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.
Because of its bitter taste, lingzhi is traditionally prepared as a hot water extract product. Thinly sliced or pulverized lingzhi (either fresh or dried) is added to a pot of boiling water, the water is then reduced to a simmer, and the pot is covered; the lingzhi is then simmered for two hours. The resulting liquid is fairly bitter in taste and dark, with the more active red lingzhi more bitter than the black. The process is sometimes repeated for additional concentration. 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.
The lingzhi mushroom is a species complex that encompasses several fungal species of the genus Ganoderma, most commonly the closely related species Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma tsugae, and Ganoderma lingzhi. G. lingzhi is frequently used in East Asia. The name of the Lingzhi fungus has a two-thousand-year-old history. The Chinese term lingzhi 靈芝 was first recorded during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD). Petter Adolf Karsten named the genus Ganoderma in 1881.
In the Chinese language, Lingzhi is made up of the compounds ling 灵 “spirit, spiritual; soul; miraculous; sacred; divine; mysterious; efficacious; effective” (cf. Lingyan Temple) and Zhi 芝 “(traditional) plant of longevity; fungus; seed; branch; mushroom; excrescence”. Fabrizio Pregadio notes, “The term Zhi, which has no equivalent in Western languages, refers to a variety of supermundane substances often described as plants, fungi, or ‘excrescences’.” Zhi occurs in other Chinese plant names such as zhima 芝麻 “sesame” or “seed”, and was anciently used a phonetic loan character for Zhi 芷 “Angelica iris”. Chinese differentiates Ganoderma species between chizhi 赤芝 “red mushroom” G. lucidum and zizhi 紫芝 “purple mushroom” G. japonicum.
Japanese language Reishi 霊芝 is a Sino-Japanese loan word from lingzhi. This modern Japanese kanji 霊 is the shinjitai “new character form” for the kyūjitai “old character form” 靈. In Korean, it is called yeongji (영지; 靈芝). The word is cognate with Chinese língzhī (灵芝; 靈芝) and Japanese reishi (霊芝; れいし).
The first step is to use the fruit bodies, not the mycelium. Lingzhi / Reishi mycelium does not contain any triterpenes. Only the mushroom contains triterpenes which are why we use the mushrooms to make our extract. Because the levels of active compounds in Lingzhi / Reishi mushrooms can vary significantly from strain to strain within the species,
Mushroom Science also uses a two-step extraction process; first hot water extraction to extract the polysaccharides that contain the beta glucans, and then a second step using ethanol (alcohol) and hot water together to extract the triterpenes.
Researchers have identified three specific compounds that are essential to Lingzhi’s powerful antioxidant and anti-aging effects:
Lingzhi extracts work to lower blood sugar by several different mechanisms. Lingzhi inhibits alpha-glucosidase, the chief enzyme responsible for digesting starches into sugars. This inhibition prevents the sharp after-meal spike in glucose that is so dangerous as we age. They also limit the destruction caused by advanced glycation end products (AGEs), the proteins whose malfunction promotes aging and inflammation.
Scientists have suggested that beta-glucans, which are complex sugars found in Lingzhi, may also stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. The first website wholly devoted to medicinal herbs was Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing written in 25 to 220 AD. In it, it describes some health benefits of the Lingzhi.
Vaginal Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Lingzhi / Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the primary herbs of choice in any immune deficiency disease. It possesses a broad spectrum of immunostimulating activities, as well as anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic properties. Lingzhi / Reishi contains more than 100 oxygenated triterpenes, many of which exhibit a marked effect on the activity of NK cells. It has been widely used for a variety of infectious diseases such as bronchitis and hepatitis. It stimulates phagocytosis, increases T-cell activity and is a treatment for viral hepatitis. Lingzhi / Reishi has been reported to increase CD4 cells in vivo. It is also used as an effective antidepressant.
Lingzhi / Reishi polysaccharide peptide (Gl-PP) has demonstrated antitumor effects in mice and potential antiangiogenesis, a reduction of Bcl-2 antiapoptotic protein expression and an increase of Bax proapoptotic protein expression; therefore, inducing cell apoptosis might be one of the mechanisms of action in inhibition of human carcinoma cells.
High doses of Gl-PP resulted in a decrease in the secreted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Taken together, these findings support the hypothesis that the key attribute of the antiangiogenic potential of Gl-PP is that it may directly inhibit vascular endothelial cell proliferation or indirectly decrease growth factor expression of tumor cells.
It has been demonstrated that G. lucidum induces apoptosis, inhibits cell proliferation, and suppresses cell migration of highly invasive human prostate cancer cells PC-3. Experimental results on cell-mediated immunity showed that G. lucidum could increase the percentage of CD5+, CD4+, and CD8+ T lymphocytes.
Experimental results on humoral immunity in horses showed that G. lucidum could help horses to produce a significantly higher quantity of specific antibodies in a shorter time. Although the pharmacology and clinical application of water extracts of G. lucidum have been extensively documented, little is known regarding its alcohol extract.
In the present study, the antitumor effect of an alcohol extract was investigated using MCF-7 breast cancer cells. The extract inhibited cell proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner, which might be mediated through upregulation of p21/Waf1 and downregulation of cyclin D1. Furthermore, this compound can directly induce apoptosis in MCF-7 cells, which might be mediated through the upregulation of a proapoptotic Bax protein and not by the immune system.
There are likely multiple mechanisms underlying the antitumor effects of G. lucidum. G. lucidum also demonstrated antioxidant activity, free-radical scavenging, and chelating abilities. No specific studies were identified on the use of G. lucidum for the treatment of HPV infection or cervical dysplasia; however, given the mechanisms of action of this herb, this may be a promising area of research and certainly merits consideration of this herb in an immune-enhancing protocol.
Lingzhi’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make these mushrooms attractive candidates for preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The triterpenes and polysaccharides from the mushrooms reduce the oxidative impact of destructive proteins such as Amyloid-beta, the chief trigger of Alzheimer’s disease and they protect brain cells from the inflammation known to cause Parkinson’s disease. Studies reveal that supplementing with Lingzhi mushrooms has beneficial effects for stroke victims.
Together, all of these effects of Lingzhi mushrooms are shown to reduce the size and growth rates of human tumors, both in animals and in human clinical trials.
The most dramatic impact has been shown in colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death among cancers that affect both men and women. Clinical studies show that Lingzhi extracts suppress the development of adenomas, which are pre-malignant masses found in the large intestine. Lingzhi extracts inhibit the release of histamine from specialized immune cells called “mast cells.” They have the ability to reduce the activity in nerves that transmit the itch sensation to the brain after a mosquito bite or similar itchy stimulus.
|1. Eating Lingzhi Mushroom Will Boost Immunity
Lingzhi strengthens and reinforces our white blood cells. It stimulates a faster reaction time when the body detects bacteria and viruses. The bacteria are eliminated or neutralized before causing further harm to the body. Several types of research have proven the efficacy of Lingzhi in boosting the immunity.
In 2009, researchers were able to confirm that consuming Lingzhi can enhance the immune response of patients against infections.
2. Lingzhi Can Normalize High Blood Pressure
Researchers believe that the reason Lingzhi causes this is because of the presence of ganoderic acid B and C. Both these enzymes are known to inhibit the formation and synthesis of cholesterols in the blood vessels.
3. Lingzhi Can Improve Libido
One reason that the body’s testosterone reserves go down is due to the metabolism of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone by the enzyme 5α-reductase. Lingzhi has the ability to inhibit this enzyme which results in an increase in a man’s testosterone reserve. Lingzhi has the ability to suppress the enzyme 5α-reductase or the enzyme that breaks down testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.
4. Consuming Lingzhi Will Keep the Liver Healthy And Strong
Researches on Lingzhi or Ganoderma have shown that consuming Lingzhi can decrease the toxins that are in the liver. Over 30 scientific studies since 2000 have then proven the same. The same researches also showed that Lingzhi can increase the regeneration rate of the liver.
5. Lingzhi Helps In Cancer Management
Recent studies have shown that medicinal mushrooms can aid battle cancer because of the polysaccharides that have important benefits such as neuroprotective, anti-diabetes, radioprotective, antioxidant, anti-fatigue abilities and anti-osteoporosis.
Also, laboratory researches have shown that triterpenes in Lingzhi mushroom also have cancer-blocking properties. Triterpene molecules seem to impede or block tumor growth and reproduction by removing attachments of cancer cells to internal cells.
6. Balance the Hormones And Fight Diabetes With Lingzhi Mushrooms
Studies suggest that various anti-inflammatory and antioxidants compounds found in Lingzhi mushrooms modify the way that nerves transfer signals to the brain, boosting various functions within the central nervous systems and endocrine.
Lingzhi mushrooms have also been proven by various researches to inflict anti-diabetic effects and improve the lipid levels to prevent dyslipidemia. Positive effects on glucose levels can be seen as early as 12 weeks from the start of consuming Lingzhi.
7. Lingzhi Mushrooms Fight Asthma
The research found out that patients who drank Lingzhi tea can improve their response to cheaper medicines for asthma such as oral antihistamines, and even alone, the Lingzhi was able to improve the body’s response to allergens.
8. Drinking Lingzhi Tea Can Help You Live Longer
The laboratory research in 2013 has found out that test subjects treated with Lingzhi based medications had a longer lifespan than those in the control group. The Lingzhi group consuming Lingzhi mushroom was able to live 9% to 20% longer than those that didn’t.
Antioxidants present in Lingzhi mushrooms are believed to be responsible for this remarkable effect.
9. Lingzhi Mushrooms and Baldness
Androgenetic Alopecia is a natural process wherein men due to the decomposition of their testosterone go bald. It is neither harmful nor dangerous, however, it is sometimes a source of insecurity and social anxiety among men. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) result when testosterone, the male sex hormone, is converted by the enzyme 5α-reductase. Men who are genetically prone to baldness have scalps that are sensitive to DHT
The results put Lingzhi on top of all the mushrooms tested. Lingzhi showed the highest percentage of 5α-reductase reduction, falling between 70 and 80%. For comparison, the next effective mushroom is Pleurotus osteratus, which showed an inhibitory percentage of around 60%.
11. Lingzhi Mushrooms Can Help With Arthritis
According to research, Lingzhi mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties which can help prevent and alleviate the pain caused by rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. It does this by targeting the body’s misfired autoimmune responses that cause inflammations.
12. Lingzhi Mushrooms Can Help at Weight loss
In a research done by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Lingzhi mushrooms contain active components that can elevate metabolic rate. Increase metabolic rates result in the body using more energy, and the food digested more efficiently.
According to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Lingzhi mushroom supplements also have polysaccharides that serve as a powerful detoxifier. Polysaccharides also boost the natural healing processes and are also believed to assist in digestion. Lingzhi improves the digestive system which can lead to a more efficient waste removal by the body and thus faster weight loss.
13. Lingzhi Mushrooms Prevent The Proliferation Of Sarcoma In The Human Body
Recent studies have found that the active ingredients in this mushroom play a major role in the death of sarcoma. This trial focused on mice injected with sarcoma cells to determine the effects of Lingzhi. The results showed that a higher dose of Lingzhi reduces the chances of death to a higher degree than any other form of treatment.
14. Lingzhi Mushroom Contains Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The lesser the secretion of cytokines, the better the chances of your immune system fighting chronic inflammation. Lingzhi mushrooms do this by activating NF-kappaB responses in the bloodstream, which result in reduced secretion of cytokines in the human body.
15. An Increased Intake Of Lingzhi Mushrooms Is Good For Cardiovascular Health
To evaluate the effectiveness of Lingzhi on the human cardiovascular system, 5 different trials on over 398 participants was conducted. From the results, it was concluded that a sufficient intake of Lingzhi mushrooms helps lower cholesterol levels, fasting plasma glucose, and triglyceride levels in the body. It also helps reduce symptoms of diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes in certain patients.
Lingzhi also works as a powerful antioxidant to prevent chronic cardiovascular diseases caused by factors such as oxidative stress and inflammation.