Medicinal Properties: For centuries, the Chinese and Japanese literature has heralded this mushroom for its health invigorating effects, especially attributing it with increasing longevity, treatment of cancer, resistance and recovery from diseases. Himalayan guides have used this mushroom to combat high altitude sickness. Mayan Indians have traditionally employed this mushroom (or a closely related species) in teas to fight a variety of communicable diseases. Reishi has become the natural medicine of choice by North Americans, and has become especially popular amongst immunocompromised groups in recent years.
A complex group of polysaccharides have been isolated from this mushroom which reportedly stimulate the immune system. One theory is that these polysaccharides stimulate helper "T" cell production which attack infected cells. Ganoderic acids have also been isolated from Ling Chi and purportedly have anti-coagulating effects on the blood and lower cholesterol levels (See Morigawa et al., 1986). Most recently, studies have been published showing its modulating effects on blood
A 1 lpvpk (Kxhir et al (1989)) influence on blood glucose levels (Kimura et a the historical devel pment of compounds extracted from this mushroom in Chemical Time , (3). 50-^98^ (For more information, see Nishitoba et al. (1984), Jifeng et al. (1985), Hirotani et al.
H985^ Satoetal (1986),Tanaka (1989), and Jong (1991.)) . . , .
Studies by Stavinoha ( 1990) on mice at the Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio showed thafrntft^'gül powder" (sic) or ether extracts of the mushrooms showe significant anti-in-flammatc activiw comparable to hydrocortisone. Weil (1993) noted that it s difficult to reconcile fhaTa l hroom ou d both be an immune stimulator and an anti-inflammatory agent. His point is Ía nütflamm ory agents generally suppress immune function, not enhance it. However, many tos of ^ STarevi Jed as autoimmune disorders. If the mode of activity of G. luadu : is to a as an hnrnunomodulator, not an immuno-stimulator, then this contradiction in viewpoints is re AUheFi?* International Mycological Congress convened in Vancouver, British Columbia Dr. B K Kim et al (1994) repor d that a low molecular veight polysacchande fraction, isolated from oLTmatdZ prolonged the survival of human lymphocytes after exposure to HV, comparing favc^bty^ cells in terms of Ion, vity. Lymphocytes not treated with his pdysaccharide died shortl) rfter exposure to the virus. Clinical studies*.are going in Korea. Patents are nlanned To my knowledge, no juried reports have been pubhshed to date
A ordL to WHlard (1990) who compiled a review of Reishi's properties, this must room can cure cancer°chronic fatigue syndrome, liver degeneration, blood disorders and pracüca ly every o the r modern mal ad y to affect human kind. (No wonder Reishi is also known as the 'Panacea PolvpOTe ') However^to di te, no definitive, long-term, double-blind studies with human patients suf-ferin2 from cancer ¿r other diseases) have been reported in the English literature. Studies with EpatTents at th Institute of Matena Medica (Beijing, China) in 1983, showed that Ling Chi had ÍoTgnifiíant ef *t agains, lung cancer after radiation therapy whereas Zhu Ling (Polyporus umhcllatus) was effective. (Stamets & Weil, 1983).
I have been told by native Chinese that Ling Chi is traditionally given to men ;y women (or _an _in-teimTdiary messenger) to express sexual interest as Ling Chi p rportedly stimulates sexual vmhty, es™ciaUy i^older men. The a'ntler form is preferred. No medical« .dence has been pubhshed to support this claim.
Flavor Prenaration & Cooking: Typically extracted in hot water for teas, tinctures syrups, & ! uptSfto Jftcoh. Uving specimens, breaking them mto piec«.
bolhng in water for 5 minutes and then steeping for 30 minutes. The tea is reheatedoad red empe ature, strain, and served, without sweeteners. If a daily lowed as little as 3-5 grams per person has been traditionally prescribed. The antler forms, with a rTduced hymnal package' have a rich, mildly sweet, and soothing flavor reaction^The well develope conk forms reveal a more bitter after-taste. Yellow strains are more often bitter than the red and black strains.
Comments: A satisfying mushroom to grow and consume, Ganoderma lucidum is a mushroom whose transformations are mesmerizing. Responsive to the slightest changes in the environment, its m 'que growth habits have undoubtedly enchanted humans for centuries. The formation and development of the fruitbody is greatly affected by the surrounding gaseous environment. Stem growth is elongated under prolonged, elevated carbon dioxide levels (>20,000 ppm) whereas cell formation leading to cap development and hymenial development is activated when carbon dioxide levels fall below 2000 ppm. Ganoderma lucidum cm be easily grown in a variety of ways, indoors and outdoors. Yield may not be the only measure of this mushroom's value. Although more biomass is generated with a strategy promoting short stalks and large caps the antler and capitate-antler form appeals to many as art.
As Ganoderma lucidum gains popularity with North Americans, feasibility studies on the wide scale cultivation of Reishi on stumps are warranted. If markets could support the resulting yields, a whole new industry might emerge on lands currently providing little or no immediate economic return.
For more information on the taxonomy of this group see Zhao (1989) and Gilbertson & Ryvarden (1987). For general information on the historical and medicinal uses of this fungus, consult Wasson (1972), Jong (1991), Willard (1990), Jones (1992) and Hobbs (1995). For information on the cultiva tion of G. lucidum, see Stamets (1990) andThaithatgoon et al. (1993).
Common Names: Maitake ("Dancing Mushroom" )* Kumotake ("Cloud Mushroom") Hen-of-the-Woods The Dancing Butterfly Mushroom
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