Sometimes referred to as the “mushroom of immortality,” the reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushroom has long been believed to promote vitality and resilience. Due to its rarity it was once mostly reserved for the Chinese emperor and his court, but these days it is cultivated in significant amounts, making it much more available.
It is considered a mild adaptogen, or herb that helps the body adapt to stress. In addition to it’s adaptogenic qualities, it may also be helpful for soothing symptoms of altitude sickness when combined with cordyceps, rhodiola and ginger and taken for 4-6 weeks before visiting a high-altitude destination. (Source: Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief)
Are reishi mushrooms safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
According to the Botanical Safety Handbook: 2nd Edition, reishi is a Safety Class 1A herb – the safest rating possible. This category is described as:
“Herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.
- History of safe traditional use
- No case reports of significant adverse events with high probability of causality
- No significant adverse events in clinical trials
- No identified concerns for use during pregnancy or lactation
- No innately toxic constituents
- Toxicity associated with excessive use is not a basis for exclusion from this class
- Minor or self-limiting side effects are not bases for exclusion from this class”
- Emotional balance, memory support, immune balance and support, cardiovascular support”
For a more in-depth discussion of opinions regarding the use of adaptogens during pregnancy/breastfeeding, see this post.
How much is recommended?
Adaptogens are herbs rather than pharmaceutical drugs, so there are no dosages. However, herbalists do share knowledge about what methods of consumption seem to produce a beneficial effect for most people.
The suggestions below are found in Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief by ethnobotanist David Winston and herbal expert Steven Maimes:
- For a 1:5 tincture – which is 1 ounce dried reishi by weight, mixed with 5 ounces of 60 proof or higher alcohol and allowed to infuse for six to eight weeks – 80-100 drops, four to six times per day. Another option is to purchase a pre-made reishi tincture and follow the instructions on the label after talking with your healthcare provider.
- As a decoction – “Add 1-2 oz dried cut/sifted mushroom to 32 oz. water, slowly decoct [simmer] for 2-4 hours until reduced by one-half (16 oz). Take up to three to four cups per day.” Here’s where to find organic dried reishi slices.
- Tablets – Three 500 to 1000 mg tablets mycelial extract three times per day.
Winston and Maimes also note that reishi’s effects are cumulative, so it may take some time to notice any benefit.
As always, please check with your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy.