Friday, June 04, 2010

The Reishi Mushroom is a Friendly Fungi

Otherwise known as Ganoderma Lucidum, Reishi mushrooms are a long time friend of the immune system ... Reishi are a member of the fungi Kingdom and are one of the oldest mushrooms to be used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Ganoderma has an affinity for the immune system, which is why it has been studied extensively in the treatment of cancer. It has been shown to prevent angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, which many cancers use to form new cancer cells and keep the disease strong and growing. Ganoderma is also used in cancer as a form of palliative care, improving quality of life by decreasing symptoms such as sweating, nausea, vomiting and insomnia. In terms of immune disorders, it is also showing promise against HIV activity, slowly the progression to AIDS in some individuals. Ganoderma has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial action. Reishi is both immune modulating and immune supportive, meaning it not only helps to strengthen the immune system when needed but in immune disorders in which it is dangerous to do so, it actually balances the immune system out. This prevents our immune system from over reaction and creating too much inflammation. Allergy is an example of a concern for which Reishi’s may be indicated due to its anti-inflammatory properties, along with its ability to balance out our innate immune response. Reishi reduces cholesterol synthesis in the liver (which also benefits the heart) and has recently been looked at as a treatment for hepatitis, an inflammatory disease of the liver. It has been shown to protect against atherosclerosis, and reduce blood clotting by inhibiting platelet aggregation, which is part of an inflammatory cascade. It has also been shown to decrease blood pressure. Individuals with diabetes have found it helpful in decreasing blood sugar. Reishi is also an antioxidant and can be used to prevent free radical damage. Reishi can be crushed and taken directly in capsules, or pieces of the mushroom can be steeped in hot water to make a tea. Recommended dose varies, depending on health concern, although anywhere from 2-6 g/day is considered safe. Some individuals have reported headaches, skin rash and dizziness. If you are on anti-hypoglycemic or medication to lower blood pressure, be cautious that these levels do not decrease too quickly or become too low while taking Ganoderma.

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