The Chinese character for ling zhi is composed of three calligraphic images that mean “shaman”, “praying for”, and “rain” .
In Japanese, the name reishi, may be suggestive of the Buddhas transformation into rishi which means “forest sage” .
The Latin name Ganoderma is derived from Gan (meaning shiny), and derm (meaning skin), lucidum also means shiny .
Ganoderma spp. releases approximatly 30 billion spores a day for up to 6 months a year .
G. tsugae, is considered the closest genetically to the revered G. lucidum, as well as G. resinaceum . There exists a fertile hybrid of G. tsugae, and G. lucidum, in an attempt to produce crops in more northern lattitudes. This hybrid has not been well studied as of yet, or widely cultivated, but preliminary research has shown anti-proliferative effects on colon cancer cells, rabid hypoglycemic effects, and enhanced cytokine expression in carginogen challenged mice . (See Chan et al., 2005 for more information on this hybrid).
Hapalopilus nidulans is very similar in look to G. applanatum, and is often misidentified as such .
G. adspersum - immunomodulatory
G. annulare - contains sterols as well as applanoxidic acids that have antimicrobial activity .
- Muscle relaxant
- CNS relaxant
- Protects the lungs
- Chemoprotective / chemopreventive
- Increases fertility,
Latin Binomial Name:
Fruiting body, mycelium, and spores
5-10 ml 3 times a day.
1g, 2-3 times per day with meals. If using commercially prepared reishi extracts, follow the label.
250ml 2-3 times a day.
- Food sensitivities
- Cardiovascular disease
- Viral infection (including HIV and herpes simplex virus)
- Bronchitis and asthma
- High cholesterol
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
Other uses include:
The spores have been found to extend the replcation lie cycle of yeast similarily to resveratrol .
- Ling zhi (Chinese)
- Ling Chih (Chinese meaning spirit plant or tree of life mushroom)
- Chi zhi (Chinese meaning red mushroom)
- Reishi (Japanese meaning divine mushroom, or spiritual mushroom)
- Phantom mushroom
- Varnished conk
- Mannentake (Japanese meaning ten thousand year mushroom, or mushroom of immortality)
- Saiwai-take (Japanese meaning good fortune mushroom)
- Sarunouchitake (Japanese meaning monkeys seat)
- Kishiba (Japanese for the yellow reishi G. curtisii)
- Artists conk, ancient ling zhi (Chinese), spirit plant, kofukisarunokosshikake (Japanese), kofukitake (shortened Japanese name)
- Western varnish shelf
Reishi has been used medicinally in Asian countries for at least 4000 years and is the most widely depicted mushroom in Japan, Korea, and China, which can be found on temples, tapestries, statues, and paintings .
Used to treat liver ailments, lung conditions, kidney disease, nerve pain, hypertension, gastric ulcers, and insomnia .
Has been made into beers and wines in Japan and China .
G. lucidums rarity, and subsequent value, made it most accessible to the privileged such as emperors and royalty. It has long been associated with longevity, and has been included in many ancient medical texts for this purpose .
The fungus has historically been used to ward off evil by hanging dried specimens over the door. Similarly, it has been placed on the graves of shamans to protect from evil souls or spirits .
Valued traditionally in many asian cultures as a sexual stimulant (especially the rare antler forms) .
In various parts of Asia, women would often give the mushroom (especially in the rare antler form), to men as an expression of their sexual interest .
G. applanatum has been used extensively in Ayurvedic systems in the pine region of India. Its uses includes stopping excessive salivation in the mouth, as a styptic. In Traditional Chinese Medicine this fungus has been used for oxygen deficit tolerance (altitude sickness), and is often combined with chrysanthemum, rhodiola, and safflower seed. Other uses includes radiation protection, Hashimotos disease, in foot baths for gout, and immune regulation. .
Still compiling research.
Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:
Wild Ganoderma lucidum is rare, but is indigenous to …
It grows on Elm (Ulmus spp.), alder (Alnus spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), maple (Acer spp.) and some strains on conifers . Other species of Ganoderma such as G. tsugae or G. oregonense grow better and almost exclusively on conifers. G. lucidum however prefers hardwoods. G. lucidum can be found very rarely in the Pacific Northwest, and a similar species (G. curtisii), is found more commonly in eastern Canada around the great lakes region . This species is actually a yellow form of the red G. lucidum.
Most reishi products on the market are cultivated in a sterile environment on logs or sawdust.
Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:
Both the mycelium, fruiting body, and spores are used medicinally.
The red variety is the most prized of all and is considered the most powerful in its effects .
The spores can be either taken raw, or can be cracked. This basically involves the germination, then drying of the spores and is suggested to provide stronger medicinal effects after this germination process has taken place. Another, much more expensive way of ingesting the spores it to run it through a supercritical CO2 extractor. This method creates a product that is roughly equivalent to 20-40 of the raw spore capsules .
A mushroom oil can also be extracted from the fruiting bodys waxes, can be used as is topically, or added to lotions, and salves.
Cosmetically it is useful as a sunscreen due to its radioprotective effects, as well as in anti-aging creams, and to remove warts .
As with most hard, polypores, chop the fungus into strips (better when wet or a saw may have to be used), and crumble into small peices. Decoct in water, then strain and freeze the leftover mush, doing this will cause the cell walls to burst and allow more constituents to be extracted during the next process. Next, after it has been frozen for 24 hours or so, dethaw, and mix with 95% alcohol for at least 2 week. At the end, strin, and combine with the decoction made earlier to a standardized amount.
carbohydrates, amino acids (including adenosine), steroids (ergosterols), protease, lysosomes, lipids, triterpenes, alkaloids, vitamins B2 and C, minerals (zinc, manganese, iron, copper, germanium), beta-glucans (up to 40.6%), .
Sterols, alkaloids, lactones, erogone, polysaccharides, triterpinoids,
choline, triterpenes, betaine, palmitic acid, stearic acid, ergosta7,22-dien-3b-ol, tetracosanoic acid, behenic acid, nonadecanoic acid, ergosterol, beta sitosterol, pyrophosphatidic acid, hentriacontane, tetracosane, ganodermasides (A and B), .
Ergosterol (and its peroxide), ergosta-7,22-dien-3b-ol, ergasta-7,22-dien-3-one, β-D-glucan, fungisterol, alnusenone, friedelin, triterpenoids (including ganoderenic, furanoganoderic, ganoderic acids), applanoxidic acids (A, B, C, and D), lanostandoid triterpenes E-H, lucidone A, ganoderma aldehyde, 3 linoleic acid steryl esters . To compare with G. lucidum, ganoderenic acid, and ganoderic acid is found in both .
3 α-acetoxy-5α-lanosta-8,24-dien-21-oic acid, 2β,3α,9α-trihydroxy-5α-ergosta-7,22-dien, 3alpha-acetoxy-16alpha-tsugarioside B and C, ganoderic acid C2, ganoderic acid B, lucidone A, and glycans (various) .
Pharmacology and Medical Research:
Has been shown to produce inhibition of inducible nitric oxide production (Rogers, 2011).
Shown to inhibit strongly E. coli, as well some inhibitory effects on species of Bacillus, Micrococcus, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus .
G. applanatum was found to be effective against Bacillus cereus, Cornybacterium diptheriae, E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Gram positive bacteria were more affected than gram negative .
It has been suggested that the polysaccharides in Ganoderma spp. are more antibacterial, and the triterpenoids are more antiviral .
Ganoderma has been shown to produce potent lens aldose reductase inhibition, and significant inhibition of serum glucose and sorbitol accumulation in the lens of the eye, red blood cells, and sciatic nerves in diabetic rats . This shows potential as a treatment for diabetic induced retinopathy, and other diabetese related damage in the body.
Ganoderma extracts were also shown to lower blood sugar levels, as well as cholesterol levels in diabetic rats .
Has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in hyperglycemic models (fruiting body), and involved the ganoderans B and C .
30 million adults suffer late onset (type 2) diabetes .
In a study on type 2 diabetics not on insulin, were given reishi extracts, and compared to the placebo control group, were found to have significantly decreased glycosylated hemoglobin (8.4%-7.6%), in as little as 12 weeks. Fasting inslin levels, 2 hour post prandial insulin, fasting C-peptide, and post-prandial C-peptide all showed significant improvement in the reishi group .
Spores also show evidence for antidiabetic effects .
Rogers, (2011) reports that Ganoderic acids A, B, G, and H have shown a stronger antinflammatory effect than aspirin.
Shown to produce antioxidant effects .
Methanol extracts of G. tsugae were found to be more potent in antioxidant effects that alpha tocopherol, and exhibited significant inhibition of lipid peroxidation as such. The antioxidant effects are not considered as strong as G. lucidum, but is very close. It is the phenol content that has been considered responsible for these effects. .
G. tsugae fruiting body extract was shown to increase intracellular glutathione levels, which in turn protect against oxidative damage .
Polysaccharides from Ganoderma spp. protect the gastric mucosa, by improving PGE2, which backs up the history of using the tea for ulcers .
G. lucidum fruiting body extracts has been shown to inhibit HIV, and HPV .
Rogers, (2011) reports that Ganaderiol-F, ganodermadiol, ganoderic acid beta, and lucidumol have all been identified as antiviral agents.
G. resinaceum (and most likely G. tsugae, and G. lucidum as well), have been shown to inhibit punta toro, pichinde (viruses?), and H1N1 .
Has been shown to enhance the production of interleukin-1 in vitro, and increase white blood cell and hemoglobin levels in mic (Rogers, 2011).
Reishi has been shown to improve symptoms of coronary heart disease (Rogers, 2011).
G. lucidum has been shown to provide anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetic, reduced platelet aggregation, anti atherosclerotic, and antihypotensive effects, which all playa role in the development of cardiovascular disease 
Suggested to produce angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition through its ganoderic acid B, C2, D, and F .
Suggested to provide arrythmia relief among its cardiovascular effects .
Has been shown to increase natural killer cell activity of splenocytes by up to 52% .
Helps to assist the p53 checkpoint. This is where genes inspect and destroy abnormal cells. In cancer cells, this is normally a gene that has been damaged, which in turn permits the abnormal cells to move on to the next phase and division. Melatonin and IP6 assist the role of p53. . Some scientists refer to this the guardian of the gene, or master gene. (Research this further, I have never seen it brought up before and sounds very interesting).
An alcohol extract of the mycelium has shown positive effects against hepatoma, which suggests liquid culture specimens without subsequent fruiting bodies still provides chemoprotective, and possibly other effects as well .
Suggested to have provided normalization of T-cells in Russian cosmonauts .
Suggested to provide antineoplastic and chemopreventive effects through mediation of the immune system as well as through apoptosis . For this reason there may exist powerful synergy between reishi, direct cytotoxic botanicals, and nutraceuticals aimed to provide immune system with the appropriate building blocks for this to reach its maximum effects.
Show to work well with cisplatin, adriamycin, fluorouracil, and other chemotherapeutics .
Polysaccharides can reverse the multidrug resistance in adriamycin-resistant leukemic cancer cells by down regulating the expression of MDR1 and MRP1 .
The spores (usually cracked), have been found to posess anti-neoplastic effects as well .
Applanoxidic acid B found in Ganoderma applanatum, is the most active triterpene to show effect on skin tumor promoters in mice .
Ganoderic acids A and C inhibit farnesyl protein transferase, which may play a role in cancer treatment .
The proteins (glycans?) and carbohydrates (polysaccharides), found in Ganoderma, significantly inhibits tumor growth, and increase natural killer cell activity .
Ganoderma spp. appears to have especially noticable effects on hormone related cancers, more research is needed on the mechanism of action for this.
In vitro studies have confirmed the action of Ganoderma extracts on tumor cell lines including colorectal prostate , lung , acute myelogenous leukemia , breast cancer , colorectal cancer , and bladder cancer .
The constituent mainly held responsible is the polysaccharide component. Particularily with branched (1 ! 6)-β-Dglucan moiety in Ganoderma lucidum. .
The triterpenoids contained in the mycelium of G. tsugae have shown hepatoprotective activity .
Ganodereic acid B, has shown hepatoprotective effects .
The polysaccharides from the mycelium were found to be both antinflammatory, and immune stimulating, Rogers, (2011), suggests contradiction from these two effects suggest bi-directional (immunomodulatory) effects on immune response, rather than just stimulat2ing. This appears to be dose dependant, and may be through modulation of cytokine production.
Has been shown to both reduce inflammation, and imcrease immune response, which is slightly contradictory in that inflammation is an increase of immune response. It has been suggested that G. lucidum produces this apparent modulatory effect (that is balances the immune response by either stimulating, or depressing it) through the enteric mucosal pathway (Look further into this as the book did not describe at all). Its effects on the immune system do not appear to be through IgE antibody synthesis. G. lucidum has been shown to produce this stabilizing, bidirectional effects on immunoglobulin levels, lowering when high, and raising when these antibodies when low. These effects suggest a mechanism of action for reishis effects against food sensitivities .
Suggested to protect against UVB radiation .
The spores are suggested to produce sedative and hypnoitic effects in mice .
Shown to effectively treat bronchitis and other lung disorders, the chemicals suggested to be responsible for these effects are gonoderic acids A, B, C1, and C2 .
Toxicity and Contraindications:
None reported. Very low toxicity.
- Do not use before surgery due to vasodilating effects.
- Caution should be noted if on ACE inhibitory drugs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Taste: Sweet 
Energy: Neutral 
Channels: Heart, liver, lung 
Actions: Tonifies the heart, calms and anchors the shen, stops cough, stops wheezing, dislodges phlegm, tonifies the spleen, tonifies the Qi, tonifies blood 
Indications: Suitable during pregnancy .
Dose: 3-15g decocted20 mins 
Considered warming, astringent, nourishing, detoxifying, and tonifying (Rogers, 2011). Protects qi of the heart, used to repair a knotted, tight chest. Traditionally in this system it was recommended to take this herb over long periods of time to reap the benefits of longevity.
The spores are suggested to contain high amounts of jing and considered an elixir of life .
For altitude sickness: Combines well with rhodiola for this purpose.
It has been suggested that vitamin C helps absorb this mushroom, however more research is needed to confirm this. Pineapple and ginger may also increase the absorption of reishis constituents.
Recent Blog Posts:
- Rogers, R. D. (2011). The fungal pharmacy: The complete guide to medicinal mushrooms and lichens of North America [Adobe Digital Editions version].
- Berovic, M., J. Habijanic, I. Zore, B. Wraber, D. Hodzar, B. Boh and F. Pohleven. Submerged cultivation of Ganoderma lucidum biomass and immunostimulatory effects of fungal polysaccharides. J. Biotechnol. 103: 77–86, 2003
- Jiang, Y., H. Wang, L. Lu and G.Y. Tian. Chemistry of polysaccharide Lzps-1 from Ganoderma lucidum spore and anti-tumor activity of its total polysaccharides. Yao. Xue. Xue. Bao. 40: 347–350, 2005.
- Cheng, K.C., H.C. Huang, J.H. Chen, J.W. Hsu, H.C. Cheng, C.H. Ou, W.B. Yang, S.T. Chen, C.H. Wong and H.F. Juan. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in human monocytic leukemia cells: from gene expression to network construction. BMC Genomics 8: 411, 2007.
- Hempen, C. H., & Fischer, T. (2009). A Materia Medica for Chinese Medicine: Plants, Minerals, and Animal Products. (Pg. 436-437).
- Thyagarajan, A., J. Jiang, A. Hopf, J. Adamec and D. Sliva. Inhibition of oxidative stress-induced invasiveness of cancer cells by Ganoderma lucidum is mediated through the suppression of interleukin-8 secretion. Int. J. Mol. Med. 18: 657–664, 2006.
- Xie, J.T., C.Z. Wang, S. Wicks, J.J. Yin, J. Kong, J. Li, Y. C. Li and C.S. Yuan. Ganoderma lucidum extract inhibits proliferation of SW 480 human colorectal cancer cells. Exp. Oncol. 28: 25–29, 2006.
- Paterson, R.R. Ganoderma — a therapeutic fungal biofactory. Phytochemistry. 67: 1985–2001, 2006.
- Lin, Y.L., Y.C. Liang, S.S. Lee and B.L. Chiang. (2005). Polysaccharide purified from Ganoderma lucidum induced activation and maturation of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells by the NFkappaB and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. J. Leukoc. Biol. 78: 533–543.