The Latin word lucidum means “shiny” or “brilliant” and refers to the varnished surface of reishi’s cap, which is reddish orange to black. The stalk usually is attached to the cap at the side. In Japan, 99 percent of reishi growing in the wild are found on old plum trees, although wild reishi are rare.
Medical uses: For 4,000 years, the Chinese and Japanese have called upon reishi to treat liver disorders, hypertension, arthritis, and other ailments.
Recent test-tube and human studies have demonstrated antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects. When more than 2,000 Chinese patients with chronic bronchitis were given reishi syrup in tablet form during the 1970s, 60 to 90 percent showed a marked improvement in health, including increased appetite, within two weeks.
Precautions: Although reishi extracts have shown very low toxicity in animal experiments, the long-term effects of reishi and its derivatives are still virtually unknown.
Taking reishi: Reishi may be taken in syrups, soups, teas, tinctures, tablets and by injection. The form and dosage should be worked out in consultation with your health-care provider.
Christopher Hobbs is a member of the Herbs for Health Editorial Advisory Board. He is author of Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, and Culture (Botanica Press, 1995) and many other books. He is a fourth-generation herbalist and botanist with more than twenty years of experience.
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