What is Ganoderma Lucidum (Lingzhi mushroom/ Reishi mushroom)?

Ganoderma lucidum, an oriental fungus, has a long history of use for promoting health and longevity in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. It is a large, dark mushroom with a glossy exterior and a woody texture. The Latin word lucidus means “shiny” or “brilliant” and refers to the varnished appearance of the surface of the mushroom. In China, G. lucidum is called lingzhi, whereas in Japan the name for the Ganodermataceae family is reishi or mannentake.

Ganoderma Lucidum (Latin), commonly known as Lingzhi mushroom (Chinese) or Reishi mushroom (Japanese) is a well-known representative of mushrooms that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries for the prevention and treatment of many human diseases. Traditionally, the fruit body of Ganoderma Lucidum has been possible to obtain large quantity of spores produced by the fruit body and it has recently been recognized that the spores of Ganoderma Lucidum possess more potent effect than the fruit body.

The Ganoderma Lucidum spore has two thick layers of chitin outer wall that is difficult to be digested by human stomach acid. It is only upon cracking/ breaking the two thick layers of the wall that the active ingredients of the Ganoderma Lucidum spores powder can be optimally absorbed by the human body.
Two ways to break the wall

Physical wall breaking mainly destroys the spore wall of the Ganoderma Lucidum by mechanical or physical action, however, with this method, a sizable proportion of the active ingredients are easily oxidized and deteriorated when exposed to the air process. Enzymatic breaking is the use of biological enzymes to slowly hydrolyze the cell wall of Ganoderma Lucidum spores, the process is mild, effective active ingredient damage is minimized, not easy to oxidize and degenerate, there are no harmful substances, and has a high breaking rate. Most spores powder available in the market are produced by the physical wall breaking method. The superior Enzyme breaking process was patented and commercialized in 1998, producing Ganoderma Lucidum spores powder of the highest quality and efficacy. It is estimated that only 2% of the Lingzhi spores powder in the market are produced using the patented Enzyme “cracking” process.

Ganoderma Lucidum spore oil is a lipid active substance extracted from the broken Ganoderma Lucidum spore powder by supercritical CO2 fluid extraction technology, and is the essence of Ganoderma Lucidum extract. The main components of Ganoderma Lucidum spore oil are Ganoderma Lucidum triterpenoids, ergosterol, unsaturated fatty acids, etc. The high-graded Ganoderma Lucidum spore oil also contains precious components such as peroxyergosterol.

At present, Ganoderma Lucidum spore oil extraction by supercritical CO2 fluid technology generally extracts the oil from broken spores by mechanical means, or intact spores softening by high temperatures, followed by granulating and extraction. Ganoderma Lucidum spore oil extracted from spores broken by mechanical means is of low physiological activities, and thereby with poor quality, because a part of the bioactive substances obtained are spoiled by oxidation during the mechanical process.

1. Polysaccharides
Fungi are remarkable for the variety of high-molecular-weight polysaccharide structures that they produce, and bioactive polyglycans are found in all parts of the mushroom. Polysaccharides represent structurally diverse biological macromolecules with wide-ranging physiochemical properties. Various 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 (e.g., ganoderans A, B, and C). Ganoderma Lucidum polysaccharides (GL-PSs) 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. Structural analyses of GL-PSs indicate that glucose is their major sugar component. However, GL-PSs are heteropolymers and can also contain xylose, mannose, galactose, and fucose in different conformations, including 1–3, 1–4, and 1–6-linked β and α-D (or L)-substitutions. Branching conformation and solubility characteristics are said to affect the antitumorigenic properties of these polysaccharides. The mushroom also consists of a matrix of the polysaccharide chitin, which is largely indigestible by the human body and is partly responsible for the physical hardness of the mushroom. Numerous refined polysaccharide preparations extracted from Ganoderma Lucidum are now marketed as over-the-counter treatment for chronic diseases, including cancer and liver disease.
2. Triterpenes

Terpenes are a class of naturally occurring compounds whose carbon skeletons are composed of one or more isoprene C5 units. Examples of terpenes are menthol (monoterpene) and β-carotene (tetraterpene). Many are alkenes, although some contain other functional groups, and many are cyclic. These compounds are widely distributed throughout the plant world and are found in prokaryotes as well as eukaryotes. Terpenes have also been found to have anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, and hypolipidemic activity. Terpenes in Ginkgo biloba, rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), and ginseng (Panax ginseng) are reported to contribute to the health-promoting effects of these herbs.

Ganoderma Lucidum is clearly rich in triterpenes, and it is this class of compounds that gives the herb its bitter taste and, it is believed, confers on it various health benefits, such as lipid-lowering and antioxidant effects. However, the triterpene content is different in different parts and growing stages of the mushroom. The profile of the different triterpenes inGanoderma Lucidum can be used to distinguish this medicinal fungus from other taxonomically related species, and can serve as supporting evidence for classification. The triterpene content can also be used as a measure of quality of different ganoderma samples.



1. Boost the Immune System

One of the most important effects of the reishi mushroom is that it can boost your immune system. While some details are still uncertain, test-tube studies have shown that reishi can affect the genes in white blood cells, which are critical parts of your immune system. What’s more, these studies have found that some forms of reishi may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells.

Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells. Natural killer cells fight infections and cancer in the body.

Another study found that reishi can increase the number of other white blood cells (lymphocytes) in those with colorectal cancer. Although most immune system benefits of reishi mushroom have been seen in those who are ill, some evidence has shown that it can help healthy people, too. In one study, the fungus improved lymphocyte function, which helps fight infections and cancer, in athletes exposed to stressful conditions.

However, other research in healthy adults showed no improvement in immune function or inflammation after 4 weeks of taking reishi extract.

Overall, it is clear that reishi impacts white blood cells and immune function. More research is needed to determine the extent of the benefits in the healthy and ill.

2. Anti-Cancer Properties

Many people consume this fungus due to its potential cancer-fighting properties. In fact, one study of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors found that around 59% consumed reishi mushroom. Additionally, several test-tube studies have shown that it can lead to the death of cancer cells. Yet the results of these studies do not necessarily equate to effectiveness in animals or humans. Some research has investigated if reishi could be beneficial for prostate cancer due to its effects on the hormone testosterone. While one case study showed that molecules found in this mushroom may reverse prostate cancer in humans, a larger follow-up study did not support these findings. Reishi mushroom has also been studied for its role in preventing or fighting colorectal cancer.

Some research showed that one year of treatment with reishi decreased the number and size of tumors in the large intestine. What’s more, a detailed report of multiple studies indicated that the mushroom can beneficially affect cancer patients. These benefits included increasing the activity of the body’s white blood cells, which help fight cancer, and improving quality of life in cancer patients.

3. Could Fight Fatigue and Depression

Reishi’s effects on the immune system are often most emphasized, but it has other potential advantages as well. These include reduced fatigue and depression, as well as improved quality of life. One study examined its effects in 132 people with neurasthenia, a poorly defined condition associated with aches, pains, dizziness, headaches and irritability. The researchers found that fatigue was reduced and well-being was improved after 8 weeks of taking the supplements. Another study found that fatigue was reduced and quality of life was improved after 4 weeks of taking reishi powder in a group of 48 breast cancer survivors.

4. Heart Health

One 12-week study of 26 people showed that reishi mushroom may increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease triglycerides. However, other research in healthy adults showed no improvement in these heart disease risk factors. Moreover, a large analysis demonstrated no beneficial effects for heart health after examining five different studies containing around 400 people. The researchers found that consuming reishi mushroom for up to 16 weeks did not improve cholesterol.

5. Blood Sugar Control

Several studies have indicated that molecules found in the reishi mushroom can decrease blood sugar in animals.

6. Antioxidant Status

Antioxidants are molecules that can help prevent damage to your cells. Because of this important function, there is substantial interest in foods and supplements that can enhance antioxidant status in the body.



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