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Ganoderma Lucida

Ganoderma is a fungus of the Polyporaceae family. This family yields many important Chinese herbs including poria (fu-ling) and grifola (zhu-ling). Ganoderma is known in China as “Ling Chih” or “Ling Zhi” and can be found in traditional formulas such as “Peking Ling Chih Royal Jelly”. Ganoderma is a famous medicinal herb in Japan, where it is known as the “Rei-shi” mushroom. It grows on old broad-leaf trees, but is relatively rare and thus costly.

Ganoderma contains polysaccharides (called PSK) that are known to enhance immune system functions. Ganoderma, poria, and grifola have all been shown to have anti-tumor properties as well; in laboratory studies, ganoderma  polyporaceae were shown to suppress the growth of implanted sarcoma 180 tumor cells. The mechanism of action involves increase in T-cells and macrophage activity.  Ganoderma has also been shown to improve some of the symptoms in viral hepatitis, such as poor appetite, insomnia and liver swelling. It increases white blood cell count in the peripheral vessels and has been shown to effective in treating chronic bronchitis as well. 

Like other immune-enhancing herbs, ganoderma is also an anti-stress agent. It has been shown effective in treating stomach ulcers and hypertension. In persons suffering from insomnia, it enhances muscle relaxation and increases sleeping time. 

Traditionally, ganoderma has been used as Qi tonic and sedative. The taste is sweet and slightly bitter, It is usually used in doses of 9-15 grams in teas and up to 60 grams per day for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, though doses as low as 4-6 grams daily have proven effective for the treatment of insomnia, nervousness, and chronic infection. It Is also made into pills in combination with other herbs, representing 10-20% of the mixture.

Ganoderma is available in bulk herb form which must be cooked. Generally, it needs to be brought to a boil in four cups of water, then boiled vigorously for five minutes, then the heat is turned down to a simmer and it is cooked for an additional 30-40 minutes. Drink one cup three times per day or as directed by your physician. The ganoderma can be cooked a second time before discarding.
Ganoderma also comes in extract powder form which is easy to use. The extract powder dissolves in hot water and can be used right away.

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Reference: Pacific Journal of Oriental Medicine, Volume 3, No. 1 Spring 1986

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