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What is Ganoderma?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Ganoderma is the common name of a species of fungus, Ganoderma lucidum, also known as lingzhi or red mushroom. The fungus is used in many forms of traditional Asian medicine and is believed to have considerable healing powers. Medical studies conducted with the mushroom suggest that it does have some medicinal applications, but the understanding of why it works or what it treats remains a mystery.

The mushroom grows parasitically on the lower trunk of trees, particularly deciduous varieties such as maples. Although it grows all over the world, it is extremely rare in nature, although it is now cultivated for commercial use. In appearance, ganoderma morphs from growth to growth. Typically it is brown or red-brown in color, but many other hues have been observed.

For thousands of years, the fungus has been considered by Asian medical practitioners to be one of the most superior medicinal plants in the world. It was once reserved for use by royalty, said to increase longevity. It is also believed to be anti-inflammatory, immuno-therapeutic and even anti-tumor. One Japanese study injected extract of the mushroom into mice with cancer resulting in a 50% tumor drop after ten days of treatment.

Dozens of medical studies have been conducted on lingzhi to determine its true abilities, with remarkable results. According to studies, it has increased respiratory performance in asthma patients, reduced the side effects of chemotherapy, and, as in the Japanese study, shown considerable effect against cancer in animal tests. Some medical experts even suggest that it may prove useful in fighting AIDS, although few studies have looked into this possibility.

While almost all studies have shown that the fungus strengthens just about every area of the immune system, experts remain puzzled as to why. It is the only known producer of chemicals called ganoderic acids which, along with several other proteins and amino acids present in the mushroom, may be responsible for its positive effects. Ongoing studies hope to isolate the exact compounds in ganoderma that make it work the way it does. Researchers hope that by better comprehending the structure of ganoderic acids, they will be able to develop more effective treatments using the properties found in the mushroom.

Studies have shown that the most effective way to release the medicinal properties of ganoderma involve soaking mushrooms or adding powdered solutions to boiling water and allowing to simmer for long periods of time. The mushroom is also available as an additive to several food and drink products, such as ganoderma-enhanced coffee, tea, or even chocolate. You should note that without the prolonged exposure to hot water, studies have shown that the mushroom is far less effective.

Although side effects to daily use of the mushroom are mild and rare, consult your doctor before using this or any other complementary medical treatment. Western medicine has long scoffed at any traditional folk remedies, yet studies suggest that ganoderma is a serious exception with real medical applications. You can find ganoderma at Asian import stores as well as some health food stores. With new studies consistently showing its effectiveness, it is likely that this magical mushroom will be more widely available very soon.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon88371 — On Jun 04, 2010

There are no side effects that I know of, nor have I heard of from anyone who drinks the coffee. You can consume as much healthy coffee as you do the other coffee. Everyone's experience is different. Check with your physician before starting any new regime.

By anon87593 — On May 31, 2010

None of my clients have reported side effects of any kind. As recommended check with your physician before trying any new herbs. It has been reported to me that you can drink as many cups of ganoderma coffee as you do the other coffee.

By anon58475 — On Jan 02, 2010

what are the side effects how and how should the coffee be used with your meds each day and how many times a day can you use the coffee?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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