We can learn a lot about these species by looking at their names. Different types of reishi mushrooms can be found all over the world. They have been found in Asia, North and South America, Australia, and southern Europe. There are a few different species of Ganoderma that are known as “reishi”.
By far the most common is Ganoderma lucidum, the species known in Chinese medicine as lingzhi, or the mushroom of immortality. This is what people usually think of when they talk about reishi mushrooms. It is essential that you know the physical characteristics of reishi mushrooms if you intend to harvest them. Fresh reishi mushrooms will need to be boiled for half an hour to extract all the medicinal compounds.
As with all other mushroom varieties, even hard, woody reishi mushrooms spoil quickly if not preserved after harvest. In Asia, they are known by the names of lingzhi, the mushroom of the ten thousand years and the mushroom of immortality. For the average person without any pre-existing medical conditions who isn't currently taking any medications, the side effects of taking reishi mushrooms are minor. Some scientists believe that a single reishi mushroom may have evolved and adapted to different climates and habitats, while others believe that they are different species.
In healthy subjects, a study on the intake of reishi mushroom extract for four weeks showed no negative effect on the liver or kidneys. There are some tempting preliminary studies that show that reishi mushrooms actually match their long-established medicinal tradition. This is probably why the preferred method of consuming reishi mushrooms is to take the dry powder in capsule form. The shape of mature reishi capsules is similar to the shell of a clam, while young mushrooms look like brightly colored fingers until a layer begins to form.
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