In addition to all of the ingredients in the fruit body, lingzhi mycelium contains higher level of the RNA (which disrupts viral diseases by inducing interferon production), oleic acid and cyclooctasulfur (both strong inhibitors of histamine release), LZ-8, (an immunomodulating protein which significantly reduces but doesn't entirely shut down antibody production).
Lingzhi contains 800-2,000 ppm of organic germanium, which is 4-5 times more than ginseng. Germanium is a trace element with adaptogenic functions.
The major components of lingzhi have proven to be a significant anti-inflammatory and inhibit malignant tumor growth. Its glycosides and polysaccharides promise to be a new type of carcinostatic agent which would be helpful in immunotherapy.
Ganoderic acids may lower blood pressure as well as decrease LDL ("bad") cholesterol. These specific triterpenoids also help reduce blood platelets from sticking together--an important factor in lowering the risk for coronary artery disease.
While human research has been reported that demonstrates some efficacy for the herb in treating altitude sickness and chronic hepatitis B, these uses still need to be confirmed in well-designed human trials.
Animal studies and some very preliminary trials in humans suggest lingzhi may have some beneficial action in people with diabetes mellitus and cancer. Two controlled clinical trials have investigated the effects of lingzhi on high blood pressure in humans and both found it could lower blood pressure significantly compared to a placebo or controls. The people with hypertension in the second study had previously not responded to medications, though these were continued during the study.
Lingzhi has shown remarkable efficacy in reducing allergies and protecting the liver. Ganoderma lucidum is actually the powder inside the spores of the fungus lingzhi, which are formed as the mushroom matures. This powder contains high quality protein, with all 18 essential amino acids included. It has a combination of natural vitamins and critical trace elements essential for the functioning of the immune system.
Lingzhi has a widespread use as a herbal medicine in clinical settings. Many Chinese physicians have co-administered lingzhi in cancer patients receiving conventional chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, to build up immune resistance and decrease toxicity. Although Ganoderma and its derivatives are not pharmaceuticals and have not undergone rigorous clinical trials to be tested against cancer, there is abundant in vitro, animal and indirect clinical evidence to support its supplemental use in cancer.
It has been reported that the extract and polysaccharides isolated from G. lucidum significantly inhibits the growth of implanted Sarcoma (S)-180 and Lewis lung-carcinoma in animal models in vitro (Lin, 1996). Although its anti-tumor activity is beyond doubt, the detailed mechanisms remain unclear. Some researchers have suggested that its anti-tumor activity may be mediated to some extent by activation of host immune functions.
Former heart surgeon Dr. Fukumi Morishige, a leading authority on vitamin C in Japan, reports that when lingzhi (or reishi in Japanese) and vitamin C are combined the results against cancer and other diseases are far better than when Reishi is ingested. This is because the vitamin makes the polysaccharides more accessible to the immune system.
Lingzhi has long been known to extend life span, increase youthful vigor and vitality. It also promotes good blood circulation by eliminating thrombi in the blood streams. As a result, the person feels renewed vitality. Deterioration of mind and body is arrested. Lingzhi is indeed a herb with multiple applications.
Clinical observations have indisputable proof of lingzhi's efficacy against cholesterosis, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, fatty liver, hemorrhoid, tooth-infections, obesity and various problems that arise from high serum cholesterol level compounded by a lack of blood circulation. Lingzhi is also recognized to have some effect in cases of stroke, cerebravascular accident, coronary insufficiency, myocardial infarction, phlebitis etc.--problems that arise directly from arterial blockage.
Furthermore, lingzhi is found to be effective in treatment of typical dermatitis, bronchitis asthma, allergy rhinitis, chronic hepatitis etc.--problems related to allergic reactions. Lingzhi inhibits thrombi to facilitate medication absorption; it also has an additive effect that strengthens the prostate gland situated between the bladder and the urinary tract. It has the same effect on the early stage of diabetes mellitus. Bladder infection is accompanied by the usual thrombi formation.
Treatments with lingzhi arrest the latter thus eliminating complications within a short period. Other clinical tests showed that administering lingzhi instead of insulin can reverse blood sugar level back to normal after one year.
Its antitumor and immune enhancing properties, along with no cytotoxicity, raise the possibility that lingzhi could be effective in preventing oxidative damage and resulting disease. Using agarose gel electrophoresis, the potential of lingzhi extract as a radio protector and antioxidant defense against oxygen radical-mediated damage was evaluated. The results clearly demonstrate that the hot-water extract of lingzhi shows good radio protective ability, as well as protection against DNA damage induced by metal-catalyzed Fenton reactions and UV irradiation. The data suggest that lingzhi merits investigation as a potential preventive agent in humans.
Medicinal mushrooms have a long history of use in folk medicine. In particular, mushrooms useful against cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lungs, etc., are known in China, Russia, Japan, Korea, as well as the U.S.A. and Canada. There are about 200 species of mushrooms that have been found to markedly inhibit the growth of different kinds of tumors. Searching for new antitumor and other medicinal substances from mushrooms and to study the medicinal value of these mushrooms have become a matter of great significance. However, most of the mushroom origin antitumor substances have not been clearly defined. Several antitumor polysaccharides such as hetero-beta-glucans and their protein complexes (e.g., xyloglucans and acidic beta-glucan-containing uronic acid), as well as dietary fibers, lectins, and terpenoids have been isolated from medicinal mushrooms. In Japan, Russia, China, and the U.S.A., several different polysaccharide antitumor agents have been developed from the fruiting body, mycelia, and culture medium of various medicinal mushrooms (Lentinus edodes, Ganoderma lucidum, Schizophyllum commune, Trametes versicolor, Inonotus obliquus, and Flammulina velutipes). Both cellular components and secondary metabolites of a large number of mushrooms been shown to effect the immune system of the host and therefore could be used to treat a variety of disease states.
Due to damage by insects and weather, the quality of wild lingzhi is unpredictable. Only the fruit body can be harvested, when the active ingredients have already decreased. The dried mushrooms may not have the potency of the fresh mushroom. After it matures, the fruit body is hardened by a fiber which makes it more difficult to extract and digest the active ingredients. The spores are of microscopic dimensions, similar to the size of bacteria. They are protected by two layers of hardened cell walls. These cell walls trap the active ingredients inside and are indigestible.
Although wild lingzhi fruit body and the spores are all effective products, our ancestors had to use a large quantity of lingzhi to get a little benefit. As it was impossible to cultivate, this rare mushroom was available only to emperors.
Modern bio-engineering technology has made lingzhi available to the general public in large quantities. The quality can be carefully controlled by providing the best conditions and sufficient nutrients. Further investigations have discovered that the largest amount of active ingredients exists in the mycelium, and that the mycelium is more digestible. The extraction process can be timed at the precise stage when the mycelium contains the largest amount of active ingredients. Fresh mycelium is available, and there is no chance for mistaken identity. Without the obstacles of the fibers, the extraction is more complete and the extract is more digestible. Therefore, the latest researches on the medicinal properties of lingzhi are done on the mycelial extracts.
Lingzhi is now available in capsule or tablet form, which makes it possible to avoid the bitter taste and standardize the dosage. However, not all lingzhi capsules are the same. Some capsules are made from the fruit body, which contain a large quantity of dietary fibers. Some capsules contain other herbs, which may lead to side-effects. Some capsules made from the mycelium contain also the grain from which the mycelium is grown so only a small fraction of the capsule is actually lingzhi mycelium). The differences can be readily identified by tasting the powder. Pure lingzhi has an intense, pure bitter taste. The best lingzhi capsule is the extract of pure lingzhi mycelium without the grain.