Out of an estimated 100-140,000 mushroom species in the world, the majority have no human use or effect; around 2,000 are culinary; some are absolutely poisonous; a few are entheogenic hallucinogens.
But the smallest subset—around 20—is a class of fungi known as medicinal mushrooms. Of these 20, there is one that has garnered the most attention, both scientifically interest and with results on human health: Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum). Lingzhi—specifically its top cap, or fruiting body—is proving to be the pinnacle of anti-aging superfoods for those interested in human longevity. These mushroom caps are currently the top researched fungi, with over 1,100 studies and clinical trials in the past 20 years, showing results with:
anti-inflammatory • immunomodulatory • anti-tumor • anti-fibrotic • anti-depression • cardiovascular • anti-viral • anti-insomnia • slows aging process • herpes • improves mood • drastically improves sleep • relieves allergies • eliminates skin issues • anti-bacterial • anti-parasitic • liver protective • anti-diabetic • balance cholesterol levels • balance blood pressure • increased sexual health • increased mental clarity • increased cardiovascular health • improved thyroid • adrenal adaptogen • modulates immune function • improves cholesterol ratios
The fruiting body of Lingzhi has long been the most revered herb in all of Chinese pharmacology and has held that position since the earliest pharmacopoeia texts, including the Compendium of Materia Medica, the book regarded as the most comprehensive medical text ever written on traditional Chinese medicine. Stories of the Lingzhi’s healing results can found throughout writings and Chinese paintings going back over 3,000 years ago.
In the poetic language of TCM, Lingzhi fruiting body is called The Herb of Longevity; considered a potent tonic because of its ability to calm the nerves; helps with nerve rejuvenation; capable of building body resistance and detoxifying the cells; helps with sleep issues like insomnia, and yet acts as an energy stabilizer. In all medical texts, it is universally described as a way to prolong life and rid the body of decaying or subpar tissue. Lingzhi was particularly regarded in the Taoist tradition as the Herb of Spiritual Potency, used to promote calmness, centeredness, and inner awareness.
In the western mind, this “calm the nerves” figurative speech is often less trusted, and helps explain why so many still see effective herbal medicine such as Lingzhi similar to eating leaves and sticks. Even people well versed in other Eastern approaches to health are often unfamiliar with Lingzhi. This comes mainly from its rarity, high cost, and the absence of clinical research to explain the stories and testimonials.
But that is changing fast, and nowhere more apparent than Proctor & Gamble’s recent purchase of one of the top US-based Lingzhi manufacturers in 2012. Large conglomerates don’t make investments like this unless they’ve done the science, recognize the untapped potential, and see a movement happening ahead.
A movement it is, and it’s happening for a few reasons:
- recent technological advancements in cultivation, lowering the cost and increasing the potency
- recent improvements in manufacturing, which have strengthened potency (now in the range of 7:1 and even 20:1)
- the large scientific interest and identification of the key functional ingredients that explain its results.
- an aging population who want to live into their 90s with all their faculties intact
Peer-reviewed scientific studies and medical journals have now verified the pharmaceutical effects of Ganoderma lucidum’s fruiting body. And while its role in immunomodulation and anti-cancer activities represent the dominating theme of many of the studies, you’ll see that they also point out other significant medical properties.
Please note: these studies and results have all been done with the fruiting body, or cap, part of the Lingzhi mushroom. This distinction is especially important since the US market is currently filled almost entirely with lingzhi products that are formulated only with lingzhi mycelium—the white filament that acts as the plant’s root system. Mycelium contains a small fraction of the active ingredients referred to in these studies. It is the cap, the fruiting body, that contains over 95% of all of the spores, and all 600+ active ingredients, while its mycelium contain very few spores, and just a handful of the active ingredients.