmHg, which is better than many prescribed antihypertensive drugs.
A typical dose is 500 mg reishi extract, two to three times daily.
No serious side effects have been reported even at 300 times the therapeutic dose. A few people have experienced diarrhoea (often disappears if tablets are taken with food), irritability, thirst, dry skin rash or mouth ulcers during the first week of taking the Reishi.
Only use under medical supervision if you are taking immunosuppressive drugs, anticoagulants or cholesterol-lowering medication.
Reishi may increase the sedative effects of certain drugs.
Do not take if on anticoagulant drugs as Reishi also has a blood thinning effect.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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