6 Health Facts about Lingzhi Mushroom You Might Not Know

Consisting of various active nutrients, lingzhi mushroom can help maintain your health in six different ways.

A partial view of a woman’s hands holding out a piece of lingzhi mushroom

Lingzhi mushroom (灵芝) comes in many names and shapes. It’s been called the mushroom of immortality, reishi, youngzhi and Ganoderma lucidum. As a medicinal herb, its neutral properties make it easy to incorporate into your daily diet. You’ll find it in the form of powder, capsules, essence and tea.

What also appears in abundance are its health benefits. There’s a valid reason why lingzhi is so highly prized. It consists of various active nutrients and can help maintain your overall health in six ways. 

Read on to know what makes this antioxidant-rich mushroom a famous ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. 

6 Facts about Lingzhi Mushroom

An aerial view of a woman’s hand holding a cup of tea on a wooden table, surrounded by a mushroom and teapot 
You can consume lingzhi mushroom in a tea by steeping it in boiling water for up to two hours.

Like most mushrooms, lingzhi is composed of a wide variety of bioactive molecules. The three major molecules are polysaccharides, peptidoglycans and triterpenes. Polysaccharides and triterpenes are responsible for the lingzhi mushroom’s healing prowess.  

Polysaccharides have been reported to possess anti-inflammatory and antiulcer effects. It’s also able to lower blood sugar, counteract tumour formation and increase the body’s immunity. Meanwhile, triterpenes in lingzhi are believed to lower bad cholesterol and act as antioxidants. There are more than 170 kinds of triterpenoids in lingzhi.

1. Strengthens immunity 

When your body is attacked by an antigen, it releases allergic response mediators, which can cause allergies and even produce excessive immune responses. The result is autoimmune diseases such as asthma attacks, allergic rhinitis and immune pathological damage. 

Lingzhi has shown the ability to block the release of allergic reaction mediators and prevent the occurrence of allergies. It can also inhibit the hyperactive immune system, maintain the activity and stability of immune cells, and regulate immune system function.

2. Works as an antioxidant  

Studies on animals have found that polysaccharides can mimic the impacts of superoxide dismutase (an antioxidant enzyme). The enzyme helps break down potentially harmful oxygen molecules in cells and could prevent damage to tissues. Reports also display that polysaccharides can protect the immune cells from oxidative damage, increase metabolism and promotes anti-ageing.

3. Prevents cancer 

Studies on animals have shown that polysaccharides and triterpenoids may have chemo-preventive and/or tumoricidal effects. What’s more, although the research is still lacking, there is evidence that lingzhi exhibits similar results in humans.

Moreover, by promoting the immune system, lingzhi can stimulate the production of interleukin, interferons and natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells. Lingzhi can also promote the secretion of tumour necrosis factor (TNF), tumour necrosis and inhibit tumour growth. 

4. Protects the liver

protect the liver
Polysaccharides in lingzhi mushrooms can protect and help detoxify the liver.

Multiple studies have discovered that polysaccharides have protective effects on the liver. It can improve cirrhosis (liver scarring) and enhances healing and detoxification. 

5. Decreases cholesterol 

Triterpenoids lower lipids. In some studies, it has been found that lipid peroxidation levels decreased following treatment with the mushroom.

Lingzhi can regulate cholesterol, fasting blood sugar and triglycerides in the body. Because it helps dilate microvessels and promote microcirculation, it might reduce the symptoms of type 2 diabetes such as peripheral nerve palsy and gangrene.

6. Maintains a healthy heart 

A study published in the book Ganoderma and Health investigated lingzhi’s protective effect on the cardiovascular system. Results showed evidence of its potential in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This is due to its ability to reduce lipid and oxidative damage. 

Lingzhi is a powerful ingredient for human health, but there are a few things to remember. First, its nutrients may vary in different lingzhi supplements. The most valuable part of lingzhi is its spores, but some supplements may use other parts of the mushroom, such as its mycelia and fruit body. 

One precautionary note is that lingzhi can cause side effects if it’s not suitable for you. Studies have shown that high doses of the mushroom may cause an increased risk of bleeding in some people if consumed before or during surgery.

It’s not recommended for people who are pregnant, nursing, taking certain medications or having bleeding issues. Make sure to ask for guidance from a TCM physician or medical professional before consuming lingzhi mushrooms. 

This is an adaptation of an article, “科研证实,灵芝的 7 大功效!”, which first appeared on Health123 website.

References

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2011. Chapter 9 Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi). [online] [Accessed on 2 August 2022] 
  2. SpringerLink. 2019. Protective Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) on Cardiovascular System. [online] [Accessed on 2 August 2022] 
  3. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022, Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Ganoderma lucidum “Lingzhi, Reishi, or Mannentake” as Functional Foods: Current Scenario and Future Perspectives [online] [Accessed on 11 August 2022]
     

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