Reishi growing over logs

Looking to increase liver health? Reishi seems to be the answer.

TL;DR: Thanks to this study, reishi extract seems to be a great way to rebalance oxidative status and protect our liver. Reishi extract appears to reduce oxidative damage and premature hepatic aging without negative side effects, even after six months of daily intake.

Science and tradition come together to support reishi as an hepatic healer.

There’s a lot of animal studies that have shown the antioxidant, hepatoprotective and longevity effects of the mushroom reishi (Ganoderma lucidum).

It’s great to know that animals can benefit from reishi intake, but what about humans? Does this glossy, bitter mushroom really work for us? 

When it comes to reishi, there are a lot of claims to study. Reishi is wildly popular as an adaptogen, to calm down after stressful situations, and to reduce chemo and radiotherapy side effects. 

Reishi is mostly known for its  immuno-modulator and anti-stress properties, but there's more. One of its traditional uses is for the liver. For thousands of years reishi has been prescribed for hepatic problems, including chronic hepatitis

Why is this important? The liver has over 2000 known functions in the body. It processes and detoxifies everything we eat. It’s the only organ that can regrow from a smaller piece. We use it to  break down food, store energy, inactivate toxic compounds, clean our bloodstreams, make proteins… The liver is a hardworking beast and hepatic health it vital for graceful aging.

Does Reishi help the liver? What does the science says? 

Reishi is revered in traditional medicines as a liver tonic, so scientists decided to put it to the test in this great study. They looked into the antioxidants and hepatoprotective effects of Reishi extract in real people for six months while comparing them to a placebo group. After six months, the participants in the study took a month break, switched the groups and the experiment started all over again. This is an amazing study design called crossover study. Everyone takes the reishi for a while and everyone takes the placebo for a while. This minimizes the risks of biases due to individual differences among the participants.

The results: good news for hepatic health.

The participants reduced their levels of oxidative stress while taking reishi extract. Their antioxidant status significantly improved, and had better oxidative markers overall. In addition, they also had less hepatic damage and better hepatic cell morphology. The best part? No negative side effects were reported after six months of continuosly taking reishi extract.

The scientists concluded that reishi extract might be antioxidative, anti-aging and hepatoprotective, thanks to attenuating overproduction of free radicals.

How does reishi help the liver? 

The scientists were measuring hepatic markers (liver health markers), antioxidant status, and oxidative stress markers. Scientists in the study thought that reishi's benefits came from its effects on antioxidant status and oxidative stress.

  • What’s oxidative stress? Oxidative stress is damage to our tissues and DNA due to oxidation of bodily molecules. Free radicals are oxidizing agents. They serve us by oxidizing and breaking down bacteria and viruses, for example. Even though they are a necessary part of our metabolism, if we have too many free radicals, they start to oxidize our own molecules. This imbalance in which we damage out own tissues due to too many free radicals is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages all the organs, including the liver, and causes premature aging. 
  • What’s antioxidant status? Antioxidants are the main way we can protect ourselves from oxidative stress. A good antioxidant status reduces the harm of free radicals to our own tissues.
  • A good antioxidant status reduces oxidative stress. Usually toxins increase oxidative stress while antioxidant foods reduce it. Measuring oxidative stress markers and antioxidant status can give us clues as if something is causing the right effects in our bodies.


Photo by rylan krupp on Unsplash  

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