Extract of Reishi and Arthritis

Reishi extract has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat arthritis and other forms of inflammation for over 2,000 years. Also commonly known by its Latin name as "Ganoderma," or Chinese "Ling Zhi," Reishi is by far the most searched medicinal mushroom on the Internet with over 200,000 searches per month. And although it may not be the panacea ("cure-all") that some hold it to be, the fact that modern research confirms it as an inflammation modulator may help explain why it has long been heralded as such in the Orient.

While researching scientific papers in preparation for this article, seventeen out of nineteen presented positive results in using Reishi extract to treat inflammatory conditions. This appears to validate the traditional use of the herb in China, where it has long been used as an analgesic, and prescribed to treat inflammation and arthritis. Only two studies out of the nineteen that are referenced for this article showed inconclusive results. Both of those studies were conducted at the same institution.

Regarding anti-inflammatory properties in general, a study out of India (2003) demonstrated that Reishi decreased inflammation in cases of acute or chronic edema by 56% and 60% respectively. An earlier American study (1993) had already shown that, water extracts of G. pentaphyllum and G. lucidum [Reishi] were found to possess significant anti-inflammatory activity. In the references are seven additional papers listed which all conclude that Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) possesses potent anti-inflammatory qualities.

Other research has been conducted on Reishi extract that relate specifically to arthritis. In 2006, Kenneth Blum et al. published findings in support of both the effectiveness and safety of using Reishi extract for "joint health," providing "clinical evidence" to back up their claim.

Also that same year, a Chinese study by Xi Bao et al. came to the conclusion that Reishi plus another medicinal herbal remedy commonly used in China seemed to have a "beneficial immunomodulatory effect" on arthritis. ("Immunomodulatory" means that it helps balance the immune response in whichever direction it needs to be balanced.)

The mechanism through which Reishi achieves this beneficial effect on arthritis was suggested in a study the following year, 2007, by Ho et al., which states that GL-PP [Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide peptide] significantly inhibited the proliferation of RASF [Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts]

Five additional studies are included in the references that report positive findings between Reishi and arthritis. One goes so far as to state that Reishi shows favorable results when compared to prednisone (an arthritis-drug), and is free from the side effects. In extension of this, a separate study also found that not only was Reishi extract free of the side effects of prednisone, it could also help balance the existing side effects of prednisolone* such as cell toxicity and proteinuria. (*Prednisolone is the active compound of prednisone. The liver breaks down prednisone and converts it to prednisolone.)

In conclusion, the findings of 17 out of the 19 scientific papers referenced for this article agree that Reishi can help support joint health in cases of arthritis. However, it is important to always consult a licensed medical practitioner before using any herb for medicinal purposes, and to never change the use of existing prescription drugs without talking to your doctor about it first.

Name clarification: The Japanese name Reishi includes many closely related species. By far the most prevalent is Ganoderma lucidum (Common Reishi or Red Reishi), a species rare in the U.S. but common in South East Asia. The English common name for Ganoderma lucidum is Varnished Conk. In China, its known as Ling Zhi.

Other species frequently referred to as Reishi include: Ganoderma tsugae (Hemlock Reishi, common on Hemlocks in Eastern U.S.), Ganoderma sinense ("Black Reishi), Ganoderma resinaceum (Red Reishi), Ganoderma japonicum (Purple Reishi) and Ganoderma neo-japonicum (no common name or simply Reishi).



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