The medicinal mushroom of immortality
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) or ‘mushroom of eternal youth’ is one of the most recognised medicinal mushrooms and has a long history of use in traditional oriental medicine, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Asia it is a ‘symbol of longevity and happiness’. It is therefore considered ‘the king of medicinal mushrooms’ and is often referred to by other names such as ‘Ling Zhi’, ‘Chizhi’ or ‘Youngzhi’.
Essential notes on the ‘king of mushrooms’
It is considered one of the best-studied medicinal mushrooms, as there are currently more than 5,000 publications on its applications, history and active biomolecules. The benefits of Reishi are due to the presence of these active biomolecules or specific nutrients contained in this medicinal mushroom. The main ones are polysaccharides such as beta-glucans (especially β-(1,3)(1,6)-D-glucans) and terpenes (especially triterpenes), which we have been studying for more than 20 years in our R&D department. In some parts of the world, Reishi was and still is considered to have properties in the physical and mental/emotional balance of the body. This medicinal mushroom contains hundreds of bioactive compounds or active biomolecules that are studied for their relevant role in:
- Mental-emotional health: especially mood, stress management, fatigue and sleep quality (2,3,4) , which are key to ones well-being.
- Endocrine-metabolic system: regarding hormone regulation and liver cells (5).
- Immunology: studies on the function of immune cells and their impact on defences (immune system). (6,7).
- Integrative support: studies on its activity in combination with conventional treatments and its effect on quality of life (9,10,11).
- Anti Aging or Pro-Aging(1): oxidation and production of free radicals that occur with the passage of time, stress, pollution and inadequate diets.
In addition, in the last 10 years, the scientific article portal Pubmed has published more than 1000 articles on Reishi, reflecting the growing interest in the medical applications of mushrooms in general, and Ganoderma in particular.
Properties, applications and uses of Reishi
The great interest in Reishi and its benefits are well documented, as is the case with other mushrooms such as Shiitake, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane and others. The earliest records date back to the 2nd millennium BC. In the search for the ‘elixir of life’ by the emperor Quin Shi Huang Di (known for the construction of the Great Wall), Reishi was given to him as a gift. After this episode, all specimens of this mushroom were reserved exclusively for the Chinese emperor. Today Reishi is still considered the “most valuable natural substance in Traditional Chinese medicine”. Its applications were already documented in the 16th century work on Chinese medicine by the universal scholar Li Shih-Chen. The mushroom became the focus of modern science in the 1950s, with more detailed research being carried out mainly in China and Japan. Traditionally, infusions were made from dried Reishi. Today, its infusion is still considered a traditional way of consuming Reishi, although not the only one. For a better use of its active biomolecules, concentrated Reishi extract is used, such as organic Mico-Rei, developed as a high quality nutraceutical. It can also be found in children’s formulas as a liquid extract (Dr. Immune Five and Dr. GB). Undoubtedly, this type of super concentrated extracts are the forms from which most studies have been carried out on its effects on health. Reishi powder is also a popular superfood and is used to prepare smoothies and hundreds of healthy recipes (Superfood Reishi Antiox). As an innovative ingredient, Reishi is included in natural cosmetics, such as in soaps or creams.
More than 400 active biomolecules are found in this medicinal mushroom, which include:
(especially triterpenes, the triterpene content can be used as a measure of quality of different samples of G.lucidum).Key compounds are highlighted here:
Ganoderic acids A, C1, C2, C6, D, F, G, X, Y2
Ganolucidic acids A, B, C, E2, L, N, P
Lucidone A, E
Ganomycins B, I, J
Ganoleuconin M, O
17 Amino acids:
Many of them essential
Especially B vitamins
Various forms of vitamin D (D2, D3 and D4)
Habitat and distribution
This species impresses with its extraordinary shape and colour which is reminiscent of marine corals, yet it firmly belongs to the fungi kingdom. Naturally, Reishi grows in rings that thicken towards the inside. Under optimal conditions, it forms stem-like extensions which, with their rounded ends they resemble horns. These specimens were particularly prized in ancient China. Today we know that this particular shape has been linked to its terpene content.Reishi ranges in colour from deep red through yellow to white. Its fruiting body has a woody consistency that gains hardness over time.
Ganoderma lucidum can be found at the base of dead tree trunks or growing through cracks in bark as a saprophytic fungus, feeding on the organic remains of other species.It is often confused with other similar species belonging to the same family, e.g. the fungus Ganoderma applantatum.Reishi is not a mushroom that can be cooked like Shiitake or Boletus. Due to its hardness and bitter taste, it is usually prepared as an infusion or consumed as a superfood, in powdered form with other foods such as yoghurt, broths, soups, etc.
Reishi grows wild in deciduous forests, especially oak and beech forests, but is also found in coniferous forests. Not only the shape and colour of Reishi itself can vary greatly, but there are also many other tree fungi of the same genus that can easily be mistaken for this famous medicinal mushroom.Today, it is found naturally in Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. However, mostly it is produced through cultivation as demand for this superfood is growing worldwide.Reishi can also be produced from logs or in sawdust bags. In fact, log cultivation is one of the most traditional ways of obtaining Reishi.However, the scientific interest in the bioactive compounds of this mushroom and the growing demand for Reishi products has led to the development of new production systems and their optimisation.
Cultivation in bioreactors
High quality, purity and performance in our production systems
One of the most powerful lines of research at Hifas da Terra focuses on the continuous improvement of the cultivation of different species in bioreactors (Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake and Maitake) using certified organic substrates, as well as the standardisation of the quality of source ingredients to guarantee excellence in the final product with each medicinal mushroom.
Hifas Quality System
Through our own quality standards, we identify biomolecules and active ingredients with therapeutic actions, selecting the fungal strains that contain the optimum amounts, and use our own specific analytical systems to apply analysis protocols at different stages of production. Thanks to this rigorous system, we offer natural products, supplements and nutraceuticals with the HifasQuality System guarantee, setting us apart from other products in terms of quality, safety and efficacy.
R&D and studies with Reishi
- Hifas da Terra is currently working on the development of new ingredients based on Reishi within the framework of the Nutrigen 4.0 project, which aims to achieve automated and continuous production thanks to cultivation in state-of-the-art bioreactors.
- In the framework of the FungiTechOnco project, the benefits of Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) strains cultivated by Hifas da Terra are demonstrated.
- The scientific name of Reishi, Ganoderma lucidum, comes from Greek and refers to its beautiful natural shine. Gano means shiny, derma means skin and lucidum means glistening.
- In the East, Reishi fruiting bodies became popular as talismans.
- Wang J, Cao B, Zhao H, Feng J. Emerging Roles of Ganoderma Lucidum in Anti-Aging. Aging Dis. 2017;8(6):691-707. Published 2017 Dec 1. doi:10.14336/AD.2017.0410.
- Collado Mateo D, Pazzi F, Domínguez Muñoz FJ, Martín Martínez JP, Olivares PR, Gusi N, Adsuar JC. GANODERMA LUCIDUM IMPROVES PHYSICAL FITNESS IN WOMEN WITH FIBROMYALGIA. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Nov 1;32(5):2126-35.
- Qiu, Y., Mao, ZJ., Ruan, YP. et al. Exploration of the anti-insomnia mechanism of Ganoderma by central-peripheral multi-level interaction network analysis. BMC Microbiol 21, 296 (2021).
- Feng X, Wang Y. Anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive and sedative-hypnotic activities of lucidone D extracted from Ganoderma lucidum. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2019 Apr 30;65(4):37-42.
- Qiu Z, Zhong D, Yang B. Preventive and Therapeutic Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) on Liver Injury. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1182:217-242.
- Ahmad MF, Ahmad FA, Khan MI, Alsayegh AA, Wahab S, Alam MI, Ahmed F. Ganoderma lucidum: A potential source to surmount viral infections through β-glucans immunomodulatory and triterpenoids antiviral properties. Int J Biol Macromol. 2021 Sep 30;187:769-779.
- Zhao, R., Chen, Q. & He, Ym. The effect of Ganoderma lucidum extract on immunological function and identify its anti-tumor immunostimulatory activity based on the biological network. Sci Rep 8, 12680 (2018).
- Jeitler M, Michalsen A, Frings D, et al. Significance of Medicinal Mushrooms in Integrative Oncology: A Narrative Review. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:580656. Published 2020 Nov 11.
- Sohretoglu D, Huang S. Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharides as An Anti-cancer Agent. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2018;18(5):667-674.
- Ahmad MF. Ganoderma lucidum: A rational pharmacological approach to surmount cancer. J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 Oct 5;260:113047.
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- Gao Y, Zhou S, Jiang W, Huang M, Dai X. Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunol Invest. 2003 Aug;32(3):201-15.
- Li EK, Tam LS, Wong CK, Li WC, Lam CWK, Wachtel-Galor S, Benzie IFF, Bao YX, Leung PC, Tomlinson B. Safety and Efficacy of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) and San Miao San Supplementation in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism (Arthritis Care & Research) Vol. 57, No. 7, October 15, 2007, pp 1143–1150.
- Wang J1, Yuan Y2, Yue T2. Immunostimulatory activities of β-d-glucan from Ganoderma Lucidum. Carbohydr Polym. 2014 Feb 15;102:47-54.
- Chang YH, Yang JS, Yang JL, Wu CL, Chang SJ, Lu KW, Lin JJ, Hsia TC, Lin YT, Ho CC, Wood WG, Chung JG. Ganoderma lucidum extracts inhibited leukemia WEHI-3 cells in BALB/c mice and promoted an immune response in vivo. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Dec;73(12):2589-94.
- Gao Y, Tang W, Dai X, Gao H, Chen G, Ye J, Chan E, Koh HL, Li X, Zhou S. Effects of water-soluble Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on the immune functions of patients with advanced lung cancer. J Med Food. 2005 Summer;8(2):159-68.
- Li YQ1, Wang SF. Anti-hepatitis B activities of ganoderic acid from Ganoderma lucidum. Biotechnol Lett. 2006 Jun;28(11):837-41. Epub 2006 May 31.
- El-Mekkawy, S., Mesellhy, M.R., Nakamura, N., Tesuka, Y., Hattori, M., Kakiuchi, N., Shimotohno, K., Kawahata, T., and Otake, T., Anti-HIV and anti-HIV-protease substances from Ganoderma lucidum, Phytochemistry, 49, 1651–1657, 1998.
- Gao Y, Chen G, Dai X, Ye J, Zhou S. A Phase I/II Study of Ling Zhi Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.:Fr.) Lloyd (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease. Int J of Med Mushrooms Volume 6, 2004 Issue 4.
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- Su, C.Y., Shiao, M.S., and Wang, C.T., Predominant inhibition of ganodermic acid S on the thromboxane A2-dependent pathway in human platelets response to collagen, Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 1437, 223–234, 1999.
- Chu TT, Benzie IF, Lam CW, Fok BS, Lee KK, Tomlinson B. Study of potential cardioprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): results of a controlled human intervention trial. Br J Nutr. 2012 Apr;107(7):1017-27.
- Anjum F, Razvi N, Yasin H, Ahmad A, Sherwani MK, Khan NR, Arshad S. Causes of migraine in Karachiites and its treatment from mushrooms. Int J Pharm 2012; 2(4): 706-711.
- Cui XY, Cui SY, Zhang J, Wang ZJ, Yu B, Sheng ZF, Zhang XQ, Zhang YH. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Feb 15;139(3):796-800.
- Matsuzaki H et al., (2013) Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia in rats. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 13, 370.
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- Liu YW et al., (2009) Evaluation of antiproliferative activities and action mechanisms of extracts from two species of Ganoderma on tumor cell lines. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 57, 3087-3093.
- Raj PV et al., (2015) Anti-proliferative effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide and triterpenoid fractions against cancer cells. Manipal Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 1, 32.
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- Hsieh TC et al., (2013) Regulation of cell cycle transition and induction of apoptosis in HL-60 leukemia cells by the combination of Coriolus versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum. International Journal of Molecular Medicine 32, 251-257.
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