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What Is “Mushroom Of Immortality”?

December 29, 2021

Nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality” in English, Ganoderma mushrooms are known as “reishi” in Japanese and as “lingzhi” in Chinese. Ganoderma is a group of fungi that break down wood or cause white rot on certain tree species in the environment. Humans use Ganoderma fungi to treat anything from the flu to cancer. Some consume it as a preventative anti-inflammatory treatment. It’s even marketed as a superfood. Reishi/lingzhi has been referenced as far back as 100 B.C. as a supplement used to improve human health.

Studies have found promising immune-boosting effects of the mushroom of immortality, particularly for those who are ill and less so for those that are healthy. Unsurprisingly, the reishi/lingzhi trade industry has a global market of more than $2.16 billion or approximately 2% of the worldwide dietary supplement sales. Recently, scientists tested 20 manufactured products of Ganoderma, including pills, tablets, teas and other consumables as well as 17 grow-your-own kits that were labeled as containing the species Ganoderma lucidum.

The scientists discovered that none of the manufactured reishi/lingzhi products were pure (i.e., only contained G. lucidem and no other fungal species). Only one grow-your-own kit actually contained purely G. lucidum. 86% of all the products, including the grow-your-own kits and manufactured supplements, had a product substitution which was typically another Ganoderma species called G. lingzhi.

The study highlights issues with medicinal marketing of Ganoderma fungi, particularly incorrect labeling of fungal species on the labels. The researchers believe the results are non-intentional and acknowledge that “as a medicinal product, this reishi/lingzhi ‘substitution’ is probably more appropriate than the G. lucidum indicated on the label.” They assert that G. lingzhi is likely the species that is associated with the common names reishi/lingzhi.

Based on the genetic diversity of the fungi sold in reishi/lingzhi products, it is likely that there are significant differences in the quality and quantity of medicinally relevant species in the products being sold as reishi/lingzhi and labeled as G. lucidum. Read more:

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