Doctor’s Opinion

Printed With Permission Copyright © HealthWorld Online

Immune Power For Kids

© Leo Galland M.D., F.A.C.N. Director, Foundation for Integrated Medicine; author, The Four Pillars of Healing: How The New Integrated Medicine Can Cure You.
Asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic otitis media and sinusitis are increasing at frightening rates among children in the United States. There are several measures that parents can take to effectively reverse this trend. These measures are supported by scientific research and have been very effective in my own clinical practice.
The first step is a nutritious diet, which decreases consumption of foods made with added fat and sugar. The National Cancer Institute reports that only one per cent of U.S. children consume a well-balanced diet and only about a third meet the government’s food-pyramid targets for fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and dairy. Most surveys over-estimate vegetable intake because they classify french fries and potato chips as vegetables, accounting for about a fourth of alleged vegetable consumption among children. Previous studies from the U.S., Britain and Australia have shown that the eating of fish and tomatoes and the intake of minerals like magnesium and selenium are inversely related to the risk of developing asthma.

Detailed guidelines for feeding children in every age group, along with recipes, are supplied in my first book, Superimmunity for Kids. Recommendations for nutritional supplementation are listed below.

The second step is provision of a hygienic home environment. The three most important areas to control are smoke, dust and humidity. Children exposed to cigarette smoke at home have a higher frequency of asthma, respiratory infection and otitis. House dust can contains surprisingly high levels of lead and toxic waste, tracked in and concentrated from roadside soil, accumulating for years despite routine vacuum cleaning, sometimes exceeding concentrations found at superfund sites. House dust is especially hazardous to toddlers crawling on carpets, because carpet pile is a repository for dust. Excess moisture in the home (a relative humidity of fifty-five per cent or more) encourages the growth of dust mites and of mold. Mites secrete an enzyme which damages the lining of the respiratory tract; children with a high mite exposure are at increased risk for developing asthma. Children who live in homes with visible mildew or moisture are at increased risk for developing repiratory illness and for missing days from school. I describe nine simple steps for parents to take to ensure an environmentally safe home in previous issues of this column.

The third area is regularity of rest and exercise. Exercise of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking or cycling, thirty minutes a day, improves immune function and mood and prevents migraine headache. Most older children, high school students especially, are sleep-de-prived. Sleep deprivation or interrruption reduces natural killer cell activity. Parents should help their children plan schedules that permit eight to ten hours of sleep a night. Daytime relaxation also has important health benefits. A period of quiet, focused relaxation each day relieves anxiety, improves nighttime sleep, and stimulates immune function of stressed individuals.

Nutritional supplements and herbs can make a substantial contribution to childhood health. Omega-three essential fatty acids, found in fish oils and flax oil, are essential for normal immune regulation and brain function. The past century has witnessed a dramatic decline in omega-three consumption, due to changes in food processing, food choices and animal husbandry practices. Cod liver oil, which can be a rich source of omega-three’s, has long been used as a food supplement for children. A recent double-blind placebo-controlled study found that capsules of flax oil, two grams per day, decreased frequency, severity and duration of illness and days missed from school among children suffering from recurrent respiratory infection. I frequently recommend flax oil as a preventive supplement for children and adolescents at a dose to two to six grams per day.

Vitamin E levels in the blood of U.S. chil-dren are mark–edly low-er than those of Japa-nese, German, Austrian or Canadian children, sugge-sting that children in the U.S. may as a group suffer from a mild deficien-cy. Healthy chil-dren with lower vitamin E lev-els have impaired immunity on laboratory tes-ting. The immune defects associated with a relative vitamin E deficiency in “healthy” children are the same deficits associ-ated with in-creased mortali-ty in the elderly.

Children with recurrent respiratory infections have lower blood levels of zinc, iron and vitamin A than do children without recurrent infection. Adequate intakes of zinc and iron can be difficult to obtain from food, even when the diet is better than average. For young children I recommend a preventive daily supplement supplying ten milligrams each of zinc and of iron and twenty-five hundred units of vitamin A; adolescents need twice the dose. Because zinc and iron interfere with each other’s absorption and because iron causes oxidation of vitamin E, children who are not doing well with a multivitamin/mineral pill should take separate doses of zinc, iron and vitamin E at different times of the day. Zinc is best absorbed on an empty stomach, but may cause nausea. The second best time for giving zinc is with a high protein meal. Iron is best absorbed with a high protein meal and when given with vitamin C. Vitamin E is best absorbed with food; the optimal immune-boosting dose is a hundred milligrams per day for small children and two hundred milligrams a day for adolescents.

Adolescents and children may sometimes develop repeated infections despite a hugienic environ-ment, a regular schedule of rest and exercise, and a diet of high nutri-ent density, appropriately tailored to one’s consti-tutional needs, supplemented with EFAs and antioxidants. There are many addi-tional measures which may be taken to stimulate resis-tance. I recommend these frequently to patients in my medical practice and have been impressed with their safety and efficacy for children and adolescents:

(1) Vitamin C, five hundred milligrams per day, increases the activity of white blood cells.

(3) Granular lecithin, one tablespoon a day, has also been shown to improved the activity of white blood cells.

(4) The amino acid dimethylglycine (DMG) has been shown to boost antibody responses to immunization in healthy human volunteers. The dose used was one hundred and twenty milligrams per day.

(5) Immune stimulating herbs may help children overcome acute viral infection. The safest and best-studied are:

Echinacea species, which grow wild across the American mid-west from Wisconsin to Texas. All parts of the Echinacea plant have been used for centu-ries by Native Americans to treat wounds and snake bite. Recent studies on its effects reveal marked stimu-lation of many immune functions, including increased activity of phagocytes. Echinacea is very safe.

The two main species, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea, are primarily recommended for acute treat-ment (ten to fourteen days) of colds or the flu. The dose needed is at least 900 mg per day, and I prefer Echi-nacea purpurea root to other preparations. Some people with chronic or recurrent infec-tions benefit from taking Echinacea for prolonged periods, especially, during the winter. It may be taken continuously for eight weeks at a time and should be stopped for a week or two between each eight-week period.

In the treatment of acute respiratory infection, the activi-ty of Echinacea is often enhanced by Chinese herbal mixtures traditionally used for treating fever. My favorite is called Isatis Formula. It is commercially available as an alcohol extraction of the leaves and roots of six plants. The dose is one to three drop-persful three times a day. During heavy flu seasons, over three quarters of my patients taking the Echinacea and Isatis combina-tions have made statements like, “Everyone around me was sick for weeks, taking antibiotics. I usually get sick for three weeks with the flu, but I was better within a few days after starting these herbs.”

Astragalus root is a component of many traditional Chinese herbal formulas, generally considered to be a strong tonic and reistance-builder. Contemporary studies reveal that Astragalus can increase natural killer cell activity. I often recommend Astragalus for maintenance therapy of people with chronic or recurrent infectious diseases of any type, because of its high margin of safety.

(6) Mushrooms. Fungal extracts are widely employed in traditional Chinese medicine. Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) contain polysaccharides that increase natural killer cell activity and inhibit tumor growth in animals and in humans. Like Astragalus, Shiitake and Reishi are used in contem-porary Chinese medicine as Fu Zheng remedies, which means they “support the normal”, stimu-lating health, rather than being used as medication to treat sickness. A dose which stimulates immune responses is 900 mg per day of each. For people with severe allergies, it is advisable to use Reishi alone, as Reishi may inhibit allergic reactivity and Shiitake may increase it.  

Archived columns by Leo Galland M.D., F.A.C.N.
Related HealthWorld Articles

More articles about Allergic Rhinitis
More articles about Asthma
More articles about Sinusitis
More articles from the Healthy Child Center
More articles by Leo Galland
Leo Galland, M.D. has received international recognition as a leader in the field of Nutritional Medicine for the past 20 years. A board-certified internist, Dr. Galland is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Nutrition, an Honorary Professor of the International College of Nutrition, and the author of more than 30 scientific articles and textbook chapters 2nd Edition (Elsevier 2005). He has also written two highly acclaimed popular books, Superimmunity for Kids (Dell 1989) and Power Healing (Random House 1997), and has created Drug-Nutrient Workshop.

Red Reishi: King of Adaptogens

San Francisco, CA 94111
June 12, 2007
Global Medicine Hunter® News Release
Dr. Meg Jordan, PhD, RN



(San Francisco –) One of nature’s great mysteries is the adaptogenic quality of certain plants. Key word – adapt. Imagine a plant that is able to provide you with the right healing nudge, in the right amount, at the right time, in the right direction. Science has not been able to duplicate this confounding yet therapeutic action in any pharmaceutical agent.

Only one in 300 herbs is an adaptogen. Rhodiola rosea, Eleuthero (once known as Siberian ginseng) and Astragalus are high potency adaptogenic herbs that are known in Traditional Chinese Medicine for giving you what you need: enhancing energy you if you’re stagnant, calming you if you’re irritable and wired.

An adaptogenic botanical for blood pressure will help reduce it for those with high blood pressure, and yet, taken by someone else with low blood pressure, the plant offers a gentle boost. An adaptogen for cholesterol will help boost the good (HDL) without raising the bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Red Reishi is notably Nature’s crowning achievement in adaptogen science. Reishi’s balancing qualities offer support for both the body’s immune and nervous systems. Herbalists use Reishi to support allergies, bronchitis, viral infections and hypertension, Its adaptogenic effect also extends to detoxification, mood and appetite, vigor, and mental alertness.


But no organ enjoys Reishi’s attention more than the liver! With its 300-plus biochemical processes and functions, the liver has the most to gain from regular intake of nature’s strongest adaptogen. This proves to be the case in preliminary studies showing Reishi extract as an effective aid in hepatitis B, helping to reduce elevated liver enzymes. (Stengler, 2005)

Reishi is often used by Chinese medicine practitioners for detoxification, which is a primary function of the liver that occurs in two stages. Today’s environmental toxins, overabundance of petrochemicals, additives, pesticides, herbicides and xenoestrogens have our poor livers waving white flags! They are working overtime and barely able to perform the metabolic functions the body insists upon for healthy weight management and thousands of other functions. For the average person, consistent support of the liver’s filtering action is crucial for overall health and longevity.


Besides detoxification, stress reduction is a key aspect to Reishi’s adaptogenic qualities. No one escapes the stress of today’s busy world. Noise pollution, overwork, traffic, expenses and more add up to powerful and what’s worse – continuous—levels of stress.

As people search for effective de-stressing strategies such as meditation, moderate exercise, and a natural, whole foods diet, they still need a natural remedy to help the body ratchet down its chronic, and life-threatening stress level.

Red Reishi is the superior choice. The one-of-a-kind class of polypeptides acts as precursors to neurotransmitters and endorphins, and adjusts the effects of these chemicals through actions known as mediation, downregulation and upregulation—again, in whatever direction is needed, the perfect adaptogenic response.


The effect of ingesting Reishi on a daily basis is akin to training the cardiovascular system through aerobic exercise, or training the musculoskeletal system through lifting weights. Reishi actually trains the body’s immune system and nervous system to perform better. Natural medicine experts are beginning to suspect that the body’s immune system requires such training, that we’re born with an immature system that requires “cooking” through childhood fevers and early slaying of infections such as chickenpox and stomach flu.

That “cooking” action of a fever helps immune modulators and killer cells do their job later in life, as long-term studies have shown that children who don’t live in pristine environments have a higher success rate vanquishing certain cancers. Their immune systems took on early struggles with dirt, poverty, filth, bugs and grew robust as a result.

If you were given every imaginable type of immunizations and live in germicidal-scrubbed homes, I’m not suggesting a daily ingestion of dirt, but I do know that Reishi can provide that training ground for your immune system at any age. Reishi can be taken daily without adverse effect to adjust the body’s orchestration of powerful stress hormones such as coritsol and norepinephrine, enzymes, neurotransmitters, catecholamines, prostaglandins and a wide range of other compounds.

The end result is less wear and tear on the body’s cellular lining, organs, and tissues, and greater support of the body’s immune and nervous systems. Your resistance to infections, colds and flu, virus, bacteria, fungus and exotoxic substances is vastly increased. And your energy efficiency, concentration, mood, sleep, and general sense of well-being are significantly enhanced.

Reishi’s adaptogenic qualities include:
– supports nerve function
– scavenges free radicals
– tones and improves immune system function
– helps detoxify and protect the liver
– reduces inflammation
– quells allergies


Dr. Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, is a medical anthropologist and behavioral medicine specialist. She teaches at San Francisco State University.

St. John Group
1750 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone : 415-454-2243
Fax : 415-459-3165

More on Global Medicine Hunter Dr. Meg Jordan

High Blood Pressure: A significant problem with Herbs being a
significant answer
by Terry Willard Cl.H, Ph.D

(09/01/1999), Canada – High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is responsible for a considerable number of health problems leading to death. Hypertension affects 20% of adult white males and more than 30% of males with a black African heritage. Mainstream medicine classifies over 92% of hypertension as essential hypertension, or in other words, high blood pressure of unknown origin.

It is interesting to note that essential hypertension is virtually unknown in developing countries, with no rise in blood pressure due to advancing age. This would lead one to believe that more than 90% of blood pressure problems can be directly related to Western life style and diet.(1,2)

On the other side of the fence; what is mainstream medicine doing to solve the problem? Even though it has been shown that diet alone is as effective as prescription drug therapy in more than 50% of the cases, long term drug therapy is the most commonly used approach.

Unfortunately, long term use of several of these prescription drugs for lowering blood pressure may actually increase the risk of having a heart attack!

The most common group of drugs prescribed are beta blockers, such as Inderal (proranolol). They lower blood pressure by decreasing heart rate and cardiac output. The known side effects include congestive heart failure, light headedness, depression, fatigue and sexual impotence. They also increase blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, explaining why patients on beta blockers have a higher incidence of heart attacks than high-risk patients not on any medications.(3)

Diuretic prescription drugs are another large category of mainstream treatment. They also have been shown to increase the risk of having a heart attack. Such diuretic drugs have been shown to promote the excretion of several minerals, including calcium and magnesium. These two minerals have been shown to be effective in lowering elevated blood pressure and to aid in preventing heart attack.(4)

It is interesting to note that most authorities support non-drug treatment in mild to moderate hypertension (diastolic 95 mmHg). In fact, the Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, is now recommending not to put most hypertensive patients on prescription drugs.(3)

The most significant factor in controlling high blood pressure is lifestyle. The lifestyle factors contributing to blood pressure levels the most are: smoking, stress levels and alcohol consumption. The most important dietary factors are: achieving a normal body weight; eating a high-fiber, low-fat, low-sodium and high-potassium diet. Other factors that appear to contribute negatively are: heavy consumption of caffeine, exposure to heavy metals (e.g., lead and cadmium), and excessive sugar consumption.(5)

The vitamin/mineral supplementations that we suggest are: Calcium (1.5 g daily), Magnesium (750 mg daily), Zinc (15 -30 mg daily), Ester C (1 – 2 g daily). The mainstay of the hypertension therapy we use is herbal, with the prominent botanicals being: Reishi, Garlic, Cayenne, Ginger, Hawthorn and Ginkgo.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is the most prominent herb I use in cases of hypertension. Reishi will not only lower blood pressure, it will strengthen the heart and lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

There have been several studies, dating back to the early 70`s with continuous research up to present time. Reishi has been shown to reduce blood pressure after only 10 days of consumption. In mild cases the normalization of blood pressure is between 25 and 120 days. One study with 53 patients with an average blood pressure of 165.5 (systolic) over 106.4 (diastolic) had 136.6/92.8 after 6 months, well within the WHO guide lines for healthy blood pressure.(6,7)

Reishi has the added benefit of lowering both cholesterol and triglycerides, along with improving the HDL (good cholesterol) to LDL (bad cholesterol) ratio of cholesterol.

Even though the chemistry is quite complex, it appears that Reishi`s triterpene constituents are by far the most important ingredients for hypertension and cholesterol. Eight out of the more than 100 triterpenes have been shown to have anti-hypertension function. It appears these triterpenes work by inhibiting an enzyme known as ‘angiotensin converting enzyme` (ACE).(8) I normally give Reishi in a formula with ginger for blood pressure problems, suggesting 180 mg of guaranteed potency (GP 14% triterpenes, 15:1 extract), two to three times daily depending on the severity of the case.

Garlic (Allium sativum) and Onions (Allium cepa) have both proven to be very effective in reducing blood pressure and blood lipids. In humans, Garlic can reduce systolic pressure by 20 – 30 points and diastolic by 10 – 20 points.(9,10) Some studies have had amazing results in as short as 24 hours, but most results I see in the clinic range from 30 – 90 days for significant improvement. Part of the effects are obviously due to the blood lipid reducing factor, but other mechanisms are also in play. I usually give about 1,000 mg of Garlic, twice daily.

Cayenne ( Capsicum sp.) is one of the best known folk remedies for high blood pressure. As a herbal stimulant, it will strengthen the heart, regulate blood pressure, lower blood lipids, reduce peripheral resistance in the capillary beds and dilate blood vessel diameter.(11,12) , I normally suggest a patient take between 300 – 600 mg of guaranteed potency Cayenne (GP 90,000 heat units), twice daily, during meals.

Ginger (Zingiber sp.) is another folk remedy for high blood pressure that aids in reducing blood lipids and platelet aggregation. Ginger has also been shown to reduce peripheral resistance in the capillary beds as well as increase capillary permeability.(13) I often have the Ginger mixed with the Reishi and Cayenne, giving 100 – 400 mg, twice daily. A Ginger tea (boil 5 – 10 slices of fresh ginger root, for 2 – 5 min, in 2 – 4 cups of water) is also a pleasant way to take it.

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) berries and flowers have been widely used as a folk remedy for both the heart and blood circulation. Clinically, they have been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure, angina attacks, blood lipids and as a cardiac tonic. It is presently used widely in both Europe and Asia against hypertension. Hawthorn has been shown to improve the blood supply to the heart by dilating coronary vessels and to improve metabolic processes in the heart, thus increasing force of contraction, while eliminating some types of rhythm disturbance. Hawthorn also inhibits ACE, as does Reishi.(14,15) The active ingredients seem to be groups of flavonoids such as proanthocyanidins. I usually use 300 – 450 mg of guaranteed potency Hawthorn berries (GP 1.8% Vitexin), two – three times daily. By itself, it takes two – four weeks to notice its effect. I usually combine it with several of the above ingredients.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) has an effect on the entire circulatory system relaxing the vessels by stimulating endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF)and prostacyclin. It also strengthens micro-circulation in the capillary beds and thereby increases local oxygen levels. Ginkgo has a significant effect on reducing platelet aggregation.(16) I normally suggest between 100 – 200 mg of guaranteed potency Ginkgo extract (GP 24% flavoglycosides), twice daily.

Summary – The typical protocol I use for a person who comes in with high blood pressure includes making the above lifestyle changes, along with the following supplementation: Calcium (1.5 g daily), Magnesium (750 mg daily), Zinc (15 -30 mg daily), Ester C (1 – 2 g daily), Reishi (180 mg – 2 times daily), Garlic (1000 mg – 2 times daily), Cayenne (300 – 600 mg, twice daily), Ginger (100 – 400 mg, twice daily), Hawthorn (300 – 450 mg, twice daily) and Ginkgo (100 – 200 mg, twice daily).


1. Pizzorno J, Murray M.; A textbook of Natural Medicine; John Bastyr College Pub; VI:HyperT-1; 6/3/85.

2. Meneely G., Battarbee H.; High sodium-low potassium environment and hypertension; Am J. Card; 38:768-81, 1976.

3. Murray M.; The Healing Power of Herbs; Prima Pub, Rocklin CA, p. 105-06, 1992.

4. McCarron D., Morris C., Cole C.; Dietary calcium in human hypertension. Science 217:267-9; 1982

5.Beattie A., Campbell B., Goldberge A. et al; Blood lead and hypertension; Lancet 2:1-3, 1976.

6. Katsuo Kanmatsue, Nagao K., et al; Studies on Ganoderma lucidum. I. Efficacy against Hypertension and Side Effects; Yakugako Zasshi 1985 105(10): 942-947.

7. Yearul K., Shuichi K. et al; Dietary Effect of Ganoderma lucidum Mushroom on Blood Pressure and Lipid Levels in Spontaneous Hypertensive Rats; Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 1988; 34(4): 433-438.

8. Aiko M, Katsuaki K, et al; Angiotensin Converting Enzyme-inhibitory Triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum; Chem and Pharm Bulletin 1986, 37(2): 531-533

9. Petkov V; Plants with hypotensive, antiatheromatous and coronary dilating action; A J Chinese Med 7:197-236, 1979

10. Foushee D., Ruffin J., et al; Garlic as a natural agent for the treatment of hypertension; Cytobios 34:145-53, 1982

11. Negulesco J.A., Younge R.M.; Capsaisin lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride of lagomorphs; Artery 12:5 301-311 1985

12. Kawasaki H., Saito A., et al,/i>; Circ Res, 67 733-743; 1990

13. Gujarak S., Bhumra, et al; Effect of ginger (Zingiber officiale) oleoresin on serum and hepatic Cholesterol levels in cholesterol-fed rats; Nut. Rep. Int 17:183-189, 1978

14. Wagner H., Grevel J.; Cardiotonic drugs IV, cardiotonic amines from Crataegus oxyacantha; Planta Medica 45:98-101, 1982

15.Gabor M.; Pharmacologic effects of flavonoids an blood vessels. Angiologica 9:355-74, 1972

16. Auget M, Delaflotte S,et al; The Pharmacological bases for the vascula impact of Ginkgo biloba extract; In Rokan (Ginko biloba) – Recent Results in Pharmacology and Clinic; Springer-Verlag; New York, NY, p. 169-79, 1988 

Red Mushroom – Herb of spiritual Potency

Doctor’s Opinion:

Dr N K Venugopal,

Prof K K Janardhanan

Prof M T Joseph

Red mushroom, the ancient Chinese secret of health and longevity, is emerging as an elixir of life for many in India suffering from various ailments, including cancer, claim doctors in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
“It is not disease-specific or organ-specific. It is a dietary supplement, which corrects the disorders of the body mainly by enhancing immunity and rebuilding lost or damaged cells,” says Dr S Ranjan, a leading cardiologist in Chennai.

Dr N K Venugopal, a medical practitioner at Muvattupuzha in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, says he has been prescribing products made out of ganoderma for over six years and claimed to have found total cure in about 1,000 patients suffering from various ailments.
“The regular intake of ganoderma along with medication has proven that cancer can be cured in early stages,” he says, adding that the polysaccharide fractions in ganoderma are mainly responsible in developing immunity against tumours.

Prof K K Janardhanan of the Department of Microbiology, Amala Cancer Research Institute, Thrissur, says he was impressed by anti-cancer properties of ganoderma during various studies.
“Our research has shown that methanolic extract of ganoderma lucidium, the variety commonly found in South India, possesses significant anti-tumour and anti-oxidant activities,” he says.

“When mice were administered a dose of 500mg of ganoderma per kg of body weight after implanting a tumour, it was found that the tumour load was reduced by 97.7 per cent within 10 days,” he says.

Dr.Venugopal says he has noticed that even in patients in their final stages of cancer, ganodema increases life-expectancy, reduces pain substantially, improved quality of life and reduces the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

Dr Ranjan also says it was the anti-cancer effect of ganoderma on a person with myelomonocytic leukemia that exposed him to the virtues of the mushroom.

“A friend of mine was having blood cancer in its final stages in 1999 when he started having ganoderma products. Within days, he showed signs of remission. He had a more comfortable living for four more years,” he says.

The effect of mushroom was found to be cent percent in diabetics, psoriasis, liver and cardiovascular disorders, says Dr Venugopal.

Prof M T Joseph of Thodupuzha in Kerala’s Idukki district says he was suffering from acute psoriasis eight years back. “Different systems of treatment, including allopathy, ayurveda and homeopathy, could not bring any relief. Then, I came across ganoderma through a friend who was cured of acute diabetics. After consulting a few experts, I started having ganoderma and, to my surprise, within a few months I fully recovered,” he says.

“Another remarkable thing I found was that many other smaller problems like ulcer in the stomach and bleeding of the gum also were cured,” he says, claiming that apart from building up immunity of the body, the mushroom also has anti-ageing properties.

Various products of ganoderma are being consumed by people in around 60 countries, says Dr Vengugopal, adding that these have been certified by United States Food and Drug Authority and approved by Japan in anti-cancer care.

While Indonesia has an approved diploma course in ganotherapy, various species of ganoderma have been included in Chinese pharmocoepia.

In China, mushrooms were in use for over 4,000 years for physical and mental well being. Known as ‘Ling zhi’ in local parlance, it was an expensive tonic mostly reserved for emperors and the rich.

The medicinal properties of various varieties of red mushroom, especially those found in India, have special reference in the ancient Ayurvedic texts, adds Dr Venugopal.

Agricultural research centres in India, including National Research Centre for Mushrooms, in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, and Kerala Agricultural University have successfully grown some species of ganoderma.

As much as 6,000 tonnes of ganoderma extracts are produced yearly across the globe, with China, Japan and the two Koreas being the main producers. The total trade touches $4 billion, he says.

Dr Ranjan says researchers worldwide are trying to isolate molecules to be used in the allopathic system of medicine. “Though some researchers have developed Ganomycin A and B, the clinical tests are still not complete,” he says.

Dr Venugopal wants the Central government to give more emphasis on research in the field and make the products locally available at cheaper rates.

International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms
Clinical Trials for Medicinal Mushrooms: Experience with Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.:Fr.) Lloyd (Lingzhi Mushroom)

Doctor’s Opinion:Shufeng Zhou
Division of Pharmacy, School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland 4001, Australia; and Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Yihuai Gao
Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University; Landcare Research, Private Bag 92170, Auckland, New Zealand

Eli Chan
Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Despite the popularity of medicinal mushrooms, most are not well researched in terms of clinical efficacy and toxicity. We have completed seven clinical trials of Ganoderma lucidum in several diseases including cancer, Type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, chronic hepatitis B, and neurasthenia. Most of these studies were randomized, double-blind, multi-centered and placebo controlled. The results arising from these studies are promising. For example, treatment with Ganopoly for 12 weeks showed hypoglycemic activity in Type II diabetes, improved the symptoms/signs of patients with coronary heart disease or neurasthenia, and produced some antiviral and liver protective effects in patients with chronic hepatitis B infection. However, the same treatment regimen did not result in any objective response in late-stage cancer patients, although some stable disease status was observed. Ganopoly appeared to enhance immune functions in some cancer patients, but the results have yet to be confirmed. Ganopoly was generally well tolerated. Overall, the findings from all these clinical studies suggest that Ganopoly may have multiple pharmacological activities, although the activities are minor, moderate, or lacking as a result of many factors, such as inappropriate dosage regimen, difficulties in finding suitable biomarkers and end points, large interpatient variability in responses to the treatment, and unknown mode of action. Well designed clinical studies are needed to explore the mode of action, efficacy and safety of G. lucidum in patients.,

Ganoderma, Elixir of Life

Ganoderma or reishi or lingzhi all refer to the fruiting body of Ganoderma lucidum (Leyss. ex Fr.) Karst. [red lingzhi] and G. japonicum (Fr.) Lloyd. [purple lingzhi]. Ganoderma is a general tonic which benefits qi (energy), improves memory, benefits complexion, eases joint movement, strengthens tendons and bones, and calms nerves. The most common listed traditional uses are against general weakness, cough, asthma, insomnia, and indigestion. Modern, more recent uses include nightmares, neurasthenia, heart problems (coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, hyperlipemia, hypertension etc.), lack of appetite, chronic hepatitis, Food poisoning, chronic bronchitis, leukocytopenia.

Ganoderma is known as lingzhi in Chinese and reishi or mannentake in Japanese. It was the “elixir of life” sought by emperors and sages during most of China’s long history, and has been glorified in Chinese literary classics, with a reputation as a tonic to prolong life much more than that of ginseng.

Both ganodermas are widely distributed in China, especially along coastal provinces. Ganoderma lucidum is also found growing on hardwoods in North America. Until recent years, ganoderma was rather rare and was primarily reserved for the privileged classes. But since the successful cultivation of G. lucidum, it is now readily available both from the Far East as well as the United States and Canada.

During the past few decades, hundreds of scientific studies (especially chemical and pharmacological) on ganoderma have been published, mostly by Japanese and Chinese researchers. These scientists have found ganoderma to contain many types of biologically active chemical constituents, including sterols, triterpenes, polysaccharides, fatty acids, amino acids, peptides, adenosine, betaine, alkaloids, and trace minerals (high in germanium), among others. Its pharmacological activities are very broad, including sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsive, hypertensive and hypotensive, anti-allergic, liver protectant, hypoglycemic, antitumor, anticoagulant, hypolipemic and hypercholesterolemic, anticholinergic, antioxidant, immunomodulating, smooth muscle relaxant, antitussive, antiasthmatic, vasodilative, diuretic, anabolic, antiinflammatory, anti-fatigue and antibacterial, etc. Even though these are isolated studies, the sheer quantity of bioactivity seems to give some justification of ganoderma’s good reputation as a highly valued general tonic. Let’s face it, there is no way one can subject a tonic like ganoderma to so-called clinical trials (double-blind, randomized, etc.) and expect to obtain meaningful results.

As an observant reader, you would have noticed that ganoderma has both hypotensive and hypertensive as well as both hypolipemic and hyperchlolesteremic effects. These are opposite effects and the kind of research that would drive some scientists nuts, especially those looking for one drug / one effect. Some biochemists and pharmacologists may try to explain these findings in fancy technical terms, with elaborate theories and mechanisms of action. But the fact is that they may not have the foggiest idea why ganoderma exhibits opposite effects. Me? I don’t know either. But I would simply attribute all these effects to Mother Nature’s work being superior to those of human endeavors; you just can’t simply break it down to fit our limited scope of understanding.
                                                                         Dr. Albert Leung

Dr. Albert Leung’s book, Better Health with (mostly) Chinese Herbs and Food discusses the use of 60 different herbs as healing foods, including ganoderma on pages 33-34. For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit
Posted by Dr. Albert Leung at 3:21 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Tuesday, May 29, 2007



Fungus Yields Fungicide
By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Feb. 28, 2006 —
A fungus would seem to be the last place to find a fungicide, but two separate research teams recently analyzed fungi and successfully identified two potent antifungal substances.

Infections like Athlete’s foot and Candida that are caused by fungus, which is a parasitic plant lacking in chlorophyll, leaves and true stems and roots, spread easily and are often difficult to cure.

In people with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS patients, fungal infections can be life threatening. Scientists hope the new fungicides will lead to better treatments.

Since the fungicides also target plant molds, they may also lead to safer, more effective fruit and vegetable sprays in future.

For the first study, recently published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, lead author J.Y. Liu and researchers from Nanjing University in China studied marine fungi that reside in a fish called the white croaker, Argyrosomus argentatus.

They extracted the fungi from various tissues of the fish and then tested it on the three most common opportunistic human fungal pathogens.

These are Candida albicans, which often leads to yeast infections in women; Aspergillus niger, which is commonly associated with ear infections; and Trichophyton rubrum, which causes “jock itch” and other skin infections.

One fungus from the fish, called Myrothecium, successfully wiped out the entire trio of tenacious pathogens.

Liu and his team believe this fish fungus produces a natural poison that slows down protein and nucleic acid production in the pathogens. This likely leads to their eventual demise.

For the second study, published in a recent Peptides journal, Hexiang Wang of Beijing’s China Agricultural University and co-author T. B. Ng discovered an antifungal protein in the medical mushroom Ganoderma lucidum, more commonly known as the Reishi mushroom.

In tests, the mushroom protein wiped out three fungi that commonly cause the gray, green or black moldy rot found on fruits and vegetables. It also cleared up a fungus associated with human fingernail and skin infections.

The findings suggest that in the future, farmers and gardeners might spray a mushroom-derived concoction on their plants to kill and inhibit mold.

According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, prior studies found that Reishi increases immune-boosting T-cells in patients suffering from advanced cancer.

The mushroom may also stimulate the immune systems of HIV patients and others, but it can interfere with prescribed drugs, so health care professionals advise that individuals consult with their doctors before taking Reishi.

Christina Martin is an expert in Chinese medicine and acupuncture at Berkeley’s Elephant Pharmacy, which offers one of the nation’s largest selections of alternative medicines.

Martin told Discovery News that she was not surprised that fungicide could be found in a fungus, since she said Chinese medical practitioners often look to the cause of an illness for its treatment.

“If the research proves to be true, then it will be helpful to us because fungal infections are so difficult to clear up,” she said. “Black walnut and tea tree oil are two popular alternative medicine treatments now, but even they do not always work.”

Martin added, “Since Reishi is a mushroom, it is also less scary to us because we are familiar with edible mushrooms.

It is hard for me to say to someone, ‘Here is your bowl of huangqi,’ (a root used to treat fatigue) because the individual probably has no idea what that is. Medical mushrooms seem to be more widely acceptable.” 


                 Are Medicinal Mushrooms Magic?
                               by Terry Willard Cl.H, Ph.D

(06/07/1999), Canada – From the vision-producing mushrooms the shamans used in their initiation rites to the mushroom hunter of northern Europe, mushrooms have always held a great fascination for man. Many a fairy tale has included members of the Fungi Kingdom as part of the backdrop. Yes, mushrooms are members of the Fungi Kingdom.

People often shudder when they hear the word `fungi`. It brings up images of some life forms taking over a university student`s refrigerator, athlete`s foot, dirty showers or maybe a yeast infection. There are more than 100,000 different species of fungi, some beneficial to man, some not. Some are edible, some poisonous, some produce visions and some have strong medicinal properties.

In the Western world, medicinal mushrooms have not played as much a central role as they have in Asian culture. We do, howerver, find references in Western culture for medicinal mushrooms as far back as 455 B.C. with Hippocrates` use of them.

Fungi are also mentioned in the works of Pliny ( 23-78 AD), Dioscorides (55 AD) and Galen (130 – 200 AD), showing that the ancients were quite familiar with their uses.{1} Even in the present day, after the discovery in 1928 of penicillin (a fungus), we find them playing a prominent role, making up a whole class of antibiotic medicines. But, for the richness of folklore on medicinal mushrooms, we have to delve into Asian culture, where there is more than 3,000 years of recorded fungi use, continuously maintaining a prominent spot in their medical systems.

It shouldn`t be surprising that some mushrooms have strong medicinal properties when you consider their basic role is that of transmuting waste material into good, nutritious material. It is surprising that they are considered panacea, making medicinal mushrooms seem somewhat magical. Claims from being tonic and energy enhancing, with beneficial effects on the immune, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, nervous, digestive and skeletal/muscular systems, make one wonder if they are a little over-stated.

The fact that they are used to reduce tumors, blood cholesterol, blood pressure, bronchial inflammation, nervous tension, viral infection, insomnia, duodenal ulcers, allergies, diabetes, hepatitis, progressive muscular dystrophy and high-altitude sickness makes us wonder how they work. They are also being used to reduce symptoms of AIDS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Cancer and the side effects of chemo-therapy. At the same time these wondrous medicinal mushrooms are being used to enhance over- all energy, athletic feats, intellectual challenges, environmental stresses and are considered longevity herbs. {2,3}

What makes them tick? Besides the myths of their transmuting our toxic waste material and negative emotions into healthy ones, we can gain some insight by looking at their biochemistry. There are three basic groups of chemicals that seem to be responsible for a large amount of the medicinal effects of these mushrooms. They are branched polysaccharide-protein complexes, triterpenes and nitrogen-containing compounds, for example adenosine.

Polysaccharides have been extensively studied in the last several years for their immune regulating abilities. Many well-known medicinal herbs such as Echinacea, and Astragalus have polysaccharides as a major part of the immune-enhancing actions. It now appears that the polysaccharide-protein complexes are even more important than the individual polysaccharides. Most of the medicinal mushrooms are very rich in these complexes, resulting in many of the immune responses credited to their action.

Triterpenes are an interesting group of compounds which have a steroidal nature, being similar to our own hormonal system. Working as hormonal communicators, these biochemicals have a profound effect on subtle actions in our bodies.

Nitrogen-containing compounds, like the amino acids, are known to be building blocks of our basic cellular material of RNA, also being very important in our energy system. Adenosine, a nucleoside, is the core of cAMP and ATP

From these fundamental biochemical roles we can understand why medicinal mushrooms can have such a wide range of therapeutic action. To demonstrate some of these actions, I am going to discuss five of my favorite medicinal mushrooms: Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake, Cordyceps and Poria cocas.{4,5}

By far my favorite of the medicinal mushrooms is Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum, and related species) because it has all of the above biochemical groups and it holds the prominent position in Asian medicinal folklore. Reishi has a large range of therapeutic uses and can be found growing around the world.

My favorite description of Reishi is the Chinese by-line, “ . . . to protect an academic from their own brain.“ Reishi will calm the nervous system, reduce insomnia, lessen paranoia and readjust what the Chinese call disturbed Shen Qi (spiritual mind). One of my patients suggested that taking Reishi, was like getting an additional half hour of meditation a day. Meditation in a bottle.

Is North America ready for that or what? Reishi is revered for its effect on the heart and respiratory tract because it relieves tightness in the chest. Reishi also affects the circulatory system by lowering blood pressure, blood cholesterol, while balancing LDL/HDL ratios and reducing other blood lipids. Reishi is also specific for asthma, allergies, bronchitis along with many other respiratory problems. This herb is considered a longevity tonic because of its antioxidant effect.{5}

Reishi`s antimicrobial action works against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Several countries use this mushroom to treat cancer, AIDS, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Reishi calms the autonomic nervous system. It also reduces spasticity, ulcers, colitis and detoxifies the liver. Reishi`s anti-allergenic effect works for air bound and food bound allergens.

Instead of taking Reishi completely alone for long periods of time, take Reishi with other supplements. Vitamin C and ginger are particularly good companions for it. A useful formula for the above is: Reishi solid extract 1:15, Echinacea root, Ginger root, and Barberry root. This is one of the most prominent formulas we use in our clinics.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa), also known as the dancing mushroom, is a prized medicinal mushroom from Japan. Its strongest effects are on the immune system. Some studies suggest it has even stronger immune action than Reishi, while other studies dispute that data. It does definitely have an advantage in the fact that it is a great edible mushroom, while Reishi is not. A special component called the D-fraction is a polysaccharide-protein complex that seems to be responsible for much of its immune modulating effect. Maitake has been successfully employed in AIDS patients, reducing symptoms and slowing down its progression.

As an anti-cancer agent it has reduced tumors as well as the side effects of chemotherapy. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, help recovery from hepatitis, and reduce blood sugar in diabetics. As a weight management herb, it has slow, but consistent results to aid in weight loss. As with some of the other fungi, Maitake can aid in reducing uterine fibroids. However I have found that Cordyceps is better in my clinical experience. {6,7}

Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) is beneficial in reducing dermatitis, liver cirrhosis, vascular sclerosis, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol. It has been used for preventing toxicity from acid foods. It has antitumor activity by inhibiting growths of sarcoma 180 (97.5%) and Ehrich carcinoma (80%). Shiitake`s immune-regulating effect can been seen in many studies including being useful in treating chronic fatigue syndrome. Antimicrobial properties have been demonstrated in a large range of viruses, bacteria and fungi. LEM (Lentinis edodes mycelium) is often the form used in medicine these days. This delicious mushroom can be found as a popular addition to both Japanese and Chinese cuisine. {1}

Cordyceps sinensis (Dong chong xia cao) is also known as the Caterpillar fungus because it grows on insect caterpillars. It has received quite a lot of attention due to it ability to enhance athletic performance, being heavily consumed by Asian athletes in the last few Olympics. Besides its strong tonic effect, it can be used to increase oxygen uptake in the lungs, while reducing bronchial inflammation and working as an expectorant. It is well known to relieve exhaustion, night sweats, sexual impotency and as a sedative. It benefits the kidneys, lungs and gonadal function, increasing sperm count. It is specific for reducing uterine fibroids. Cordyceps stimulates immune function (due to CS-1) by activating T-cells and B-cells, while increasing interleukin-1 and gamma-interferon. It is still one of the most expensive of Chinese herbs. {1,3}

Poria cocas (Fu ling) is one of the most used fungi in the Orient, being incorporated into many formulas. It has been shown to have a relaxing effect on the nervous system and smooth muscles. Poria cocas will also lower blood glucose, reduce diarrhea and edema, working as a good diuretic. Its tonic effect aids in digestion and absorption of food, while having a quieting effect on the spirit, strengthening the heart and reducing insomnia and forgetfulness. {5,8}

I often combine all of the above medicinal mushrooms together in a formula to get the full effect of medicinal mushroom power. We use this formula in the clinic for a variety of things including a calming tonic that enhances the immune system, while reducing some of North America worst health issues. As you can see with the huge amount of both folklore and scientific information, these medicinal mushrooms can play an important role in almost anyone`s health program. Even though it is true that several mushrooms should not be consumed by people with Candida Yeast infections, all of these mushrooms are not only safe in these patients, they can often reduce the symptoms and underlying causes of this problem.

There are many myths around these mushrooms, but my favorite is the one I learned from one of my teachers, an Amazon Shaman. In trying to understand more about the personality of a medicinal mushroom, I asked him to explain. I wanted to know more about his use of Reishi (G.lucidum) that grew in his area. He stated that the part we use is its fruit. The actual plant lives underground, often covering several acres and even up to a couple miles under the Amazon jungle. He explained that these fungi are very old Beings, living in earth (Gaia) energy for 1,000s of years. This has created a calming, wise energy to these mushrooms — an energy that we might consider a wise sage of possessing. By using its fruit as medicines, we take on some of the calming wise energy, helping to ground us – something many in western society could use.

1. Hobbs, C; Medicinal Mushrooms; Bontanica Press, Santa Cruz CA; 1995 p. 7-19.
2. Benjamin D; Mushrooms poisons and panaceas; W.H. Freeman & Co; New York, 1995.
3. Ying J, Mao H; Icons of Medicinal Funfi From China; Bejing; 1987.
4. Chihara G, et al Antitumor polysaccharide derives chemically from natural glucan; Nature 225;943-944 1970.
5. Willard T.; Reishi Mushroom; Herb of spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder; Sylvan Press Issaquah Was; 1990.
6. Townsend Letter for Doctors, May 1994, pp. 432-434;
7. Explore! For the Professional, Vol. 4, No. 5, 1993, pp. 17-19.
8. Willard T.; Textbook of Advance Herbology; Wild Rose College; Calgary AB Canada; 1991.

Chinese herb Ganoderma lucidum mushroom can cure diabetes

A team from the University of Western Sydney’s Centre for Complementary Medicine Research (CompleMED) is working with the Cardiac Health Institute to find out if the medicinal mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum, can reduce high blood sugar, often a precursor to diabetes – as well as treat other health problems.
The clinical trial is the first of its kind to rigorously test the mushroom – known in Asia as the ‘King of herbs’, because of its huge range of medicinal properties – and needs 170 Sydneysiders to take part.

UWS PhD researcher Nerida Klupp hopes the findings contribute to western medicine’s knowledge of this Chinese herb, and provide much-needed clinical evidence of a possible new treatment for people with metabolic syndrome.

“Many people in Australia have high blood sugar, which is often classified as diabetes or pre-diabetes. Many also have other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol,” she says.

“Scientists and doctors now know these conditions are linked, and a person with at least three of these health problems is diagnosed with a condition called metabolic syndrome – also called ‘Syndrome X’.”

“Affluent countries with lazy lifestyles and bad diets are at particular risk, with 44 per cent of Americans aged over 50 years of age diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. While we don’t really know how prevalent the condition is here in Australia, we suspect similar trends to those in the United States,” Ms Klupp says.

“Currently there is no single pharmaceutical treatment for metabolic syndrome, which is why we are conducting the first randomised clinical trial to test if this medicinal mushroom can offer western medicine an effective, long-term treatment to help lower blood sugar as well as control other problems associated with the condition,” he says.

Nerida Klupp says the mushroom has been revered in Asia for over 2000 years.

“Ganoderma lucidum, which is also known as Reishi, has long been used to fight a wide range of diseases, and was thought to be the ‘elixir of immortality’ – enhancing vitality and helping to delay ageing,” she says.

Thankfully, there has been increased cultivation of the herb over the last thirty years, and preliminary animal and human pilot studies have proved promising, suggesting it can have a positive effect on blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and blood fats.

Traditionally, Ganoderma lucidum has been considered to be even more potent when taken in combination with another medicinal mushroom called Cordyceps sinensis.

“Cordyceps is also thought to have significant health properties, so we want to find out if Ganoderma is effective on its own, or whether it works better in combination with the second mushroom,” says Ms Klupp.