Ganoderma

Ganoderma

Ganoderma is a genue of polypore mushrooms that grow on wood, and include about 80 species, many from tropical regions.Because of their extensive use in traditional Asian medicines, and their potential in bioremediation,they are a very important genus economically. Ganoderma can be differentiated from other polypores because they have a double-walled basidiospore. They are popularly referred to as shelf mushrooms or bracket fungi.

Ganoderma lucidum is the latin name for reishi mushroom and there terms used interchangeably to describe this amazing herb.

The ancient Chinese text called the Shen Nong which originates from essentially 500CE, stated that reishi mushroom or ganoderma, is useful for enhancing vital energy, increasing thinking faculty, and preventing forgetfulness.  That is it can refresh the body and mind, delay aging, and enable one to live a long life.  And it’s also said to stabilize one’s mental condition.  And that really ties into even the modern classification, the modern usage of it for stabilizing the shen or building the shen, which is our sort of mental/emotional/spiritual aspects and is what ganoderma is so famous for.

So on the topic and on the subject of talking about ganoderma as a sort of spiritual aspect, we can really see and understand that it has a pretty colorful past.  And according to legend, Toaist priests in the first century were actually the first people to really experiment and use this herb.  And I’ve actually read some Taoist texts and seen in the glossary they mention ganoderma, which was pretty cool and pretty fun to see.  And they’re supposed to have included the mushroom in magic potions that would grand them longevity, eternal youth, immortality, etcetera.

We can refer to another ancient Chinese text where ganoderma is highly regarded, and it’s China’s oldest material medica called the Herbal Classic, and it’s basically divided into 365 ingredients and it basically ranks herbs into three different categories, being superior, and then sort of the medicinal, and sort of the inferior herbs.  And this book regards reishi as a superior herb which has a bitter taste and an atmospheric energy of being neutral and having no toxicity.  Book says that it cures accumulation and pathogenic factors in the chest, it’s good for the chi of hte head, including the mental activities.  It tonifies the spleen, increasing wisdom, improving memory so that you won’t forget, long-term consumption will lighten the body and you will never become old.  It lengthens ears, it has spiritual powers and develops spirits so that you become a spirit being like the immortals.  And that’s nothing I made up, that’s a direct quote from the Herbal Classic, which is the oldest ancient Chinese text.  So ganoderma’s reputation as the mushroom of immortality essentially reached one of the oldest Chinese emperors who was Emperor T, and this emperor was supposed to have set up a whole fleet of ships of 300 men and 300 women and he told them to sail to the east where they thought reishi was growing, and then they were supposed to bring that back.  So essentially, as the story goes, this ship essentially got lost at sea, and then they were shipwrecked and washed ashore in Japan, and according to the story, that’s actually how Japan was started.

So again, just to recap, according to this lore of mythology, Japan was discovered and colonized because the emperor sent 300 men and 300 women in a fleet of ships out to find ganoderma mushroom.  So just that little anecdote alone is pretty crazy.  So as I mentioned earlier, in Chinese art, reishi is pretty ubiquitous and pretty widespread as a symbol of good health and long life.  We can find depictions and images of reishi found on doors, archways and railings throughout the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace in ancient China.

In various times in Chinese history, the emperor’s official scepter included a carving of reishi mushroom. Which people actually believe that they have pictures of the original scepter, and they think that it was actually a real ganoderma mushroom.  So to the general population, to the general public, the image of ganoderma appears to be more of a good luck charm or like a talisman, or a symbol that is thought to have sort of magical powers.  And then in various pen and ink drawing, tapestries, and paintings, subjects would sometimes wear jewelry or jade pieces made in the image of ganoderma mushroom.  And kwan yen, who is the ancient Chinese god of healing and mercy, is sometimes depicted actually holding a ganoderma mushroom.  So hopefully all of those examples I’ve given you have given a good idea, a good illustration and demonstration of how revered and how magical ganoderma was believed to be in ancient times.

- Ganoderma mushroom contains chemicals that seem to have a variety of potentially beneficial effects, including activity against tumors (cancer) and beneficial effects on the immune system.

mong many types of mushroom, only Ganoderma mushroom was highly praised for more than 2000 years. What makes it stands out from the other fungi? What are the beneficial active components found in Ganoderma that make it so precious?

Ganoderma mushroom is from the Mycetes kingdom. These are generally short and tiny fungi unable to produce their own nutrient through photosynthesis like green plants.

They can either Earth breed or lead a parasitic life by surviving on nutrients of other plants and animals.

Within the Mycetes kingdom, Basidiomycetes such as Ganoderma Lucidum and mushroom are the superior grade. Many are edible and have excellent healing properties. These fungi naturally become the more precious medicinal herb in the Basidiomycetes kingdom.

Mushroom healing properties

Generally, mushrooms family can improve your immune system by activating Macrophage and Natural Killer (NK) immunity cells. Macrophage is your important first line defence against virus, bacteria and foreign substances. NK cells are responsible to kill cancer cells in your body.

Some can even improve allergic conditions such as skin allergy, nose allergy and asthma. The more popular beneficial mushrooms are:

Shitake (Lentinus edodes)

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Golden needle mushroom (Flammulina velutipes

Agaricus Blazei (Agaricus blazei murrill)

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)

All these fungi helps to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, hardening of blood vessel and even cancer. But of all the fungi, Ganoderma Lucidum significantly stands out for its high medicinal values.

 

The unique Ganoderma mushroom

Ganoderma Lucidum is the only fungus with an unusual combination of beneficial components such as:

Polysaccharides

Organic Germanium

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)

Triterpenes

Other mushroom family may contain one or the other active components. However, Ganoderma mushroom contains all of those in significant concentration. So what are the healing effects of those substances in your body?

Modern researches on Ganoderma Lucidum successfully extracted each components to test its healing effects. Scientists found that these active components can:

enhance immune system and improve cancer

neutralize toxics in the body

reduce free radicals to slow down aging

remove circulation blockage

In fact, these health benefits were recorded in ancient China medical text more than 2000 years ago. This herb is grouped into 6 main categories. And the Red Reishi, or Ganoderma Lucidum is currently the most popular because of its high medicinal values.

How Ganoderma Cultivation affects its health efficacy?

In ancient times, you can only find Ganoderma in deep forest and mountain cliffs. Scientific Ganoderma cultivation was not well known by then. As a very rare herb, it was very precious.

In 1970, a technician of Kyoto University Foodstuff Scientific Research Institute, Mr. Yukio Naoi, used "Spore Separation Ganoderma Cultivation Method" to successfully cultivate this fungus.

This cultivation method was introduced to China in 1975. Since the climate and soil conditions are ideal, this technique has been widely adopted. With this, more people around the world could benefit from this ancient herb.

Generally, Ganoderma growth can be grouped into:

natural growth

capsulated cultivation

log wood cultivation

Each has its own growth pattern, advantages and disadvantages.

 

Natural ganoderma growth

This is grown in nature, commonly known as wild Ganoderma. It depends on decomposed wooden particle of tree to form its fruit body.

However, this scarce fungus is usually found in high and steep mountain areas.

Even if someone finds it by chance, its effects are always lost due to aging. It becomes hard like leather. Furthermore, wild Ganoderma Lucidum may also be toxic if the wood is contaminated.

By then, Ganoderma spore powder in the fruit body has already been released. Hence its potency is very low. And since these fungi are haphazardly collected, quality control is impossible.

 

Capsulated cultivation (Vacuum packing)

Until now, this is the most popular Ganoderma cultivation method. It uses crams of wood dust and chemical materials. Such Ganoderma Lucidum has a short growth period. It can be harvested in two months.

A high productivity and low cost of this cultivation makes it highly cost effective. However, as the fungus is grown on wooden crams and chemicals, it causes much consideration by the consumer.

 

In addition, such Ganoderma Lucidum are unable to take in natural sunlight, rain and essence of nature. So, its body is soft, loose and even split in shape.

The content of Organic Germanium, Triterpenes and Polysaccharides are lower. Furthermore, the most precious Ganoderma spore powder cannot be extracted.

Hence its healing effect is much lower than log wood Ganoderma Lucidum.

 

Log wood cultivation

Log wood Ganoderma Lucidum is cultivated on natural log wood, taking one year to harvest. The process is time consuming and requires much effort.

However, as it takes time to fully absorb sunlight and water, it has a solid and firm body. It also contains the invaluable Ganoderma spore.

The Organic Germanium, Triterpenes and Polysaccharides in log wood Ganoderma are about 6 times higher than natural and capsulated Ganoderma.

Hence the active components and medicinal values of log wood Ganoderma Lucidum cannot be matched by other Ganoderma cultivation methods.

Ganoderma Lucidum active components

Ancient medical practitioner in China learnt about Ganoderma health benefits through observation of its color and taste. They also conducted various trials and experiments to determine its healing results.

And today with advanced technology, scientists have attained a better understanding of the main chemical components of Ganoderma Lucidum. This includes active components such as:
Organic Germanium 

This rare mineral helps to improve blood circulation, eliminate fatigue, enhance energy, strengthen immune system and discard toxins.

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) 

Effective for antioxidant, anti-free radicals and anti-ageing. It slows down the ageing of cells and promotes rejuvenation.

Polysaccharides

Effectively reduce unwanted cholesterol level, neutralize fats, strengthen immune system and suppress cancerous cells.

Triterpenes (bitter substances)

Also known as Lingzhi acid. It helps to improve gastro-intestines functions, for anti-allergy, anti-inflammation and anti-tumor.

Adenosine Monophosphate (AMP) 

It can dissolve thrombus and remove blood vessel blockage. Excellent for improving condition of high blood pressure, stroke, heart vessel blockage and numbness.

As you can see, each active component above has various benefits in supporting your body functions and improving your health. But it is the combination of these substances that gives Ganoderma its amazing medicinal values.

Ganoderma also contains various beneficial minerals such as:

Potassium (K)

Magnesium (Mg)

Calcium (Ca)

Sodium (Na)

Manganese (Mn)

Ferum (Fe)

Zinc (Zn)

Of course, not all Ganoderma is the same. Different cultivation method produces different Ganoderma grade with varying level of active components. And this directly affect its healing effectiveness.

 

How Ganoderma Lucidum improves your health

In a Chinese medical encyclopedia "Bencao Gangmu", an ancient medical practitioner Lee Shizhen from Ming Dynasty classified Ganoderma as the "superior herb".

He grouped Ganoderma herb into six categories by its color and form, namely Green, Purple, Red, Yellow, White and Black Ganoderma. All six types have its own medicinal values and healing effects.

According to the record, "continuous consumption of Ganoderma makes your body light and young, lengthening life and making you like an immortal who never dies"

Modern researches 

We may regard ancient medical text as unsound finding. However, it is interesting to discover that even modern researches proved most of the ancient findings on Ganoderma Lucidum herb.

Chinese scientists began investigating the chemical makeup and medicinal effects of Ganoderma Lucidum in 1950s. They supported their findings with clinical studies. Researcher from China, Japan, Korea and United States have also formed an international Ganoderma research association, bringing its research to global platform.

 

Ganoderma Lucidum Health Benefits

Scientists researched the special healing effects of Ganoderma herb on circulatory system, nervous system and immune system as well as its anti-cancer effects. Studies show it can significantly:

improve your blood circulation

calm your nerves

enhance your immune system

improve cancer healing chances

Your body operates on these major systems. If not properly regulated, you may fall ill. Ganoderma herb helps to regulate your various body systems, maintain stability and ensure a balance between internal and external body conditions.

Besides this, Ganoderma also has other important functions in your body...

 

Detoxify and energize your body

Ganoderma can also eliminate toxins accumulated in your body through intake of various western medication, antibiotic, pain killer and anti inflammatory medicines. It thus achieves a strong detoxification effect to maintain your body balance.

And in this fast paced modern world, people are subjected to extensive pressure resulting in tension, insomnia, giddiness, fatigue and loss of appetite.

The Organic Germanium in Ganoderma helps to enhance your blood stream ability to take in oxygen by more than 1.5 times. It also increases your metabolism rate and slow down your aging.

According to research by Japanese doctor, the concentration of Organic Germanium in Ganoderma is about 800 to 2000 ppm (parts per million), which is 4 to 6 times much higher than Ginseng.

 

Slow down your aging

In addition, Ganoderma Lucidum also contains Polysaccharides which help to strengthen your immune system. Hence the stabilizing effects of Ganoderma can strengthen your health, improve your vitality and improve your immune system.

With this, Ganoderma Lucidum herb obviously help to slow down your aging process.

And this is the essence of ancient medical classic that states, "continuous consumption of Ganoderma makes your body light and young, lengthening life and making you like an immortal who never dies".

Health Benefits of Ganoderma

Ganoderma shows promise in reducing cholesterol levels and easing allergy-related inflammation of the airways, according to preliminary evidence from animal-based studies. Here's a look at more of the science behind ganoderma's health-enhancing effects.

A) Cancer and the Immune System

Often used as an immune stimulant by people with cancer, ganoderma has been shown to strengthen immunity as well as combat cancer-cell proliferation. In a 2003 study of 34 people with advanced-stage cancer, for instance, taking ganoderma in supplement form three times daily for 12 weeks led to a significant increase in T-cells (known to play a central role in immune defense).

Lab tests on breast cancer cells, meanwhile, found that combining extracts of ganoderma and Green tea heightened the mushroom's ability to slow cancer-cell growth.

B) Antioxidant BenefitsSeveral small studies have suggested that regular use of ganoderma supplements may increase your levels of antioxidants, compounds thought to protect against disease and aging.

C) Relief of Urinary Tract SymptomsIn a 2008 study of 88 men with urinary tract symptoms, researchers found that ganoderma was significantly superior to placebo in providing symptom relief.

Other Common Uses

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • Candida
  • Common Cold
  • Herpes
  • HIV
  • Hair Loss
  • Lyme Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Uterine Fibroids
  • Vitiligo
  • Weight Loss

Using Ganoderma For Health

Ganoderma is available in capsules and liquid extracts, both of which can be found at health food stores.Ganoderma Coffee is also available. You can also take ganoderma in tea or coffee form, but beware that the flavor may be bitter.

Some people experience dry nose, dry throat, nausea, and gastrointestinal problems (such as nausea) when taking ganoderma. Since the mushroom might interact with certain medications (such as anticoagulants and some chemotherapeutic agents), it's important to tell your physician if you're currently taking or considering the use of ganoderma. 

As with any supplements, ganoderma hasn't been tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications. 

You can get tips on using supplements here but should always speak with your primary care provider before using supplements or alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen. Self-treating with alternative medicine and avoiding or delaying standard care may be harmful for your health.

Sources

Ajith TA, K Janardhanan K. "Indian medicinal mushrooms as a source of antioxidant and antitumor agents." Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition 2007 40(3):157-62.

Chen WQ, Luo SH, Ll HZ, Yang H. "Effects of ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on serum lipids and lipoperoxidation in experimental hyperlipidemic rats." Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 2005 30(17):1358-60.

Gao Y, Zhou S, Jiang W, Huang M, Dai X. "Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients." Immunological Investigations 2003 32(3):201-15.

Liu YH, Tsai CF, Kao MC, Lai YL, Tsai JJ. "Effectiveness of Dp2 nasal therapy for Dp2- induced airway inflammation in mice: using oral Ganoderma lucidum as an immunomodulator." Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection 2003 36(4):236-42.

Noguchi M, Kakuma T, Tomiyasu K, Yamada A, Itoh K, Konishi F, Kumamoto S, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Matsuoka K. "Randomized clinical trial of an ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms." Asian Journal of Andrology 2008 10(5):777-85.

Thyagarajan A, Zhu J, Sliva D. "Combined effect of green tea and Ganoderma lucidum on invasive behavior of breast cancer cells." International Journal of Oncology 2007 30(4):963-9.

Wachtel-Galor S, Szeto YT, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. "Ganoderma lucidum ('Lingzhi'); acute and short-term biomarker response to supplementation." International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 2004 55(1):75-83.

Wachtel-Galor S, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. "Ganoderma lucidum ("Lingzhi"), a Chinese medicinal mushroom: biomarker responses in a controlled human supplementation study." The British Journal of Nutrition 2004 91(2):263-9.