by Piter Kehoma Boll
The first Friday Fellow of 2018 is here, and it is a beloved parasite from the Far East. This lovely mushroom is scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum and has no native common name in English, being usually called the reishi mushroom, from its Japanese name 霊芝 (reishi), or lingzhi mushroom, from its Chinese name 靈芝 (língzhī).
The reishi mushroom, as other species in the genus Ganoderma and in the order Polyporales, grows on tree trunks, usually parasitizing live trees and continuing to grow on them after they die. The mature fruiting body is kidney-shaped and may or may not have a stalk, which is displaced to the side, below the concave side of the cap. The cap has a red-varnished color with a lighter rim. It is easily mistaken for some of its closest relatives, such as Ganoderma tsugae and G. lingzhi.
Traditionally used in Chinese medicine, the reishi mushroom was considered the “mushroom of immortality” and said to improve the heart and the mind. Recently, it has demonstrated, in laboratory studies, to have many potential uses for the treatment of different illnesses. For example, their fruiting bodies release polysaccharides that showed the ability to increase the cytokine production of human white blood cells, which increase anti-tumor activities. Other studies have identified compounds with potential anti-HIV activity and the ability to reduce the levels of blood sugar.
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El-Mekkawy, S.; Meselhy, M. R.; Nakamura, N.; Tezuka, Y.; Hattori, M.; Kakiuchib, N.; Shimotohnob, K.; Kawahatac, T.; Otakec, T. (1998) Anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-1-protease substances from Ganoderma Lucidum. Phytochemistry, 49(6): 1651–1647. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9422(98)00254-4
Wang, S.-Y.; Hsu, M.-L.; Hsu, H.-C., Lee, S.-S.; Shiao, M.-S.; Ho, C.-K. (1997) The anti-tumor effect of Ganoderma Lucidum is mediated by cytokines released from activated macrophages and T lymphocytes. International Journal of Cancer, 70(6): 699–705. Doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0215(19970317)70:6<699::AID-IJC12>3.0.CO;2-5
Wang, Y.-Y.; Khoo, K.-H.; Chen, S.-T.; Lin, C.-C.; Wong, C.-H.; Lin, C.-H. (2002) Studies on the immuno-Modulating and antitumor activities of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) polysaccharides: functional and proteomic analyses of a fucose-Containing glycoprotein fraction responsible for the activities. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 10(4): 1057–1062. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0968-0896(01)00377-7
Wikipedia. Lingzhi mushrom. Available at: < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingzhi_mushroom >. Access on December 31, 2017.
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