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Reishi is one of the greatest tonic herbs on earth. It has been used since the dawn of time as a superb protector and Shen tonic. It is now known to be an immune modulator and potent antioxidant.*

Recent Research
Reishi has anti-stress activity.*
Reishi has a mild tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system.*
Reishi may improve sleep.*
Reishi is an immune potentiator.*
Reishi has been found to improve the functioning of the immune system whether the immune system is deficient or excessive. It is an immune "modulator" that is, it helps to modulate, or regulate the immune system.*

Other Common Names
Reishi mushroom, Ling Zhi, Duanwood Reishi (refering to Dragon Herbs Reishi grown on forest-cut wood logs), Ganoderma

Page Number In Radiant Health
88

Pharmaceutical Latin
Ganoderma lucidum

Pinyin
Ling Zhi

Treasures
Jing, Qi and Shen

Treasure Rating
*****

Atmospheric Energy
Neutral or slightly warm

Organ Meridian Systems
Heart, Liver, Lungs, Kidney

Part Used and Form
Fruiting body, spores, mycelium

Qualities
Chemical constituents known as polysaccharides play an important role in strengthening the body's overall immune functions.*
Ganoderic acids in Reishi inhibit histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions.*
Ganoderic acids are potent antioxidant free-radical scavengers.*
Reishi may improve the physical condition of the cardiovascular system.*
Reishi stimulates the production of interferon and interleukins I and II, potent natural immunity-boosting substances produced in our own bodies.*

Traditional Uses
Reishi tonifies Jing, Qi and Shen.
Protects the entire body. Nurtures the Heart*, protects the Liver*.
Reishi has traditionally been used as an anti-aging herb.*
The Chinese have traditionally claimed that Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength. They have used it to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind and spirit so that the adept could attain both a long and healthy life.*
Deep in antiquity, Reishi was routinely used by mountain hermits, monks, Taoist adepts and spiritual seekers throughout Asia because it was believed to help calm the mind, ease tension, strengthen the nerves, strengthen memory, sharpen concentration, improve focus, build will power and, as a result, help build wisdom. That is why it was called the "Mushroom of Spiritual Potency" by these seekers.*
Reishi mushroom is revered in Asia as a tonic herb consumed for the attainment of radiant health, longevity and spiritual attainment.

*When the organ name refers to the traditional Chinese concept of that organ-function, the organ-function name is capitalized. When a name refers to the conventional western definition of an organ, it is not capitalized.*

Primary Combinations
Reishi is commonly consumed by itself. In addition it may be combined with other tonic herbs. Combine with:

1. Astragalus to protect the body and to strengthen the immune system*
2. Zizyphus, Pearl, Asparagus Root and Polygonum Stem to build Shen*
3.
Cordyceps to tonify primal essence and to fortify immune functions*
4.
Schizandra to tonify and cleanse the Liver and beautify the skin*
5.
Schizandra and Polygonatum Sibericum to strengthen the mind*

Varieties and Grading
Shen Nung said that there are at least six varieties of Ganoderma. He noted red, purple, black, white, green and yellow. Currently, one mainly finds red and black Reishi available in herb shops. Occasionally, a purple Reishi can be obtained, but usually not through normal channels. Purple Reishi is extremely rare.*

The Black Reishi, Ganoderma sinensis, is fairly commonly available and can be found in most Chinese herb shops that carry bulk herbs. The older it is, the larger it becomes. But old age is not necessarily a virtue in Reishi. Reishi is at its best when it is still fresh and moist inside, not when it is old, dry and brittle. This species of Ganoderma tends to be unevenly shaped and can measure up to ten inches in diameter, though about six inch diameters are more common. If its skin is still highly glossy, it is good enough to use. *

This variety is considered inferior, though it is certainly still a fine herbal tonic. Its polysaccharide content is low in comparison to the high quality red Reishis. Though the black variety is wild, it lacks potency and should be used only if higher quality Reishi is not available. The majority of Reishi products that claim to be using "wild" Reishi are using this black variety.*

Wild Red Reishi is rare, but not as rare as Purple Reishi. This Reishi, which is the Reishi that Shen Nong was talking about, is much more potent and effective than the black variety. Red Reishi is Ganoderma lucidum, the primary Reishi. It is unlikely that you will find wild Red Reishi for sale in herb shops in America, but there are a few superior products available which utilize these mountain-collected mushrooms. The extraction yield from wild red Reishi tends to be very low, so the extracted products tend to be very potent. This is a sublime product. The Red Reishi commonly found in Chinese herb shops is not wild Red Reishi---it is most likely hot house Reishi.*

Hot house Reishi can be of good quality or poor quality, but most of it is poor. Reishi can now be grown in hot houses in a medium of saw dust and a nutrient such as rice. Most Reishi products sold in America are of the hot house variety. In my opinion, most of this hot house Reishi is almost useless. These mushrooms tend to be small and lumpy in appearance and often grow irregularly. They are not really red, but tend to be a light, dull brown. They are inexpensive, but are worth almost nothing. Don't waste your money.*

There are a few superior sources of hot house Reishi available in America. These are from folks that have obtained special strains of Reishi from the Japanese scientists such as Yoshi, who first developed the modern strains of Red Reishi. Then they are grown in superior media. These mushrooms tend to be large and red and look like real Reishi mushrooms. They smell fresh and rich. When you break one open, they have a pulpy interior that has a more subtle texture than the cheap cultivated varieties. These mushrooms can even be obtained in their mycelial state from some mushroom mail order houses, in which case you can grow your own fresh Reishi mushrooms. This is a real treat that I recommend very highly.*

Reishi Mycelium: The actual fungus is not in fact the mushroom that we associate with Reishi. The mycelium is a whitish blob that grows into a piece of wood or consumes some sort of nutrient until the nutrient is gone. At a certain time of year, the mycelium puts out its sexual apparatus, which is the mushroom that we see projecting out of the ground. The function of the mushroom is to reproduce. Reishi mycelium was not traditionally used as a tonic herb by the Chinese or Japanese. However, it has recently been discovered that the mycelium is very rich in the same polysaccharides that make the mushroom an effective health product. In fact, the mycelium has been found to contain much more polysaccharide than the mushroom, since the mycelium is much larger than the mushroom. This has led to many people using the mycelium in products. These products usually do not include the mushroom, but are simply ground mycelium. This has been widely accepted in America, but is looked upon with disdain in China and Japan. Specialists there point out that all the research has been done on the mushroom, not the mycelium and that the virtually miraculous health benefits of Reishi are found primarily in the mushroom. The mycelium is, to this day, not used in China or Japan. Though the mycelium may be useful, it does not match the efficacy and balance of the mushroom. They are not in the same league. This is especially true since virtually all mycelium is grown in hot houses on less than optimum nutrients.*

Duan Wood Reishi. The real deal, when it comes to Reishi mushrooms, lies in the domain of what is known as "Duan Wood" Reishi. Reishi that is grown on certain specific varieties of wooden logs, without any chemicals, in a pristine mountain environment, is known as "Duan wood" Reishi. In nature, Reishi grows on a large variety of trees in mountain forests throughout Asia. Just as "we are what we eat," a Reishi mushroom, too, is what it eats. Depending upon the kind of wood a Reishi grows upon, the Reishi may be powerful and medicinally marvelous, or it may be weak or even useless. The best Reishi grows on certain kinds of old hardwood trees that are indigenous to certain regions of China. The Chinese have made a very thorough study of this, including conducting years of pharmacological studies on laboratory animals to determine which Reishi is the most potent, based on what kind of wood it is grown on. *

The appropriate Duan wood trees are cut down and cut into short logs, usually about ten inches long. They are inoculated with Reishi spores that have been specially prepared to assure successful growth. These logs are then planted in soil in mountainous regions of China. In the spring, Reishi mushrooms shoot up through the soil in great abundance. Gradually over the period of a few months they mature. Growing Duan wood Reishi requires no pesticides or chemicals of any sort. In fact, chemicals ruin Reishi, so the government forbids it. Farmers who try to use chemicals are not allowed to grow Reishi again. All Duan wood Reishi is tested. The farmers I have talked to all say they don't ever use chemicals because they are totally unnecessary. Therefore, all Duan wood Reishi is totally organic.*

Eventually the mushrooms produce a thick coating of spores. In June, one day in a great unison, all the mushrooms release their spores into the air. It is at this moment that the Reishi is perfectly ripe for harvesting. The farmers stay with the mushrooms day and night collecting them, and collecting the spores on plastic tarps that they spread out over the Reishi. I have seen the farmers during this harvest, and they become completely brown as they are coated by spores. This is perhaps the most joyous harvest I have ever witnessed. The farmers seem to be in some kind of ecstasy during this ritual. The mushrooms are then sun dried and they are now ready for consumption. A second, but smaller harvest takes place about two months later.*

Duan wood Reishi is grown from a genetic stock that was developed in Japan about twenty years ago by a Professor Yoshi. The Japanese government supported Dr. Yoshi's research to determine the most powerful genetic line of Reishi after it was discovered that Reishi could cure a type of cancer that was prevalent in Japan at that time. Yoshi collected hundreds of samples of wild Red Reishi from China and led a research team that studied the pharmacological effects of the various strains. The most potent strain, the champion of Reishi genotypes from a health promoting and medicinal perspective, was then made available to Chinese farmers by contract with the Chinese government. The farmers were taught a new method of cultivating Duan wood Reishi by these Japanese scientists. The Japanese subsequently bought all of the Duan wood Reishi for use in Japan. Only recently has a small amount of this extraordinary Reishi become available outside of China.*

Duan wood Reishi is more than twice as potent as any other variety of Reishi mushroom available anywhere, with the possible exception of some wild Red or wild Purple Reishi. The Chinese and Japanese make extracts of it for injection and use it as a treatment for various forms of cancer. They also use it to treat hepatitis, arthritis and other immunological dysfunction's. It is also sold as a premium, and rather expensive, tonic for domestic use in China and Japan, and more recently in America. Research revealed the exact moment to harvest the Reishi to maximize the quantity and potency of the active constituents. These Reishi, however, should be used within one year of harvest or they lose much of their potency.*

Wild Purple Reishi. These wild mushrooms grow in the Chang Bai Mountains, north of North Korea in Jilin province. They are extremely rare. They are beautiful specimens. They are not entirely purple. They have both red and purple elements. In fact they look like red Reishi at first glance, but upon examination they have a significant purple coloration in the heart of the mushroom cap. These are revered in much the same way as wild Chang Bai Mountain Ginseng. Many people believe that Reishi originated in the Chang Bai Mountains and that Purple Wild Reishi is the great ancestor of all Reishi. It is a Purple Wild Reishi upon which the White Snake legend was based. It is considered to be the ultimate Shen tonic.*

Reishi Spores have recently become a major source of interest in China and Japan. Reishi spores contains huge quantities of polysaccharides and other ingredients which strengthen the immune system. The spores are now being used to treat liver and stomach cancer in China. As a health tonic, it is believed that the spores are even more potent that the mushroom cap itself. The spores, being seed, are believed to contain an abundance of Jing and are therefore considered to be an anti-aging substance. The spores are considered to be the virtual "elixir of life" to Asian herbalists. Spores are just now becoming commercially available in the West, albeit in small quantities and only through special sources. The spores must be purified, which is a difficult task because of their fineness. Traditionally, spores were believed to not only provide Jing, but to be the most subtle aspect of the Reishi and thus to develop Shen.*

History
Ganoderma was first described more than 2400 hundred years ago during the Shu Dynasty. The first detailed description was written in Shen Nong's Herbal, attributed to the legendary herbalist-emperor Shen Nong (Han Dynasty, 206 B.C.~ 8 AD). Reishi was classified by Shen Nong as a superior herb that may be taken continuously without side effects. A "superior herb" was defined as a substance that serves to maintain life, causes no side effects by continuous use, and promotes radiant health and long life by helping to harmonize the functions of the body, mind and spirit.*

Shen Nong said of Reishi that "if eaten customarily, it makes your body light and young, lengthens your life and turns you into one like the immortal (a Taoist hermetic adept) who never dies." *

Specifically, regarding Red Reishi (which is the variety that is prevalent today), Shen Nong said:

"The taste is bitter, its atmospheric energy is neutral, it has no toxicity, it cures (removes) the accumulation of pathogenic factors in the chest, it is good for the Qi (functional activities) of the heart including mental activities, it tonifies the Spleen, increases wisdom, improves memory so that you won't forget, long-term consumption will lighten your body, you will never become old, it lengthens years, it has spiritual power, and it develops Shen so that you become a "spirit-being" like the immortals."*

The first Emperor of the Chin Dynasty, sometime around 214 BC heard rumor that the "herb of immortality," which was considered to be one and the same as Ganoderma, grew abundantly in the "Eastern Paradise." The Emperor sent 500 men and 500 women (the women being selected for their beauty), by ship to find this mystical island and its magical herb. The party never returned, but legend asserts they landed in Japan and colonized the island.*

Reishi was further immortalized as the ultimate healing substance and spiritual herb of China in the classic Chinese fairy tale, "The White Snake," wherein a magical Reishi is stolen from the gods by a magical female being in order to save the life of her human lover. The celestial battle for the Reishi rivals the battles portrayed in Homer's Iliad and is a story known by virtually every Chinese.*

In the 16th Century pharmacopoeia Ben Cao Gang Mu, which contains hundreds of natural medicines the Chinese have used for thousands of years, compiler Li Shi Chen described the uses of Reishi. "It benefits the life energy, or qi of the heart, repairing the chest area and benefiting those with a knotted and tight chest." He wrote that it also increases intellectual capacity and banishes forgetfulness. "Taken over a long period of time, agility of the body will not cease, and the years are lengthened to those of the Immortal Fairies." *

Reishi can be seen depicted everywhere in Asian art, architecture and design. Paintings, embroideries, buildings, sculpture and carvings of the gods and immortals virtually always included Reishi as a symbol of the divine, as a symbol of longevity and good luck. Reishi was a favorite ornamental design feature of the royalty and the wealthy, sometimes as much for good luck as for its actual health benefits. Depiction's of Reishi are seen everywhere in the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace in Beijing, a testimony to how highly valued it was everywhere in Chinese society throughout history. Even the traditional scepter of the emperors of China was a stylized Reishi, called a Ru Yi. Undoubtedly, the first scepter was indeed a real Reishi. There is a display in the Summer Palace of the history of the imperial scepter. It displays scepters back to deep antiquity, and sure enough the earliest existent scepters were precise wooden copies of a Reishi mushroom. Traditionally in China, Ganoderma was considered to be among the most valuable possessions a new bride could bring into a marriage because of its many benefits. *


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

Copyright 1997-2006 Ron Teeguarden Enterprises, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

 

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