Ganoderma lucidum/Ling Zhi
A healing mushroom used for the last 4000 years in traditional Oriental medicine for food and medicinal purposes and as a part of spiritual rituals. First documentation of the mushroom was during the Chin dynasty in 207 BC. The mushroom worship was expressed also in art, architecture, jewelry and hair pins.
The mushroom name – Ling Zhi – is common in Korea and China and means the grass mushroom and eternal life. In Japan the mushroom is called – Mannentake – the mushroom of 10000 years. The mushroom is also known in the Ayurveda medicine as having properties that promote longevity.
The knowledge about the mushroom extract was transferred between generations of natural healers. The traditional Chinese medicine describes 6 Reishi species that have medicinal properties; however there are 250 known species worldwide.
The mushroom is growing on a wide range of dying trees, rotting stumps and in soil exposed by growing roots. The Reishi mushroom grows naturally in Europe, Asia, North and South America (1,6).
Ganoderma is documented in the traditional Chinese and Japanese medical literature for treating liver diseases – especially hepatitis –, fatty liver, cholesterol, hypertension, brain ischemia, tissue ischemic damage, reinforcing the immune system in elderly and in general, arthritis, stomach ulcers, bronchitis, asthma, chronic coughing, treating mushroom poisoning, reducing toxic effects of chemotherapy, anti-tumor, improving mental fatigue, tonic for post disease strengthening (1-6).
The composition of the mushroom:
The mushroom contains proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and fibers.
The dry extract contains 68.9% nutritional components. The composition may change a little according to the nutrients in the growing environment and includes: glucose 11.1%, protein 7.3%, metal and trace elements 10.2%. Four hundred different components were isolated from the Ganoderma including: triterpenes, nucleotides, polysaccharides, sterols, steroids, fatty acids, proteins and metal trace elements, omega 9, ergosterol, choline, betaine, tetracosanoic acid, palmitic acid, beta cytosterol, steric acid (1,7,8,12-14).
Water soluble sugar structures (from the alcohol family) are also soluble in alcohols. The Ganoderma has 140 triterpenoids of which the most studied are: ganoderic, ganoderenic, lucidenic and ganolucidic acids.
The triterpenoids were divided into 10 groups according to their structure and medical properties (1,2,6,7,10,14-15).
Carbohydrates are composed from a large number of monosaccharide connected together by glycosidic bonds. The chitin from which the cell walls are composed is a polysaccharide. Up-to-date, more than 100 types of polysaccharides were isolated from the mushroom that play a major role in its pharmacological and bioactive properties, including beta-glucan that has many medical properties, heteropolysaccharides and glycolproteins (11,16-18).
Unique proteins were isolated from the Ganoderma, of which the most studied is LZ-8.
Research found that this protein structure is similar to the variable part of the parent protein from which immunoglobulin are prepared
Reports on pharmacological findings in the following conditions:
Immunomodulation, anti- Atherosclerosis , anti-inflammatory, analgesic, chemo-protective, anti-tumor, protect from radiation, sleeping aid, anti-bacterial, anti-viral (including HIV), hypolipidemic, anti-fibrotic, hepto-protective, diabetes, anti-oxidants, radical trap, anti-aging, hypoglycemic, anti-ulcers (1,2,5,7,11,17,20-21).
Reishi received recognition as efficient natural treatment for leukemia, carcinoma, and hepatitis (5-7,9-13,17,20-21).
Additional on-going clinical studies are performed nowadays in order to understand the exact mechanisms of the mushroom action. In the last decade, large clinical studies are performed on the use of Reishi as a treatment for cancer and other diseases.
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