The best known of this group of fungi is lingzhi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), commonly known as Reishi . It is a wood-decaying fungus, which is classified as a stem fungus (in the body of the fungus, both their nuclei are merged and spores are formed). Her hat (fruiting body) has an unmistakable shiny color that changes with the age of the fungus. In her youth it is dirty yellow and then passes through reddish brown to maroon. The typical appearance of the hat gave the sponge its name, because its Latin name Ganoderma comes from the Greek words ganos (glossy) and derma (skin), which, moreover, is reflected in its Czech name.
Reishi grows here too
You might not expect Reishi to grow in the Czech Republic despite its name and use in traditional medicine of Asian nations. In our forests, there are also other species of Glossy-shelled Lizards - L. coniferous (Ganoderma carnosum) or L. flat (Ganoderma applatum). Enthusiastic mushroom pickers should be pointed out, however, that they do not like the frying pan from the minnows - the fruiting bodies cannot be consumed directly, they are somewhat stiff and woody in consistency, and have a much bitter taste. Positive is that artificially grown mushrooms lose this bitter taste.
What benefits does Reishi contain?
Reishi contains a number of substances, which are sometimes commonly referred to as the overarching name of a biologically active substance . The main substances include polysaccharides (composite sugars) and so-called triterpenoids. Triterpenoids are common substances found in plants or fungi. These substances have a number of unique properties, such as found in the very popular ginseng. Both plants and fungi containing these substances are traditionally used in the phytotherapeutic folk practice of different nations and countries. The most important terpenoids are ganodermic acid and lucidenic acid.
It also contains a significant amount of antioxidants, alkaloids, sterols (ergosterol and its derivatives or beta sitosterol), fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, enzymes or adenosine (nucleoside). From minerals and trace elements in Reishi we can find iron, manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc or rare germanium. In total, experts report that Reishi contains up to 400 biologically active substances .
What does Reishi do?
Recent scientific research suggests that Reishi and other similar fungi could be used in the future to develop medicines for the most serious diseases (especially cancer, HIV, dementia, etc.) that currently plague humanity.
At present, however, Reishi extracts are only available in the form of dietary supplements that are intended to support the normal functioning of the circulatory system, to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels and, of course, to promote natural defenses . Immune support is mainly related to the contained polysaccharides ( beta-glucans ), the two remaining properties are triterpenoids. Of course, other biologically active substances can also play a role.
In what form can Reishi be consumed?
It is present on the market in various forms. Most often they are tablets or capsules , but it is also possible to buy a tincture or an instant drink . It is often combined with other plants or mushrooms ( Milk Thistle, Chaga, Shiitake, Oyster Mushroom , Sea Buckthorn , Spiny Coral , Common Fertilizer and others). But it can also be purchased in powder form or in sliced and dried versions. It can also be used for decoction (the ingredients can be extracted with hot water). But there is also coffee, tea, food (such as Reishi in honey) or even cosmetics with Reishi (moisturizing body and face cream or brightening serum).
Another of the group of clever mushrooms
In addition to Reishi, which is the best known representative of the group of clever mushrooms, the diet in the form of food supplements can be enriched with other equally interesting mushrooms. The first to mention is the sponge Enoki ( Flammulina velutipes ), which is popular in Japan. We should not forget the famous Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) or Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), which is interesting because it shoots its spores, which attack insects, on whose body it then parasites. In the end, of course, we must mention the oyster mushroom, which is also known in our conditions and has already become a popular delicacy in Czech cuisine. Like all previous fungi, it is also valued for its high content of beta-glucans and other bioactive substances.