Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum, lesklokorka lesklá, Ling zhi, “divine mushroom of immortality”)

is a wood-decaying mushroom from the Polyporaceae that comes from Asia. It belongs to the huge Ganodermataceae family, which includes more than 210 different kinds of ganodermas.

Reishi is very rare in the wild, but because of the great demand it is grown in large volumes commercially in cultivation farms. Fortunately, mushrooms grown in cultivation farms are the full-fledged replacement for those growing in the wild.

Thanks to this cultivation, it is also easier to take advantage of the individual development stages of Reishi, i.e. ripe mushrooms, mycelium, spores, etc. At each stage the mushroom may have a slightly different composition and may include more of some components and less of others.

Reishi mushrooms have a long history

They have been used in China and Japan for nearly 4,000 years as a health tonic and as medicine for liver problems, heart conditions, asthma, cancer , high blood pressure, and arthritis.

Lingzhi or Reishi has been recognized as a medicinal mushroom for over 2000 years, and its powerful effects have been documented in ancient scripts (Wasser 2005).

The proliferation of G. lucidum images in art began in 1400 AD, and they are associated with Taoism (McMeekin 2005). However, G. lucidum images extended beyond religion and appeared in paintings, carvings, furniture, and even women’s accessories (Wasser 2005).

The first book wholly devoted to the description of 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.” It describes botanical, zoological, and mineral substances, and was composed in the second century under the pseudonym of Shen-nong (“the holy farmer”; Zhu, 1998).

The book, which has been continually updated and extended, describes the beneficial effects of several mushrooms with a reference to the medicinal mushroom G. lucidum (Zhu, 1998Upton 2000Sanodiya et al. 2009). 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 pharmacopoeia 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 antiaging effects.

According to the State Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (2000), G. lucidum acts to replenish Qi, ease the mind, and relieve cough and asthma, and it is recommended for dizziness, insomnia, palpitation, and shortness of breath.

Zhongke Wild Lingzhi

Cultivation base

is rare, and in the years before it was cultivated, only the nobility could afford it. It was believed that the sacred fungus grew in the home of the immortals on the “three aisles of the blest” off the coast of China (McMeekin 2005). However, its reputation as a panacea may have been earned more by virtue of its irregular distribution, rarity, and use by the rich and privileged members of Chinese society than by its actual effects.

Nevertheless, the Ganodermaspecies continue to be a popular traditional medicine in Asia and their use is growing throughout the world (Wachtel-Galor, Buswell et al. 2004Lindequist, Niedermeyer, and Jülich 2005).

In Traditional Chinese medicine , reishi mushrooms are classified in a group of herbs known as Fu Zheng, which Chinese herbalists believe are the most powerful herbs for all-around strength, health, and longevity.

Key compounds & chemicals

Reishi mushrooms have been well researched and tested, mostly in China and Japan. Scientists have isolated several chemicals in them that have pharmacological (medicinal) effects on the body.
Reishi mushrooms contain compounds called :

Polysaccharide

Polysaccharides represent structurally diverse biological macromolecules with wide-ranging physiochemical properties .  Polysaccharides have been extracted from the fruit body, spores, and mycelia of lingzhi; they are produced by fungal mycelia cultured in fermenters and can differ in their sugar and peptide compositions and molecular weight, are reported to exhibit a broad range of bioactivities, including anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, antiulcer, antitumorigenic, and immunostimulating effects (; ; ; ; ). Polysaccharides are normally obtained from the mushroom by extraction with hot water followed by precipitation with ethanol or methanol, but they can also be extracted with water and alkali.  Polysaccharides have been shown to help the body fight cancerous tumors and also stimulate the immune system to combat infections and viruses.
In studies on mice, reishi mushrooms have shown very strong results against cancerous tumors. One Japanese study suggests that reishi mushrooms may serve as a chemopreventive against colon cancer.Triterpenes

Triterpenes

Triterpenes and Reishi.
There are many triterpenes in reishi, the most popular being, ganoderic acids, lucidenic acids, and sterols.  In fact, in the last few decades, more than 140 triterpenes have been isolated from reishi fruiting bodies, spores, and mycelia.  One studied administered showed the triterpenes present in reishi were DNA-protective against radiation-induced damage, even at a low dose. This study suggested that triterpenes are radio-protective and have concise therapeutic potential. One of the most remarking qualities of triterpenes researched in the scientific field is their cytotoxicity against cancer and tumor cells.  Cyto, meaning cell, and toxic, well, meaning toxic.  Chemotherapy and radiation are considered to be cytotoxic, so the fact that triterpenes have been seen to show incredible cytotoxicity suggests reishi mushroom to be a profound vehicle of exploration for a natural treatment and prevention of cancer cells.  Not to mention that instead of using radiation to treat cancer cells, triterpenes could potentially serve the same function, while also being radioprotective.
 

In other words, it could be the treatment, and the clean-up crew for previous failed treatments.

Triterpenes and the Nervous System
Believe it or not, the liver and the nervous system go hand in hand.  The grounding and calming effect of reishi mushroom can be attributed to the liver tonifying qualities of triterpenes, which is directly correlated with the bitter taste they provide.  In Chinese Medicine, bitter flavor nourishes the liver, and that is directly grounding for the nervous system.
Additional Interesting Facts about Triterpenes Triterpenes are also balancing for the hormones, digestion, blood pressure, and circulation, as well as again, being one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories and anti-viral compounds found in nature. In fact, triterpenes are precursors for steroids, which are nature’s anti-inflammatory. Triterpenes are the natural, effective, and completely safe alternative to traditionally prescribed steroids.
 

 

The Best Way to Integrate Triterpenes into Your Body:
The most concentrated form of triterpenes can be found in our Reishi spore oil at an astounding 40% per capsule.  Zhongke Nanjing Pharmaceutical CO., LTD reishi spore oil is the highest concentration, in the purest form on the market.  The oil is extracted using only CO2, meaning that no harsh chemicals or temperature were used in the extraction, preserving the full integrity and energetic signature of the triterpenes.  Reishi spore oil is hands down the best source for triterpenes. More recently, reishi mushrooms have been identified as a source of powerful antioxidants , which are enzymes or other organic compounds that counteract the damaging effects of oxidation on human tissue.

Benefits of Reishi

According to the Chinese Ancient Medical publications "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing" and "Ben Cao Gang Mu" (Compendium of Materia Medica)  are as the following:
       
  • May Boost Internal Body Ying & Yang (immune system), May Help Maintain a healthier Body  
  • May enhances the body's internal Qi (immune system) and increases the body's internal self-defense mechanisms against bad cell. Modern scientific researchers found that Lingzhi enhances the function of monocytic macrophages by activating the synthesis of interleukin. It enhances the blood synthesis capacity, particularly at the white blood cell level. Proper and sustained usage of Lingzhi produces an inhibiting effect on cell mutation, and becomes one of the most effective dietary supplements for body maintenance. It can be used as a dietary supplement in combination with clinical tumor treatments, and with any other daily food. 
  • May help maintain liver and help with detoxification of the body. It is said Reishi is able to help protect the liver from damage caused by various chemical and biological treatments. Reishi  can be used before liver discomforts happen, or afterward in a combination treatment plan as a dietary supplement. Lingzhi's primary function is to help speed up the metabolism and reduce the toxic substances in the liver. Lingzhi may also help relieve certain discomforts associated with chronic hepatitis and minimizes associated and related symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue. 
  • May Help Maintain the Body’s Circulation System. Chinese and Japanese clinical studies and experiments with animals confirm Reishi can effectively dilate coronary arteries, increase coronary blood vessel flow, and improve circulation in cardiac muscle capillaries. This, in turn, may increase the supply of oxygen and energy to cardiac muscles. It may help protect the heart from a shortage of blood supply, and may also help prevent heart disease and nausea. 
  • May balance blood cholesterol by preveting the formation of arterial athermanous. If athermanous patches are already formed, Resihi may help reduce the cholesterol in the arterial wall and soften the blood vessel to avoid further damage. It may improve blood circulation and prevent the aggregation of blood platelets.         
  • May help support aging process.The polysaccharides and polypeptides found in Lingzhi may help delay aging through the following according to Japanese researches: Lingzhi polysaccharides may help enhance DNA synthesis in the cell nucleus, which may result in delayed aging. 
  • May Have a Calming Effect. Relieves Depression, and Helping Sleep   The Chinese use Reishi to treat neurasthenia and insomnia. Extracts from Reishi may work on the central nervous system, so as to calm the body. In ancient Chinese medical publications, Reishi was said to "stabilize emotion", "increase wisdom", and "enhance memory power". Recent reports state that Reishi has a prominent effect on insomnia caused by neurasthenia. Generally, it takes a period of 10 to 15 days for sleep patterns to improve, appetite to increase and body weight to stabilize. Reishi has a relatively strong effect on the central nervous system. To date, the effects of Reishi on neurasthenia and insomnia has been clearly described and stated in the published “China State Medicine Book”. 
  • May Help Balance & Maintain Blood Pressure. Laboratory tests have showed that Reishi can effectively balance the blood pressure. Reishi is currently being used in Chinese clinics to help maintain patients’ blood pressures; these test cases have been reported to have an 88% success rate. It was found that Lingzhi also extends and stabilizes the effects of other blood pressure medicines.
  • May Help Balance and Maintain Blood Sugar. It has been found by Japanese and Chinese clinically tests that Reishi “Ganoderma B and C” may help lower blood glucose levels. In China, research has shown that by enhancing utilization of blood glucose by body tissues, Reishi can serve as a supplement to insulin to inhibit the release of fatty acids. Chinese studies reflect that blood glucose can be reduced from 173 to 116, cholesterol from 233 to 179, and Beta-protein from 580 to 465. 
  • May Help Maintain Respiratory System. Both the popular ancient Chinese medical publications, "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing" and "Ben Cao Gang Mu" (Compendium of Materia Medica), written in the Han and Ming Dynasties, provide detailed descriptions of the effects of Reishi on respiratory disorders.  Reishi may stop coughing, may help clear sputum, and may help suppress asthma. It may also relieve symptoms of related respiratory discomforts. Reishi plays a significant role in  activates the immune system, it may help prevent contracting the flu and other common colds according to some scientific researches. 
  • May Help Relieve Allergies. If the body is invaded by an antigen that elicits an immunological reaction leading to various abnormalities and immunopathological symptoms, Reishi may be effective in suppressing negative reactions and help the body recover more rapidly. Chinese experiments show that Lingzhi helps stop the release of hyper-reactive factors and helps prevent the development of allergic reactions. Lingzhi has been found to help alleviate the symptoms of asthma, joints discomforts, heart discomforts, allergic discomforts and certain skin discomforts. 
  • May Be Beneficial to Beauty Care. Ganoderma Lucidum may retain and regulate water in the skin and helps maintain the skin's elasticity, keeping the skin hydrated and smooth. It may also help to inhibit the formation and deposit of melanin in skin. Today, Ganoderma Lucidum beauty care products are becoming new stars in the cosmetic industry. By adding Reishi into daily food, not only can one’s skin be kept smooth but it may also help prevent bacterial infections according to Japanese researches. in addition to the above, Reishi may help to inhibit the formation and deposit effects; Reishi  has been reported by world scientific researchers that it may help stimulate blood synthesis. Ganoderma Lucidum may help enable the body to block viral infections. Ganoderma may also help increase the body's tolerance against polluted environments. It may be beneficial to suppress over-contraction of the uterine muscles for those who have irregular menstrual cycles. Lingzhi may also be effective in alleviating retinal, brain, and abnormal muscular development issues. Ganoderma Lucidum may act as a pain reliever for headaches according to Chinese and Japanese researches.                   

General use

Reishi mushrooms are recommended as a general tonic for health, energy, and longevity. They are prescribed for diseases including coronary heart disease, cancer, aids and for such chronic infections such as bronchitis, hepatitis, and mononucleosis.
Reishi mushrooms are also used to treat high blood pressure, asthma, nervous disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and arthritis.

Side effects

In clinical studies, Reishi mushrooms have been shown to be non-toxic in high doses, and severe side effects have not been observed. Mild side effects may include stomach upset, dry mouthdiarrhoea, and skin rash, and generally disappear after several days.

Side effects can be alleviated by stopping use, or in the case of stomach upset and diarrhoea, taking the supplement with meals.