Reishi & Rheumatoid Arthritis

One of the key measures of a long and well lived life is adaptability. A person`s ability to adapt to changing circumstances goes a long way toward predicting longevity. This involves the responsiveness and functionality of the immune system. A robust immune system capable of adjusting to ever-changing situations is a key factor in preventing the manifestation of a cold or cancer, or anything in between. One important aspect of immune function is its ability to self-regulate downward when needed so that it doesn`t become hyperactive and attack your own tissues, as in the case with Rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately, nature has delivered an amazingly versatile herb in the Reishi mushroom with the proven capacity to deliver relief and even assist in reversing this condition.

The use of Reishi as an herbal remedy dates back longer than any other medicinal mushroom in historic literature. The first written record can be found in Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic, dating back two thousand years. Reishi (a.k.a. Ganoderma or Ling Zhi) is often considered a panacea ” cure-all ” in Traditional Chinese Medicine. While it may not be literally accurate to refer to Reishi as a cure-all, the fact that it appears to act as an inflammation modulator may be one of many reasons for its age-old veneration in the Orient.

Reishi frequently gets prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects. Much recent research appears to validate this traditional use, as the majority of studies have yielded positive results. While looking through published articles on Reishi and arthritis, I found only two studies that showed inconclusive results, both of which were conducted by the same team of researchers. (1,2)

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. (3) 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. (4) In the references are seven additional papers listed which all conclude that Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) possesses potent anti-inflammatory qualities. (5,6,7,8,9,10,11)

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. (12)

The same year, another study summarized findings that Reishi in combination with a Chinese herbal remedy known as San-Miao-San demonstrated a positive “immunomodulatory effect” on rheumatoid arthritis. (13)

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] (14)

A number of other studies also report positive findings for using Reishi extract with arthritis (15,16,17) One of them even reports favorable results in comparing Reishi with prednisone, and without the side effects. (18) Furthermore, a different study found that supplementation with Reishi extract actually helped to balance the side effects of prednisolone experienced by some patients, including proteinuria and cell toxicity. (19) (Prednisone breaks down in the body to form prednisolone, which is the active compound.)

In conclusion, the majority of research on the use of Reishi extract for inflammation or arthritis appears to support its effectiveness. Please remember that it is very important to always consult a licensed medical doctor before using any herb for medicinal purposes.

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