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Reishi – the “Mushroom of Immortality”

rerReishi is known as ling zhi (mushroom of immortality) in China and mannentake (10,000 year mushroom) in Japan. It is sometimes also referred to as the “herb of spiritual potency”, and  is an herbal mushroom known to have miraculous health benefits. There are six different types of Ganoderma lucidum: red, purple, green, white, yellow, and black. The red mushroom is the most well-studied and is said to possess the most healing properties. The Japanese government officially lists reishi mushrooms as a cancer treatment.  It is known that Reishi mushroom benefits your immune system more than any other herbal adaptogen on the planet (with the exception of other similar medicinal mushroom species). Because of its rich history and long tradition of medicinal use, Ganoderma lucidum (in the strictest sense) is now one of the few mushroom species whose DNA has been fully sequenced (16,113 genes).

I am extremely fond of Reishi mushroom as its list of health benefits is endless. Lingzhi Mushrooms (Reishi) are excellent for finding, decomposing and flushing out subpar cellular matter throughout the body. They can be called miniature pharmaceutical factories that produce hundreds of medicinally-interactive compounds Paul Stamets, author of Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms and educator of mushroom cultivators world-wide says,

“Reishi is remarkable for its diversity of genes coding for cytochrome P450 enzymes. These enzymes not only afford this species a broad arsenal for producing secondary metabolites for digesting nutrients, but may also confer benefits to human health such as enhancing the degradation of toxins and free radicals and increasing the liver’s metabolic efficiency. The variety of these enzymes, among more than 400 active constituents that have been found, indicates to me that mushrooms such as Reishi are like miniature pharmaceutical factories that can produce hundreds of medicinally-interactive compounds.” (source)

Reishi appear shiny and brilliant when wet and dry to a dull, dusty color. All species of Ganoderma are defined as polypores. This means they have no gills on their undersides and release spores through small pores. If you flip a reishi mushroom over you will see the flat, corky area where spores are released.Originally found in China, Japan, and Korea, reishi now grows on hardwoods throughout the world. They prefer tropical and subtropical climates. (source)

It is non-toxic and can be taken daily without producing any side effects.

When it is taken regularly, it can restore the body to its natural state, enabling all organs to function normally.

20170218_170456While mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, and cordyceps, all share similar immune boosting properties, Red Reishi has also the longest history and has been known to be effective in the treatment of the widest range of health conditions. Unlike other mushrooms, only Lingzhi has many important compounds such as triterpenes (ganoderic acid) that gives them a unique characteristic of being bitter in taste. Here are some of reishi’s awesome properties:

 

  • Analgesic
  • Anti-allergic activity (Preliminary studies indicated that ganoderic acids help alleviate common allergies by inhibiting histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions.
  • Bronchitis-preventative effect, inducing regeneration of bronchial epithelium
  • Antibacterial, against Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Bacillus pneumoniae (perhaps due to increased immune system activity)
  • Antioxidant, by eliminating hydroxyl free radicals
  • Antitumor activity (source)
  • Antiviral effect, by inducing interferon production
  • Life extending properties (1, 2)
  • Prevents the development of new fat cells in obese individuals (3)
  • Therapeutic effect on asthma (5)
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Heart health: It has been shown that Reishi mushroom benefits patients with coronary heart disease and hyperlipidemia, resulting in varying degrees of improvement in symptoms. One controlled study showed a Ganoderma extract being capable of reducing blood and plasma viscosity in hypertensive patients with hyperlipidemia. Yet another study showed the Ganoderma Lucidum extract was capable of lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol. Also, Reishi mushroom benefits those in high altitudes (such as mountain climbers) as it increases oxygenation of the blood (both an effect on the Heart system as well as the Lungs for TCM).
  • Improves adrenocortical function (The various sterols found in Reishi mushroom benefits the endocrine system by acting as hormone precursors. One study showed that taking reishi supplements before and after exposure to ionizing radiation helped prevent and minimize the negative effects of the radiation. This naturally helps protect the DNA from becoming damaged and causing accelerated aging.)
  • Therapeutic effect on liver disease (11-20)
  • Therapeutic effect on autoimmune diseases (6-10)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Significant ability to stimulate brain neurons (4)
  • Enhances bone marrow nucleated cell proliferation (source)
  • Cardiotonic action, lowering serum cholesterol levels with no effect on triglycerides, enhancing myocardial metabolism of hypoxic animals, and improving coronary artery hemodynamics
  • Central depressant and peripheral anticholinergic actions on the autonomic nervous system reduce the effects of caffeine and relax muscles
  • Enhanced natural killer cell (NK) activity in vitro in mice (source)
  • Expectorant and antitussive properties demonstrated in mice studies
  • General immunopotentiation (21-23)
  • Anti-HIV activity in vitro and in vivo
  • Improved adrenocortical function
  • Increased production of Interleukin-1 by murine peritoneal macrophages in vitro
  • Increased production of Interleukin-2 by murine splenocytes in vitro
  • Immune modulator – regulates and fine tunes the immune system (source)

Reishi in relationship to HIV

More than a decade ago researchers tested active compounds isolated from reishi mushroom called ganoderic acids that can inhibit HIV proteases and multiplication of HIV-1.  Reseachers now have studied the ganoderic acid compounds in reishi mushroom using a new technique to determine how chemical compounds may work in the body, this technique is called molecular docking. Based on this study two types of HIV target proteins were identified for ganoderic acid. This means that the reishi mushroom compounds  can attach to certain elements of the HIV virus and make them inactive, thereby killing their effect on the body. (source)

Screenshot_20170218-172113 The fact that ganoderic acid was found to interact with one of the most important features of HIV-1 protease indicates a huge potential that Reishi may hold the cure for HIV but further research is needed to prove this. It does, however, confirm what we have been seeing in people who improve dramatically when they take good quality broken spore ganoderma (reishi), some who were bedridden get back up on their feet miraculously after starting the supplement and for others it allows them to live the full life they have always wanted to.
 Several studies have shown that Reishi is one of the most powerful mushrooms with regard to antioxidant characteristics. (24,25) Reishi mushrooms boost total antioxidant capacity, an important measure of the vigor with which they fight oxidant damage. (24,25)

In a human study, Reishi mushrooms were given to healthy volunteers as a single 1,100 mg dose. (26) Plasma antioxidant capacity rose rapidly to a peak at 90 minutes, while urine antioxidant capacity (a measure of what has been in the body) rose by 29% after 3 hours. Neither study showed any evidence of toxicity or side effects.

Reishi Safeguards Liver Function

“Your liver is the direct recipient of toxic threats both from the environment and from destructive molecules produced within your body. While it is well protected with its own antioxidant and detoxification systems, oxidation and inflammation eventually take their toll, leaving the aging liver at risk for decreased function, increased accumulation of toxic injury, fibrosis, and cancer. Fortunately, Reishi mushrooms offer direct protection against such threat.  (11)

Studies show, for instance, that pre-treating animals with Reishi spores can protect them when they’re exposed to cadmium, a highly toxic metal capable of causing massive liver failure.(27) Researchers found the spores decreased the cadmium accumulation in liver, while “pushing” the toxic metal into the liquid matrix of the cells. Once there, the mushroom spores increased the production of a cadmium-binding protein that removes the toxin from the body.(12)

Reishi mushroom extracts similarly protect liver tissue from the toxic effects of certain bacterial infections. In animals with such infections, Reishi polysaccharides inhibit inflammation in liver cell.(13)  Other studies reveal that Reishi polysaccharides restore natural liver antioxidant systems to normal function following an infection, while inhibiting liver enzymes that produce excessive oxidative stress (14,15). Reishi mushrooms limit the activity of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that is elevated in many liver conditions, including inflammation, cirrhosis, and jaundice. (15,16)

One of the most exciting potential applications for Reishi mushrooms in liver disease is in the condition called liver fibrosis, which is the final stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Statistics have shown that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common form of liver disease, ultimately affecting 20 to 30% of the population. (16-19) In an animal model of toxin-induced liver fibrosis, treatment with Reishi extract reversed the fibrosis even after it was well-established. (20) This is an exceptional result, because in most cases, liver disease that has advanced to the stage of fibrosis is considered irreversible.” (source)

Breaking News on Reishi Mushrooms and Cancer Prevention

“New compounds are being discovered within extracts of Reishi mushroom on a regular basis; at least 3 were identified in late 2012 alone.  These discoveries are shedding light on Reishi extracts’ remarkable, multi-targeted anti-cancer properties.

Most intriguing are findings that add to our knowledge about Reishi and the phenomenon of immune surveillance. New cancer cells appear in your body every day, but your healthy immune system normally searches these out, quickly activating killer cells to destroy developing cancers before they can form tumors.

Advancing age, coupled with the onset of other chronic illnesses, and exposure to various environmental toxins (and even some medications), means that your immune system’s ability to carry out immune surveillance wanes. And, if just one abnormal, cancer-prone cell escapes detection and destruction, it can develop into a full-blown malignancy with tremendous swiftness.

Meta-Analysis Conducted on Reishi for Cancer Treatment

An evaluation of all available clinical trials on the use of Reishi in cancer treatment was published in June 2012.

While there was insufficient data to demonstrate efficacy Reishi by itself, when Reishi was given alongside radiation and/or chemotherapy, patients were 50% more likely to respond positively compared to those given chemo/radiation alone. the results in cancer patients receiving Reishi showed the expected increases in immune cells known to enhance tumor response and stimulate host immunity.

There’s an abundance of data on ways that Reishi extracts boost immune surveillance and enhance detection and elimination of emerging cancer cells from the body. And in late 2012, several new studies revealed that these mushrooms have substantially deeper and more advanced mechanisms than had been previously suspected.  The mechanisms of how Reishi identifies and then attacks cancer cells are extremely sophisticated and effective. We know that cancer cells evade immune system surveillance by “hiding” their abnormal surface markers. These types of molecular changes not only permit primary cancer to arise, but also contribute to relapses of cancer following chemotherapy.

Reishi extracts force cancer cells to reveal their telltale markers, flagging them for destruction by immune killer cells.4 At the same time, Reishi extracts induce the production of specific molecules that the immune system needs to complete the killing process. Ultimately, Reishi extracts enhance the killing of cancer cells by normal immune killer cells, and reduce the amount of chemotherapy drugs required to finish the job.

In addition to their impressive immune-surveillance-boosting properties, Reishi extracts have numerous other ways of attacking cancer:

  • Reishi compounds, particularly the triterpenes and polysaccharides, limit tumors’ growth rate by blocking the abnormal reproductive cycles of cancer cells.
  • Some of these compounds are directly toxic to cancer cells, while sparing healthy tissue.
  • Reishi compounds inhibit metastatic processes and decrease the expression of genes involved in cancer cell survival, proliferation, invasion, and metastasis.
  • Reishi compounds also trigger the programmed cell death called apoptosis that’s suppressed in malignant cells.

Together, all of these effects of Reishi mushrooms are shown to reduce the size and growth rates of human tumors, both in animals and in human clinical trials.

The most dramatic impact has been shown in colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death among cancers that affect both men and women.

Clinical studies show that Reishi extracts suppress the development of adenomas, which are pre-malignant masses found in the large intestine.

What You Need to Know

Remarkable Benefits of Reishi

  • Recent studies show that Reishi mushrooms have hundreds of components in three distinct classes of bioactive molecules, making them ideal for combating the complex and multifactorial diseases we face with advancing age.
  • Reishi extracts prolong life spans in animal experiments by 9 to more than 20%.
  • Reishi boosts the immune system’s vigilance against cancer cells, potentially reducing the risk of developing a detectable and deadly tumor.
  • Reishi extracts can suppress an overly vigorous immune response, helping to quell symptoms of allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.
  • Independent of their immune-modulating effects, Reishi mushrooms’ active molecules are showing promise in the battle against neurodegenerative diseases, obesity and diabetes, and liver disease.
  • If there is such a thing as the “ideal” supplement, capable of attacking multiple complex diseases each with multiple causative factors, Reishi mushrooms are surely an outstanding candidate.” (source)

Summary

Reishi mushrooms provide a broad-spectrum approach to the treatment and prevention of many of today’s age-related diseases. With their diverse molecular makeup, they offer a broad spectrum of actions that attack aging at its root. This is seen clearly in research demonstrating Reishi’s ability to prolong the life spans of laboratory mice by 9% to more than 20% —the equivalent of 7 to nearly 16 years in human terms.

This is further demonstrated in research that has uncovered its powerful anti-cancer activity. Reishi mushrooms contribute to enhanced immune surveillance that can seek and destroy cancer cells before they can form threatening tumors.

Finally, studies have shown that Reishi extracts have a role in the prevention or mitigation of asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders, while offering protection against neurodegeneration, obesity and diabetes, and liver diseases of many kinds. (source)

Tips

*Chinese medicine recommends 3-4 g of dry leaves or Reishi powder daily to maintain good health or 10-12 g in the case of a serious illness.

*To make Reishi tea, cook over low heat  the desired amount of powder in 1-2 cups of water, let it cool down and sip in the morning or during the day. You may add lemon juice, almond milk, and/or a sweetener of your choice if desired.

*For best quality and potency buy wild harvested broken spore Reishi/Ganoderma powder.

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References

  1. Chuang MH, Chiou SH, Huang CH, Yang WB, Wong CH. The lifespan-promoting effect of acetic acid and Reishi polysaccharide. Bioorg Med Chem. 2009 Nov 15;17(22):7831-40.
  2. Wu Z, Zhang Y, Tan N, Zhao C, Yang J, Zhu J-S. ReishiMax extends the life span of mice: A preliminary report. The FASEB Journal. 2011 April;25(601.2).
  3. Thyagarajan-Sahu A, Lane B, Sliva D. ReishiMax, mushroom based dietary supplement, inhibits adipocyte differentiation, stimulates glucose uptake and activates AMPK. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:74.
  4. Chen LW, Horng LY, Wu CL, Sung HC, Wu RT. Activating mitochondrial regulator PGC-1alpha expression by astrocytic NGF is a therapeutic strategy for Huntington’s disease. Neuropharmacology. 2012 May 24.
  5. Liu YH, Tsai CF, Kao MC, Lai YL, Tsai JJ. Effectiveness of Dp2 nasal therapy for Dp2- induced airway inflammation in mice: using oral Ganoderma lucidum as an immunomodulator. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2003 Dec;36(4):236-42.Jan RH, Lin TY, Hsu YC, et al. Immuno-modulatory activity of Ganoderma lucidum-derived polysacharide on human monocytoid dendritic cells pulsed with Der p 1 allergen. BMC Immunol. 2011;12:31.
  6. Ho YW, Yeung JS, Chiu PK, et al. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide peptide reduced the production of proinflammatory cytokines in activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblast. Mol Cell Biochem. 2007 Jul;301(1-2):173-9.
  7. van der Hem LG, van der Vliet JA, Bocken CF, Kino K, Hoitsma AJ, Tax WJ. Ling Zhi-8: studies of a new immunomodulating agent. Transplantation. 1995 Sep 15;60(5):438-43.
  8. Qi G, Hua H, Gao Y, Lin Q, Yu GY. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum spores on sialoadenitis of nonobese diabetic mice. Chin Med J (Engl). 2009 Mar 5;122(5):556-60.
  9. Lin YL, Lee SS, Hou SM, Chiang BL. Polysaccharide purified from Ganoderma lucidum induces gene expression changes in human dendritic cells and promotes    T helper 1 immune response in BALB/c mice. Mol Pharmacol. 2006        Aug;70(2):637-44. Epub 2006 May 2.
  10. Kohguchi M, Kunikata T, Watanabe H, et al. Immuno-potentiating effects of the   antler-shaped fruiting body of Ganoderma lucidum (Rokkaku-Reishi). Biosci        Biotechnol Biochem. 2004 Apr;68(4):881-7.
  11. Shi Y, Sun J, He H, Guo H, Zhang S. Hepatoprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum peptides against D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 May 22;117(3):415-9.
  12. Jin H, Jin F, Jin JX, et al. Protective effects of Ganoderma lucidum spore on cadmium hepatotoxicity in mice. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 May 29.
  13. Zhang GL, Wang YH, Ni W, Teng HL, Lin ZB. Hepatoprotective role of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide against BCG-induced immune liver injury in mice. World J Gastroenterol. 2002 Aug;8(4):728-33.
  14. Wang X, Zhao X, Li D, Lou YQ, Lin ZB, Zhang GL. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide on CYP2E1, CYP1A2 and CYP3A activities in BCG-immune hepatic injury in rats. Biol Pharm Bull. 2007 Sep;30(9):1702-6.
  15. Kim DH, Shim SB, Kim NJ, Jang IS. Beta-glucuronidase-inhibitory activity and hepatoprotective effect of Ganoderma lucidum. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999 Feb;22(2):162-4.
  16. Basinska A, Florianczyk B. Beta-glucuronidase in physiology and disease. Ann Univ Mariae Curie Sklodowska Med. 2003;58(2):386-9.
  17. Beaton MD. Current treatment options for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Can J Gastroenterol. 2012 Jun;26(6):353-7.
  18. Milic S, Stimac D. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease/steatohepatitis: epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical presentation and treatment. Dig Dis. 2012;30(2):158-62.
  19. Paredes AH, Torres DM, Harrison SA. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Clin Liver Dis. 2012 May;16(2):397-419.
  20. Wu YW, Fang HL, Lin WC. Post-treatment of Ganoderma lucidum reduced liver fibrosis induced by thioacetamide in mice. Phytother Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):494-9.
  21. Cheng KC, Huang HC, Chen JH, et al. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in human monocytic leukemia cells: from gene expression to network construction. BMC Genomics. 2007;8:411.
  22. Chang YH, Yang JS, Yang JL, et al. 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.
  23. Boh B, Berovic M, Zhang J, Zhi-Bin L. Ganoderma lucidum and its pharmaceutically active compounds. Biotechnol Annu Rev. 2007;13:265-301.
  24. Yegenoglu H, Aslim B, Oke F. Comparison of antioxidant capacities of Ganoderma lucidum (Curtis) P. Karst and Funalia trogii (Berk.) Bondartsev & Singer by using different in vitro methods. J Med Food. 2011 May;14(5):512-6.
  25. Abdullah N, Ismail SM, Aminudin N, Shuib AS, Lau BF. Evaluation of selected culinary-medicinal mushrooms for antioxidant and ACE inhibitory activities. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:464238.
  26. Wachtel-Galor S, Szeto YT, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. Ganoderma lucidum (‘Lingzhi’); acute and short-term biomarker response to supplementation. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2004 Feb;55(1):75-83.
  27. Jin H, Jin F, Jin JX, et al. Protective effects of Ganoderma lucidum spore on cadmium hepatotoxicity in mice. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 May 29.

 

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Power of Herbs

teaToday as I was sorting through a big bag of freshly picked herbs by my mom that she dropped off yesterday night, I thought to myself that it wasn’t just thoughtful and kind of her to do so, but the whole herb overload is a wonderful nudge for me to consume more herbs 😛 . As a nutritionist I understand and tell people about the power of herbs and their importance in our diet. However, when it comes to my busy-bee life (I have no problem adding green onions or spinach to my salads ) I overlook the herbs! 😳

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Why are they important? Herbs are much more potent than regular hybrid greens and contain concentrated amounts of nutrients that can help heal, detox, rejuvenate, and protect our bodies. By consuming lots of herbs you can become even healthier, more ENERGETIC, and more VIBRANT you! Herbs contain concentrated stores of phyto-nutrients, minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, amino acids, and other healing properties.

1. Rosemary

rosemaryRosemary supports and stimulates the immune system, increases circulation, and improves digestion. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.

 

2. Thyme

thymeThyme has been used for hundreds of years to treat respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. It contains flavonoids that increase thyme’s antioxidant capacity, and combined with its status as a good source of manganese, give thyme a high standing on the list of anti-oxidant foods. Thyme is loaded with vitamin C and is also a good source of vitamin A. It can help fight free radicals, cure colds/flus, and reduce acne.

3. Sage

sage_16x9Sage has been used effectively for throat infections, dental abscesses, infected gums and mouth ulcers. A tea made from sage leaves is used to treat sore throats and coughs; often by gargling. It is also used by herbalists for rheumatism and excessive menstrual bleeding. Sage is an anti-inflammatory, liver-detoxifying herb that helps to increase bile flow, relieve diarrhea, and speed up wound healing.  It was particularly noted for strengthening the nervous system, improving memory, and sharpening the senses.

 

4. Lavender

lavenLavender is an herb with beautiful purple flowers. It is a powerful antiseptic and increases the growth of new cells that close the wound faster. It helps with anxiety, depression, and has calming properties. Massaging lavender oil on the temples can help reduce tension headaches. Take it internally to soothe your tummy and reduce bloating.

 

5. Oregano

oregOregano an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of iron and calcium. Oregano tea is used to alleviate menstrual cramps, treat indigestion, reduce coughs, bloating, and flatulence. Oregano herb and oil fight and kill all kinds of bad bugs including bacteria, viruses, fungi, intestinal parasites, and even MRSA.  Take oregano oil internally (diluted) to treat ear and yeast infections, sore throat, colds, and many other conditions.

 

6. Basil

basil-bspBasil is another powerful herb that can fight colds/flus, eliminate infections, bust stress, normalize digestion, reduce headaches, sharpen memory. Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, a very good source of copper and vitamin C, and a good source of calcium, iron, folate and omega-3 fatty acid. Eugenol in basil qualifies basil as an “anti-inflammatory” food that can provide important healing benefits along with symptomatic relief for individuals with inflammatory health problems like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions.

These are just some basic herbs that we all can use more often. Just like a wrong diet can cause multiple health problems, one single herb can treat multiple diseases. Each and every herb has dozens and dozens of healing abilities that are not included here. Always try to choose fresh herbs over dried. Chew them alone, add to dishes, or brew teas with them!

P. S. Off to make me some herbal tea! :-)