Lingzhi mushroom with its medical properties represents one of the most significant Chinese medical fungus with two thousand years recorded history as health enhancer, promoter of longevity, and detox of mind and spirit.
Since the old times, Chinese monks believe that Ganoderma lucidum - lingzhi, help people to see spirits or become spirits themselves by receiving the magical energy of the immortals. The Latin lucidum, means “shiny” refers to the appearance of the fungus’ fruiting body. Lingzhi (Chin. 霊芝) - “spirit mushroom”, is one of the most famous medicinal mushrooms. In the past, lingzhi was very expensive because it only grew in the wild. Lingzhi is nowadays mainly cultivated on logs and sawdust, thanks to Shigeaki Mori who pioneered method of cultivation, therefore it becomes accessible and affordable for everyone.
In Japan, lingzhi is known as reishi.
The first written record of lingzhi was during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD). Lingzhi is particularly famous for aging-related and degenerative conditions, such as cancer, and as an immune stimulant. It contains over 400 biological substances beneficial to the body, valued for their ability to improve physical and mental health.
Compendium of Materia Medica (Chin. 本草綱目bencao gangmu) written in 1578, states that “continued use of lingzhi will lighten weight and increase longevity”. Linzhi is known as great medical help in treatment of hepatopathy, chronic hepatitis, nephritis, hypertension, arthritis, neurasthenia, insomnia, bronchitis, asthma, and gastric ulcer.
During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) it was called Qizhi, or “red fungus”, believed to benefit the heart.
In addition to its medical indications, linzhi has a long history of being used as a spiritual aid. In the past people used it as a talisman for protection against evil, while monks traditionally use lingzhi to increase concentration, heighten their focus, and increase their will power.
Lingzhi in TCM
In the Classic of Materia medica (Chin. Shennong bencao jing 神農本草經) written between 206 BC and 220 AD it is classified six types of ling zhi fungus according to colour differences. Generaly speaking, in traditional Chinese medicine lingzi is used to supply three treasures – jing (essence), qi (vital energy), and shen (spirit). Ling zhi is in the highest class of tonics, promoting longevity used for patterns of qi, blood, yin&yang deficiency. It is neutral in nature keeping balance in the body. Lingzhi tastes sweet which tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body., replenishing qi and blood. It mainly helps meridians of the heart, kidney, liver and the lungs. It TCM lingzhi is very much helpful in:
- Syndromes of deficiency often combined with ginseng, astralagus and Chinese angelica root.
- Heart deficiency symptom’s, e.g. unease emotions, palpitation, insomnia, and amnesia. All above symptoms are considered as malnourishment of heart and mind, deficiency of qi and blood. Usualy ling zhi is smashed into powder and mixed with sour jujube seed and arborvitae seed.
- Lung deficiency symtoms, e.g. cough and dyspnea. It is used singly, or combined with qi tonics and lung-astringing herbs, such as ginseng and schisandra berry.
Together with cordyceps sinensis, lingzhi has the most extensive range of indications and combines well with it in treatment of lung and liver conditions, as well as to provide all-round adaptogenic support.
Lingzi in modern medicine
In the last 30 years, lingzhi has undergone a number of clinical studies with humans and is confirmed medical effects to a wide variety of disorders, including neurasthenia, dizziness, insomnia, rhinitis, duodenal ulcers, liver pain (hepatodynia), symptoms associated with anorexia, maldeveloped brain, retinal pigmentary degeneration, leukopenia, progressive muscular dystrophy, atrophic nyotonus, and osteogenic hyperplasia; and mental disease caused by environmental stress, Alzheimer’s disease, liver failure, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes.
Many scientific researches confirmed great medical use of linzhi because:
- Ganoderma is an extremely useful alternative to cortisone therapy, because it has cortisone-like antiinflammatory agents whose efficacy is equal to that of diclofenac/voltaren, a powerful antiinflammatory drug NSAID. In particular, it has an antiinflammatory effect on the vascular walls and is a tonic for the adrenal gland.
- It has many active compounds called polysaccharides, with immune-boosting and anti-aging effects, e.g. Beta-D-glucan, also called G-I, which is used clinically against sarcoma 180. (researches confirm it may prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells).
- Lingzhi is packed with variety of Beta-glucans. Some Beta-glucans may reduce high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, others work as hepatic protectors and others still prevent theformation of fibrosis. A subset of beta-glucans - polysaccharides - such as ganoderan B and D, are hypoglycemic, so they lower the level of blood sugar, and improve glucose utilization in the tissues.
Thanks to its beta-glucans, is very suitable for increasing the concentration of salivary IgA antibodies that protect the mouth from microorganisms, preventing stomatitis. The antiinflammatory effect contributes to the health of the mouth and stomach.
- It is filled with triterpenes, the compound that gives it its bitter taste, but which also helps prevent hypertension and relieve allergy symptoms.
- Lingzhi stimulates the immune system, and should never be taken by those who are on immunosuppressant drugs.
- It is clinically demonstrated the ability to stimulate macrophages to produce more tumor-necrosis factor (TNF-a) and a number of interleukins.
- Lingzhi extract has the ability to reduce blood viscosity and plasma viscosity in hypertensive patients with hyperlipidemia, and to reduce blood cholesterol and lower blood pressure as mention above.
- It acts as a cardiotonic and has also been used to treat arrhythmia. It has been shown that lingzhi provides adenosine, a molecule that acts by increasing the amount of blood that reaches the heart, calming and at the same time enhancing the heartbeat; that it contains an antiinflammatory agent as good as cortisone and five antihistaminic substances.
- Lingzhi inhibits the release of histamine, thus preventing or alleviating types I, II, III, and IV allergic sensitivity reactions, and clinically proved to be able to stabilize immunoglobulin levels.
- It is very beneficial for women because it stimulates the ovaries to produce lacking female hormones and improves many female disorders such as irregular menstruation and endometriosis; it impedes the development of fibroids and effectively combats the symptoms of premenopause and menopause. In men, instead, it stimulates the testicles to produce the male hormone testosterone when it is insufficient, helping the male sexual functions, and combats reduced fertility.
- Ganoderma is important source of chitin, which has been shown to improve and accelerate the wound healing process.
- It combats free radicals, which prematurely age the skin or are produced as a result of smoking, medication or carcinogenic and other chemicals.
- In clinical studies it is confirmed that lingzhi can heal hepatitis B totally eliminating the HVB virus from the blood.
In fact lingzhi has particular mechanisms which fight all form of hepatitis:
- It prevents the reproduction of the virus by blocking its enzymes (proteases, retroviral, etc.).
- It boosts antiviral immunity consisting in CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes.
- It protects and promotes the regeneration of liver cells, reducing high transaminase levels.
- This mushroom stimulates the production and secretion of bile, which assists and facilitates digestion in the small intestine, and it is particularly useful when the gall bladder begins to malfunction and produces biliary sand and gallstones. Lingzhi prevents deposition of fibrin in liver, but if disease is present firstly slows down and reduces fibrin in the liver, the process that leads to liver cirrhosis.
- Ganoderma can both improve urinary flow and reduce the increase in volume of the prostate because it inhibits the 5 alpha-reductase that converts testosterone into DH-testosterone, responsible for prostate enlargement.
Lingzhi and sport
Ganoderma is very beneficial because it increases blood oxygenation, blood flow to organs and cardiac efficiency. Therefore, the muscles, heart and brain work better as a result of getting more oxygen and nutrition. In summary, lingzhi increases the energy produced by each cell, substantially enhancing physical vitality which leads to improved results in sports and in everyday life.
Lingzhi mushroom strenghteen the bones and connective tissue, because of the ganoderic acid DM, it slows the action of osteoclasts, cells that destroy bone. This process is worsened by acidosis caused by a diet high in animal protein and cereals, stress and a sedentary lifestyle.
When indigested, lingzhi alleviates high altitude sickness by oxygenating the blood. It is confirmed great effect on Chinese mountain climbers when given lingzhi before ascending mountains as high as 4,000-5,000m because they experienced minimal reactions to the climbs.
This fungus is filled with:
- Adenosine, a vasodilator/relaxant which effects are in particular on the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system, brain, retina, kidneys, muscles, skin and on the peripheral blood vessels of the whole body.
- Antioxidants enzymes, such as SOD (superoxide dismutase) and others (peroxidase, catalase, laccase), which eliminate free radicals responsible for aging and chronic and degenerative diseases.
- Tyrosinase, which keeps the skin nice and smooth and modulates the production of melanin (the pigment that gives color to the skin), eliminating blemishes.
- Glucomannan, a vegetable fiber which tends to promote a feeling of satiety.
- B group vitamins and vitamin D2, which mineralizes bones and teeth.
Lingzhi may be taken in a variety of forms—in syrups, soups, teas, injections, tablets, and tinctures, or as a bolus containing powdered medicine and honey. The dose of decoction is 6-12 g, or 1.5-3g as powder or in pills. From 500-1,000mg/day is normal for lingzhi spore oil products. The dose in tincture form (20%) is 10 ml 3x/day; in tablet form the dose is 1 g tablets, 3 tablets 3x/day. The syrup dose is 4 to 6 ml per day.
As an antidote for poisonous mushrooms, prepared decoction of 120-200g of dried lingzhi in water to be drank 3-5 cups a day.
This mushroom of miracle deserves to be shortlisted in your menu as a great natural healing tool and one of the best anti-aging tools around. I warmheartedly recommend lingzhi to be used everyday if you wish to be healthy and fit.