Reishi Mushroom Medicine
by Rob Roy
or Reishi mushroom (Ling Zhi, in Chinese), has been used
for over 4,500 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
It is believed to be the oldest mushroom used as medicine
and is one of the most respected medicinal mushrooms today.
Once rare and expensive, Ganoderma
lucidum (referred to as Ganoderma from
now on) is now effectively cultivated and is readily available.
Around 5,000 years ago a man named Shen Nung, now the Father
of Chinese Traditional Medicine, devoted his life to doing
an extraordinary thing. He personally tested hundreds of
plants, roots, fungi, and herbs for their efficacy as medicines,
laying the foundation for a tradition of therapeutic observation
spanning 2,000 years in China. The sheer quantity of this
experiential knowledge gave birth to practices and sciences
from which we still benefit today, i.e., acupuncture, qi
gong (chi kung), etc. It also led to the world’s first
pharmacopoeia, the “Shen Nung Pen Ts’ao Ching,” written
2,500 years ago. In it, 365 medicines were finally classified
into three groups: fair, average, and superior. The superior
medicines acquired this designation because it was shown
repeatedly that they served to “maintain life, promote
radiant health and long life, and cause no side effects even
when taken continuously”. (Ginseng is a good example
of a superior herb.)
Of all the superior medicines listed in the text, Ganoderma was
prized as number one. It was believed to extend life span
and increase youthful vigour and vitality. It was called “God’s
Herb” and the syrups and teas made from it were called, “The
Soup of the Emperor with a Thousand Mistresses”. So
important was this mushroom to Chinese culture that this “King
of Herbs” was celebrated in stories and legend, shown
in paintings, embroideries, and carvings along with gods
and immortals as a symbol of longevity, good fortune, and
the divine. The earliest extant Imperial Sceptres of the
Emperors is a stylized Ling Zhi, and early depictions of
this “Mushroom of Immortality” can still be found
today throughout the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace
in Beijing, China.
Ganoderma was routinely
used by monks and Taoist adepts throughout Asia because it
was believed to help calm the mind, open the breath, ease
tension, strengthen nerves and the heart, improve memory,
sharpen concentration and focus, build will power and, as
a result, help build wisdom. It was considered to be a teacher
substance, due to the mushroom’s ability to strengthen
and refine the quality and perception of a person’s
inner life. Called the “Mushroom of Spiritual Potency,” it
was noted for the peacefulness that accompanied its use and
interestingly, that the effect of its power was cumulative.
It not only nurtured the body’s defenses as a protective
tonic but also helped develop profound mental and spiritual
insight, improving one’s life the more one used it.
According to Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac., Ganoderma is, “.
. . without a doubt, one of the most famous medicinal mushrooms.
It has been used for thousands of years to treat liver disease
(such as hepatitis), nephritis (kidney inflammation), high
blood pressure, arthritis, neurasthenia, insomnia, bronchitis,
asthma, and gastric ulcers. It is also said to benefit the
heart. In the past, Ganoderma
lucidum was very expensive because it only grew in
the wild, but cultivation techniques developed in the last
twenty years have now made it accessible and affordable.
Today this king of the fungi is used especially for ageing-related
and degenerative conditions, such as cancer, and as an immune
Mushrooms, Botanical Press, 1996)
Taken on a daily basis, Ganoderma is
thought to eliminate toxins and detoxify the liver, rejuvenate
cells, regulate blood sugar imbalances, improve circulation,
lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and act as a superb
tonic for those who suffer from allergies. It can also be
effective in calming the nerves and reducing stress. In Japan,
the government has officially listed Ganoderma as
an adjunct herb for treating cancer and according to Hobbs,
it has been used in treating Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes,
altitude sickness, chronic bronchitis, and anxiety conditions.
Since Ganoderma is
now effectively cultivated, it is easier than ever to get.
Many Chinese herbalists will have either whole mushrooms
or various form of extracts. Traditionally, people made tea
or a broth with it. Recently, Ganoderma has
been put into coffee as an excellent way to deliver the healthful
effects easily and cheaply. The mushroom extract in the coffee
neutralizes the caffeine, giving one a sense of calm and
well-being instead of nervousness. In Taiwan, a new Ganoderma beer
has been introduced to great success, as more and more people
feel the restorative effects of this legendary mushroom.
A Chinese physician once wrote, “Superior treatment
consists in dealing with an illness before it appears; mediocre
treatment consists in curing an illness on the point of revealing
itself; inferior treatment consists in curing the illness
once it has manifested itself.” The wisdom of Ganoderma may
be in its ability to be effective on all three levels.
Christopher Hobbs, LAc, Botanica Press (1986).
Reishi Mushroom, Terry
Willard PhD, Sylvan Press (1990).
Christopher Hobbs, Vegetarian
Times, Nov. 1997, n 243, p 96(3).
Sara Altshul O’Donnell, Prevention,
Aug. 1999 v 51, I 8, p 112.
Strengthen Your Immune System
with Medicinal Mushrooms by Nan Kathryn Fuchs, Women’s
Health Letter, November 2000, v 6, i 11, p 1.
Reishi Mushrooms: Nature’s
Own Recycler, Bob Kennedy, Total
Health, June 1992, v 14, n 3, p 38(2).
Amazing Mushrooms: Reishi,
Maitake & Lion’s Mane, Mark J. Kaylor, Health
Products Business. Jan. 2002,
v 48, i 1, p 62(1).
The Magic of Mushrooms,
Anne Underwood, Newsweek,
November 2003, p 61.
In the Company of Mushrooms,
Elio Schaechter, Harvard University Press (1997).
Rob Roy is a well known
actor, drama instructor, and lately, independent distributor
of Ganoderma coffees, teas, and other health products.
He is a home-schooling father of two in Saskatoon. He welcomes
all inquiries into the health and wealth benefits of travelling
the Royal Road from Rags to Reishi. Call for your free
sample of this life-changing product, (306) 384-6386, or
email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.