Capsules: Medicinal Mushrooms in Chinese Medicine

Newsbreaks in herb research: New studies and products indicate that reishi mushrooms and other fungi long used as Chinese medicinal herbs have strong health benefits for hypertension and other conditions.

| July/August 1997

  • Reishi mushrooms may help correct hypertension.
    Photography by Steven Foster

Mushrooms and hypertension

Reishi mushrooms and prescription drugs may be an effective combination against hypertension, according to a recent study.

Collaborating researchers at four universities in China and one in Japan have found that reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) act synergistically with prescription drugs to combat high blood pressure, or hypertension.

The researchers performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study involving hypertensives who hadn’t responded to usual prescription drugs. The subjects ranged in age from fifty to sixty-six and were diagnosed with primary stage II hypertension, the moderate form of hypertension, with a blood pressure reading of 160/100 to 179/109 (110/80 to 140/90 is a normal blood pressure range for adults).

Out of twenty women and thirty-four men, fourteen received a placebo. The rest received 55 mg of reishi extract three times a day, equal to taking 4 g of the raw mushroom daily. All of the participants continued taking their prescription medications for hypertension (nimodipine and captopril).

The blood pressure of those taking the placebo didn’t change much, but for those who took the reishi, blood pressure readings did generally improve significantly after two weeks. For twenty-five of them, the capillary, diastolic, and systolic blood pressure readings also significantly decreased. After four weeks, blood pressure in forty people decreased even more.

Researchers determined that reishi, when taken with the previously ineffective medication, provided a significant and stabilizing effect against hypertension.

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