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Volume 10 Issue 4
November/December 2004

Ganoderma: God's Herb
Reishi Mushroom Medicine

Raving About Raw Seeds!

Fair Trade
A Marketplace Where Everyone Wins

Humour and Hope
A Process for Healing ©2004

Healthy Vision Habits
Give Your Eyes A Break


Ganoderma: God's Herb
Reishi Mushroom Medicine

by Rob Roy
Rob Roy

Ganoderma lucidum, 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 stimulant.” (Medicinal 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.

Medicinal Mushrooms, Christopher Hobbs, LAc, Botanica Press (1986).
Reishi Mushroom, Terry Willard PhD, Sylvan Press (1990).
Mushroom Medicine, Christopher Hobbs, Vegetarian Times, Nov. 1997, n 243, p 96(3).
Mushroom Medicine, 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 ganopportunity@yahoo.ca.


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