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Ganoderma is the name of the fungus Ganoderma lucidum. It is also called the reishi mushroom or in Chinese ling zhi. It is one of the most popular medicinal mushrooms in China, Japan, and the United States.
Ganoderma grows on logs or tree stumps. It has a shiny, hard, asymmetrical cap that ranges in color from yellow to black. The cap, spores, and mycelium are all used medicinally. Wild ganoderma is rare in Asia.
In ancient China, ganoderma was so rare and so highly prized that it was reserved for the emperors and called the "Elixir of Life." In 1972, Japanese researchers successfully cultivated the mushroom. There are six different colors of cap: red, green, white, black, yellow, and purple. These researchers showed that all colors are the same species, and that the color variations are the result of differences in environmental conditions. Despite this, some herbalists insist that certain colors of reishi mushroom are more potent or effective in healing certain conditions than others.
Ganoderma has recently attracted the attention of Western cancer researchers. A case study report from Columbia University indicates that a Japanese dietary supplement containing ganoderma as well as genistein, a soybean derivative, may be useful in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
Ganoderma is also used in treating conditions of the nervous system. It is used to calm the nerves, cure insomnia, reduce stress, eliminate nervous exhaustion, and increase determination and focus. Laboratory studies show fairly conclusively that ganoderma does act as a sedative on cells of the central nervous system and possibly has painkilling and anti-convulsive properties.
Ganoderma is frequently used to treat allergies, hay fever, bronchial asthma, and to reduce skin inflammation.
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