At first glance, it sounds like a miracle herb: “Tames inflammation!” “Builds stamina!” “Relieves fatigue!” “Supports the immune system!”
Is it possible Ganoderma does all that and more — even though very few people seem to have heard of it?
That’s what I decided to find out after one of our readers asked us to look into it. What I discovered surprised me. I think this is a potent weapon against cancer.
What is it?
Ganoderma is a hard, usually bitter-tasting mushroom that’s more commonly known as reishi. Other names include Ling zhi, lin zi, and the nickname, “mushroom of immortality.” For over 2,000 years, it’s been used in traditional Asian medicine to promote general health. That makes it one of the oldest known medicinal mushrooms.
I’m a big fan of mushroom remedies for healthy people as well as cancer patients. Ganoderma appears to be one of the best.
The ganoderma mushroom grows on wood and is sometimes called a shelf mushroom. Right now, scientists are studying several different species of Ganoderma for their many potential therapeutic benefits.
For some reason this age-old treatment has only recently gotten fanfare. We do cover reishi mushrooms in our new, just-published Complete Guide to Alternative Cancer Treatments. This book is our most ambitious project to date — it covers every single treatment we’ve been able to find — more than 350 of them. It’s not for sale, but you can obtain it for free by joining our new “gold club” group. Just click on the link for details.
Shows promise for scientists and patients alike
For cancer treatment, the main advantage of ganoderma is its ability to stimulate the immune system. People with HIV use it for the same reason. Impressively, one study showed the mushroom was able to boost immune response in advanced-stage cancer patients.
A 2003 study of 34 advanced-stage cancer patients showed the mushroom played a significant role in increasing T-cell counts. T-cells are produced by the immune system. Patients in the study took ganoderma as a supplement three times a day for 12 weeks.
Other studies have found that extracts of this mushroom can boost the immune system in several other ways. Ganoderma extracts stimulate macrophages, immune system cells that devour unwanted waste and invaders. This, in turn, changes the levels of TNF (tumor necrosis factor) and interleukins. Ganoderma also slows the aggregation of platelets, improves circulation, and helps the body eliminate free radicals.
Apparently, if you combine ganoderma extract with green tea, you actually strengthen its ability to slow the growth of cancer cells. Researchers found this out by conducting lab tests on breast cancer cells. Ganoderma also appears to have anti-tumor properties, thanks in part to the polysaccharides found in the mushroom.
Ganoderma supplements increase your antioxidant levels as well — and you probably know antioxidants help your body protect against and heal from cancer. Ganoderma also helps increase the appetite of patients with late-stage cancer, making it easier to win back some strength. Cachexia or “wasting away” is one of cancer’s fatal features. Anything that gets patients to eat is a lifesaver.
And for the cancer patient undergoing treatment, ganoderma is said to put a stop to chemotherapy-induced nausea.
How to use this ultimate herb
You can’t cook with it, even if it is a mushroom.
Generally speaking, you can find ganoderma capsules and liquid extract at your local health food store. I’ve also read it can be taken in coffee or tea form, but it has a bitter taste.
The healing compounds of ganoderma are found in the mushroom’s cap and stem. Active components are believed to include beta-glucan polysaccharides and triterpenes.
I’ve read that ganoderma helps reduce pain for cancer patients going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In fact, it’s said ganoderma can be taken as a supplement during chemotherapy or radiotherapy to reduce the toxic side effects from those treatments.
As for side effects from the mushroom itself, it sounds like virtually any other herb or nutritional supplement. Some people experience gastrointestinal issues like nausea. Some get a dry throat, or dry nose. But I haven’t found much beyond that.
Stomach or GI tract upset is one of the most common side effects reported for almost every kind of remedy as well as for pharmaceutical drugs and even placebos. So if you try ganoderma and experience this side effect, it’s your call whether it’s a serious problem or not.
Personally, I find when I take beta glucan products I feel a bit wired — they give me more energy than I really want. But it seems almost no one else has this problem.
Of course, all the medical websites say more research is needed to figure out just how safe and effective this treatment is. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s worth looking into. Natural, noninvasive, proven over time … so I’ll close by saying I agree — it certainly does sound like the ultimate herbal substance, or at least one of them.
Meanwhile, it’s the time of year for sun and fun, and for smearing sunscreen all over yourself to prevent skin cancer. But wait a minute! Sunscreens are not such a good idea. If you don’t know the facts, click here and read ‘em now.
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Chen WQ, Luo SH, Ll HZ, Yang H. “Effects of ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on serum lipids and lipoperoxidation in experimental hyperlipidemic rats.” Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 2005 30(17):1358-60.
“Ganoderma.” The Cancer Cure Foundation. http://www.cancure.org/ganoderma.htm
Gao Y, Zhou S, Jiang W, Huang M, Dai X. “Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients.” Immunological Investigations 2003 32(3):201-15.
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.” Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection 2003 36(4):236-42.
Noguchi M, Kakuma T, Tomiyasu K, Yamada A, Itoh K, Konishi F, Kumamoto S, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Matsuoka K. “Randomized clinical trial of an ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum in men with lower urinary tract symptoms.” Asian Journal of Andrology 2008 10(5):777-85.
“Reishi Mushroom.” About Herbs, Botanicals, & Other Products.
Thyagarajan A, Zhu J, Sliva D. “Combined effect of green tea and Ganoderma lucidum on invasive behavior of breast cancer cells.” International Journal of Oncology 2007 30(4):963-9.
Wachtel-Galor S, Szeto YT, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. “Ganoderma lucidum (‘Lingzhi’); acute and short-term biomarker response to supplementation.” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 2004 55(1):75-83.
Wachtel-Galor S, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. “Ganoderma lucidum (“Lingzhi”), a Chinese medicinal mushroom: biomarker responses in a controlled human supplementation study.” The British Journal of Nutrition 2004 91(2):263-9.