Mushroom Ganoderma (Ganoderma Lucidum) (Ling Zhi 紫灵芝)

Sweet (tián 甜) and bitter (kú苦) flavor and Yin-Yang neutral (zhōng xìng 中性) thermal nature and is affiliated with the heart, liver, lung, spleen, and kidney Meridian.

Active compounds:

Ganoderma Lucidum, an oriental fungus, has a long history of promoting health and longevity in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. It is not called the divine mushroom of immortality for nothing.

In Chinese, Ling Zhi’s name represents a combination of spiritual potency and the essence of immortality. It is regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency,” symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity. Among cultivated mushrooms, Ganoderma is unique because its pharmaceutical rather than nutritional value is paramount among cultivated mushrooms.

Most mushrooms are composed of around 90% water by weight. The remaining 10% consists of 10–40% protein, 2–8% fat, 3–28% carbohydrate, 3–32% fiber, 8–10% ash, and some vitamins and minerals, with potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, zinc, and copper accounting for most of the mineral content. A study of Ganoderma’s nonvolatile components found that the mushroom contains 1.8% ash, 26–28% carbohydrate, 3–5% crude fat, 59% crude fiber, and 7–8% crude protein.

In addition, mushrooms contain a wide variety of bioactive molecules, such as terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides, their derivatives, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides. Mushroom proteins contain all the essential amino acids and are especially rich in lysine and leucine. The low total fat content and a high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids relative to the total fatty acids of mushrooms are considered significant contributors to the health value of mushrooms.  Ganoderma is a unique, versatile mushroom with preventive, protective, and therapeutic effects. According to the tumor type, it is complementary cancer therapy.

Clinical Usage and Indications: 

  • Supports the Three Treasures (Jing, Qi, and Shen).
  • Tonify  kidney Jing (Essence): Improving cognitive ability Ganoderma can help stimulate nerve growth and boost memory and cognitive function, longevity, immunity, and spiritual and emotional well-being.  
  • Strengthen the Zheng Qi (vitality, life force, environmental resistance): agents that enhance the functioning of the host immune system could be expected to enhance health in terms of improved vitality, life force resistance, and, thus, removal of malignant or premalignant cells. Proved different components from Ganoderma to enhance the proliferation and maturation of T and B lymphocytes, splenic mononuclear cells, NK cells, and dendritic cells in culture in vitro and in animal studies in vivo. Furthermore, serum-incorporated treatment with a polysaccharide peptide fraction from Ganoderma markedly inhibited the proliferation of human  lung carcinoma (PG) cells. In contrast, the pure fraction by itself did not induce similar effects.
  • Nourish the heart and calm Shen (mind, the spirit, lives in the heart). Ganoderma can nourish the heart and harmonize, soothe the spirit Shen, heart dysfunction such as coronary, heart disease and its impact on lowering blood pressure. It also helps the restless spirit that will have signs like insomnia, forgetfulness, and fatigue. Therefore, it can use in various states of mild depression, anxiety, panic attack, Etc. Interestingly, Ganoderma helps the heart from the psychological perspective and, according to contemporary studies, from the physical perspective. For this reason, it is possible to be used on a variety of cardiovascular problems.
  • Help on Cancer treatment: this is why it is the most used mushroom for oncological problems after Coriolus. Both can stimulate the immune system to become more active against cancer cells. Coriolus is a bit better in this, but Ganoderma strengthens the body, which is no less important in these cases, especially if a person undergoes a drastic (but often necessary) conventional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It can be administered preferably throughout the entire conventional treatment (and for about two months afterward). It helps eliminate cancer cells and helps the body cope with demanding conventional treatment, usually accompanied by many unpleasant side effects. Antitumor effects of Ganoderma are mediated via effects on the immune system. However, it must be noted that the same research group conducted all studies and that other direct antitumor effects of Ganoderma have not yet been studied on humans in vivo. Ganoderma mushroom has properties that contribute to the healing of tumors, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Laboratory tests have confirmed that the mushroom has extracts that fight some kinds of cancer. These cancers include epithelial ovarian cancer. When tested on an animal, Ganoderma was found to work just like the Shiitake mushroom in preventing cancer metastasis. The stage when Ganoderma mushroom fights cancer best is yet to be specified. It is established, though, that it may inhibit the new formation of tumor-induced blood capillaries or veins. It may inhibit the movement of cancer cells within the body. It also can hinder the cancer cell’s ability to multiply.
  • Antioxidant: Consumption of antioxidant-rich plants may help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. Antioxidants protect cellular components from oxidative damage, are likely to decrease the risk of mutations and carcinogenesis, and protect immune cells, allowing them to maintain immune surveillance and response. Various components of Ganoderma, polysaccharides, and triterpenoids show antioxidant activity in vitro.
  • Moistens the lung, transforming Phlegm, and stopping cough: for various autoimmune or allergic problems, coughs, asthma, hay fever, allergies, COPD, emphysema, bronchitis, and other chronic respiratory conditions, a significant improvement when treated with Ganoderma extracts. It dries cough without sputum or cough with scanty sticky sputum. Cook with Bai He (Bulbus Lilli), Feng Mi. Add Yin Er to make tea or to make a thicker soup. It helps the immune system respond better to histamine reactions and helps deter allergic reactions. It is also great for recurrent respiratory system infections, but not in the acute phase. If the condition is acute, it is better to use Coriolus or beta-glucan (in higher doses). According to Chinese medicine, breathing is a matter of two organs: the kidney and the lung. Therefore, in these cases, it is often combined with Cordyceps. Cordyceps in the morning and Ganoderma in the evening.
  • Removes Toxicity: Ganoderma mushroom can help regenerate liver cells more quickly and benefit overall liver health, inhibiting the formation of tumor-induced blood capillaries or veins. It may also inhibit the movement of cancer cells within the body. It also can hinder the cancer cell’s ability to multiply. It is the most used mushroom for oncological problems after Coriolus. Both can stimulate the immune system to become more active against cancer cells. Ganoderma has a pronounced stimulation effect on the immune system, mainly macrophages, and activates NK cells (native killers).
  • Nourishes Yin promotes regeneration of Body Fluid. Since it helps replenish the Yin and blood, it is perfect for women. Sometimes it can be called the “lady’s mushroom,”; perhaps even for its anti-aging effect, since women age far slower when using this mushroom. It helps with various fatigue conditions, even post-partum fatigue, both physical and mental fatigue, because it has a tropism to the  heart (it nourishes the  heart, according to Chinese medicine)
  • It tonify the  stomach and helps with constipation due to  stomach-Yin deficiency. Make a soup and cook with spinach and carrot to clear Heat.   
  • Viral and Bacterial Infections: inhibit viral and bacterial multiplication without affecting normal cells; that is the goal of treatment. The undesired side effects of antibiotics and antivirals and the appearance of resistant and mutant strains make developing new agents an urgent requirement. Ganoderma showed inhibitory effects on herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). In a study, a ganoderic acid isolated from Ganoderma showed inhibitory effects on replicating hepatitis B virus (HBV) over eight days. A dried hot water extract of Ganoderma taken orally (equivalent to 36 or 72 g of dried mushroom per day) was used as the sole treatment for postherpetic (varicella-zoster virus) neuralgia in four elderly patients. This treatment was reported to dramatically decrease pain and promote lesions’ healing without toxicity, even at very high doses. The implication is that combination therapy may be safer and cost-effective, as it could use lower amounts of cytotoxic antiviral and antibacterial drugs with a concomitant decrease in the risk of side effects.
  • Treat liver and gastric injury:  Hot water and water–ether extracts of the fruit body of Ganoderma were found to have a potent hepatoprotective effect on   liver injury induced by carbon tetrachloride. The measured markers for   liver injury included aspartate and alanine transaminases (AST and ALT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Therefore, hepatoprotection may also be mediated by the radical-scavenging properties of Ganoderma. Further, the extract was reported to show hepatic protection and significant radical-scavenging activity against both superoxide and hydroxyl radicals.

Directions: 3-15 grams in decoction, 1.5-3 grams in pills/powders.

For general strengthening of the immune system Ganoderma plus Agaricus, Shiitake, and Coriolus

For allergy therapy, Ganoderma plus Agaricus, Hericium (especially for bowel cleansing)

To support physical and mental health conditions, Ganoderma plus Cordyceps

For complementary cancer therapy, Ganoderma pus according to the tumor type

For  heart and circulation support, Ganoderma plus Shiitake, Agaricus, Maitake, Auricularia, and Cordyceps 

For a natural anti-aging agent, Ganoderma plus Cordyceps.

To remedy sleep disorders, nervous restlessness, and exhaustion, Ganoderma plus Hericium, and Cordyceps

For complementary therapy for liver disorders, Ganoderma plus Maitake, Agaricus, and Shiitake

PrecautionUse caution in patients with excess conditions; infrequent side effects have been reported; they include vertigo, dry mouth/ nose, nausea, epistaxis, constipation, or diarrhea.

♨︎ History: Ling Zhi as Medicinal Mushroom

Lingzhi has been recognized as a medicinal mushroom for over 2000 years, and its powerful effects are documented in ancient scripts. The proliferation of Ganoderma images in art began in 1400 AD and is associated with Taoism. However, Ganoderma’s images extended beyond religion and appeared in paintings, carvings, furniture, and even women’s accessories. The first book wholly describing herbs and their medicinal value was Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, written in the Eastern Han dynasty of China (25-220 AD). This book is also known as “Classic of the Materia Medica” or “Shen-nong’s Herbal Classics.” In the Supplement to Classic of Materia Medica (502-536 AD) and the Ben Cao Gang Mu by Li Shin-Zhen, which is considered to be the first pharmacopeia in China (1590 AD; Ming dynasty), the mushroom was attributed with therapeutic properties, such as tonifying effects, enhancing vital energy, strengthening cardiac function, increasing memory, and anti-aging effects. According to the State Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (2000), Ganoderma acts to replenish Qi, ease the mind, and relieve cough and asthma. It is recommended for dizziness, insomnia, palpitation, and shortness of breath.

Wild Ling Zhi is rare, and only the nobility could afford it in the years before it was cultivated. It was believed the sacred fungus grew at the immortal’s home on the “three aisles of the best” off the coast of China. However, its reputation as a panacea may have been earned more by its irregular distribution, rarity, and use by the wealthy and privileged members of Chinese society than by its actual effects. Nevertheless, the Ganoderma species continue to be a popular traditional medicine in Asia, and their use is growing worldwide. However, contemporary medicine still overlooks and neglects this mushroom, but this has gradually changed. Many experiments, research, and clinical studies have been conducted since the 1960s to confirm what people already knew.

From the book Tao of Tummy©

About Dao of Tummy

Elisabete Alves de Souza, DOM, has over two decades of clinical experience. She is part of a Daoist lineage that focuses on achieving more significant states of health. Dr. de Souza has drawn from many studies in Brazil, California, New York, Chicago, and more to create her innovative nutrition treatments. She treats different conditions and symptoms in a nonaggressive way, transforming and fortifying your health with her unique knowledge and technique.
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