Reishi (known as ling chih or ling-zhi, "mushroom of immortality" in China; and as reishi or as mannentake, "10,000 year old mushroom" in Japan) is a basidomycetes, or polypore (with pores under the cap, instead of gills) that grows on the trunks or stumps of trees. Prune trees yield the highest level of ganoderic acid. Although it typically has a kidney shaped cap form on a slightly twisted columnar stalk, it can also look like deer antlers and many other shapes. It is distinguished by brownish-red color with almost black and orange stripes, which are also highly variable. Ganoderma is the single most highly rated herb, in terms of multiple benefits and lack of side effects, in all of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Out of the drugs and herbs listed in Shennong Medical Herbology – the ancient Chinese materia medica – was one, which ranked higher than ginseng for its value in promoting health and well being. This famous medicinal herb – lingzhi – was actually not an herb but a variety of fungus, belonging to the ganoderma family. Among the large number of species in this botanical family "Red Lingzhi," Ganoderma lucidum, is the most popular and medicinally effective.
For over 2000 years, lingzhi has been highly recommended as a valuable remedy by Chinese medicine professionals. Highly regarded by the Chinese people as the "Medicine Of Kings," it grows in the forest in very small quantities. Because of its rarity and preciousness, lingzhi is also known as "the herb of good fortune."
Dr. Shi-Jean Lee, the most famous Chinese physician of the Ming Dynasty, strongly recommended the effectiveness of lingzhi. In his famous book, Ban Chao Gang Moo, he stated that the long-term taking of lingzhi will enable the forming of a healthy body and the achievement of a long life.
Lingzhi can be taken daily for long periods without any adverse side effects. Long-term use can help normalize body functions empower the immune system to fight disease and stabilize the internal environment. Today, lingzhi and its related mushrooms are increasingly called neutraceuticals a term to denote it having both nutritional and medicinal properties. To achieve the highest ranking as an herb and a neutraceutical,
1.) It should be non-toxic.
2.) Its effect should not be limited to a specific part of the body.
3.) It should be able to normalize all of the body's functions.
For example, both lingzhi and ginseng are able to lower blood pressure of a hypertensive patient and raise that of a hypotensive patient. Both these medicines have the ability to normalize body function.
However, a lot depends on the quality and concentration, a poor quality or low concentrated product may not achieve the desired effect.
Since 1970, research provided the know how to successfully cultivate lingzhi and produce it on a commercial scale thus making the "Medicine of Kings" now readily available.
Scientific research has been going on systematically in China since 1960 and modern research done in Korea, Japan and in the U.S.A. have confirmed lingzhi to be potentially useful in hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, cancer and even HIV. True, one would be tempted to regard it as "snake oil," but the truth really lies in the sum total of phytochemicals it contains some of these have been isolated and their chemical structure determined.
ii. Bitter substance- the Tritepens like, Ganoderans
iv. Organic Germanium v. Fatty acids
A Japanese research team at the Oriental Medicine Research Institute at Kinki University have contributed significantly, as a result of these efforts a great number of scientific reports about lingzhi have been published.
These investigators have demonstrated conclusively effects given below :
EFFECTS ON IMMUNE SYSTEM
The polysacharide in lingzhi can increase non-specific immunological function. It was found that treatment of chronic bronchitis with lingzhi for a few months resulted in an increase in IGA in the sputum.
The phytochemical ganoderan has an anti-allergic action and an used empirecally in cases of bronchial asthma. It is a biological response modifier and is able to down regulate the auto immune system in SLE, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.
In Japan it is also being used in cases of myasthenia gravis.
It has been used with success in IHD and other conditions with decreased blood circulation and certainly warrants further clinical trials.
Ganoderans have an AGE inhibiter like action and lower the blood pressure in essential hypertension and adenosine also found in lingzhi is an ultra short acting coronary vasodilator.
INHIBITION OF PLATELET AGGREGATION
Aqueous extract of lingzhi has inhibitory effect on platelet aggregation, induced by collagen and on thombin action at concentrations of 500 to 1,000 mcg/mg.
The polysacharide GL-1, a water soluble component of the fruiting body of lingzhi had a significant antitumor effect. It increases the production of endogenous cytokines like interleukin-2 and interferron and also natural killer cell activity. The antitumor effect of lingzhi is both dose and time dependent. Lingzhi has a high content of organic germanium which also enhances its antitumor effect.
Ganoderan is the major hypoglycemic triterpene isolated from lingzhi. It hypoglycemic effect is due to the increase of the plasma insulin level and also through acceleration of glucose metabolism in the liver.
Lingzhi has a central inhibitory effect and also antagonizes nicotine induced convulsions in mice. It has a peripheral anticholineric effect which would explain the complain of dryness of mouth when it is consumed.
Cholesterol synthesis is inhibitory by the ganoderans. It was reported that an oral administration of lingzhi as significantly lowered serum cholesterol but had no effect on triglycerides.
Studies conducted at the University of Texas found that lingzhi had an anti-inflammatory effect, equal to phenylbutazune and hydrocortisone, but did not present the gastric side effects when used in arthritis.
EFFECT ON LIVER
Lingzhi has a hepato-protective effect elevated levels of SGPT and SGOT were lower after a short course of lingzhi. Lesions of carbon tetrachloride induced hepatitis in mice improved with lingzhi.
There have been anecdotal reports of cases of cirrhosis of the liver showing dramatic improvement when treated with lingzhi. These effects on the liver should be properly evaluated.
EFFECT ON CHRONIC BRONCHITIS AND COUGH
Lingzhi tinture was used to treat chronic bronchitis induced by cigarette smoke in test mice. Results indicate the recovery and regeneration of surface cells of bronchi was rapid and complete.
Its antiviral effects have been tested empirically in cases such as hepatitis B, HIV, chicken pox, herpes zoster, herpes genitalis and herpes labialis and mumps. In case of chickenpox, the rash and severity of the disease was greatly reduced when a high dose of lingzhi is started early when the rashes first appear. In herpes gentalis the periods of remission was longer and the severity greatly reduced. Here too, the response was dose related.
PREVENTION AND ONSET OF DISEASE
Free radicals are very reactive molecules formed from metabolic processes, cigarette smoke, pollutants and pesticides. It has been known for sometime that there is a strong link between the accumulation of free radicals in the body and the aging process. A wide range of cells and tissues are damaged by free radicals.
These dangerous particles injure the structure and physiological functions of normal tissues and cells in various ways. They can change cell membrane function protein structure and even damage the chromosomes. These effects have been implicated as a major cause of or contributor to many diseases including cancer, arthritis and allergies.
The phytochemicals in lingzhi act on the body chemistry and offer protection against the damaging activities of free radicals by acting as scavenger which neutralize them. Cancer, liver disease, hypertension, strokes, diabetes, atherosclerosis and arthritis are all too easily accept as facts of life with few questions being asked as to their actual causes. There are scientific reasons why the body deteriorates into such disease states.
The onset of these disease can be delayed or completely prevented by the use of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, zinc and Pycnogenol alone or in combination with lingzhi.
Regular use of lingzhi in a normal subject has the net effect of reducing the incidence of degenerative disease and retard the aging process.
As more and more people throughout the world become aware of this miraculous ancient herb, modern man to satisfy the increasing demand may be tempted to grow lingzhi without the expertise to understand the specific scientific requirements for its cultivation and manufacture.
It is also imperative that before it can be classed as a neutraceutical the processing of lingzhi be undertaken under G.M.P. standards – ensuring high standard of safety and quality and each batch manufactured accompanied by an analysis report.
The proteins contain all of the essential amino acids, and most commonly occurring non-essential amino acids and amides. The fatty acids are largely unsaturated, and reishi are rich in vitamins (especially B3, B5, C and D) and minerals (espeically calcium, phosphorous and iron). Ganoderma has the most active polysaccharides (long chains of sugars) among medicinal plant sources. Ganoderma is the only known source of a group of triterpenoides known as ganderic acids, which have a molecular structure similar to steroid hormones. A study of nine edible medicinal mushrooms connected antitumor activity to polysaccharides and fatty substances that were probably ergosterols. Ganoderma also neutralized free radicals such as carbon tetrachloride and ethionine in animal livers, and reversed fatty infiltration.
Cancer, side effects of cancer treatments including radiation, chemotherapy and surgery; high altitude stress; high cholesterol and hyperlipidemia; high blood pressure; chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS; weakness of the lung; wasting syndromes; spiritual malaise; difficulty concentrating; poor digestion; insomnia and poorly regulated immune response.
TOXICITY, CAUTIONS & CONTRAINDICATION
None. High doses of unextracted reishi powder may lead to loosening of the stools, dry mouth, skin rash or slight digestive upset initially (extracts can be designed to reduce this).