Ganoderma Lucidum and Stress
People from China use Ganoderma Lucidum since more than 2000 years ago. They called it the "King of Herbs" because of its effects on general well-being, happiness, and longevity. The Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology book describes it as good to nourish the heart and to calm the spirit (Shen), to treat coughing and asthma and to tonic the vital energy (Qi). Here, I will discuss some topics related to the healing properties of this mushrooms and why the ancient observations find support in recent scientific research.
Stress as the Source of Illness
It is a well-known fact that stress is a source of health problems. Pick (2010), explains why stress is related to most terrible illnesses. Stress increases cortisol production, which deteriorates the immune system by the inhibition of Telomerase formation, an enzyme that protects the immune cells. She remarks that although there are many sources of stress, all of them create conditions that make the body and mind lose their balance and therefore health. If the immune system and the nervous system are under stress other illnesses will attack as well, creating more stress and therefore a vicious cycle. This author remarks that one important result of all the imbalance is weight gain/loss, which also will make the recovery process burdensome as the metabolism gets stalled.
Along the same lines, Holdford (2007) explains that each time the body reacts to stress uses energy from the normal repair and maintenance processes such as digesting, cleansing and rejuvenating. He points that if this energy is constantly used for dealing with stress instead of using it for the normal jobs of a balanced, healthy person, the body will age faster and illness will attack more often. If this stress goes for too long people will get burnt-out, but also addicted to stress as a coping mechanism to avoid crashing down.
Stress produces an adrenaline imbalance, and Holdford mentions the following symptoms related to such condition:
- Hard to get up in the morning and feeling tired all the time
- Anger, irritability, aggressiveness
- Mood swings, restlessness, and hyperactivity
- Poor concentration and poor sleep patterns
- Rapid or pounding heartbeats
- Prone to catching flu or colds and allergies
- Muscle and joint aches
- Hair loss
- Fat around the waist
- Difficulty in making decisions and poor memory
- Regular feelings of weakness
- Headaches, depression, and apathy.
- Water retention and bloated feeling
- Pre-menstrual tension
- Excessive sweating and faintness.
Pick (2010) on the other hand, describe the above conditions as factors that cause stress, which makes sense given the downward cyclic nature of stress.
Grant (2001) goes further explaining that long endured stress will deplete the sources of energy in our body systems causing exhaustion. During exhaustion, "the following conditions appear in stressed people: angina, asthma, autoimmune diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, depression, diabetes (Type II - adult onset), hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual irregularities, and other common complaints that stem from immune suppression such as the common cold, ulcers and headaches." (Grant, 2011).
It is very interesting that this list of illnesses associated with stress are the ones that research identifies as the target for the benefits of Ganoderma Lucidum.
Ganoderma Lucidum as a Source of Wellness
The amount of information found on the web about Ganoderma Lucidum is vast. Nutritionists and biochemists research to know more about the bio-active compounds of mushrooms that are effective in the fight against several health conditions.
A bio-active compound is a substance that is not essential for the functioning of a living organism but that produces an effect on them. (Wikipedia, 2017). Sandoyiba, B. et al (2009) explain that more than 400 bio-active compounds are present in this mushroom, which include "triterpenoids, polysaccharides, nucleotides, sterols, steroids, fatty acids, proteins/peptides and trace elements, which have a number of pharmacological effects including immunomodulatory, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, chemo-preventive, antitumor, chemo and radioprotective, sleep promoting, antibacterial, antiviral (including anti-HIV), hypolipidemic, anti-fibrotic, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, anti-androgenic, anti-angiogenic, anti-herpetic, antioxidative and radical-scavenging, anti-aging, hypoglycemic, estrogenic activity and anti-ulcer properties. Ganoderma Lucidum has now become recognized as an alternative adjuvant for treating leukemia, carcinoma, hepatitis and diabetes" Sandoyiba, B. et al (2009).
On the other hand, Jordan (2007) labels this mushroom as "nature's crowning achievement in adaptogen science". She explains that an adaptogen is a substance that balances any biological function to do its best, for example, they work well for both: "enhancing your energy if you’re stagnant, calming you if you’re irritable and wired". The same author confirms that Ganoderma Lucidum balances and supports the functioning of the immune and nervous system. In other words, she states that this mushroom trains the body to heal itself and gives it resources to fight illness. Its adaptogenic effect also extends to detoxification, mood and appetite, vigor, and mental alertness.
Recent research confirms the observations that link the properties of the Ganoderma Lucidum to well-being. Although the Chinese used it for several millennia, scientific research allowed it to transcend to modern times. It is a very popular medicinal mushroom that although is very rare in nature, it is being cultivated extensively because of the results of research.
The bio-active compounds found in this mushroom work as adaptogens that support both, the nervous and immune systems, the two main systems attacked by stress, allowing many other illnesses to develop in our bodies. It is good, therefore, to include supplements that contain this mushroom in your diet to boost energy, health levels and fight the damaging effects of stress.
Acton, J., Sandler, N. (2001). Mushroom. Kyle Cathie Limited: London.
Grant, B. (2001). Stress. Restoring Balance to Our Lives. London. FiSH Books Ltd.
Holford, P. (2007). New Optimum Nutrition Bible. London. Plaktus Book Ltd.
Jordan, M. (2007). Red Reishi: King of the Adaptogens. San Francisco. Global Medicine Hunter® News Release.
Pick, M (2010). The Core Balance Diet. London. The Hay House, Inc.
Sanodiya B. S, Thakur G. S, Baghel R. K, Prasad G. B, Bisen P. S. Ganoderma Lucidum: A potent pharmacological macrofungus. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2009;10(8):717–42. [PubMed]
Wikipedia Contributors. Bioactive compound. Wikipedia de Free Encyclopedia. Accessed on the 14 of March 2017.