Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Botanical Name :Ganoderma lucidum
Family: Ganodermataceae
Genus: Ganoderma
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Polyporales
Species: G. lucidum

Common Names : Reishi , Ling-zhi, ling chih, ling chi mushroom
Other Names :Língzh? (traditional Chinese) Japanese: reishi; Korean: yeongji, hangul

Habitat :
Ganoderma lucidum, and its close relative Ganoderma tsugae, grow in the northern Eastern Hemlock forests. These two species of bracket fungus have a worldwide distribution in both tropical and temperate geographical regions, including North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, growing as a parasite or saprotroph on a wide variety of trees. Similar species of Ganoderma have been found growing in the Amazon. In nature, Lingzhi grows at the base and stumps of deciduous trees, especially maple. Only two or three out of 10,000 such aged trees will have Lingzhi growth, and therefore its wild form is generally rare. Today, Lingzhi is effectively cultivated both indoors under sterile conditions and outdoors on either logs or woodchip beds.

Taxonomy and naming:
The name Ganoderma is derived from the Greek ganos “brightness, sheen”, hence “shining” and derma “skin”, while the specific epithet lucidum in Latin for “shining” and tsugae refers to being of the Hemlock (Tsuga). Another Japanese name is mannentake , meaning “10,000 year mushroom”.

There are multiple species of lingzhi, scientifically known to be within the Ganoderma lucidum species complex and mycologists are still researching the differences between species within this complex of species.

Description:
Lingzhi is a polypore mushroom that is soft (when fresh), corky, and flat, with a conspicuous red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap and, depending on specimen age, white to dull brown pores underneath. It lacks gills on its underside and releases its spores through fine pores, leading to its morphological classification as a polypore.

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It is a Parasitic on living hardwoods (especially oaks) and saprobic on the deadwood of hardwoods; causing a white butt and root rot; growing alone or gregariously, usually near the base of the tree; annual; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains, and occasionally recorded in the western states.

Varieties:
Ganoderma lucidum generally occurs in two growth forms, one, found in North America, is sessile and rather large with only a small or no stalk, while the other is smaller and has a long, narrow stalk, and is found mainly in the tropics. However, many growth forms exist that are intermediate to the two types, or even exhibit very unusual morphologies, raising the possibility that they are separate species. Environmental conditions also play a substantial role in the different morphological characteristics lingzhi can exhibit. For example, elevated carbon dioxide levels result in stem elongation in lingzhi. Other forms show “antlers’, without a cap and these may be affected by carbon dioxide levels as well.

According to Compendium of Materia Medica, lingzhi may be classified into six categories according to their shapes and colors, each of which is believed to nourish a different part of the body. (Red-heart, Purple-joints, Green-liver, White-lungs/skin, Yellow-spleen, Black-kidneys/brain).

Biochemistry
Ganoderic acid A, a compound isolated from Lingzhi.Ganoderma lucidum produces a group of triterpenes, called ganoderic acids, which have a molecular structure similar to steroid hormones. It also contains other compounds many of which are typically found in fungal materials including polysaccharides such as beta-glucan, coumarin, mannitol, and alkaloids.

Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Alcoholism/Drug Abuse * Allergies/hay Fever * Anxiety/Panic * Bronchitis * Chronic Fatigue * General Health Tonics * Hypertension HBP * Immune System * Liver * Stress *

Properties: Immunostimulant* Hypoglycemic* Cardic tonic Cordial* Expectorant* AntiViral*
Parts Used: Fruiting body

Traditions: Traditional Chinese Medicine *

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Reishi, or Ling zhi is the extract of the Ganoderma lucium mushroom. This mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicines for thousands of years, who place it in the highest class of tonic medicines, those who benefit the vital life energy or Qi. Reishi mushrooms are commonly prescribed for a host of conditions such as anxiety, high blood pressure, bronchitis, insomnia, and asthma but is particularly renowned for its use in hepatitis and other diseases of the liver and for promoting longevity.

The Western focus on reishi is on the mushroom’s immuno-enhancing and anti-tumor activities, the exact mechanism is still unknown.

Lingzhi research and therapeutic usage:-
Lingzhi may possess anti-tumor, immunomodulatory and immunotherapeutic activities, supported by studies on polysaccharides, terpenes, and other bioactive compounds isolated from fruiting bodies and mycelia of this fungus (reviewed by R. R. Paterson and Lindequist et al.). It has also been found to inhibit platelet aggregation, and to lower blood pressure (via inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme), cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Laboratory studies have shown anti-neoplastic effects of fungal extracts or isolated compounds against some types of cancer. In an animal model, Ganoderma has been reported to prevent cancer metastasis, with potency comparable to Lentinan from Shiitake mushrooms.

The mechanisms by which G. lucidum may affect cancer are unknown and they may target different stages of cancer development: inhibition of angiogenesis (formation of new, tumor-induced blood vessels, created to supply nutrients to the tumor) mediated by cytokines, cytoxicity, inhibiting migration of the cancer cells and metastasis, and inducing and enhancing apoptosis of tumor cells. Nevertheless, G. lucidum extracts are already used in commercial pharmaceuticals such as MC-S for suppressing cancer cell proliferation and migration.

Additional studies indicate that ganoderic acid can help to strengthen the liver against liver injury by viruses and other toxic agents in mice, suggesting a potential benefit of this compound in the prevention of liver diseases in humans, and Ganoderma-derived sterols inhibit lanosterol 14?-demethylase activity in the biosynthesis of cholesterol . Ganoderma compounds inhibit 5-alpha reductase activity in the biosynthesis of dihydrotestosterone.

Besides effects on mammalian physiology, Ganoderma is reported to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral activities. Ganoderma is reported to exhibit direct anti-viral with the following viruses; HSV-1, HSV-2, influenza virus, vesicular stomatitis. Ganoderma mushrooms are reported to exhibit direct anti-microbial properties with the following organisms; Aspergillus niger, Bacillus cereus, Candida albicans, and Escherichia coli.

Preparation
Due to its bitter taste, Lingzhi is traditionally prepared as a hot water extract. Thinly sliced or pulverized lingzhi (either fresh or dried) is added to a pot of boiling water, the water is then brought to a simmer, and the pot is covered; the lingzhi is then simmered for two hours. The resulting liquid is fairly bitter in taste, with the more active red lingzhi more bitter than the black. The process is sometimes repeated. Alternatively, it can be used as an ingredient in a formula decoction or used to make an extract (in liquid, capsule, or powder form). The more active red forms of lingzhi are far too bitter to be consumed in a soup.


You may click to see: Ganoderma Lucidum – The Wonder Herb :

Can Ganoderma Lucidum cure your stubborn diseases?”

Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides can induce human monocytic leukemia cells into dendritic cells with immuno-stimulatory function:

Ganoderma lucidum, Reishi or Ling Zhi, a fungus used in oriental medicine. :

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.mushroomexpert.com/ganoderma_lucidum.html
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail299.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingzhi_mushroom

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