What is it?


Medicinal mushrooms of the Ganoderma genus are called the “Mushrooms of Immortality” for their uses to maintain general health and increase longevity. (1)(32) In Traditional Japanese medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the mushrooms are called reishi, or lingzhi, respectively. (32)

The name Ganoderma lucidum has been broadly used to describe laccate mushrooms of this family. (23) However, on a global scale, species belonging to the Ganoderma genus have been widely misclassified as lucidum species, creating confusion and possible mislabelling of Ganoderma-based products available in the dietary supplement market today. (1)(22)(23

Strictly based on chemical composition, Ganoderma lucidum is a mushroom native to Europe, whereas Ganoderma lingzhi is native to Asia. However, products labeled as Ganoderma lucidum are frequently of the lingzhi species, the type most often cited for its medicinal effects despite its bioactive constituents’ distinct chemical compositions, known as polysaccharides and triterpenes. (17)(23)(35) Polysaccharides act primarily through immunomodulation to provide anti-bacterial, anti-oxidative, and anti-tumorous properties, whereas triterpenoids have broader anti-angiogenic, anti-histaminic, anti-hypertensive, anti-tumorous, hepatoprotective, and hypocholesterolemic properties. (8)

Notwithstanding the taxonomic-based complications of reishi-containing products, the use of Ganoderma lucidum will refer to reishi from a broad sense rather than it’s biochemical identification in this review. 

Main uses

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy adjuvant
Sense of well-being
Symptoms related to cancer (emotional, cognitive, or physical)


Whole mushroom
Whole mushroom By weight, G. lucidum is ~90% water and 10% other components, including polysaccharides and triterpenes (32)
Polysaccharides make up ~0.5% of the weight of the fruiting body (3)
Typical TCM doses range between 50-300 g per day (12)
Crude dried extract
Raw (unfractionated) extracts are not processed in a manner to isolate specific biochemical constituents. As 10% of the weight of G. lucidum are non-water constituents, crude dehydrated mushroom extracts are 10x more concentrated than the whole mushroom (e.g., 10 g of whole mushroom = 1 g crude extract) (32)
Water-soluble extracts
Primarily used to refine the polysaccharides of G. lucidum (32) Doses found in research (see below) most often range between 1,500-3,000 mg taken in divided doses
Ethanolic extracts
Mainly used to refine the triterpenes of G. lucidum (32) Doses found in research (see below) are much lower than water-soluble doses and listed at 6 mg per day
A water-soluble extract containing 25% weight per weight of G. lucidum polysaccharides; one capsule (600 mg) is equivalent to ~30 g of reishi fruiting body, where the total recommended daily dose (5400 mg) is equal to 270 g of whole mushroom fruiting body (12)
Ji 731 injection/ Jisheng injection/ Polysaccharidum of G. lucidum Karst Injection
Intramuscular medicine containing polysaccharides from G. lucidum spores. Approved by China’s FDA in 2000, it treats neurosis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, atrophic myotonia, and muscular dystrophy, as well as conditions related to immunodeficiency (36)

Dosing & administration

Adverse effects

G. lucidum is generally considered safe and without clinically significant adverse effects or greater prevalence of side effects than placebo. Reported possible adverse effects include mild gastrointestinal distress (e.g., nausea, diarrhea, constipation), dizziness, headache, rhinorrhea, sore throat, dry mouth, insomnia, and rash. (6)(18)(21)(24)(25)(40) G. lucidum may also induce respiratory allergy. (27)



  • Two G. lucidum triterpenes, Ganoderic acid A (GAA) and Ganoderic acid F (GAF), are rapidly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and detectable in blood within 5-10 minutes, with max concentrations reached within 30 minutes, as shown in humans. (29)(30)
  • As shown in humans, GAA was better absorbed in a fasted state compared to in a fed state, but absolute bioavailability is low. This is consistent with rat studies demonstrating GAA, GAF, and ganoderic acid D absolute oral bioavailabilities of 10-22%. (4)(13)(19)(28)(30)


  • Ganoderic acids are widely distributed. (33)(37)


  • GAA is primarily metabolized by the liver to ganoderic acid C2 via phase I reduction, oxidation, oxidoreduction, and hydroxylation, as well as phase II glucuronidation and sulfation, as shown in rats and in vitro. (2)(37)
  • GAA was reduced by CYP3A, as shown in vitro. (2)


  • Triterpene acids, including GAA metabolites, are primarily excreted in bile, but can also be found in urine, as shown in rats and in vitro. (2)(15)(34)(37)
  • GAF and GAA half-lives can range between 30-40 minutes, respectively, as shown in humans. (29)(30)
  1. Bishop, K. S., Kao, C. H. J., Xu, Y., Glucina, M. P., Paterson, R. R. M., & Ferguson, L. R. (2015). From 2000 years of Ganoderma lucidum to recent developments in nutraceuticals. Phytochemistry, 114, 56–65. ()
  2. Cao, F. R., Feng, L., Ye, L. H., Wang, L. S., Xiao, B. X., Tao, X., & Chang, Q. (2017). Ganoderic acid a metabolites and their metabolic kinetics. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8, 101. ()
  3. Chen, X., Hu, Z. P., Yang, X. X., Huang, M., Gao, Y., Tang, W., Chan, S. Y., Dai, X., Ye, J., Ho, P. C.-L., Duan, W., Yang, H.-Y., Zhu, Y.-Z., & Zhou, S.-F. (2006). Monitoring of immune responses to a herbal immuno-modulator in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. International Immunopharmacology, 6(3), 499–508. ()
  4. Cheng, C. R., Yang, M., Guan, S. H., Wu, X. H., Pang, X. Y., Wang, Y., Yang, Y., Ding, J., & Guo, D. A. (2013). Pharmacokinetics of ganoderic acid D and its main metabolite by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography B, 930, 1–6. ()
  5. Chiu, H. F., Fu, H. Y., Lu, Y. Y., Han, Y. C., Shen, Y. C., Venkatakrishnan, K., Golovinskaia, O., & Wang, C. K. (2017). Triterpenoids and polysaccharide peptides-enriched Ganoderma lucidum: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its antioxidation and hepatoprotective efficacy in healthy volunteers. Pharmaceutical Biology, 55(1), 1041–1046. ()
  6. Chu, T. T. W., Benzie, I. F. F., Lam, C. W. K., Fok, B. S. P., Lee, K. K. C., & Tomlinson, B. (2012). Study of potential cardioprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): Results of a controlled human intervention trial. The British Journal of Nutrition, 107(7), 1017–1027. ()
  7. Collado Mateo, D., Pazzi, F., Domínguez Muñoz, F. J., Martín Martínez, J. P., Olivares, P. R., Gusi, N., & Adsuar, J. C. (2015). Ganoderma lucidum improves physical fitness in women with fibromyalgia. Nutricion Hospitalaria, 32(5), 2126–2135. ()
  8. Cör, D., Knez, Ž., & Knez Hrnčič, M. (2018). Antitumour, antimicrobial, antioxidant and antiacetylcholinesterase effect of ganoderma lucidum terpenoids and polysaccharides: A review. Molecules , 23(3). ()
  9. Gao, Y., Dai, X., Chen, G., Ye, J., & Zhou, S. (2003). A randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter study of Ganoderma lucidum (w.curt.:fr.) lloyd (aphyllophoromycetideae) polysaccharides (Ganopoly®) in patients with advanced lung cancer. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 5(4). ()
  10. Gao, Y., Lan, J., Dai, X., Ye, J., & Zhou, S. (2004). A phase i/ii study of ling zhi mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (w.curt.:fr.)lloyd (aphyllophoromycetideae) extract in patients with type II diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 6(1). ()
  11. Gao, Y., Zhou, S., Chen, G., Dai, X., Ye, J., & Gao, H. (2002). A phase i/ii study of a Ganoderma lucidum (curt.: fr.) p. karst. (ling zhi, reishi mushroom) extract in patients with chronic hepatitis B. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 4(4). ()
  12. Gao, Y., Zhou, S., Jiang, W., Huang, M., & Dai, X. (2003). Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunological Investigations, 32(3), 201–215. ()
  13. Gao, J. J., Min, B. S., Akao, T., Meselhy, M. R., Nakamura, N., & Hattori, M. (2001). Enzyme immunoassay for the quantitative determination of ganoderic acid A from Ganoderma lucidum. Journal of Traditional Medicine, 18, 154–160. ()
  14. Gao, Y., Chen, G., Daiy, X., Yey, J., & Zhou, S. (2003). A phase i/ii study of ling zhi mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (w.curt.:fr.) lloyd (aphyllophoromycetideae) extract in patients with coronary heart disease. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 6(4), 327–334. ()
  15. Guo, X. Y., Han, J., Ye, M., Ma, X. C., Shen, X., Xue, B. B., & Che, Q. M. (2012). Identification of major compounds in rat bile after oral administration of total triterpenoids of Ganoderma lucidum by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 63, 29–39. ()
  16. Henao, S. L. D., Urrego, S. A., Cano, A. M., & Higuita, E. A. (2018). Randomized clinical trial for the evaluation of immune modulation by yogurt enriched with β-glucans from lingzhi or reishi medicinal mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (agaricomycetes), in children from Medellin, Colombia. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 20(8), 705–716. ()
  17. Hennicke, F., Cheikh-Ali, Z., Liebisch, T., Maciá-Vicente, J. G., Bode, H. B., & Piepenbring, M. (2016). Distinguishing commercially grown Ganoderma lucidum from Ganoderma lingzhi from Europe and East Asia on the basis of morphology, molecular phylogeny, and triterpenic acid profiles. Phytochemistry, 127, 29–37. ()
  18. Jin, X., Ruiz Beguerie, J., Sze, D. M.-Y., & Chan, G. C. F. (2016). Ganoderma lucidum (reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , 4, CD007731. ()
  19. Jin, Z., Wang, Y., Ren, X., Xie, H., Gao, Y., Wang, L., & Gao, S. (2015). Pharmacokinetics and oral bioavailability of ganoderic acid A by high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. International Journal of Pharmacology, 11(1), 27–34. ()
  20. Jun, L. (2002). Effect of radiotherapy combined with a medicine Lingzhi-912 on treatment of esophageal cancer. Journal of the Fourth Military Medical University, 23, 278–280. ()
  21. Klupp, N. L., Chang, D., Hawke, F., Kiat, H., Cao, H., Grant, S. J., & Bensoussan, A. (2015). Ganoderma lucidum mushroom for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , 2, CD007259. ()
  22. Loyd, A. L., Barnes, C. W., Held, B. W., Schink, M. J., Smith, M. E., Smith, J. A., & Blanchette, R. A. (2018). Elucidating “lucidum”: Distinguishing the diverse laccate Ganoderma species of the United States. PloS One, 13(7), e0199738. ()
  23. Loyd, A. L., Richter, B. S., Jusino, M. A., Truong, C., Smith, M. E., Blanchette, R. A., & Smith, J. A. (2018). Identifying the “mushroom of immortality”: Assessing the Ganoderma species composition in commercial reishi products. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, 1557. ()
  24. Noguchi, M., Kakuma, T., Tomiyasu, K., Kurita, Y., Kukihara, H., Konishi, F., Kumamoto, S., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., & Matsuoka, K. (2008). Effect of an extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms: A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized and dose-ranging study. Asian Journal of Andrology, 10(4), 651–658. ()
  25. Noguchi, M., Kakuma, T., Tomiyasu, K., Yamada, A., Itoh, K., Konishi, F., Kumamoto, S., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., & Matsuoka, K. (2008). Randomized clinical trial of an ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Asian Journal of Andrology, 10(5), 777–785. ()
  26. Oka, S., Tanaka, S., Yoshida, S., Hiyama, T., Ueno, Y., Ito, M., Kitadai, Y., Yoshihara, M., & Chayama, K. (2010). A water-soluble extract from culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia suppresses the development of colorectal adenomas. Hiroshima Journal of Medical Sciences, 59(1), 1–6. ()
  27. Singh, A. B., Gupta, S. K., Pereira, B. M., & Prakash, D. (1995). Sensitization to Ganoderma lucidum in patients with respiratory allergy in India. Clinical and Experimental Allergy: Journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 25(5), 440–447. ()
  28. Tang, W., Gao, Y., Chen, G., Gao, H., Dai, X., Ye, J., Chan, E., Huang, M., & Zhou, S. (2005). A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. Journal of Medicinal Food, 8(1), 53–58. ()
  29. Tawasri, P., Ampasavate, C., Tharatha, S., Chiranthanut, N., & Teekachunhatean, S. (2016). Effect of oral coadministration of ascorbic acid with ling zhi preparation on pharmacokinetics of ganoderic acid A in healthy male subjects: A randomized crossover study. BioMed Research International, 2016, 2819862. ()
  30. Teekachunhatean, S., Sadja, S., Ampasavate, C., Chiranthanut, N., Rojanasthien, N., & Sangdee, C. (2012). Pharmacokinetics of ganoderic acids A and F after oral administration of ling zhi preparation in healthy male volunteers. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM, 2012, 780892. ()
  31. Wachtel-Galor, S., Szeto, Y.-T., Tomlinson, B., & Benzie, I. F. F. (2004). Ganoderma lucidum (’Lingzhi'); Acute and short-term biomarker response to supplementation. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 55(1), 75–83. ()
  32. Wachtel-Galor, S., Yuen, J., Buswell, J. A., & Benzie, I. F. F. (2012). Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In I. F. F. Benzie & S. Wachtel-Galor (Eds.), Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. ()
  33. Wang, X., Liu, R., Sun, J., Guan, S., Yang, M., Bi, K., & Guo, D. (2007). HPLC method for the determination and pharmacokinetic studies of four triterpenoids in rat plasma after oral administration of Ganoderma lucidum extract. Biomedical Chromatography: BMC, 21(4), 389–396. ()
  34. Wang, X. M., Guan, S. H., Liu, R. X., Sun, J. H., Liang, Y., Yang, M., Wang, W., Bi, K. S., & Guo, D. A. (2007). HPLC determination of four triterpenoids in rat urine after oral administration of total triterpenoids from Ganoderma lucidum. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 43(3), 1185–1190. ()
  35. Wu, D. T., Deng, Y., Chen, L. X., Zhao, J., Bzhelyansky, A., & Li, S. P. (2017). Evaluation on quality consistency of Ganoderma lucidum dietary supplements collected in the United States. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 7792. ()
  36. Zeng, P., Guo, Z., Zeng, X., Hao, C., Zhang, Y., Zhang, M., Liu, Y., Li, H., Li, J., & Zhang, L. (2018). Chemical, biochemical, preclinical and clinical studies of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide as an approved drug for treating myopathy and other diseases in China. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, 22(7), 3278–3297. ()
  37. Zhang F. F., & Liu R. M. (2019). [Pharmacokinetics of ganoderic acids]. China Journal of Chinese materia medica, 44(5), 905–911. ()
  38. Zhang, Q., Zuo, F., Nakamura, N., Ma, C.-M., & Hattori, M. (2009). Metabolism and pharmacokinetics in rats of ganoderiol F, a highly cytotoxic and antitumor triterpene from Ganoderma lucidum. Journal of Natural Medicines, 63(3), 304–310. ()
  39. Zhang, Y., Lin, Z., Hu, Y., & Wang, F. (2008). Effect of Ganoderma lucidum capsules on T lymphocyte subsets in football players on “living high-training low.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42(10), 819–822. ()
  40. Zhao, H., Zhang, Q., Zhao, L., Huang, X., Wang, J., & Kang, X. (2012). Spore powder of ganoderma lucidum improves cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing endocrine therapy: A pilot clinical trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM, 2012, 809614. ()
  41. Zhong, L., Yan, P., Lam, W. C., Yao, L., & Bian, Z. (2019). Coriolus versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum Related natural products as an adjunct therapy for cancers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 10, 703. ()

Get more resources for your practice