(Published in a supplement of “The Indian Express” dated 31st July,2003)

Human body has since ages, been referred to as the best doctor. There are remedies available in natural herbs for almost all kinds of diseases. The real need is to know and understand them. Mother nature has empowered the human body with a wonderful element, the body’s natural defence system called the “Immune System”. If this immune system is in perfect order, our body has the tremendous potential to deal with any kind of ailment which afflicts the body. The immune system remains strong if we nurture our bodies with judicious and nutritious eating habits, sleeping habits and proper exercise. But, unfortunately, owing to the changing life styles, our immune system has, over the years, been gradually and constantly deteriorating. There are many factors contributing towards this decline. We are living in an environment loaded with numerous kinds of toxins, which is affecting our health through the food, water and the air, by playing havoc with our immune system, The Natural Healer.

The medical science has made tremendous advances all over the world. Inspite of that, more and more people are getting afflicted with diseases. In the present times, ‘Health’, in real terms, has become a rarity. Medical science, despite so many advances, is finding itself difficult to cope with the ever-increasing diseases and disorders.

The world is looking up to the alternative systems of medicine and holistic approach to tackle the ever-increasing health problems and ailments. To achieve this, more and more stress is being given to the naturally growing herbs and researchers are working to unfold the mysterious healing potential of the herbs.

One such herb has recently drawn the attention of scientists globally. This is a mushroom, known by the botanical name Ganoderma lucidum. In Japan, it is known as ‘Reishi’, in China as ‘Lingzhi’, in Russia as ‘Chaga’. It is being used in China for the last nearly 5000 yrs. and is known as ‘A Mushroom Of Longevity And Immortality’. 

There are 38000 varieties of mushrooms known to mankind, out of which six have been identified to have powerful therapeutic medicinal value. These six are popularly known as ‘Red Reishi’. During the last about 30 yrs., lot of scientific and medical research has been done on reishi in many countries. Scientists at the ‘National Research Centre for Mushrooms’ at Solan, Himachal Pradesh, India have also done extensive research on Ganoderma.

There are tens of thousands of testimonials globally to prove the worth of this product, which include skin diseases, diabetes, high as well as low blood pressure, arthritis, heart diseases, paralysis, cancers, childless couples, asthma, allergic disorders, nervous disorders, kidney stones and failure, epilepsy, obesity, liver disorders, ulcers, high cholesterol, migraine, piles, sinusitis, sexual disturbances, menstrual irregularities, etc.

Ganoderma is not a medicine. It is a naturally growing mushroom, which is a health food supplement with no side effects or harmful effects, whatsoever. Its basic action is at the cellular level – to cleanse and detoxify the cells, balance the body systems and in the process strengthen the body’s Immune System, which takes care of the various disorders in the body. Ganoderma is Health Specific and not disease/symptom specific. “There is no room for disease in a healthy body.”

Minnesota (USA) based Institute of Natural Products Research has cited its benefits in Diabetes, High Cholesterol, liver disorders, atherosclerosis (major cause of heart diseases), etc.

A study conducted by the Meridian Medical Group at the Institute of East-West Medicine and Department of Medicine, Cornell Medical College has appreciated the role of Ganoderma supplementation in Cancer Management.

The prestigious Japanese doctor, Dr. Fukumi Morishige, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine (an American Institute that has been awarded the most Nobel Prizes) who has used Ganoderma on hundreds of cancer patients, comments : “During my practice, I have obtained outstanding results using reishi either as a preventive measure or during the course of treatment”.

In 1994, Mr. Chang of Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre suggested  further studies on the use of Ganoderma for prevention and treatment of cancer.

In a study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Centre, San Antionio (USA), Ganoderma’s potential as an anti-inflammatory agent has been identified. Its role in prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (an old age brain disorder) and cardiovascular diseases has also been reported.

A study from the Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University describes the inhibitory effects of Ganoderma against HIV-1.

Till date about 250 active components have been isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Lot of work and research still needs to be conducted to fully understand its miraculous properties.

But there should be no rebuttals about its being called the ‘King of Herbs’ and its being referred to as “The magic Mushroom”.



In spite of great advances and lot of research in Modern Medicine, the Health Disorders and diseases are increasing manifold.

Infections due to bacteria acquired in hospitals (Hospital acquired infection is an accepted fact in medical circles) are often antibiotic resistant & treating them may take a long time.

According to WHO, a “virtually  untreatable”  form of TB has emerged, generally known as XDR TB (extreme drug resistant tuberculosis) which has been seen nearly in all parts of the world. Researchers are worried about the strains resistant to drugs, as TB causes about 1.7 million deaths a year.

‘Death by Modern Medicine’ is a book by Dr. Carolyn Dean, a well known advocate for drug free medicine and a pioneer in the health freedom movement. He discusses, the various aspects of modern medicine, which result in deaths. According to him, about 78,400 people are dying annually in the US alone due to modern medical interventions and drugs prescribed in hospitals, in out-patient clinics, errors in hospitals (both medical and surgical), bedsores, etc.

Barbara Starfield, a professor in health policy and management at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has published frightening statistics on deaths due to medical error in the United States of America. Her data show that each year there are around 12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgery, 7,000 deaths from medication errors in hospitals, 20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals, 106,000 deaths from adverse effects of medications prescribed in error and 80,000 deaths from infections acquired whilst in hospital. This is a total of 225,000  deaths every year which are due to error or to adverse reactions to prescribed medication. To put this into a different perspective, medical error, she says, constitutes the third leading cause of death in USA after heart disease and cancer.

If this is the scenario in a country where health care is given utmost importance, one can imagine the state of health care in under privileged, developing, third world countries.

The need of the hour is to combine the traditional herbal medicine and the modern medicine for the alleviation of human suffering. Some medical professionals have started adopting this approach, referred to as Integrated Medicine.

Ganoderma lucidum a medicinal mushroom, due its long history of usage in Traditional Chinese Medicine has been referred to as the number one herb in the Category of Superior Herbs.

Scientists at the ‘National Research Centre for Mushrooms’ at Solan, Himachal Pradesh, India have done extensive research on Ganoderma. Dr. R. D. Rai, leader of the research team has been acclaimed for his pioneering work on Ganoderma. In his interviews he has commented that “Ganoderma in no less than a Sanjeevani Booti(a panacea) for cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and hypertension/hypotension.”

A lot of research has been done on Ganoderma at the Palampur Agriculture University, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India. It has been described as “saviour of human race from diseases”. As per the published reports, “owing to its effect on the Immune System, it can save humans from killer diseases”. It is helpful in the treatment of health disorders like – cancer, chronic hepatitis, diabetes, heart ailments, paralysis, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, hepatitis A, B, C, psoriasis, mumps, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypertension, etc.

Studies at the Amala Cancer Research Centre at Thrissur, Kerala, India have demonstrated that extracts of reishi(Ganoderma lucidum) selectively protect normal cells during radiotherapy.

In an article published in the ‘Drug Discovery Today(Dec., 2005)’, Daniel Silva and colleagues, researchers at the Indiana University in Indianapolis, USA comment – “ G. lucidum could suppress the movement and growth of highly invasive breast and prostate cancer cells”. It has also been referred to as “Ganoderma lucidum extracts as chemotherapeutic”.

In the wake of so many studies there should be no rebuttals about its being called the ‘King of Herbs’ and its being referred to as “The magic Mushroom”.

I would like to add a word of caution here. Whenever any product, natural or synthetic, becomes popular and is acclaimed by research, sometimes some unscrupulous elements jump in the fray, to make a quick buck. There are many companies, globally,  involved in the cultivation/production and marketing of Ganoderma products in the form of capsules, tea, coffee and other daily consumption products, etc. My suggestion, to all,  is that you should first educate yourself about this herb. Lot of reports are available on the internet. Once you are satisfied about the product, you may  consume it, for health, as a daily health food supplement. You don’t need a doctor’s consultation or prescription for this but  in case of serious/terminal ailments, one should  seek  advice of someone who knows about how Ganoderma works in the body.