REISHI – Ling Zhi
Of all the Fu Zheng herbs, Ling Zhi or Reishi Mushroom is the most mysterious of all. Not only due to it’s legendary qualities but also very much due to it’s simple ability to calm the human mind and lend some clarity in an otherwise muddled existence. Practitioners are especially outspoken about Reishi. The early Chinese medical texts speak with genuine.
Of all the Fu Zheng herbs, Ling Zhi or Reishi Mushroom is the most mysterious of all. Not only due to it’s legendary qualities but also very much due to it’s simple ability to calm the human mind and lend some clarity in an otherwise muddled existence. Practitioners are especially outspoken about Reishi. The early Chinese medical texts speak with genuine reverence about Reishi and it’s powers to heal while the Taoists used it to lighten their selves and to become “capable of spiritual transcendence”. This reference to Reishi is not by any means cultural. Although it has been known as the mushroom of spiritual potency in Asia, it has rapidly garnered a large following in the West amongst yoga, Tai Chi and meditation students. The first textual reports of Reishi record it as a “Shaman’s Mushroom” or “Shaman’s Ch’i”. In fact it was originally called “Chih Zhi” or “Red Ch’i” (Chih=red, Ch’i=energy) and the red variety remains the most sought after for these reasons.
But it is the long chain polysaccharides that have attracted so much research in China, Japan and now the United States. These immunmodulators increase RNA and DNA in the bone marrow, increases interferon production, disrupting viral diseases and “smartening up” up the T-cells and expanding their “memory”.
A study in 1982 in Japan showed 100% of test mice had complete regression in induced tumors. One of the constituents of Reishi which was studied was Beta-D-Glucan which holds the cell walls of grains intact. Triterpenes are another aspect of Reishi which has researchers scrambling. Shown to be the chief agent in Reishi responsible for lowering blood pressure and blood lipids, triterpenes are found in the fatty acid form as “lucidenic” and “ganoderic” acids. Ginseng also contains a similar compliment of these sterols and there is much speculation that these may be one of the crucial commonalties in longevity herbs.
Reishi and Ginseng also share the adaptogenic effect and protect against biological, emotional and environmental stresses. Reishi contains 112 known triterpenes which may be the cause of it’s anti-hypertensive action. These triterpenes inhibit ACE, an enzyme (angiotensin converting enzyme) which many drugs attempt to control (with side effects). Reishi alleviates allergies, oxygenates the blood, relieves pain, reverses liver disease and is one of the most potent natural mood elevators known to man.
The various ganoderma are as follows:
g. lucidum (red) g. applanatum (brown) g.tsugae (red) g. sinense (black) g. oregonense (dark brown) The lucidum variety is the well known, modern type of Reishi which is being cultivated. The quality of the mushroom in terms of the effects are reliant on the conditions and environment of growth. This is the reason that wildcrafted Reishi is much preferred. Applanatum is the ancient Ling Zhi of legend, a stemless shelf mushroom which grows world-wide and has been recorded in weights up to 12 pounds. It’s traditional name “Chih se lao mu chun” means “The flesh-like ancient source of life mushroom” Tsugae is much like lucidum except in appearance as it has a high gloss and is a bright orange-red.Sinense is a dark purple to black variety and is distinctive with it’s longer stem (up to 8 inches). Oregonense is, as it’s name implies a native of the western North America. It has not been studied for medicinal activity but it is assumed that it also contains similar properties.
Reishi is prepared, traditionally by powdering the mushroom and decocting at a low (sub-boiling) temperature for two to three hours or untill the original water level has been reduced by two-thirds.The tea is strained and can be sweetened with honey (sugar is not recommended). The powder (which is actually more like a wet “hair-ball”) can be reused untill the tea has lost most of it’s color, about three times. It has been recently found that long chain polysaccharides are utilized much more efficiently if taken within a few hours of ingesting vitamin C.