What's so special about Ganoderma mushroom?by Mustafa Khumusi Graphologist & Health Counsellor
What's so special about Ganoderma mushroom?
Among many types of mushroom, only Ganoderma mushroom was highly praised for more than 2000 years. What makes it stands out from the other fungi? What are the beneficial active components found in Ganoderma that make it so precious?
Ganoderma mushroom is from the Mycetes kingdom. These are generally short and tiny fungi unable to produce their own nutrient through photosynthesis like green plants.
They can either Earth breed or lead a parasitic life by surviving on nutrients of other plants and animals.
Within the Mycetes kingdom, Basidiomycetes such as Ganoderma Lucidum and mushroom are the superior grade. Many are edible and have excellent healing properties. These fungi naturally become the more precious medicinal herb in the Basidiomycetes kingdom.
Mushroom healing properties
Generally, mushrooms family can improve your immune system by activating Macrophage and Natural Killer (NK) immunity cells. Macrophage is your important first line defence against virus, bacteria and foreign substances. NK cells are responsible to kill cancer cells in your body.
Some can even improve allergic conditions such as skin allergy, nose allergy and asthma. The more popular beneficial mushrooms are:
- Shitake (Lentinus edodes)
- Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
- Golden needle mushroom (Flammulina velutipes)
- Agaricus Blazei (Agaricus blazei murrill)
- Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)
All these fungi helps to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, hardening of blood vessel and even cancer. But of all the fungi, Ganoderma Lucidum significantly stands out for its high medicinal values.
The unique Ganoderma mushroom
Ganoderma Lucidum is the only fungus with an unusual combination of beneficial components such as:
- Organic Germanium
- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
Other mushroom family may contain one or the other active components. However, Ganoderma mushroom contains all of those in significant concentration. So what are the healing effects of those substances in your body?
Modern researches on Ganoderma Lucidum successfully extracted each components to test its healing effects. Scientists found that these active components can:
- enhance immune system and improve cancer
- neutralize toxics in the body
- reduce free radicals to slow down aging
- remove circulation blockage
In fact, these health benefits were recorded in ancient China medical text more than 2000 years ago. This herb is grouped into 6 main categories. And the Red Reishi, or Ganoderma Lucidum is currently the most popular because of its high medicinal values.
Click the links below to learn more about this herb.
Why Ganoderma Lucidum is called the auspicious medicinal herb?
The search for precious medicinal herb to maintain health and delay ageing is part of Chinese culture since ancient time. They found these herbs in the wilds, forests and mountains.
One predominant Chinese ancestor, Sheng Nong, also known as the father of agriculture and medicine, wrote the medicinal classic - "Sheng Nong Ben Chao Jing" (Sheng Nong Herbal Classic) 2000 years ago.
This medicinal classic records and describes 365 herbs, animals and minerals for healing. It classified Ganoderma Lucidum as "superior herb" and stated, "long term consumption will promote longevity and make one look like a heavenly being".
Ganoderma in literary classic
The story goes that in ancient China, Emperor Qing Shi Wang set a court officer named Shu Fu and three thousand others to travel far away to look for the herb of immortality, Ganoderma.
This is just one story that reflects just how precious Ganoderma is. Another story is depicted in a literary classic, Madam White Snake.
The story describes how Madam White Snake trampled over hill and dale, overcoming many tribulations before finding Ganoderma Lucidum. This medicinal herb saved her husband, Shu Xian back to life.
In the history of Chinese civilization, if a hero is highly praised for a thousand year, he is indeed a truly remarkable person. Ganoderma Lucidum is merely a fungus. But its legend has been passed on for more than 2000 years.
What are the Ganoderma auspicious signs found in Chinese culture?
Ganoderma Auspicious Signs
History and culture are closely related. In its long cultural history, the enthusiasm of Chinese towards Ganoderma Lucidum could be seen from ancient works of art.
People would create perfect artistic images
of Ganoderma in the form of sculptures or
These could be found in palaces, royal robes,
royal beds, royal thrones and in the temple
Artifacts that symbolize the auspicious
Ganoderma such as jade, auspicious tree,
auspicious cloud and auspicious deco items
are very popular among the Chinese.
People in South-East Asia countries such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia,
Singapore and Thailand, under the influence of Chinese culture, also found
themselves hot in pursuit of Ganoderma auspicious sign.
In fact, common folks in China and the Chinese all over the world will draft images of this medicinal herb anywhere they felt favorable.
Ganoderma or Lingzhi also influenced Chinese history for many years. If not for its evidential significant value, would it attain such an accomplished reputation?
Ganoderma Lingzhi History
How can a tiny fungus like Lingzhi influence a country's history? Actually, Lingzhi is the Chinese name for Ganoderma Lucidum. It means the "Spiritual Herb".
During the reign of Emperor Han Wu Di about 2100 years ago, this herb were found growing all over the palace. Officials attributed this unusual sights to the merits and virtues of the Emperor.
It is said that he had touched Heaven and Earth to grant the growth of this auspicious herb in the palace grounds. Ganoderma lingzhi was seen as a symbol of prosperity and peace for the nation and longevity for the Emperor.
The heavenly herb
During that time, Emperor Han was so elated that he ordered his peoples to offer Lingzhi as an annual item of tribute. The Emperor was said to be favored by Heaven and ruled China for 51 years.
He adopted the suggestions of a civil official, Dong Jing Su to reject the thoughts of other schools and follow the Confucius school.
Confucianism influence continued for more than a thousand year until the Ming Dynasty. Dong Jing Su focused on the interaction between Heaven and Man, considering that the actions of man also affects Heaven.
If the Emperor is wise and kind, Heaven will show auspicious signs. So if Ganoderma Lucidum was found in the palace, it means the Emperor has more integrity, which will bring about peace and prosperity.
Therefore it has been known as an auspicious herb and claimed by the ruling class for having a mysterious super natural power.
Offering Lingzhi to the Emperor
After the Han, Sung, Yuan and Ming dynasties, it became a practice of common folk to offer Lingzhi to the palace. Civil and military officials as well as peasants were all looking for this medicinal herb in the deep mountains and forests. They just want to offer it to the Emperor to win his favor.
As such, this fungus became a holy symbol for smooth sailing and prosperity, which has influenced auspicious affairs for over 2000 years. This was how it became auspicious sign from Heaven to mankind.
The Immortal Herb
After the ruling of Emperor Han Wu Di, Taoism renewed the legend of Lingzhi. Taoism focused more on life and promotes immortality. Taoist believed that with practice and frequent consumption of this herb, one would attain immortality.
Ganoderma held a significant position among the many herbs taken by the Taoism followers. And as it's also known as celestial herb, it became a symbol of immortality.
The primary aim of Taoism was to obtain Lingzhi. However it was rare and difficult to find. The followers of Taoism did not believe in illusion but instead tried hard to find ways of cultivating this fungus. This led to much research being done in ancient time.
Why Ganoderma spore is important for Ganoderma growth and human being?
How does Ganoderma grow and spread itself? What is the significance of Ganoderma spore towards human being?
Every summer and autumn, when Ganoderma Lucidum fruit body ripen, smoke seems to come out from this fungus. Actually, it is releasing Ganoderma spore powder to reproduce and continue its life.
Carried away by the wind, most spore ends up in ashes or in the soil. Only some rare lucky spore find their way to the forest and land on wooden log that will mother them.
From spore to complete life
The Ganoderma spore quickly form primary hypha. The hypha is equivalent to the ovum or sperm of human being. It is not a wholesome life body and is very weak.
The primary hypha must find another of its kind in order to complete the fertilization process into secondary hypha to proceed with normal growth. This process is like an ovum of female obtaining complete life after being fertilized by a sperm.
The secondary hypha keeps excreting hydrolase enzyme into the wood. Such enzyme has a very strong decomposing ability.
It absorbs fiber after breaking it down and manufacture essential nutrients for its own growth.
As long as the nutrients in the wood are sufficient, the secondary hypha will live for many years, even up to a few hundred years. The strong will of hypha proves its ability to overcome adverse conditions such as humidity and other viral infections.
In fact, Ganoderma Lucidum ability to fight against disease, insect and other harmful factor is outstanding among the world of Basidiomycetes.
Shaping up the mushroom
When hypha used up the nutrients and the climatic condition do not allow continuous growth of hypha, it will find a way to reproduce. Some hypha will break down on the surface and reproduce themselves. And the mushroom finally pops up.
Following the fruit body growth, numerous basidium (spore carrier) are formed on top of it. This is why superior grade of fungi like Ganoderma Lucidum and mushroom are known as Basidiomycetes.
The two nuclei within the basidium first combined to form a single nucleus. Then, it divides itself to produce four small nuclei, forming four spores. Finally the basidium ejects the ripen Ganoderma spore from its fruit body.
The new generation of Ganoderma spore is produced and the cycle repeats itself.
The uncrown king
This is how Ganoderma Lucidum survive the warm and humid forest environment. It abandons the best of greenery and chooses to reproduce on decaying wood, making wonders out of the rotten.
Ganoderma Lucidum is an important ambassador between human being and mother nature. It is regarded as the uncrown king of the Mycetes kingdom, making extraordinary contributions to human being.
Other members of the Basidiomycetes family such as mushroom and tremella live on wood fiber too. They are also beneficial to our health in one way or another.
This common characteristic comes not by chance. In the process of breaking down wood fiber, nutrients beneficial to human body are formed.
The best part is that not only does Ganoderma Lucidum feed on wood fiber, its fruit body will eventually become hard. The polysaccharides and triterpenes produced in this process cannot be found in human body.
Some of these components are bioactive and are very important tonics in regulating the internal and external environment of human body. And these nutrients are mostly in Ganoderma Lucidum fruit body and Ganoderma spore.
The precious Ganoderma spore
The most precious part of this fungus is the Ganoderma spore. It contains the most beneficial components for our health such as polysaccharides, Ganoderma acid and minerals.
However, Ganoderma spore shell is hard and solid. Human body cannot easily digest it. That's why a special spore shell breaking technique must be used to unlock its essences.
The existence of spore powder depends on the cultivation method. Different types of growth pattern produce different quality of Ganoderma Ludicum. Three common cultivation methods are natural growth, vacuum packing and log wood cultivation.
How Ganoderma Cultivation affects its health efficacy?
In ancient times, you can only find Ganoderma in deep forest and mountain cliffs. Scientific Ganoderma cultivation was not well known by then. As a very rare herb, it was very precious.
In 1970, a technician of Kyoto University Foodstuff Scientific Research Institute, Mr. Yukio Naoi, used "Spore Separation Ganoderma Cultivation Method" to successfully cultivate this fungus.
This cultivation method was introduced to China in 1975. Since the climate and soil conditions are ideal, this technique has been widely adopted. With this, more people around the world could benefit from this ancient herb.
Generally, Ganoderma growth can be grouped into:
- natural growth
- capsulated cultivation
- log wood cultivation
Each has its own growth pattern, advantages and disadvantages.
Natural ganoderma growth
This is grown in nature, commonly known as wild Ganoderma. It depends on decomposed wooden particle of tree to form its fruit body.
However, this scarce fungus is usually found in high and steep mountain areas.
Even if someone finds it by chance, its effects are always lost due to aging. It becomes hard like leather. Furthermore, wild Ganoderma Lucidum may also be toxic if the wood is contaminated.
By then, Ganoderma spore powder in the fruit body has already been released. Hence its potency is very low. And since these fungi are haphazardly collected, quality control is impossible.
Capsulated cultivation (Vacuum packing)
Until now, this is the most popular Ganoderma cultivation method. It uses crams of wood dust and chemical materials. Such Ganoderma Lucidum has a short growth period. It can be harvested in two months.
A high productivity and low cost of this cultivation makes it highly cost effective. However, as the fungus is grown on wooden crams and chemicals, it causes much consideration by the consumer.
In addition, such Ganoderma Lucidum are unable to take in natural sunlight, rain and essence of nature. So, its body is soft, loose and even split in shape.
The content of Organic Germanium, Triterpenes and Polysaccharides are lower. Furthermore, the most precious Ganoderma spore powder cannot be extracted.
Hence its healing effect is much lower than log wood Ganoderma Lucidum.
Log wood cultivation
Log wood Ganoderma Lucidum is cultivated on natural log wood, taking one year to harvest. The process is time consuming and requires much effort.
However, as it takes time to fully absorb sunlight and water, it has a solid and firm body. It also contains the invaluable Ganoderma spore.
The Organic Germanium, Triterpenes and Polysaccharides in log wood Ganoderma are about 6 times higher than natural and capsulated Ganoderma.
Hence the active components and medicinal values of log wood Ganoderma Lucidum cannot be matched by other Ganoderma cultivation methods.
Ganoderma Lucidum active components
Ancient medical practitioner in China learnt about Ganoderma health benefits through observation of its color and taste. They also conducted various trials and experiments to determine its healing results.
And today with advanced technology, scientists have attained a better
understanding of the main chemical components of Ganoderma Lucidum. This
includes active components such as:
- Organic Germanium
This rare mineral helps to improve blood circulation, eliminate fatigue, enhance energy, strengthen immune system and discard toxins.
- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
Effective for antioxidant, anti-free radicals and anti-ageing. It slows down the ageing of cells and promotes rejuvenation.
Effectively reduce unwanted cholesterol level, neutralize fats, strengthen immune system and suppress cancerous cells.
- Triterpenes (bitter
Also known as Lingzhi acid. It helps to improve gastro-intestines functions, for anti-allergy, anti-inflammation and anti-tumor.
- Adenosine Monophosphate
It can dissolve thrombus and remove blood vessel blockage. Excellent for improving condition of high blood pressure, stroke, heart vessel blockage and numbness.
As you can see, each active component above has various benefits in supporting your body functions and improving your health. But it is the combination of these substances that gives Ganoderma its amazing medicinal values.
Ganoderma also contains various beneficial minerals such as:
- Potassium (K)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Calcium (Ca)
- Sodium (Na)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Ferum (Fe)
- Zinc (Zn)
Of course, not all Ganoderma is the same. Different cultivation method produces different Ganoderma grade with varying level of active components. And this directly affect its healing effectiveness.
How significant is Organic Germanium in Ganoderma?
What makes Ganoderma so precious with its medicinal values? Yes, it contains Organic Germanium (GE-132) at a high concentration. This rare mineral gives Ganoderma some of its important healing properties.
A German chemist found this mineral appearing in small quantities in food, coal deposits and Earth crust. He then called it Germanium.
In pure metallic form, electronic industry uses Germanium extensively because of its semiconductor property. Biologically, it can stimulate electrical impulses on cellular level and become an Oxygen catalyst.
In human body, Organic Germanium can:
- Strengthen immune system
- Improve blood circulation
- Boost up body energy
- Discard toxins especially heavy metals such as mercury and lead
Besides Polysaccharides, Organic Germanium is the vital element for Ganoderma Lucidum ability to fight cancer cells.
It increases the ability of red blood cell to transport oxygen up to 1.5 times and even 2 times. Increased oxygen supply can nourish body cells and control cancer cells.
Quoting Betty Kamen, Ph.D. in her book "Germanium - A New Approach to Immunity"...
Organic Germanium as an Adaptogen
When a chemotherapeutic agent is added directly to cancer cells in a test tube, the cells are destroyed. When organic germanium is added to cancer cells in the same manner, the cells exhibit no change - germanium appears to be relatively ineffective.
However, it indirectly stimulates anti-cancer defenses.
Although it doesn't cure, it appears to enhance your body's metabolic ability to do so. In the case of cancer, it doesn't kill the cells. But it stimulates your immune defenses to produce those substances which will in turn help to destroy the antagonist.
Among its functions is its ability to boost the production and efficiency of natural killer (NK) cells.
Substances which help to normalize body functions indirectly are known as adaptogens. An adaptogen is classified as nontoxic and having nonspecific effect, enhancing your ability to cope with any stress (physical, emotional or chemical) as needed.
This adaptogen has been reported to normalize body acid/alkaline values, glucose curves, cholesterol levels and blood pressure rates.
Where you can find Germanium?
Have you heard before garlic has many beneficial health effects on human? Other health promoter supplement includes aloe, comfrey, chlorella, watercress and ginseng. But do you know the similarity between those ancient remedies?
Yes, all those supplements contain germanium! However, its amount varies between one herb to another as follows...
Parts per million (ppm)
Shelf fungus refers to a variety of Ganoderma mushroom. As you can see, Organic Germanium content in Ganoderma is the higest, varying from 800 to 2000 ppm. This mainly depends on the cultivation method.
To benefit from natural Organic Germanium, the best approach is to take Ganoderma Lucidum extract supplement with highest concentration of this mineral. This herb also contains other beneficial components such as Superoxide dismutase (SOD), Polysaccharides and Triterpenes.
Organic Germanium - The magical substance in Ganoderma Lucidum
Excerpt from China Daily News - 2nd March 1987
Mention of Ganoderma, we will think of Organic Germanium, the magical substance with the ability to fight cancer.
According to a research, the amount of this substance in Ganoderma Lucidum has direct connection with its effectiveness in fighting cancer.
Professor Chiang Hong Zhe of Sze-Fan University used artificial Germanium to increase its amount in Ganoderma. This development is useful to future research on this medicinal herb and the prevention of cancer.
According to Professor Chiang, instead of using wood or paddy dredge, wheat is a better choice to cultivate Ganoderma Lucidum because it will increase the quantity of Germanium in it.
The quality of Ganoderma is based on the quantity of Germanium and not whether it's wild or cultivated. Prof Chiang discovered the quality of Ganoderma is affected by the type and quality of the soil, the log that it lives on, and the climate of the production site.
The Germanium in Ganoderma Lucidum is likewise, closely related to the soil, log and climate in the environment. As such, artificial Ganoderma cultivation and constituents used in the cultivation will determine the contents of this beneficial substance.
So, regardless of whether the cultivation process is done artificially or natural, the low content of Organic Germanium will result in poor medicinal quality. So, research attempting to increase its level will help enhance its medicinal potency.
Superoxide Dismutase - Secret to Ganoderma anti-aging effect
Superoxide Dismutase or SOD is an important active component in Ganoderma Lucidum herb.
It gives Ganoderma the special ability to slow down aging with long term consumption.
Superoxide Dismutase is an enzyme naturally present in human and other animals. It acts as an important front line antioxidant defense in nearly all cells exposed to oxygen.
SOD converts oxygen free radicals into oxygen and a less toxic substance,
SOD + OFR (oxygen free radical) --> H
2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) + O (Oxygen)
Hydrogen Peroxide is less harmful, which is then converted to water by your second line of defense, Glutathione Peroxidase (GPX).
GPX + H
2 --> H
2O + O
The third defense against free radical attack is Catalase which transforms the remaining oxygen free radical to water and oxygen.
Catalase + OFR --> H
How SOD protects body cells
Since oxygen free radical is toxic, nearly all living things that use oxygen contain different forms of Superoxide Dismutase enzyme. SOD is a very efficient enzyme. It neutralizes oxygen free radicals nearly as fast as the two can spread together spontaneously in solution.
Researches showed that SOD helps to protect many types of cells from free radicals attack. This is an important factor in prolonging aging and preventing diseases caused by aging. SOD also protects cells from:
- DNA damage
- ionizing radiation damage
- protein damage
- lipid damage
For SOD's anti-cancer experiment, scientists cultivated cancer cells in petri dish. Then, they drop SOD concentration into those cancer cells. Under microscrope, scientists noticed that cancer cells were deactivated and slowly died.
Highest SOD concentration
Among all living organisms, human has the highest SOD concentration. Therefore in theory, we can live up 125 years old. But usually when you reach 40 years old, your Superoxide Dismutase enzymes are only left half.
This is because our environment is much polluted with:
- air pollution
- water pollution
- and even Electromagnetic Field pollution
Working stress, unhealthy diet and lifestyle also create a lot of free radical stress that harm your body. So you use up most of your SOD before you reach 100 years old.
Reducing SOD level is one of the reasons we experience rapid health decline after 40 years old. In our 20s and 30s, we don't feel much difference in health. Once we enter our 40s, some health problems begin to appear.
The difference between health condition in our 50s and 40s is more significant. And our body in 60s will be even worse than in the 50s. In another word, our health begin to decline exponentially after 40 years old.
SOD in Ganoderma herb
However, by consuming Ganoderma herb for long term, you can maintain your Superoxide Dismutase at a satisfactory level for a longer period. This helps to defend against free radicals attack that causes most of the common diseases today including cancer.
With this, SOD in Ganoderma Lucidum definately helps to support your body throughout the aging process and slow down aging.
How Ganoderma Polysaccharides enhance your immune system
What is Ganoderma Polysaccharide? How it gives Ganoderma Lucidum herb a strong ability to enhance immune system?
Polysaccharide is also known as PSK in Japan. For many years, the Japanese has been using PSK as an alternative cancer treatment. This substance caught the attention of many medical scientists due to its immune stimulating and anti-cancer effects.
Ganoderma polysaccharide is non-toxic with health benefits such as:
- Strengthening immune system
- Suppressing cancer cells
- Reducing unwanted cholesterol
- Neutralizing fats
This substance is derived from combination of monosaccharides.
Monosaccharide is the scientific name for substance with a unit of sugar
molecule. It consists of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen bond together with the
This group consists of simple sugar such as glucose and fructose.
Substance with two units of sugar molecule is known as disaccharide. Examples are maltose, lactose and sucrose.
Polysaccharide is actually substance with 10 or more units of sugar. It interests scientist for its many beneficial effects for human. For example, it's known to enhance activity of immunity cells like macrophage and lymphocyte. Therefore, it helps to enhance immune system naturally.
Ganoderma polysaccharide benefits
Researcher cultivated cancer cells in Petri dish and drop in Ganoderma polysaccharide concentration. They found that cancer cells were soon deactivated and died. With this, it has a supporting function in cancer treatment.
In the blood stream, Polysaccharides help body cells to absorb sugar. Therefore, it can improve diabetes condition.
Polysaccharide in nature
Polysaccharides exist in many forms in nature. For a diabetes patient, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor may prescribe Astragalus Root (Huang Qi) and Lycium Fruit (Gou Qi) herbs.
Astragalus contains Astragalus Polysaccharides while Lycium contains Lycium Polysaccharides. Each has different functions in improving diabetes.
However, Polysaccharides exist in a very high concentration in two precious herbs, namely Ganoderma Lucidum and Cordyceps Sinensis. Ganoderma herb contains Ganoderma Polysaccharides while Cordyceps herb contains Cordyceps Polysaccharides. Both herbs are proven to enhance immune system, improve diabetes and improve cancer.
Triterpenes in Ganoderma
Triterpenes, also known as bitter substances, are the active components that give Ganoderma its bitter taste. These substances also cause the bitterness for Curcubitaceae family of plants which includes cucumber, pumpkin, colocynth, marrows and the bryonies.
Triterpenes are a group of active natural compounds found in most plants. As with most beneficial substances in plants, it protects the plant from microbial infection.
However in human body, it is proven to:
- strengthens stomach and digestive system
- improve allergy
- improve inflammation
- improve tumor
Triterpenes consist of six isoprene units and have the molecular formula C30H48. They are typically in white crystalline form. These substances are biochemically complex and many have valuable medicinal properties.
Triterpene health benefits
The Triterpene found in Ganoderma is known to play various important roles for the well being of human body. It frequently demonstrates bioactivity such as antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. This component also helps to improve high blood pressure and balance blood lipids.
Studies showed that Triterpene is involved in transmitting nerve impulses to the brain's cortex. So they aid in enhancing all central nervous system functions. It also enhances the action of body hormones and maintains stability among various body systems.
In laboratory tests, researchers found Triterpenes can slow down the growth of different kinds of cancer cells. Scientist does not know the full potential of this substance yet. But it could be mainly responsible for the cancer fighting properties of various fruits and plants.
Further studies have shown they stimulate the immune system and contain important anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
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