The Chinese mushroom Ling Zhi (Ganoderma lucidum) has long been held in high esteem in China as a potent natural remedy which is also thought to be capable of bestowing longevity. In fact, ancient Chinese holy men believed that whoever consumed the mushroom regularly would become immortal, which is why they coined it ‘the mushroom of immortality’.
Now, while this mushroom certainly won’t make you live forever, scientists have been investigating the medicinal properties of Ganoderma and have been astounded by the results yielded so far.
They’ve been particularly impressed by the powerful anti-cancer action Ganoderma appears to possess. Numerous studies, including one carried out at the Department of Medical Biochemistry, Ehime University in Japan, have revealed that it can help prevent the spread of cancer, especially of the prostate, breast, liver and spleen.1
Ganoderma encourages the death of cancerous cells
According to Japanese researchers, Ganoderma contains natural chemicals called triterpenoids, which possess an important anti-cancer action. They are able to inhibit the blood supply to cancerous cells – preventing oxygen and other nutrients from feeding them.1
On the other side of the Pacific, US scientists working at the Cancer Research Laboratory, Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis, have shown that Ganoderma is able to block several chemicals, including AP-1, NF-kappaB and uPA, which promote the spread and development of cancerous cells.2
According to Dr Sliva who led the study, ‘Our data suggest that the spores and the body of Ganoderma lucidum inhibit the spread of breast and prostate cancer cells by a common mechanism, and would have a potential therapeutic use for the treatment of cancer’.
Protects DNA and possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties
Scientists have theorised that another possible way in which Ganoderma may prevent cells from turning cancerous is by protecting vital DNA tissue. When DNA becomes damaged by free radicals, toxins or ultraviolet radiation, the risk of cancer is known to increase.
Korean scientists from the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute tested Ganoderma on cancerous cells and then examined the DNA. They found that Ganoderma protects DNA from damage caused by free radicals and by radiation. They concluded that the mushroom merits further investigation as a potential preventative agent against cancer.3
Natural plant chemicals called phenolic compounds, which are known to be extremely effective in fighting free radicals, are also thought to play an important role in fighting cancer. Chinese researchers from the National Chunh-Hsing University, in Taiwan, have found that Ganoderma contains high concentrations of these beneficial phenolic compounds.4
Finally, Ganoderma appears to inhibit an inflammatory chemical called Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF). This chemical is strongly implicated in heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer. Ganoderma is able to keep TNF under control, which may reduce the risk of these chronic conditions developing.5
Prostate cancer appears to respond particularly well to Ganoderma
A team of scientists from the Department of Urology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York, reported on the remarkable case of a patient with prostate cancer.
This patient received treatment with Ganoderma and genistein every day for six weeks, before he was due to have surgery to remove his prostate. You may remember that HSI brought you a report, in your February 2002 edition, on the benefits of genistein – a plant chemical present in soya that has been found to help prevent prostate cancer.
This combined treatment approach produced a significant effect on his Prostatic Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. A PSA blood test is commonly performed to evaluate prostate problems, as patients with prostate cancer typically have high PSA levels. After the six-week treatment programme, doctors were amazed to discover that the patient’s PSA reading had fallen from an initial 19.7 ng/mL to a mere 4.2 mg/mL. When the patient went to have his surgery performed, the surgeons found that there was no sign of cancer in his prostate tissue.6
This is far from being an isolated case. Two years earlier, doctors working at the Squier Urological Clinic, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York, reported the recovery of two patients with prostate cancer who were treated with Ganoderma.
Both men had been offered conventional treatment for their prostate cancer but decided to opt for a natural treatment approach instead. In this instance, they received Ganoderma together with other herbs like saw palmetto, which has also been found to be effective against prostate cancer.
Again both patients’ PSA readings were found to have dropped significantly. No side effects were reported in either case.7
What to take for best results
The recommended dosage for maintaining overall health is 0.5g to 1g of Ganoderma a day. For those at high risk of cancer (such as those with a family history of the disease) a dosage of 2-5g of Ganoderma is suggested as a preventive measure. No adverse side effects have been reported following the use of Ganoderma.
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1.Kimura Y, Taniguchi M, Baba K. Anticancer Res 2002;22(6A):3309-3318
2. Sliva D, Labarrere C, Slivova V, Sedlak M. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2002;298(4):603-612
3. Kim KC, Kim IG. Int J Mol Med 1999;4(3):273-277
4. Mau JL, Lin HC, Chen CC. J Agric Food Chem 2002;50(21):6072-6077
5. Gao Y, Zhou S, Wen J. Life Sci 2002:72(6):731-745
6. Ghafar MA, Golliday E, Bingham J et al. J Altern Complement Med 2002;8(4):493-497
7. de la Taille A, et al. J Altern Complement Med 2000;6(5):449-451