Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Ancient Chinese Mushroom – Lingzhi

I wrote several blogs about supplements, herbs, and natural remedies that I take or experiment with. I am interesting in slowing down aging and want to live a long, fulfilling life devoid of illnesses, diseases, and health problems. The blogs are:

The Chinese knew Lingzhi or Ganoderma Lucidum for 2,000 years while the Japanese call it Reishi. Lingzhi, an herbal mushroom, possesses many miraculous health benefits. The Chinese associate Lingzhi with a long life and call it the "Mushroom of Immortality" or the "Elixir of Life." Many recognize Lingzhi as one of the most effective medicinal herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 2000 years. Lingzhi is often depicted in images with the God of Longevity.

Li Shi-Zhen wrote about Lingzhi in the Ben Cao Gang Mu in 1590 AD during the Ming Dynasty, one of the first pharmacology books in China. The Supplement to the Materia Medica, published between 502 and 536 AD mentions Lingzhi. They attributed Lingzhi with boosting energy, strengthening the heart and circulatory system, enhancing memory, slowing aging, and extending longevity.

Lingzhi naturally grows in densely wooded mountains with high humidity and dim lighting. Hikers and explorers find it thriving on the dried trunks of dead plum trees. Wild Lingzhi grows on two or three plum trees out of 10,000, making it extremely rare. Before the health industries could cultivate it, only the wealthy and nobility could afford to take it.

As the Lingzhi mushrooms ripen, they release spores – the seeds to germinate the next generation of mushrooms. The spores pack more potency than the mushrooms, and thus carry more value. Before people can consume the spores, they must be cracked so it can release the beneficial chemicals and active ingredients.

Lingzhi contains polysaccharides, beta-glucans, triterpenes, organic germanium, alkaloids, and amino acids. Polysaccharides help boost the immune system and increase the action of white blood cells. Beta-glucans, forms of complex sugars, prevent and slow down the growth and spread of cancer cells. Some people add Lingzhi to green tea to inhibit tumor growth. Finally, the triterpenes give the mushroom its bitter taste and help reduce blood pressure and relieve allergies. Some believe Lingzhi enhances a person's health by:

  • Improving the body's use of oxygen and relieving coughs and asthma
  • Alleviating allergies
  • Restoring and boosting immunity
  • Enhancing physical endurance and sharpening mental abilities
  • Calming the mind and the nervous system
  • Improving circulation and reducing blood pressure
  • Regulating the glucose levels in the blood
  • Slowing down and preventing the spread of cancer
  • Helping the body to eliminate toxins
  • Positively influencing the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys

Chinese philosophy refers to the qi or chi – the life force circulating through the body. They believe people become sick and unhealthy if this life force becomes unbalanced in the body. The healers (if you believe in this) use acupuncture, acupressure, and Lingzhi to restore the qi's balance.

If you are taking immune-suppressing drugs, then you may want to avoid taking Lingzhi. Lingzhi may counteract these drugs because it potentially stimulates the immune system.

Since I live in Malaysia with a large Chinese community, I easily found Lingzhi at the Chinese herbal stores. Ironically, the clerks asked politely if I have cancer. I replied no and say I am searching for the Fountain of Youth.

I bought dried, sliced Lingzhi, shown below. Although the Lingzhi looks like wood chips, it makes one nasty cup of tea. I boil about six slices of Lingzhi in water for 15 minutes, pour it into a coffee cup, and add a teabag.

I also found a pre-made mix of Lingzhi and ginseng in liquid form. Each box shown below comes with six small bottles of dark, ominous looking liquid. According to directions, an adult drinks one bottle per day, six days in a row.

The top of the box:

The bottom of the box:


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