Health Benefits of Ganoderma Lucidum
What Is Ganoderma Lucidum?
Ganoderma Lucidum is an Asian mushroom or fungus valued for its pharmaceutical properties as claimed by Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine. It belongs to the species type Lucidum from the Genus Ganoderma from the family of the Ganodermataceae as noted by Wachtel-Galor, Benzie, Buswell and Tomlinson (2004). The same authors point that this fungus grows naturally in the subtropical regions of Asia, but it is now cultivated in other parts of the world with similar soil conditions or cultivated in controlled environments. The interest and consumption of this medicinal herb have increased after 1970, the time when academic research also started. Wachtel-Galor et al (2004), note that the current "consumption is now estimated at several thousand tons worldwide and the market is growing rapidly".
Ganoderma Lucidum color is very vivid red, yellow or brown with a varnished appearance. It is usually described as a "mushroom that is soft (when fresh), corky, and flat, with a conspicuous red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap" (Wikipedia, 2016). It is known as Lingzhi (Soul's Herb) in China and Reishi (King of herbs) in Japan. These names are related to the special place they occupied in these ancient cultures.
The properties of G.Lucidum were recorded in 1590 AD by the Ming Dinasty doctors as an enhancer of the Qi (vital energy), enhancer of memory, strengthener of the cardiac system and anti-aging effect. (Wachtel-Galor,2004).
Health Benefits of Ganoderma Lucidum
A difference between traditional Eastern medicine and modern Western medicine is that the former treats the individual and not the disease, meaning that they take on a holistic approach to replenish the person who can have illnesses related to emotional imbalances besides the physical symptoms (Wachtel-Galor et al, 2004). This fact motivates the Western to study the benefits of the Ganoderma Lucidum, as although this mushroom was venerated by the ancient civilizations of China and Japan, there is no clarity if it was the single fungus or a mix of medicinal herbs prepared for specific individuals to cure them.
Boh and Berovic (2011) conclude that there is enough scientific evidence of the existence of a relationship between the compounds found in this mushroom and health benefits. These compounds are triterpenoids, polysaccharides, peptidoglycans and proteins as mentioned by Boh and Berovic (2011) and Wachtel-Galor et al (2004). The latter also includes minerals such Germanium that may help in health related issues.
"According to the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China, G. Lucidum acts to replenish Qi and ease the mind, to relieve cough and asthma, and it is recommended for dizziness, insomnia, palpitation and shortness of breath" (Wachtel-Galor et al, 2004)
These are some of the correlations between the compounds and the health benefits as per Boh and Berovic (2011) and Wachtel-Galor et al (2004):
- Triterpenoids: Anti-tumor and anti-cancer, antihistaminic, antihypertensive, anti-HIV activity, anti-inflammatory effect.
- Polysaccharides: Anti-tumor and anti-cancer, Immunomodulatory, anti-oxidant, liver protection, analgesic, antiarthritic and antidiabetic activity.
- Peptidoglycanes and proteins: Immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive activity.
- Germanium: Anti-tumor and anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, antimutagenic activities.
Word of Caution
Germanium is a good mineral found in the natural Ganoderma Lucidum but other heavy metals that are not good for our health have been found in cultivated varieties, mostly related to the soil and nearby cities' environments. In order for this mushroom to be healthy should be organic.
While Wachtel-Galor (2004) indicates that dosages of up to 30 g have been used by humans without any problem Boh et al (2011) also indicates that the use of Ganoderma Lucidum as medicine should be directed by a doctor. Both groups of authors indicate that stomachal discomfort and skin rashes may occur. Most of the nutritional supplements contain a low dosage of the fungus, but it is important to review the labels, before consuming them.
" In the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia's monograph, the recommended G. Lucidum dosage of 6-12 g daily was adopted from the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China" (Wachtel-Galor et al, 2004)
The most frequent presentations of the G. Lucidum comes as pills, powder, tea, coffee, nutritional milkshakes, etc. It is advised to buy these products from ethical sources and check the provenance, the % of the ingredient in the product and the expiry date .
Boh, B. Berovic, M. (2011). Ganoderma Lucidum Production of Pharmaceuticals. ed. Liong, M. in Bioprocess Science and Technology. e-book. Nova Science Publishers.
Wachtel-Galor, S. Buswell, J. Tomlinson, B. (2004). Lingzhi Polyphorus Fungus (Ganoderma Lucidum). e-book. Taylor and Francis Group Publishers.
Wikipedia. Lingzhi Mushroom. Accessed on 20 January 2016.
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