The mushroom is also called reishi and ling zhi, the two names mean „spirit plant”. In China, it has been consumed for two thousand years as antiaging herb (another name of reishi: the mushroom of immortality), and it was believed to improve mind and memory. It is said to be a supreme shen tonic having beneficial effect on stress, insomnia, heart palpitation and excessive mental activity.
Modern research projects support the positive health effects of reishi on various diseases including problems of the cardiovascular system, immune system and respiratory system.
Reishi has been found to be effective in preventing and treating angina, arteriosclerosis, and coronary heart disease. It improves cardiovascular functions, reduces high blood pressure, high blood fat and LDL cholesterol.
Reishi has been demonstrated to significantly inhibit the growth of bladder cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer cells in vitro. The polysaccharides isolated from the mushroom induce that the macrophages, monocytes and T lymphocytes all increased their production of TNF-alpha, interleukin-1-béta, and interleukin-6. These toxin-like substances play a part in controlling the growth and survival of malignant tumor cells. Reishi is also proved to be effective against various bacterial and viral infections, for example HSV-1, HSV-2, HIV, Epstein-Barr virus, and influenza type A.
In China, asthma, chronic bronchitis and allergies were treated with reishi. An ingredient of the mushroom, ganoderic acid inhibits histamine release, improves oxygen utilization and supports liver function.