You may be surprised to find that sometimes a remedy is very effective at treating several seemingly unrelated conditions. That's the case with the mushroom reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) that grows wild in China and Japan. Reishi is well-known in the East for its potent and wide-ranging medicinal properties, but most people in the West have never heard of it. Used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years, reishi promotes longevity. Research has shown that it can stimulate the immune liver function...improve circulation...reduce inflammation...and lower blood sugar and cholesterol. I recommend it for the following conditions…

  • Chronic bronchitis. Studies have shown that reishi helps ease chronic bronchitis symptoms. It inhibits the release of histamine, a compound that causes swelling and inflammation.
  • Altitude sickness. Because of its ability to thin blood, reishi can help prevent symptoms of altitude sickness, such as nausea, dizziness and light-headedness. It is most effective if taken daily, starting two weeks before needed (whether you are traveling to a high-altitude location or mountain climbing) and then throughout the trip.
  • Liver problems. Studies show that reishi can help support liver function, especially in people with hepatitis B.

Dosage: Reishi is available in multiple forms, though I generally recommend it in capsule form. For all of the medical conditions described above, you can take two to five 400-milligram (mg) to 500-mg capsules twice daily of a reishi mushroom extract standardized to at least 10% polysaccharides.

Brand to try: Nature's Way Standardized Reishi (800-962-8873,, for a store locator).

Side effects: Very rarely, reishi initially causes digestive upset. Reduce the dose, and the upset should go away. Then gradually increase the dose. Because reishi has blood-thinning effects, check with your doctor if you take a blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin). If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about reishi because it lowers blood sugar and you might need a lower dose of your diabetes medication.

White Willow Bark Fights Osteoarthritis

It contains salicin, a pain reliever similar to the I analgesic in aspirin. White willow bark takes longer to start working than aspirin, but its effects generally last longer.

Usual dose: A standardized willow bark extract containing 100 milligrams of salicin (in capsule or tablet form) two or three times a day.

Caution: Avoid willow bark if you have ulcers or stomach problems or are allergic to aspirin.

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