The Reishi Mushroom

REISHI

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).

Traditional applications:

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).

Triterpenoids:

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).

Polysaccharides:

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).   

Proteins:

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
(antibodies)(19).

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.

REFERENCES :

1. Wasser, S.P.; Weis, A.L. Medicinal Mushrooms. Ganoderma lucidum, (Curtis: Fr.), P. Karst;Nevo, E., Eds.; Peledfus Publ House: Haifa, Israel, 1997; 39

2. Chang, S.T.; Buswell, J.A. Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst. (Aphyllophoromycetideae)—a mushrooming medicinal mushroom. Int. J. Med. Mushrooms 1999, 1 (2), 139–146.

3. Zhou, Sh.; Gao, Y. The immunomodulating effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P.Karst. (Ling Zhi, reishi mushroom) (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Int. J. Med. Mushrooms 2002,4 (1), 1–11.

4. Ying, J.; Mao, X.; Ma, Q.; Zong, Z.; Wen, H. Icons of Medicinal Fungi from China; Yuehan,X., Ed.; Science Press: Beijing, 1987. Translated.

5. Jong, S.C.; Birmingham, J.M. Medicinal benefits of the mushroom Ganoderma. Adv. Appl. Microbiol. 1992, 37, 101–134. Translated.

6. Hobbs, Ch. Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, and Culture, 2nd Ed.; Botanica Press, Inc.: Santa Cruz, CA, USA, 1995.

7. McKenna, D.J; Jones, K.; Hughes, K. Reishi Botanical Medicines. The Desk reference for Major Herbal Supplements, 2nd Ed.; The Haworth Herbal Press: New York, London, Oxford, 2002; 825–855.

8. Liu GT. Recent advances in research of pharmacology and clinical applications of Ganoderma P. Karst. species (Aphyllophoromycetideae) in China. Int J Med Mushrooms 1999; 1(1):63–68.

9. Zhou Sh, Kestell P, Baguley BC, et al. 5,6- Dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid: A novel biological response modifier for cancer therapy. Invest New Drugs 2002; 20:281–295.

10. Zhou Sh, Gao Y, Chen G, et al. A phase I/II study of a Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst. (Ling Zhi, reishi mushroom) extract in patients with chronic hepatitis B. Int J Med Mushrooms 2002; 4(4):321–328.

11. Gao Y, Zhou Sh, Chen G, et al. A phase I/II study of a Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst. extract (ganopoly) in patients with advanced cancer. Int J Med Mushrooms 2002; 4(3):207–214.

12. Gao Y, Zhou Sh, Huang M, et al. Antibacterial and antiviral value of the genus Ganoderma P. Karst. species (Aphyllophoromycetideae): A review. Int J Med Mushrooms 2003; 5(3):235–246.

13. Gao Y, Lan J, Dai X, et al. A phase I/II study of Ling Zhi mushroom Ganoderma lucidum. (W. Curt.: Fr.) Lloyd (Aphyllophoromycetideae) extract in patients with type II diabetes mellitus. Int J Med Mushrooms 2004; 6(1):33–40.Reishi 689

14. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Long Beach, CA, USA: Oriental Healing Arts Institute, 1985:640–641.15. Mizuno T.
Reishi, Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma tsugae: Bioactive substances and medicinal effects. Food Rev Int 1995; 11(1):151–166.

16. Min BS, Gao JJ, Nakamura N, et al. Triterpenes from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum and their cytotoxicity against meth-A and LLC
tumor cells. Chem Pharm Bull 2000; 48:1026–1033.

17. Chen JH, Zhou JP, Zhang LN, et al. Chemical structure of the water-insoluble polysaccharide isolated from the fruiting body of Ganoderma
lucidum
. Poly J 1998; 30:838–842.

18. Wasser SP, Weis AL. Medicinal properties of substances occurring in higher Basidiomycetes mushrooms: Current perspectives (review). Int J Med Mushrooms 1999; 1(1):31–62.

19. Wang YY, Khoo KH, Chen ST, et al. Studies on the immunomodulating and antitumor activities of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) polysaccharides: Functional and proteomic analyses of a fucose-containing glycoprotein fraction responsible for the activities.
Bioorg Med Chem 2002; 10:1057–1062.

20. Wasser, S.P. Medicinal mushrooms as a source of antitumor and immunomodulating polysaccharides. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol.
2002, 60, 258–274

21. Matsushita S, Kimura T. Advance in treatment strategy and immune reconstruction against HIV1
infection. Microbiol Immunol 2002; 46:231–239.