Mushrooms or fungi possess natural defense against viruses and bacteria. Penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic, comes from Penicillium fungi. Similarly, Reishi has been described to defend human body against physical threats such as viruses and bacteria, as well as emotional stressors including anxiety. Whatever the threat, Reishi helps the body to maintain balance.
Active medicinal compounds in Reishi include beta-D-glucans which is a polysaccharide (polycarbohydrate) found in the cell walls of the mushroom. These beta-glucans activate natural and adaptive immune system by enhancing the number and the function of macrophages, natural killer (NK) cells and certain type of T cells. Beta-glucans are not degraded by human digestive system and they pass intact into the intestine and bind to the beta-glucan receptors in the small intestine. Our body responds to the presence of fungal polysaccharides by mounting a powerful immune reaction which leads to efficient elimination of microbials. As an immunostimulant, Reishi has been reported to help people with AIDS, Epstein-Barr, chronic bronchitis and other infectious disease. There are many reports of synergy between Reishi polysaccharides and multiple antibiotics including vancomycin, ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, etc. Their combined use increases the level of antibacterial activity compared to the antibiotic on its own. Mushroom extracts are routinely prescribed with prescription drugs, especially chemotherapeutic agents, in China and Japan.