Red Reishi Mushroom - Ling Zhi Hong
Products Featuring This Herb:
Red Reishi Extract Powder 100 grams
Red Reishi Extract Powder 5 kilograms
Reishi Drops, Duanwood
Reishi Drops, Wild
Duanwood Reishi Capsules
8 Immortals Drops
Super Pill No.1
Supreme Shen Drops
Tao in a Bottle
Other Common Names
Reishi Mushroom, Ling Zhi, Ganoderma
Page # In Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs
Jing, Qi and Shen
Neutral or Slightly Warm
Organ Meridian Systems
Heart, Liver, Lungs, Kidney
Part Used and Form
Fruiting body, spores, mycelium
Nourishing tonic, tonic to the three treasures (Jing, Qi and Shen), builds body resistance, detoxifying, aphrodisiac, sedative, prolongs life and enhances intelligence and wisdom
The Reishi mushroom, also known by its formal name of Ganoderma and its Chinese name Ling Zhi, has attained an unparalleled reputation in the Orient as the ultimate herbal substance. For over three thousand years it has been the most sought-after product of nature by mountain sages and by the emperors and empresses of all Eastern nations. In the first Chinese herbal text (Shennong’s Pharmacopoeia) written about 2400 years ago, Reishi was classified as a “superior herb” which is defined as one that “serves to maintain life, promote radiant health and long life because of its normalizing action and to cause no side effects, even when used continuously”. That ancient book said that continuous consumption of Reishi makes your body light and young, lengthens your life and turns you into one like “the immortal who never dies”. Therefore Reishi was traditionally called “the mushroom of immortality”.
The Reishi Mushroom grows wild only upon old trees and roots of certain types of trees in remote mountain forests of China, Japan and Korea. Only in the last fifteen years have we seen the cultivation of Reishi and therefore the commercial availability of this amazing health product. Reishi has been the object of intensive scientific studies to discern its many health functions from a modern perspective. Traditionally, Reishi is believed to be a tonic to all of the body’s energies. It was revered as a major tonic to each of the three Treasures, Jing, Qi and Shen.
As a Jing (Essence) tonic, Reishi is believed to have major life-lengthening effects when consumed over a long period of time. It is believed to build primal power and to replenish energy spent handling stressful situations.
As a Qi tonic, Reishi is used to build energy, although it is slightly sedative in the short run. It is most famous as an herb used to build the immune system. Many studies done in Japan have shown Reishi to have a powerful effect on the body’s overall resistance to disease. Reishi is believed by Japanese and Chinese researchers to have a regulatory effect on the immune system, bringing up immune functions in cases of immuno-deficiency and reducing the excesses associated with auto-immune conditions. Reishi is a superb tonic for people who suffer from chronic allergies. Reishi is also believed to have major benefits on the lungs and liver. Studies done in Japan have shown that Reishi protects the liver from damage due to toxic chemicals, including pharmaceutical metabolites. Furthermore, studies done in Japan and elsewhere have also demonstrated that Reishi is beneficial to the cardiovascular system, since it appears to help regulate coronary and cerebral blood flow and also seems to help reduce levels of blood lipids and in lowering elevated cholesterol.
As a Shen tonic, nothing compares to Reishi. It is simply the greatest Shen tonic of them all. It is believed by the Chinese to protect the Shen and to nurture the growth of intelligence, wisdom and spiritual insight. Reishi is a superb anti-stress herb. Everyone who takes Reishi notices the peacefulness that seems to accompany its use. Many people are able to stop using chemical drugs. And Reishi seems to be cumulative, gradually strengthening the nerves and actually changing how we perceive life.
Studies done in Asia indicate that Reishi is a supreme health food supplement that has virtually no toxicity or side effects.
There are many Reishi products coming to the market at this time, but very few are truly excellent. Reishi must be extracted to be digestible and assimilable. Unfortunately, most Reishi products are not extracted and most are made from inferior quality hot house mushrooms or use inferior cultivated Ganoderma mycelium.
Ganoderma is arguably the most revered herbal substance in Asia, certainly ranking with ginseng as the elite substance for the attainment of radiant health, longevity and spiritual attainment. It has maintained that position for at least 2000 years and its reputation and value are only increasing. Numerous legends provide a rich and extensive record of Ganoderma in Asian society.
Reishi has traditionally been used as an anti-aging herb and has been used for many diseases and disorders as well. It has long been a favorite tonic food supplement by the Chinese Royal family and virtually anyone who could obtain it. Ganoderma was particularly revered by the followers of the Taoist tradition as the “Elixir of Immortality”. Taoists have continuously claimed that Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength. They have used it to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind and spirit so that the adept could attain both a long and healthy life and spiritual immortality. Due to its rarity, the common people could rarely obtain a Reishi mushroom, but it was popularly revered as a greater treasure than any jewel.
Since Reishi has been known to have many functions, it has been the subject of a great deal of research in recent years. It ranks in Asia with Ginseng, Deer Antler, Astragalus and Cordyceps as a preeminent tool to attain radiant health.
The health benefits of Reishi are extremely broad and it is virtually non-toxic. Though it is now used much like Ginseng, Eleutherococcus and Astragalus as a general tonic to help develop energy, to improve digestion and to improve sleep, scientists are exploring its potential in their terms of benefits.
Ganoderma is a profound immune potentiator. It has been found to significantly improve the functioning of the immune system whether the immune system is deficient or excessive. In this sense it is an immune “modulator”. That means it helps to regulate and fine tune the immune system. Our immune system is a miraculous network of activities designed to protect us from viruses, bacteria, parasites, molds, dust, pollen and malignant cells. It is the responsibility of the immune system to detect the intrusion or invasion of these entities and to mount a defense in order to eliminate them. A healthy immune system is capable of resisting most such intruders and a very hardy system may be able to resist invasions that many other people’s systems cannot. If the immune system is weakened or malfunctioning, the invading microbes can easily establish a foothold in our body and disease sets in. The use of antibiotics further weakens the immune response. Furthermore, antibiotics are useless against viruses, pollens and most parasites. They are certainly useless against malignant (cancerous) cells generated in our own bodies. It is much better to resist the invasion from within with a fully fortified immune system and not become ill in the first place. This is where herbs like Reishi are now attracting the attention of scientists and consumers alike.
Many chemical constituents play a role in GL’s immune-modulating capacity. The polysaccharide components in particular seems to play an important role in attacking cancerous cells, byt not healthy ones, while simultaneously strengthening the body’s overall immune functions. The polysaccharides appear to help the body attack microbial invaders such as viruses, bacteria and yeast. But Reishi does not just “stimulate” the immune system — it regulates it. And that is what makes Reishi so precious. If the immune system is excessive, as is the case with auto-immune diseases and allergies, Reishi can have significant positive influence. A group of chemicals known as the ganoderic acids help fight auto-immune diseases such as allergies. Ganoderic acids inhibit histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions. Ganoderic acids are also potent antioxidant free-radical scavengers.
Still another component, Beta-1, 3-glucan, helps regulate and stabilize blood sugar levels. These same components have been shown to have powerful anti-tumor properties.
Reishi is widely used in Asia to improve the cardiovascular system. It helps lower HDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and reduce excess fatty acids. It has been found to prevent and treat hardening of the arteries, angina and shortness of breath associated with coronary heart disease.
In 1977 it was discovered in Japan that Reishi had potent anti-cancer activity. It was first used to successfully treat hairy-cell leukemia which is caused by a retrovirus closely related to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It has been an approved drug for cancer in Japan since that time and has been used safely and effectively. It has been demonstrated that Reishi can help reduce the side-effects of many kinds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment and simultaneously contribute to the rebuilding of the immune system — an essential part of the recovery from cancer. Ganoderma stimulates the production of interferon and interleukins I and II, all being potent natural anti-cancer substances produced in our own bodies. Reishi may well prove to be the greatest prevention against cancer because it helps us to protect ourselves by our own power.
Reishi has also been approved in Japan and China for the treatment of myasthenia gravis, a serious auto-immune disease. Besides that, it is commonly prescribed by M.D.’s in Japan for chronic bronchitis, memory loss, insomnia, hyperlipidemia and a whole range of degenerative diseases of the elderly, including disorders associated with senility.
Reishi is a superb anti-stress herb. Throughout history, it has been used to bring balance into the lives of people who needed help in this department and that means most everyone. Deep in antiquity, it was routinely used by mountain hermits, monks, Taoist adepts and spiritual seekers throughout Asia because it was believed to help calm the mind, ease tension, strengthen the nerves, strengthen memory, sharpen concentration, improve focus, build will-power and, as a result, help build wisdom. That is why it was called the “Mushroom of Spiritual Potency” by these seekers. The people of Asia have never lost their faith in Reishi. They believe more than ever in Reishi’s power to improve the quality of life by improving the inner life of a human being. All the scientific validation only explains the physical nature of Reishi, but it is the profound ability of Reishi to improve one’s life on every plane that makes it so miraculous. Reishi is indeed calming and centering. Everyone who takes Reishi notices the peacefulness that seems to accompany its use. Many people are able to stop using chemical drugs. And Reishi seems to be cumulative, gradually strengthening the nerves and actually changing how we perceive life.
Reishi is a substance that builds health on all levels. It is the rarest of jewels in Nature. Life itself is based on the ability to adapt to the stresses, the attacks, the challenges that come our way every day. Reishi seems to provide an incredible resource of the full range of energies we need to meet these challenges. Reishi is indeed “the great protector”, protecting us on every level — physically, immunologically, mentally and spiritually. It helps us adapt to the world and provides additional power for us to achieve a superior level of life. When we are so protected and so provided for, we can achieve things that otherwise would be impossible. That is why Reishi has been called the “herb of good fortune”.
1.1. The primary constituents responsible for Ganoderma’s medicinal actions are polysaccharides and highly oxygenated lanostanoid triterpenes, including multiple pairs of C-3 stereoisomers and C-3/C-15 positional isomers. More than 100 different triterpene molecules have been identified in Ganoderma. In addition, constituents of Reishi fruiting body include: b & x glucans, beta sitosterol, heteropolysaccharides composed of D-glucose, D-galactose, D-mannose, L- (or D-)arabinose, D-xylose and L-fucose (soluble in water), heteroglycans, steryl esters, adenosine[, ergosterol, uridine, oleic acid, cyclooctasulphur, fungal lysozyme, acid protease and amino acids. Amino Acids: Serine (15.2), alanine (14.8), glycine (12.7), threonine (12.4), aspartic acid (9.9), glutamic acid (8.1), proline (6.9), valine (5.3) and other minor amino acids. (Upton)
1.2. Constituent Variation: Constituent content varies between different strains of Ganoderma. Differentiations include a change in both the amount and pattern of triterpenes. Several triterpenes not present in the mycelium increase in concentration as the cap of the fruiting body develops. This includes ganoderic acid A. Quantitatively, the caps provide the richest source of triterpene acids, followed by the stem and then the spores. The underside of the outer layer of the cap yields a higher concentration of triterpenes than the other sections of the cap. Qualitatively, the HPLC patterns are similar for each. Samples grown on cherry wood yield higher amounts of triterpenes but grow more slowly and produce less than samples grown on the oak Quercus variabilis. During the initial fruiting stage of an antlered strain (Saegusa), ganoderic acids and lucidenic acids were not present, however they began to develop within one week of fruiting, subsequently becoming major constituents. (Upton)
1.3. Comparative constituent analysis was conducted on three strains of Reishi; red (sekishi), purple (shishi) and black (kokushi). The red and purple strains analyzed had similar triterpenoid patterns. The black Ganoderma analyzed contained little acid material. Others have also reported on the significant constituent variation in the different parts of the mushroom including the pileus, stalk and underground portion. (Upton)
1.4. Germanium fortification. In an effort to yield higher organic-germanium contents of Ganoderma, some producers enrich the growing substrate with germanium dioxide. Wild Ganoderma yields 1.3-17.8 ppm of germanium. Enriching the substrate with germanium dioxide at 1.5 ppm, 5 ppm and 10 ppm yielded germanium contents of 5.1 ppm, 15.3 ppm and 24.6 ppm respectively. (Upton)
1.5. At least two particular characteristic constituent patterns have been identified in Ganoderma-C27 strains richer in lucidenic acid and C30 strains richer in ganoderic acid. The fruiting body has also been classified as being rich in ganoderic acid A, while the mycelium has been most noted for its concentration of ganoderic acid T . Two other strains, an antlered form and a full cap (Nagano) were rich in ganoderic acids, but showed no definitive signs of lucidenic acid. (Upton)
1.6. Identification: The mapping of twenty-five well characterized triterpenoid using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), has been used as a standard reference for compositional comparison of constituents between different strains and species of Ganoderma. (Upton)
2. Effects on Cardiovascular System
2.1. Ganoderma contains a water soluble derivative of adenosine (5’deoxy-5'-methylsulphinyladenosine), a platelet aggregation inhibitor. At 50 mg/ml-1 5’deoxy-5’methylsulphinyladenosine exhibited a 20-50% inhibitory rate. This action is reportedly due to the activation of platelet phospholipase. Adenosine content varies dramatically among different strains of G. lucidum. (Upton)
2.2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibition: ten lanostane triterpenes with ACE inhibiting effects have been identified in Ganoderma. Ganoderic acid F exhibited the highest inhibitory effect, while the others were relatively mild. These were identified in a 70% MeOH extract of Ganoderma. (Upton)
2.3. Effects on cholesterol biosynthesis & absorption: A sterol derivative of Ganoderma identified as sterol IV with 7-oxo and l5x-hydroxy groups potently inhibited cholesterol synthesis . One mechanism of action is due to the ability of Ganoderma triterpenes, which contain oxygenated functionalities at C- I5 and a hydroxyl group at C-26' to effectively inhibit the rate-limiting enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-co-enzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA) in the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway. This has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo assays using mevinolin as a positive control. HMG-CoA also begins the synthesis of CoQ10. Some researchers consider low levels of CoQ10 to be a cardiovascular disease risk factor in itself. Therefore, it may be advantageous to supplement with CoQ10 when using Ganoderma. In addition, other similar triterpenes are structurally similar to the post-lanosterol intermediates in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway of mammals and inhibit lanosterol 14x-methyl-demethylase. Compounds 1, 8 & 9 have been shown to be more effective at reducing cholesterol absorption than b-sitosterol. However, these triterpenes are poorly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. (Upton)
2.4. The tincture of fruiting body extract of G. lucidum had a significant cardiotonic effect on the isolated frog heart, as well as on the pentobarbital sodium-inhibited heart. Using an i.p. injection of 3g/kg of an alcohol extract of both the fruiting body and mycelium, the following actions were observed: increased contractility of the in situ rabbit heart, an increase of 41.08% in contraction amplitude, reduction of the heart rate, an increase of 44%-66% in coronary blood flow with concomitant increase in cerebral blood flow and coronary dilation. (Upton)
2.5. At 0.8 mg/kg-1, 5’deoxy-5’methylsulphinyladenosine lowered blood pressure in cats by 30%.(Upton)
2.6. In a clinical study at Tokyo University hospital, patients with genetically inherited hypertension were given six 240-mg Reishi tablets each day. After six months on this regimen, they showed normal systolic and diastolic readings. (Upton) 2.7. Searching for herbs that benefit the heart, researchers at the Cardiology Research Center at the Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow tested 21 herbs to see which most effectively prevented and corrected the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries.
2.8. Ninety-two patients with myocardial infarction and chest pain were treated with GL extract and 72% of these patients felt the symptoms were relieved. Hyperlipemia patients treated with GL extract also showed decreased blood cholesterol levels in 14 out of 15 patients. (Tsung)
2.9. It has been reported that Ganoderma lucidum has cholesterol-lowering properties (Xian Medical College, 1978; Shanghai Medical Supply Station, 1978; Peng,1983; Chen, Liao, Xiao, 1988). The effective rate was about 86% for 12 weeks to 6 months of treatment for hyperlipidemia patients. Arichi, et al (1979), also reported that the extract of Ganoderma lucidum is clinically effective for hyperlipemia treatment. (Tsung)
2.10. Morigiwa, et al (1986) have isolated 10 antihypertensive lanostane triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum. Among the 10 triterpenes, ganoderic acid F had the highest anti-hypertensive effect. However, (Anchi, et al 1979) have found that compounds responsible for anti-hypertensive activity have molecular weights of more than 100,000 daltons. (Tsung)
2.11. Isolation of an Inhibitor of Platelet Aggregation. The water-soluble fraction of Ganoderma lucidum was found to suppress platelet aggregation. From physico-chemical and biochemical analysis, this fraction was identified to be adenosine. (Tsung)
2.12. GL also markedly improved pancreatic blood flow rate in rats (18). GL was also effective in treating abnormal cardiac impulse in rats (18). By using radioactive 86Rb uptake as a marker in the rat heart muscle, the blood flow in the rat heart muscle was increased with the increase of the administration of GL. (Tsung)
3. The Effect on the Central Nervous System
3.1. The extract of GL was able to suppress the central nervous system and relaxed the muscles in an experimental mouse. An hour of sleep induced by cyclohexabarbital was extended after injection of GL extract. The extract also had an anodyne effect on animal subjects. (Tsung)
4. Immunostimulating Activity
4.1. The injection of GL extract or GL polysaccharides in mice resulted in the activation of the phagocytic activity of macrophages. Macrophages play an important role in the immune system. The increase of immunoglobulin A was observed in the phlegm of chronic bronchial asthma patients after oral administration of GL for four months. (Tsung)
4.2. Immunostimulating Polysaccharides and Anti-Cancer Activity. The immuno-stimulating polysaccharides isolated from Ganoderma lucidum have shown b-(123) and b-(124) linkages in the polysaccharide structures (Miyazaki et al, 1981, 1982). The functions of the polysaccharides include intensified phagocytosis of reticuloendothelial systems, activation of macrophages, activation of T-lymphocytes, enhancement of cell-mediated immune response and activation of the alternative pathway of the complement system. The most immunologically active polysaccharides have an anti-cancer activity. (Miyazaki, et al 1981) showed that the anti-cancer arabinoxyloglucan has (123)-b-D-glucan moiety in the structure. (Mizuno, et al 1984) also showed that the anti-cancer water-soluble b-D-glucan contains a backbone of (123)-linked D-glucose residues having single D-glucosyl branches. The attachment of polyol groups to the (123)-linked backbone significantly enhances its host-mediated anticancer activity (Sone, Okuda, et al 1985). However, the host-mediated anti-cancer polysaccharides fraction was composed of a backbone of b(123)-linked-D-glucosyl residue with a single branch of b-(126)-linked-D-glucosyl group in every four to six residues of backbone chain. Acidic b-glucan isolated from Ganoderma lucidum also showed an anti-cancer activity. (Mizuno, Kato, et al 1984) (Tsung)
4.3 Natural Killer Cell Activating Factor. In most of the cancer-host relationships, cancer cell destruction is accomplished by many different ways. The one mechanism of immunoactivation and anti-cancer action is to kill cancer cells through activation of natural killer cells. The hot-water extract of ganodenna lucidum showed the ability to activate natural killer cell activity (Murai, Yamashita, et al, 1987). The natural killer cell activating factor is distributed in the fruiting body of Ganoderma lucidum. The concentration of natural killer cell activating factor is higher in the early budding stage and in the completion of fruit body growth stage (Tsubokura, Ogita, et all, 1988). (Tsung)
4.4 Interferon-Inducing Activity. Interferons are a family of small protein molecules secreted naturally by human cells to fight viral and other infections. Interferon has been touted as a potential cancer-treating drug for nearly 30 years. Ganoderma lucidum has been found to have interferon-inducing activity (Meng, 1983). (Tsung)
4.5 Fifty-two leukopenia patients were treated with GL extract and 44 patients showed increased leukocytes of about 1028/mm3 after treatment. The effective rate was 84.8%. (Tsung)
4.6. The extract of Ganoderma lucidum has been used for leukopenia patients (Jiangsu New Medical College, 1978). Since AIDS patients frequently develop leukopenia, it is worthwhile to research which component of Ganoderma lucidum is the functional compound. (Tsung)
4.7. The extract of Ganoderma lucidum was effective for the treatment of muscular dystrophy. (Liu, et al 1980) (Tsung)
4.8. The effect of Ganoderma lucidum on induction of differentiation in leukemic U937 cells. Ganoderma (G.) lucidum is an herbal medicine with tumoricidal activity capable of inhibiting the proliferation of mouse Sarcoma 180 cells both in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we investigated the effect of the polysaccharide fraction of G. lucidum (PS-G) on the proliferation and differentiation of human monocytic leukemia cell line, U937. Using in vitro liquid culture system, we found that the conditioned medium from PS-G-stimulated human blood mononuclear cells (PSG-MNC-CM) contained an activity that could significantly inhibit the growth of U937 cells and induce them to differentiate into mature monocytes/macrophages which had functions of phagocytosis and producing cytoplasmic superoxide. Neither PS-G nor normal (untreated) MNC-CM was found to have a differentiating effect on the target cells. The optimal condition for stimulating the in vitro production of MNC-derived differentiation-inducing activity was to use PS-G at a low concentration of 50 micrograms/ml and to incubate MNC for a short period of 24 hours. Long-term (greater than 3 days) incubation resulted in a decrease in the differentiating activity of the conditioned media. (Internet 1)
4.9. Effect of Japanese Ganoderma Lucidum on production of interleukin-2 from murine splenocytes. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of Ganoderma lucidum (GL) planted in Japan on the production of Interleukin-2 (IL-2) from murine splenocytes. It was observed that hydrocortisone (HC) 0.025-1 microgram /ml could significantly antagonize the inhibitory activity of HC and CSA to increase the production of IL-2 in vitro, P < 0.01. When the splenocytes pretreated with GL alone or in combination with HC, it was shown that pretreatment alone had no significant effect on IL-2 production, but preincubating splenocytes with HC and GL resulted in a significant increase of IL-2 production when compared with that of HC group, P < 0.01. In vivo, GL 300 mg/kg could increase the production of IL-2 when orally taken GL alone or in combination of HC. (Internet 2)
4.10 Effects of Ganoderma polysaccharides on the activity of DNA polymerase alpha of splenocytes and immune function in aged mice. The activity of DNA polymerase alpha in splenocytes of 24-month-old mice was about 35.6% lower than that of 3-month-old mice. Aged mice were intraperitoneally administered Ganoderma polysaccharides (GL-B) once a day for 4 days and then the activity of the enzyme was assessed. The results showed that GL-B at doses of 25 and 50 mg/kg-1 enhanced the activity of the enzyme in aged mouse splenocytes by 44.0 and 58.8% respectively. In addition, the mixed lymphocyte response to alloantigen, automatic proliferation and IL-2 production of splenocytes in aged mice declined as compared with that in young adult mice. GL-B (50, 100, 200 micrograms.ml-1) was found to restore those parameters to the levels of that of young mice in vitro. (Internet 3)
4.11. Ling Zhi-8: a novel T cell mitogen induces cytokine production and upregulation of ICAM-1 expression. Ling Zhi-8 (LZ-8) is a protein purified from Ganoderma lucidum, a Chinese medicinal fungus thought to possess potent effects on the immune system. When examined for its effects on lymphocytes, LZ-8 exhibited potent mitogenic effects on human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), inducing a bell-shaped dose-response curve similar to that caused by PHA and other lectin mitogens. Fractionation experiments indicated that the proliferative response in the PBL cultures was primarily due to T cells, but was monocyte dependent. Stimulation of PBL with LZ-8 resulted in the production of IL-2 and a corresponding upregulation of IL-2 receptor expression. In addition to T cell proliferation, microscopic examination of LZ-8-stimulated PBL revealed that LZ-8 induced cellular aggregate formation. The aggregate formation correlated with a dramatic rise in ICAM-1 expression and an increased production of IFN-gamma, TNF alpha and IL-1 beta, molecules associated with regulation of ICAM-1 expression. Both the aggregate formation and the proliferative effects of LZ-8 were blocked by addition of monoclonal antibody to either CD18 or CD11a, the counter-receptor complex components for ICAM-1. Furthermore, addition of neutralizing antibodies to both IL-2 receptor and TNF alpha blocked aggregate formation, cellular proliferation and ICAM-1 expression. These findings demonstrate that LZ-8 is a potent T cell activator, mediating its effects via cytokine regulation of integrin expression. (Internet 4 — Genentech)
4.12. Effect of Ganoderma polysaccharides on T cell subpopulations and production of interleukin 2 in mixed lymphocyte response. Mixed lymphocyte response was used as a main model through all the experiments. In a series of concentrations (25, 50, 100 and 200 micrograms/ml), Ganoderma polysaccharides (GL-B) promoted the production of interleukin 2 (IL-2) in a concentration-dependent manner after initiation of culture for 12 hours and increased the total cell recovery as well as that of Lyt 2+ and L3T4+ cells after 4 days of culture. The data also shows that the polysaccharides markedly enhanced the cytotoxicity of cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which was increased by 100% at the concentration of 200 micrograms/ml. (Internet 5)
4.13. Ganoderma tsugae mycelium enhances splenic natural killer cell activity and serum interferon production in mice. Effects of the water-soluble extract of Ganoderma tsugae mycelium (GT), its alcohol-insoluble subfraction (GTI) and its alcohol-soluble subfraction (GTS) on splenic natural killer (NK) cell activity and serum interferon (IFN) production were assessed in mice. Intraperitoneal administration of GT (4-200 mg/kg) or GTI (1-50 mg/kg), but not GTS augmented the NK cytotoxic activity in a dose-dependent manner in C3H/HeN mice. This augmentation of splenic NK cytolytic activity was not mouse-strain-dependent. The serum IFN titers of mice were also elevated after i.p.-doses of GTI. The GTI-induced serum IFN was reduced by either IFN-(alpha+beta) antiserum or IFN-gamma monoclonal antibody in vitro. The treatment with antiserum neutralizing IFN-(alpha+beta) resulted in a 70% reduction of GTI-induced IFN, while monoclonal antibody against mouse IFN-gamma, moderately neutralized the GTI-induced IFN (50%). These results demonstrated that both the splenic NK activity and serum IFN [IFN-(alpha+beta) and IFN-gamma] titers are elevated by Ganoderma tsugae mycelium extracts in mice. (Internet 6)
4.14. Chemical studies on immunologically active polysaccharides of Ganoderma lucidum (Leyss. ex Fr.) Karst. BN3B, the polysaccharide component of the fruit of Ganoderma lucidum, has been shown to have immune activity. Four homogeneous polysaccharides were separated and purified from BN3B. Chemical studies on the main components BN3B1 and BN3B3 indicated that BM3B1 contained only glucose and should be a glucan containing beta-(1 — — 6) and (1 — — 3)glycoside bonds and that BN3B3 was an arabinogalactan containing beta-(1 — — 6) and (1 — — 3)glycoside bonds. (Internet 7)
5. Anti-allergic Activity
5.1. GL suppressed histamine and other chemical mediator release from mast cells. The extract of Ganoderma lucidum has an inhibitory action on histamine release from rat mast cells. A Japanese research group at Kinki University also found that the hot-water extract of Ganoderma lucidum has a strong suppressive activity on histamine release from mast cells (Kubo Lab, 1984). The extract also suppressed the passive cutaneous anaphylaxis (PCA) reaction. Since the Ganoderma extract can suppress histamine release from mast cells and suppress PCA reaction it is expected to do well against type I allergies, including anaphylactic shock, atopic dermatitis hay fever, hives, drug allergies and bronchial asthma. (Hirai, Takase, et al 1983)
5.2. In the animal model for immune-complex disorders (type III allergies), nephritis is induced by successive injections of rabbit serum protein into rats, causing antigen-antibody complexes to develop in the blood stream and to be deposited in the kidneys. In nephritis, both protein concentration in urine and cholesterol concentration in serum are increased. With treatment by Ganoderma extract, protein and cholesterol concentrations were reduced to normal levels. Morphological observation of the kidney also showed recovery and hypertension due to nephritis was returned to normal.
5.3. Ganoderma extract also did well against such cell-mediated allergies as picryl chloride-induced dermatitis in mice. Cell-mediated allergies include contact dermatitis, tubercular lesions, chronic hepatitises, auto-immune disorders and Hashimoto thyroiditis. In addition, the extract showed great enhancement of steroid-drug effect in the treatment of dermatitis. Due to steroid drug’s considerable side effects, any herb which could bring about a decrease in steroid dosage is beneficial to patients. The anti-allergic activity of Ganoderma lucidum extract has been identified to be four triterpenes ganoderic acids: A, B, C and D (Kohda, Tokumoto, et al, 1985). (Tsung)
6. Antioxidant Activity
6.1 Free radical reactions are believed to be the cause of various aging-associated diseases. The anti-oxidant activity in the body decreases with age. In order to keep us younger for a happier and healthier life, we need an antioxidant substance to suppress the aging process. GL extract has been found to have an antioxidant activity. (Tsung)
7. Effect on the Respiratory System
7.1. The GL extracts showed anti-asthmatic effects during experiments with guinea pigs’ 12-14)- The GL extracts also showed anti-histamine and anti-acetylcholine effects. (Tsung)
7.2. There was also a decrease of blood cholinesterase activity in 29 chronic bronchitis patients after treatment with GL for 4 months. (Tsung)
7.3 Peritoneal injection of GL extract for 14 days resulted in an increase of cyclic AMP in serum and heart muscles of experimental rats (18) (Table 2 and 3). Cyclic AMP is a regulator of many metabolic systems. GL extract also showed a stimulatory effect on the production of 2, 3-Diphosphoglyceric acid in human erythrocytes (27). This indicates that aerobic metabolism can be improved by the use of GL extract. (Tsung)
7.4. Two hundred and eighty-eight patients were treated with GL extract for 1-3 months. The effective rate was 88.2%. In 27 cases of pediatric bronchial asthma, 23 patients showed that cough and asthmatic symptoms were gone after one month of treatment with GL extract injection. The effective rate was 85%. A similar result was obtained when GL extract was used to treat allergic asthma. (Tsung)
8. Effect on the Liver
8.1. GL extract showed anti-hepatotoxic activity with administration of the extract to mice with carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage (3). An alcohol extract of GL also stimulated regeneration of liver cells after part of liver was removed by surgery. (Tsung)
8.2. Twenty-one hepatitis patients were treated with GL extract. For nineteen patients the major symptoms were gone within 10 days after GL extract treatment and the hepatitis marker enzyme serum glutamic-pyruvic tansaminase value was returned to normal 45 days after the GL extract treatment. The effective rate was 90.5%. (Tsung)
8.3. Antihepatotoxic Activity. Six triterpenoid, ganoderic acids U, V, W,X, Y and Z, isolated from Ganoderma lucidum have been found to have cytotoxic activity in vitro on hepatoma cells (Toth, Lu, et al, 1983). It was also observed that ganoderic acids T, S and R, isolated from Ganoderma lucidum have a strong antihepatotoxic activity. (Hirotani, et al, 1986) (Tsung)
9. Radiation Protection Effect
9.1 Radiation protection can be obtained with administration of GL extract to mice prior to irradiation. (Tsung)
10. Effect on Total Oxygen Consumption
10.1 The administration of GL to mice for 14 days resulted in decrease of whole body oxygen consumption (3). The result suggests that GL can help the body to have more endurance capability during oxygen deficient conditions. (Tsung)
11. Effect on Adrenocortical Hormone Secretion
11.1 After administration of GL extract to rabbits for a week, the serum cortisol concentration was increased from 1.21 + 0.2897 ug/100 ml to 3.47 + 0.548 ug/100 ml ( 18). The increment of cortisol secretion was about 2.9-fold in GL extract-treated rabbits. (Tsung)
12. Protective Effect on Burns
12.1 In burn experimentation mice, the survival rate of GL extract-treated mice was 40% in comparison to a 0% survivor rate in non-treated mice. (Tsung)
13. Anti-microbial Effect
13.1 Water extract of GL has an antibacterial and anti-virus effect on pneumococcus, streptococcus, staphylococcus and influenza virus. Alcohol and acetone extract of GL also have an antibacterial effect on Escherichia coli Shigella dysenteriae and Bacillus. (Tsung)
14. Hypoglycemic Effect
14.1 Blood Sugar Reducing Agent. Ganoderans A and B, a glycans of Ganoderma lucidum, was shown to have blood sugar reducing properties (Hikino, Konno, et al. 1985). Later the same group demonstrated that ganoderan B has a molecular weight of 7400 and contains D-glucopyranosyl b(123) and b(126)) linkages in the polysaccharide structure (Tomoda, Ganda, et al. 1986). They also isolated ganoderan C with molecular weight of 5800 and containing D-glucopyranosyl b(123) and b(126) linkages and a D-galactopyranosyl b(126) linkage in the polysaccharide structure. (Tsung)
14.2. The water extract of Ganoderma lucidum reduces the blood glucose level in experiments with rats. (Kimura, et al, 1988) (Tsung)
15. Dental Caries Preventive
15.1 A primary cariogenic bacterium has been identified as Streptococcus mutans (Montville, Cooney and Sinskey, 1978; Hamada and Slade, 1980). Membrane-bound or extracellular glucosetransferase from Streptococcus mutans produces water-soluble and water insoluble glucans from sucrose. The glucans facilitate the accumulation of microorganisms on smooth tooth surfaces and subsequently dental caries is developed (Montville et al, 1778; Hamada and Slade, 1980). Ganoderic acids S 1 and C2, isolated from Ganoderma lucidum, have been identified to have inhibitory activity on glucosyltransferase from Streptococcus mutans (Hada, Hattori and Namba, 1989). The result suggests that the anti-plaque activity of Ganoderma lucidum is due to ganoderic acids S 1 and C2 if not all. (Tsung)
16. Comparative Polysaccharide Bioavailability:
16.1 It appears that Ganoderma polysaccharides are better absorbed orally than those from most other mushrooms. When the edible mushroom Shitake (Lentinus) was provided to laboratory animals with tumors, tumor regression could be induced at significant levels only when they were provided as 20-30% of the diet. By contrast, Ganoderma seems to be highly effective at relatively low oral dosages in both animals and humans.
Reishi is commonly consumed by itself. In addition it may be combined with other tonic herbs.
- Astragalus to protect the body and to strengthen the immune system
- Zizyphus, Pearl, Asparagus Root and Polygonum Stem to build Shen
- Cordyceps to tonify primal essence and to fortify immune functions
- Schizandra to tonify and cleanse the Liver and beautify skin
- Schizandra and Polygonatum Sibericum to strengthen the mind
Varieties and Grading
Shen Nung said that there are at least six varieties of Ganoderma. He noted red, purple, black, white, green and yellow. Currently, one mainly finds red and black Reishi available in herb shops. Occasionally, a purple Reishi can be obtained, but usually not through normal channels. Purple Reishi is extremely rare.
The Black Reishi, Ganoderma sinensis, is fairly commonly available and can be found in most Chinese herb shops that carry bulk herbs. The older it is, the larger it becomes. But old age is not necessarily a virtue in Reishi. Reishi is at its best when it is still fresh and moist inside, not when it is old, dry and brittle. This species of Ganoderma tends to be unevenly shaped and can measure up to ten inches in diameter, though about six inch diameters are more common. If its skin is still highly glossy, it is good enough to use.
This variety is considered inferior, though it is certainly still a fine herbal tonic. Its polysaccharide content is low in comparison to the high quality red Reishis. Though the black variety is wild, it lacks potency and should be used only if higher quality Reishi is not available. The majority of Reishi products that claim to be using “wild” Reishi are using this black variety.
Wild Red Reishi is rare but not as rare as Purple Reishi. This Reishi, which is the Reishi that Shen Nong was talking about, is much more potent and effective than the black variety. Red Reishi is Ganoderma lucidum, the primary Reishi. It is unlikely that you will find wild Red Reishi for sale in herb shops in America, but there are a few superior products available which utilize these mountain-collected mushrooms. The extraction yield from wild red Reishi tends to be very low, so the extracted products tend to be very potent. This is a sublime product. The Red Reishi commonly found in Chinese herb shops is not wild Red Reishi — it is most likely hot house Reishi.
Hot house Reishi can be of good quality or poor quality, but most of it is poor. Reishi can now be grown in hot houses in a medium of saw dust and a nutrient such as rice. Most Reishi products sold in America are of the hot house variety. In my opinion, most of this hot house Reishi is almost useless. These mushrooms tend to be small and lumpy in appearance and often grow irregularly. They are not really red, but tend to be a light, dull brown. They are inexpensive, but are worth almost nothing. Don’t waste your money.
There are a few superior sources of hot house Reishi available in America. These are from folks that have obtained special strains of Reishi from the Japanese scientists such as Yoshi, who first developed the modern strains of Red Reishi. Then they are grown in superior media. These mushrooms tend to be large and red and look like real Reishi mushrooms. They smell fresh and rich. When you break one open, they have a pulpy interior that has a more subtle texture than the cheap cultivated varieties. These mushrooms can even be obtained in their mycelial state from some mushroom mail order houses, in which case you can grow your own fresh Reishi mushrooms. This is a real treat that I recommend very highly.
Reishi Mycelium: The actual fungus is not in fact the mushroom that we associate with Reishi. The mycelium is a whitish blob that grows into a piece of wood or consumes some sort of nutrient until the nutrient is gone. At a certain time of year, the mycelium puts out its sexual apparatus, which is the mushroom that we see projecting out of the ground. The function of the mushroom is to reproduce. Reishi mycelium was not traditionally used as a tonic herb by the Chinese or Japanese. However, it has recently been discovered that the mycelium is very rich in the same polysaccharides that make the mushroom an effective health product. In fact, the mycelium has been found to contain much more polysaccharide than the mushroom, since the mycelium is much larger than the mushroom. This has led to many people using the mycelium in products. These products usually do not include the mushroom, but are simply ground mycelium. This has been widely accepted in America, but is looked upon with disdain in China and Japan. Specialists there point out that all the research has been done on the mushroom, not the mycelium and that the virtually miraculous health benefits of Reishi are found primarily in the mushroom. The mycelium is, to this day, not used in China or Japan. Though the mycelium may be useful, it does not match the efficacy and balance of the mushroom. They are not in the same league. This is especially true since virtually all mycelium is grown in hot houses on less than optimum nutrients.
Duan Wood Reishi. The real deal, when it comes to Reishi mushrooms, lies in the domain of what is known as “Duan Wood” Reishi. Reishi that is grown on certain specific varieties of wooden logs, without any chemicals, in a pristine mountain environment, is known as “Duan Wood” Reishi. In nature, Reishi grows on a large variety of trees in mountain forests throughout Asia. Just as “we are what we eat”, a Reishi mushroom, too, is what it eats. Depending upon the kind of wood a Reishi grows upon, the Reishi may be powerful and medicinally marvelous, or it may be weak or even useless. The best Reishi grows on certain kinds of old hardwood trees that are indigenous to certain regions of China. The Chinese have made a very thorough study of this, including conducting years of pharmacological studies on laboratory animals to determine which Reishi is the most potent, based on what kind of wood it is grown on.
The appropriate Duan Wood trees are cut down and cut into short logs, usually about ten inches long. They are inoculated with Reishi spores that have been specially prepared to assure successful growth. These logs are then planted in soil in mountainous regions of China. In the spring, Reishi mushrooms shoot up through the soil in great abundance. Gradually over the period of a few months they mature. Growing Duan Wood Reishi requires no pesticides or chemicals of any sort. In fact, chemicals ruin Reishi, so the government forbids it. Farmers who try to use chemicals are not allowed to grow Reishi again. All Duan Wood Reishi is tested. The farmers I have talked to say they don’t ever use chemicals because they are totally unnecessary. Therefore, all Duan Wood Reishi is totally organic.
Eventually the mushrooms produce a thick coating of spores. In June, one day in a great unison, all the mushrooms release their spores into the air. It is at this moment that the Reishi is perfectly ripe for harvesting. The farmers stay with the mushrooms day and night collecting them and collecting the spores on plastic tarps that they spread out over the Reishi. I have seen the farmers during this harvest and they become completely brown as they are coated by spores. This is perhaps the most joyous harvest I have ever witnessed. The farmers seem to be in some kind of ecstasy during this ritual. The mushrooms are sun dried and ready for consumption. A second smaller harvest takes place about two months later.
Duan Wood Reishi is grown from a genetic stock that was developed in Japan about twenty years ago by a Professor Yoshi. The Japanese government supported Dr. Yoshi’s research to determine the most powerful genetic line of Reishi after it was discovered that Reishi could cure a type of cancer that was prevalent in Japan at that time. Yoshi collected hundreds of samples of wild Red Reishi from China and led a research team that studied the pharmacological effects of the various strains. The most potent strain, the champion of Reishi genotypes from a health promoting and medicinal perspective, was then made available to Chinese farmers by contract with the Chinese government. The farmers were taught a new method of cultivating Duan Wood Reishi by these Japanese scientists. The Japanese subsequently bought all of the Duan Wood Reishi for use in Japan. Only recently has a small amount of this extraordinary Reishi become available outside of China.
Duan Wood Reishi is more than twice as potent as any other variety of Reishi mushroom available anywhere, with the possible exception of some wild Red or wild Purple Reishi. The Chinese and Japanese make extracts of it for injection and use it as a treatment for various forms of cancer. They also use it to treat hepatitis, arthritis and other immunological dysfunctions. It is also sold as a premium and rather expensive tonic for domestic use in China, Japan and more recently in America. Research revealed the exact moment to harvest the Reishi to maximize the quantity and potency of the active constituents. These Reishi, however, should be used within one year of harvest or they lose much of their potency.
Wild Purple Reishi. These wild mushrooms grow in the Chang Bai Mountains, north of North Korea in Jilin province. They are extremely rare. They are beautiful specimens. They are not entirely purple. They have both red and purple elements. In fact they look like red Reishi at first glance, but upon examination they have a significant purple coloration in the heart of the mushroom cap. These are revered in much the same way as wild Chang Bai Mountain Ginseng. Many people believe that Reishi originated in the Chang Bai Mountains and that Purple Wild Reishi is the great ancestor of all Reishi. It is considered to be the ultimate Shen tonic.
Reishi spores have recently become a major source of interest in China and Japan. Reishi spores contain huge quantities of polysaccharides and other ingredients which strengthen the immune system. The spores are now being used to treat liver and stomach cancer in China. As a health tonic, it is believed that the spores are even more potent that the mushroom cap itself. The spores, being seed, are believed to contain an abundance of Jing and are, therefore, considered to be an anti-aging substance. The spores are considered to be the virtual “elixir of life” to Asian herbalists. Spores are just now becoming commercially available in the West, albeit in small quantities and only through special sources. The spores must be purified, which is a difficult task because of their fineness. Traditionally, spores were believed to not only provide Jing, but to be the most subtle aspect of the Reishi and therefore to develop Shen.
Ganoderma was first described more than 2400 hundred years ago during the Shu Dynasty. The first detailed description was written in Shen Nong’s Herbal, attributed to the legendary herbalist-emperor Shen Nong (Han Dynasty, 206 B.C.~ 8 AD). Reishi was classified by Shen Nong as a superior herb that may be taken continuously without side effects. A “superior herb” was defined as a substance that serves to maintain life, causes no side effects by continuous use and promotes radiant health and long life by helping to harmonize the functions of the body, mind and spirit.
Specifically, regarding Red Reishi (which is the variety that is prevalent today), Shen Nong said:
“The taste is bitter, its atmospheric energy is neutral, it has no toxicity, it cures (removes) the accumulation of pathogenic factors in the chest, it is good for the Qi (functional activities) of the heart including mental activities, it tonifies the Spleen, increases wisdom, improves memory so that you won’t forget, long-term consumption will lighten your body, you will never become old, it lengthens years, it has spiritual power and it develops Shen”.