Thanks to their long and rich history dating back thousands of years, we can credit the Asians for their wisdom about the healing properties of many foods and herbs. Undoubtedly, they learned through years, decades and even centuries of trial and error. Driven by “stick–to–itiveness,” their hunches that certain plants had healing abilities paid off—big time!
Take the Chinese and their knowledge about a local mushroom called “Lingzhi.” From the botanical family called, Ganoderma lucidum, it was during the Han dynasty (200 AD) that the book, “Shen-Nong’s Herbal Classics” wrote of the healing properties of Lingzhi.
Now, fast forward 1300 years to 1500 AD when reports began surfacing about its ability to improve the heart, increase memory, and even promote anti-aging. Apparently, folks were worried about staying young, even then!
Lingzhi—renowned historically as a food of “immortality and spiritual awareness”—grows an unbelievable three feet across, and can weigh 16 pounds. In ancient times, it was reserved for those of noble birth because of “challenging” cultivation requirements. Today, all that has changed and common folks can now take advantage of its healthy benefits in the form of tinctures, capsules and powders.
In the last few decades, scientists began to ask if—in fact—the historic and healthy claims about Lingzhi were really true. As it often goes when science and folklore intercept, commonly known medicinal health properties of herbs, plants and foods are recognized by average folk long before researchers make a scientific confirmation. As so it is with Lingzhi!
Today, Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) is a standard oriental herbal medicine and is found in many medicine cabinets. Typically, the fruiting body of the medicinal mushroom is made into a variety of tinctures and supplements. Sound interesting? Read on and you will find that numerous scientific studies point to its healthy benefits that give a “power-packed” punch to the immune system.
The “Short” List of Lingzhi Health Benefits
The list of health benefits attributed to Lingzhi are numerous. To start with, Lingzhi falls into the category of an “adaptogen.” Adaptogens are substances in plants that can help your body “adapt” in a variety of ways, so that natural health can be restored. An adaptogen—by definition—must cause no harm; help the body adapt to physical and psychological stress; and should support all major body systems. Lingzhi qualifies, having all three properties.
Of the scientific studies that have been conducted on Lingzhi, it has definitely been shown to have anti-tumor effects. As one example, scientists reported in the Korean Journal of Medical Mycology that tumors improvement up to 88% when a dry powder form of Lingzhi was given to patients.
And researchers working in the field of “experimental biology” found that Lingzhi showed “strong therapeutic cancer prevention properties” (Borchers 2008). With regard to lung cancer, they said that cancer cells underwent a process called “apoptosis,”—a fancy scientific word that simply means the cells died without releasing any of their toxic substances into the body.” Apoptosis, or cell death started within three hours and all cells were dead at 24 hours,” according to researcher Yuen and his group of scientists.
Lingzhi as an Antioxidant
Most people know that consuming antioxidant-rich foods and plants helps protect immune cells. And Lingzhi does just that because it contains powerful antioxidants that are known to be quickly absorbed into the blood after ingestion. This allows them to rapidly go on a “seek and destroy” mission—in search of unhealthy cells.
What Makes Good Lingzhi
Not all mushrooms are created equal and that becomes more true when it comes to extract. This is super important to know and I really want to get into this because mushrooms traditionally are prepared in a certain way for a reason.
People try and sell cell-cracked mushroom extracts and that is just baking the mushrooms so you can keep as much volume as possible making the product cheaper these extracts have less than 10% of the medicinal benefit of a proper extract. Others will sell you just ground up mushrooms or hot water extract, straight hot water is the traditional preparation but it looses the medicinal benefit quickly because the temperature required to make the extract damages and shortens the life of the polysaccharides. You can use this method at home but it is not a stable extract and has a shelf life of less than a week.
The cellular structure of Lingzhi and almost every other medicinal mushroom is critical to the medicinal benefits. Roughly 90% of the polysaccharides that make it a potent immunomodulator and contain much of the benefits of the mushrooms is locked inside the cell wall of the mushroom, that wall is made of chitin. Chitin is the same as the shell of a lobster and cannot be dissolved by human digestion. In order to make an extract you need to dissolve that chitin and free the polysaccharides without damaging them.
Another thing that is important is the level of healthy polysaccharides in the mushrooms. In order to achieve this the mushrooms need to grow slowly with a nutrient dense food source. For mushrooms that is growing on wood NOT grains or other sub straights.
Once you have your quality source material you need to do a dual extraction and spray-dry so you can dissolve the chitin in an alcohol and water solution between 120 and 160 degrees so that the polysaccharides are not damaged and spray dried so the extract is a stable powder without boiling or baking off the water. This creates a chemical free natural extract powder that will still have all the benefits of a freshly brewed tea but is easy and convenient to access and use daily.