Role of Ganoderma in Hypertension

High Blood Pressure: A significant problem with Herbs being a significant answerby Terry Willard Cl.H, PhD (09/01/1999), Canada - High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is responsible for a considerable number of health problems leading to death. Hypertension affects 20% of adult white males and more than 30% of males with a black African heritage. Mainstream medicine classifies over 92% of hypertension as essential hypertension, or in other words, high blood pressure of unknown origin.

It is interesting to note that essential hypertension is virtually unknown in developing countries, with no rise in blood pressure due to advancing age. This would lead one to believe that more than 90% of blood pressure problems can be directly related to Western life style and diet.(1,2)

On the other side of the fence; what is mainstream medicine doing to solve the problem? Even though it has been shown that diet alone is as effective as prescription drug therapy in more than 50% of the cases, long term drug therapy is the most commonly used approach.

Unfortunately, long term use of several of these prescription drugs for lowering blood pressure may actually increase the risk of having a heart attack!

The most common group of drugs prescribed are beta blockers, such as Inderal (proranolol). They lower blood pressure by decreasing heart rate and cardiac output. The known side effects include congestive heart failure, light headedness, depression, fatigue and sexual impotence. They also increase blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, explaining why patients on beta blockers have a higher incidence of heart attacks than high-risk patients not on any medications.(3)

Diuretic prescription drugs are another large category of mainstream treatment. They also have been shown to increase the risk of having a heart attack. Such diuretic drugs have been shown to promote the excretion of several minerals, including calcium and magnesium. These two minerals have been shown to be effective in lowering elevated blood pressure and to aid in preventing heart attack.(4)

It is interesting to note that most authorities support non-drug treatment in mild to moderate hypertension (diastolic 95 mmHg). In fact, the Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, is now recommending not to put most hypertensive patients on prescription drugs.(3)

The most significant factor in controlling high blood pressure is lifestyle. The lifestyle factors contributing to blood pressure levels the most are: smoking, stress levels and alcohol consumption. The most important dietary factors are: achieving a normal body weight; eating a high-fiber, low-fat, low-sodium and high-potassium diet. Other factors that appear to contribute negatively are: heavy consumption of caffeine, exposure to heavy metals (e.g., lead and cadmium), and excessive sugar consumption.(5)

The vitamin/mineral supplementations that we suggest are: Calcium (1.5 g daily), Magnesium (750 mg daily), Zinc (15 -30 mg daily), Ester C (1 - 2 g daily). The mainstay of the hypertension therapy we use is herbal, with the prominent botanicals being: Reishi, Garlic, Cayenne, Ginger, Hawthorn and Ginkgo.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is the most prominent herb I use in cases of hypertension. Reishi will not only lower blood pressure, it will strengthen the heart and lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

There have been several studies, dating back to the early 70`s with continuous research up to present time. Reishi has been shown to reduce blood pressure after only 10 days of consumption. In mild cases the normalization of blood pressure is between 25 and 120 days. One study with 53 patients with an average blood pressure of 165.5 (systolic) over 106.4 (diastolic) had 136.6/92.8 after 6 months, well within the WHO guide lines for healthy blood pressure.(6,7)

Reishi has the added benefit of lowering both cholesterol and triglycerides, along with improving the HDL (good cholesterol) to LDL (bad cholesterol) ratio of cholesterol.

Even though the chemistry is quite complex, it appears that Reishi`s triterpene constituents are by far the most important ingredients for hypertension and cholesterol. Eight out of the more than 100 triterpenes have been shown to have anti-hypertension function. It appears these triterpenes work by inhibiting an enzyme known as ‘angiotensin converting enzyme` (ACE).(8) I normally give Reishi in a formula with ginger for blood pressure problems, suggesting 180 mg of guaranteed potency (GP 14% triterpenes, 15:1 extract), two to three times daily depending on the severity of the case.

Garlic (Allium sativum) and Onions (Allium cepa) have both proven to be very effective in reducing blood pressure and blood lipids. In humans, Garlic can reduce systolic pressure by 20 - 30 points and diastolic by 10 - 20 points.(9,10) Some studies have had amazing results in as short as 24 hours, but most results I see in the clinic range from 30 - 90 days for significant improvement. Part of the effects are obviously due to the blood lipid reducing factor, but other mechanisms are also in play. I usually give about 1,000 mg of Garlic, twice daily.

Cayenne ( Capsicum sp.) is one of the best known folk remedies for high blood pressure. As a herbal stimulant, it will strengthen the heart, regulate blood pressure, lower blood lipids, reduce peripheral resistance in the capillary beds and dilate blood vessel diameter.(11,12) , I normally suggest a patient take between 300 - 600 mg of guaranteed potency Cayenne (GP 90,000 heat units), twice daily, during meals.

Ginger (Zingiber sp.) is another folk remedy for high blood pressure that aids in reducing blood lipids and platelet aggregation. Ginger has also been shown to reduce peripheral resistance in the capillary beds as well as increase capillary permeability.(13) I often have the Ginger mixed with the Reishi and Cayenne, giving 100 - 400 mg, twice daily. A Ginger tea (boil 5 - 10 slices of fresh ginger root, for 2 - 5 min, in 2 - 4 cups of water) is also a pleasant way to take it.

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) berries and flowers have been widely used as a folk remedy for both the heart and blood circulation. Clinically, they have been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure, angina attacks, blood lipids and as a cardiac tonic. It is presently used widely in both Europe and Asia against hypertension. Hawthorn has been shown to improve the blood supply to the heart by dilating coronary vessels and to improve metabolic processes in the heart, thus increasing force of contraction, while eliminating some types of rhythm disturbance. Hawthorn also inhibits ACE, as does Reishi.(14,15) The active ingredients seem to be groups of flavonoids such as proanthocyanidins. I usually use 300 - 450 mg of guaranteed potency Hawthorn berries (GP 1.8% Vitexin), two - three times daily. By itself, it takes two - four weeks to notice its effect. I usually combine it with several of the above ingredients.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) has an effect on the entire circulatory system relaxing the vessels by stimulating endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF)and prostacyclin. It also strengthens micro-circulation in the capillary beds and thereby increases local oxygen levels. Ginkgo has a significant effect on reducing platelet aggregation.(16) I normally suggest between 100 - 200 mg of guaranteed potency Ginkgo extract (GP 24% flavoglycosides), twice daily.

Summary - The typical protocol I use for a person who comes in with high blood pressure includes making the above lifestyle changes, along with the following supplementation: Calcium (1.5 g daily), Magnesium (750 mg daily), Zinc (15 -30 mg daily), Ester C (1 - 2 g daily), Reishi (180 mg - 2 times daily), Garlic (1000 mg - 2 times daily), Cayenne (300 - 600 mg, twice daily), Ginger (100 - 400 mg, twice daily), Hawthorn (300 - 450 mg, twice daily) and Ginkgo (100 - 200 mg, twice daily).


1. Pizzorno J, Murray M.; A textbook of Natural Medicine; John Bastyr College Pub; VI:HyperT-1; 6/3/85.

2. Meneely G., Battarbee H.; High sodium-low potassium environment and hypertension; Am J. Card; 38:768-81, 1976.

3. Murray M.; The Healing Power of Herbs; Prima Pub, Rocklin CA, p. 105-06, 1992.

4. McCarron D., Morris C., Cole C.; Dietary calcium in human hypertension. Science 217:267-9; 1982

5.Beattie A., Campbell B., Goldberge A. et al; Blood lead and hypertension; Lancet 2:1-3, 1976.

6. Katsuo Kanmatsue, Nagao K., et al; Studies on Ganoderma lucidum. I. Efficacy against Hypertension and Side Effects; Yakugako Zasshi 1985 105(10): 942-947.

7. Yearul K., Shuichi K. et al; Dietary Effect of Ganoderma lucidum Mushroom on Blood Pressure and Lipid Levels in Spontaneous Hypertensive Rats; Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 1988; 34(4): 433-438.

8. Aiko M, Katsuaki K, et al; Angiotensin Converting Enzyme-inhibitory Triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum; Chem and Pharm Bulletin 1986, 37(2): 531-533

9. Petkov V; Plants with hypotensive, antiatheromatous and coronary dilating action; A J Chinese Med 7:197-236, 1979

10. Foushee D., Ruffin J., et al; Garlic as a natural agent for the treatment of hypertension; Cytobios 34:145-53, 1982

11. Negulesco J.A., Younge R.M.; Capsaisin lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride of lagomorphs; Artery 12:5 301-311 1985

12. Kawasaki H., Saito A., et al,/i>; Circ Res, 67 733-743; 1990

13. Gujarak S., Bhumra, et al; Effect of ginger (Zingiber officiale) oleoresin on serum and hepatic Cholesterol levels in cholesterol-fed rats; Nut. Rep. Int 17:183-189, 1978

14. Wagner H., Grevel J.; Cardiotonic drugs IV, cardiotonic amines from Crataegus oxyacantha; Planta Medica 45:98-101, 1982

15.Gabor M.; Pharmacologic effects of flavonoids an blood vessels. Angiologica 9:355-74, 1972

16. Auget M, Delaflotte S,et al; The Pharmacological bases for the vascula impact of Ginkgo biloba extract; In Rokan (Ginko biloba) - Recent Results in Pharmacology and Clinic; Springer-Verlag; New York, NY, p. 169-79, 1988


Ganoderma lucidum can effectively reduce blood pressure of an anesthetized rabbit: systolic and diastolic pressure lowered by 15% and 25% respectively. Related neural activity is also inhibited: inhibition is 20% and 40% respectively. According to a report of a hospital, there had been 18 cases of high blood pressure successfully cured by Ganoderma lucidum extract, effectiveness up to 88.9%. It was stated that the effect of reducing blood pressure by Ganoderma lucidum was mainly the result of inhibition to the sympathetic nervous system. From another report, among 30 cases using Ganoderma lucidum products to cure high blood pressure, effectiveness was 88.3%. Moreover, it was found that Ganoderma lucidum also extends and stabilizes the effect of reducing blood pressure of other medicine.