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Ganoderma Lucidum , also called Lingzhi in Chinese and Reishi in Japanese, is a herbal mushroom that has been used in China for over 4,000 years. The Chinese name Lingzhi, means "spiritual potency". During ancient times, the Lingzhi mushroom was reserved for emperors and royal families. In "Seng Nong Herbal Classic", Lingzhi was ranked as “the king of herbs”. Dr. Li Shizhen (1518-1593) , the most famous Chinese medical doctor of the Ming Dynasty, strongly endorsed Lingzhi in his book “Materia Medica” . He stated that "long-term taking of Lingzhi will build a strong, healthy body and assure a long life."


Ganoderma in anti-inflammation and anti-oxidation


Research has provided evidence that Ganoderma lucidum can act as an anti-inflammatory agent. This pharmacological activity may provide the basis for its effect on memory in old age. It has been found that Ganoderma lucidum is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. The water extract of the fruiting body and the spores are active against inflammation when taken orally.

Ganoderma and immunomodulation

Active compounds from Ganoderma lucidum , which can stimulate immune response in a host, include polysaccharides, triterpenes, and glycoproteins. Some compounds in Ganoderma lucidum are classified as immuno-potentiators. Ganoderma lucidum can also act to restore homeostasis in an immuno-suppressed host. Recent studies have demonstrated anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects. The polysaccharides can enhance immune responses in patients with advanced-stage cancer. In the experiments, the polysaccharides of Ganoderma lucidum protect liver injury by reducing NO production. In cell biology studies, Ganoderma lucidum is able to enhance phagocytic activity of human primary neutrophils and neutrophilic-phenotype cells, and increase neutrophil migration. The polysaccharides of Ganoderma lucidum can enhance lymphocyte proliferation and maturation, and the initiation of immune response. These studies provide evidence that Ganoderma lucidum can strengthen the defense system.


Ganoderma and cancer


Ganoderma lucidum has been widely used by patients with different types of cancers that are too advanced for surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy, especially in Oriental countries. For those who have gone through one of these therapeutic treatments, Ganoderma lucidum is used as an alternative therapy. Ganoderma lucidum can inhibit the migration of breast cancer cells and prostate cancer cells, suggesting its potency to reduce tumour invasiveness. The polysaccharide fraction of Ganoderma lucidum can suppress colon cancer cell activity and may act as a potent chemopreventive agent for colon carcinogenesis. The triterpenes can inhibit the growth of human liver cancer cells, but have no effect on normal human liver cells. It can also suppress tumour-induced angiogenesis. There appears to be multiple mechanisms underlying the anti-cancer effects of Ganoderma lucidum . A recent study has indicated that the sporoderm-broken spores of Ganoderma lucidum have much higher bioactivities than the whole spores.



  1. Shiao, M.S. 2003. Natural products of the medicinal fungus Ganoderma lucidum: occurrence, biological activities, and pharmacological functions. Chem Rec 3:172-180.
  2. Zhang, G.L., Wang, Y.H., Ni, W., Teng, H.L., and Lin, Z.B. 2002. Hepatoprotective role of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide against BCG-induced immune liver injury in mice. World J Gastroenterol 8:728-733.
  3. Hsu, M.J., Lee, S.S., Lee, S.T., and Lin, W.W. 2003. Signaling mechanisms of enhanced neutrophil phagocytosis and chemotaxis by the polysaccharide purified from Ganoderma lucidum. Br J Pharmacol 139:289-298.
  4. Cao, L.Z., and Lin, Z.B. 2002. Regulation on maturation and function of dendritic cells by Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides. Immunol Lett 83:163-169.
  5. Bao, X.F., Wang, X.S., Dong, Q., Fang, J.N., and Li, X.Y. 2002. Structural features of immunologically active polysaccharides from Ganoderma lucidum. Phytochemistry 59:175-181.
  6. Sliva, D., Sedlak, M., Slivova, V., Valachovicova, T., Lloyd, F.P., Jr., and Ho, N.W. 2003. Biologic activity of spores and dried powder from Ganoderma lucidum for the inhibition of highly invasive human breast and prostate cancer cells. J Altern Complement Med 9:491-497.
  7. Sliva, D. 2003. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) in cancer treatment. Integr Cancer Ther 2:358-364.
  8. Sliva, D., Labarrere, C., Slivova, V., Sedlak, M., Lloyd, F.P., Jr., and Ho, N.W. 2002. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses motility of highly invasive breast and prostate cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 298:603-612.



In China Coriolus versicolor is known as "Yunzhi", or the "cloud mushroom". In traditional herbalism hot water extracts of Coriolus were used to dispel dampness, reduce phlegm, treat pulmonary infections, and to support liver health. The Ming dynasty edition of the Materia Medica states that "The black and green Yun zhi are beneficial to one's spirit and vital energy, and strengthen one's tendon and bone. If Yun zhi is taken for a long time, it will make one vigorous and live long."


Complementary therapy for cancers


The coriolus versicolor mushroom has shown antimicrobial, antiviral and antitumor properties, which have been attributed to a protein-bound polysaccharide called Polysaccharide K (PSK), also known as Krestin. In Japan , PSK is currently used as a cancer treatment, in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.


Colon Cancer- Coriolus Alone


Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial - 110 Patients After Curative Surgery for Colorectal Cancer - 10-Year Study

This study found that when compared with the control group, the leukocyte activity of the PSK group showed "remarkable enhancement." It was concluded that "the beneficial effects of Coriolus were probably due to the activation of leukocyte functions as one of the many biological-response-modifying activities induced by PSK."

In this study the increase in survival rate and disease free period after oral administration of Coriolus was found to be "statistically significant" when both rates were doubled over those of the control group.


Lung Cancer - Coriolus as Complemetary Therapy after Radiotherapy


185 Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages I-III - 10-Year Study

The use of Coriolus as immunotherapy in combination with radiotherapy was examined based on the recognized ability of PSK to "inhibit disorders of cellular immunity attributed to anti-cancer drugs, and in doing so to counteract the adverse effects of these drugs.

The five year survival rate of the patients (who received Coriolus) with stages I or II disease, as well as stage III was 39% and 22% respectively, compared with the non-administered (no Coriolus) group's 16% and 5%. These differences are statistically significant.


Breast Cancer - Coriolus as Complementary Therapy with Chemotherapy


Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial - 227 Patients with Operable Breast Cancer Immuno-chemotherapy vs Chemotherapy - 10-Year Study

The use of Coriolus together with chemotherapy was explored with results indicating that PSK protects "against the suppression of immuno-activity which is caused by the administration of anti-cancer drugs," by "stimulation of the immuno-activity of the host."

In this study the survival rate of the group that took Coriolus with chemotherapy was 81.1% after 10 years. The survival rate of the group that used chemotherapy alone was 64.5%. The study concluded that Immuno-chemotherapy with Cloriolus improved the prognosis of patients with operable breast cancer with vascular invasion."


Gastric Cancer - Coriolus as Complementary Therapy with Chemotherapy


Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial - 262 Patients after Curative Gastrectomy Immuno-chemotherapy vs Chemotherapy - 5 Year Study

The benefit to the immune system of combining Coriolus with chemotherapy was attributed to "a restorative effect in patients who have been immuno-suppressed by both recent surgery and subsequent chemotherapy."

In this study, published in Lancet, the survival rate of the group that took Cloriolus with chemotherapy was 73% after 5 years. The survival rate of the group that used chemotherapy alone was 60%. The study concluded that combining Cloriolus with chemotherapy was "beneficial for preventing recurrence of cancer and in prolonging survival for patients who have undergone curative gastrectomy."


Acute Leukemia - Coriolus as Complementary Therapy with Chemotherapy


Control Group Study - 28 Patients - Immuno-chemotherapy vs Chemotherapy

This study found that "the durations of complete remission and survival in the chemo-immunotherapy group showed significant prolongation compared to that of the chemotherapy group." This study also indicates that Coriolus enhances depressed immune systems without abnormal stimulation to immune cancers.

  1. 1. Torisu, M., et al. (1990). Significant prolongation of disease-free period gained by oral polysaccharide K (PSK) administration after curative surgical operation of colorectal cancer. Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy 31(5), 261-268.
  2. Hayakawa, K., et al. (1993). Effect of Krestin (PSK) as Adjuvant Treatment on the Prognosis after Radical Radiotherapy in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Anticancer Research 13, 1815-1820.
  3. Ilino, Y., et al. (1995). Immunochemotherapies vs. Chemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Operable Breast Cancer. Anticancer Research 15, 2907-2912
  4. Nakazato, H., et al. (1994). Efficacy of Immunochemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Gastric Cancer. Lancet 343, 1122-1126.
  5. Sakagami, H. and Takeda M. (1993). Diverse Biological Activity of PSK (KRESTIN), A Protein-Bound Polysaccharide from Coriolus versicolor (Fr.) Quel. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Mushroom Biology and Mushroom products, August 23-26, 1993, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products. Chang, S.-T. et al. (eds.). Shatin, Hong Kong: Chinese University Press: 237-245.
  6. Ikusawa, M., et al. (1988). Fate and Distribution of an Antitumor Protein-Bound Polysaccharide PSK (KRESTIN). International Journal of Immunopharmacology 10(4), 415-423.



Ginseng, or Panax quinquefolium in North America, was discovered over 4000 years ago in the mountains of Northern China. It quickly became popular for its strength-giving, rejuvenating powers, and its human shape became a powerful symbol of divine harmony on earth.  “Seng Nong Herbal Classic”, a 2000-year old Chinese medicinal book, described "Ginseng is a tonic to the five viscera, quieting spirit, stabilizing the soul, preventing fear, expelling vicious energy, brightening eyes, improving vision, opening up heart, benefiting understanding, and if taken for long will prolong life."

The commercial harvesting of North American ginseng began in Canada in 1710s after a Jesuit priest heard of the root from Chinese. He began searching for this wondrous herb and discovered North American ginseng growing near Montreal. Thus he began a vigorous export of ginseng to China.  By the end of the 19th century, however, the wild root was near extinction due to over-harvesting. At this point, farmers in North America began cultivating the sensitive plant.


Ginseng and Health


Clinical research has demonstrated that ginseng improves psychological function, immune response, and conditions associated with diabetes. The main active components of ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.  Ginseng is widely used to improve overall energy and vitality, particularly during times of fatigue or stress, to stimulate immune function, to treat male impotence, and to improve memory.


North American and Asian ginseng differ in their chemical composition and each appears to have distinct biological effects. From a traditional medicine point of view, these two types of ginsengs are thought to be complementary. The Chinese perceive North American ginseng to be more “Yin”, meaning it is used to reduce ‘Heat’ in the body. In comparison, Asian ginseng is thought to be more “Yang”, meaning it is used to raise ‘Heat’ in the body.



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  6. Tode T, Kikuchi Y, Hirata J, et al. Effect of Korean red ginseng on psychological functions in patients with severe climacteric syndromes. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1999;67:169-74.
  7. Kim SH, Park KS. Effects of Panax ginseng extract on lipid metabolism in humans. Pharmacol Res 2003;48:511-3.
  8. Shin HR, Kim JY, Yun TK, et al. The cancer-preventive potential of Panax ginseng: a review of human and experimental evidence. Cancer Causes Control 2000;11:565-76.



Rhodiola rosea is distributed at high altitudes in mountainous and arctic regions throughout Asia and Europe. It is a plant in traditional medicines with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and prolonging life.  In addition to Rhodiola rosea, over 200 different species of Rhodiola have been identified.

“Materia Medica”, a dictionary of Chinese herbs written by Dr. Li Shizhen (1518-1593), described Rhodiola as a “mysterious oriental herb” and “golden plant.  In 1940s, Russian scientists started to study Rhodiola and referred it as an “adaptogen” due to its ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Inherently, administration of the adaptogenic agent allows an organism to pre-adapt itself in a manner that allows it to be more capable of responding appropriately to diverse environmental demands.

In the former Soviet Union, Rhodiola extracts were prescribed to some of most elite members of the political leaders and the military. Astronauts, fighter pilots, KGB agents, and Olympic athletes had access to Rhodiola.


Rhodiola and Health

Rhodiola produces favorable changes in a variety of diverse areas of physiological function, including neurotransmitter levels, central nervous system activity, and cardiovascular function.  Experiments have shown that the plant acts as a potent cognitive stimulant that fights fatigue and stress, increases attention span, improves memory and concentration while also relieving anxiety, calming emotions, and easing depressive syndromes. Rhodiola also exhibits potent anti-fatigue, anti-stress, immune-enhancing and protective effects in the body. It increases physical work capacity, boosts endurance and strength, reduces recovery time and has anti-hypoxic effects. Rhodiola does all this without introducing any untoward side effects or toxicity.


  1. Monograph: Rhodiola rosea.  Altern Med Rev. 2002; 7(5): 421-423.
  2. Richard P. Brown, M.D., Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D., and Zakir Ramazanov, Ph.D., D.S. “Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview”, HerbalGram. 2002; 56:40-52,  American Botanical Council
  3. Petkov VD, Yonkov D, Mosharoff A, et al. Effects of alcohol aqueous extract from Rhodiola rosea L. roots on learning and memory. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg 1986;12:3-16.
  4. Lee MW, Lee YA, Park HM, et al. Antioxidative phenolic compounds from the roots of Rhodiola sachalinensis A. Bor. Arch Pharm Res 2000;23:455-458.
  5. Ohsugi M, Fan W, Hase K, et al. Active-oxygen scavenging activity of traditional nourishing-tonic herbal medicines and active constituents of Rhodiola sacra. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;67:111-119.
  6. Linh PT, Kim YH, Hong SP, et al. Quantitative determination of salidroside and tyrosol from the underground part of Rhodiola rosea by high performance liquid chromatography. Arch Pharm Res 2000;23:349-352.
  7. Boon-Niermeijer EK, van den Berg A, Wikman G, Wiegant FA. Phyto-adaptogens protect against environmental stress-induced death of embryos from the freshwater snail Lymnaea stagnalis. Phytomedicine 2000;7:389-399.
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