CHINESE MEDICINE NEWS Lingzhi body, not just spores, also ups immunity | CHINESE MEDICINE NEWS

Lingzhi body, not just spores, also ups immunity

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August 5, 2008  
Filed under Cancer, Dietary

CM NEWS – Numerous (靈芝, Ganoderma lucidum) products on the market advertise their immunostimulatory efficacy by how “cracked” the spores are. But are cracked spores really that superior over the rest of the mushroom?

In a first comparative study on the immunomodulatory activities of spores and the fruiting body extracts done at the Institute of Chinese Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, researchers have found that this claim might haven’t been built on firm grounds.

(For a reference on lingzhi spores, please refer to an earlier CM NEWS post here.)

In fact, the researchers found that lingzhi hot water extract and lingzhi spores (broken or not) share similar efficacy in their immunomodulatory function. But broken spores do perform better in healthy mice than cancerous mice.


The researchers note that lingzhi has been suggested as a candidate for immunomodulation and treatment. The present study aimed at comparing the different parts of the fruiting body (whole fruiting body, pileus and stipe) of lingzhi as well as lingzhi spores (sporoderm-broken and -unbroken), with regard to their antitumour and immunomodulatory activities in sarcoma-bearing mice.

The hot water extracts of different parts of lingzhi or the lingzhi spores were orally administered to the sarcoma-bearing mice.

What are the key constituents of lingzhi?

Lingzhi is a member of the polypores, a group of fungi characterized by the presence of pores, instead of gills on the underside of the fruiting body.

Several major biochemicals such as polysaccharides, proteins and triterpenoids with potent immunomodulating action have been isolated from the lingzhi mushroom. The major immunomodulating effects of these active substances include mitogenicity and activation of immune effector cells such as T cells, macrophages and natural killer cells resulting in the production of cytokines, including interleukins, tumour necrosis (cell death) factor and interferons.

Key active constituents:

  • Beta and hetero-Beta-glucans (antitumour, immunostimulating )
  • Ling Zhi-8 protein (anti-allergenic, immunomodulating)
  • Ganodermic acids triterpenes (anti-allergenic agents, cholesterol and blood pressure reducing)

The mushroom and mycelium contain steroids, lactones, alkaloids, polysaccharide and triterpenes. Pharmacologically, a number of the water-soluble polysaccharides have demonstrated antitumour and immunostimulating activities.

This mushroom possesses many different medicinal properties dependent on the stage and environment of its growth. Traditionally, it has been widely used in the treatment of hepatopathy, chronic hepatitis, nephritis, hypertension, arthritis, neurasthenia, insomnia, bronchitis, asthma and gastric ulcers. Scientific studies have confirmed that substances extracted from the mushroom can reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as inhibit platelet aggregations.

(More info about lingzhi can be found here.)

lingzhi13The results of the CUHK study showed that lingzhi whole fruiting body, stipe and sporoderm-broken spore possessed stronger inhibitory activities on sarcoma growth when compared with the pileus extract.

Higher immunomodulatory activities in terms of enhancing the proliferative responses and the cytokines (IFN-gamma, IL-4 and IL-6) production of spleen lymphocytes were also found in lingzhi stipe and sporoderm-broken spore treatment groups.

The sporoderm-broken spores had higher stimulatory effects on mitogen-activated spleen lymphocytes of healthy mice than those of sarcoma-bearing mice.

In addition, the immunostimulatory activities of lingzhi hot water extracts and lingzhi spores were shown to be comparable; hence the latter did not show superiority in efficacy.

Summary table of the functions of lingzhi

Major Components Functional health benefits of Lingzhi based on literature studies
Ganoderma Polysaccharides Enhances the human immune system
Ganoderma Adenosine Prevents thrombus formation and blockage of blood vessels
Ganodenic Acid Lowering of cholesterol and lipids in the blood
Amino Acids, e.g. alanine, serine, ornithine, etc. Enhances pancreatic function in blood glucose regulation
Protects the liver from damage and enhances detoxification function
Organic Germanium, and other trace minerals (Fe, Ca , Mn, Zn) Relieves allergic reaction
Anti-oxidant and delay aging
Regulates the central nervous system.

[Phytother Res. 2008 Jun 20]

(For testing results presented by Hong Kong’s consumer council on the brokerage levels of 16 lingzhi spore products, please visit here.)

Other CM NEWS readings on lingzhi:


One Comment on "Lingzhi body, not just spores, also ups immunity"

  1. jackst on Sat, 22nd Nov 2008 5:25 am 

    Vitamins and minerals from natural foods is the safest body building substance we get. We are getting the strongest protection from them because they are the most powerful. Lingzhi is fine and full of minerals that maintain the body to be more healthy.

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