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suzana naturallifestyle 120Healing properties of mushrooms have been gaining popularity and interest in the scientific and medical world over the past decades in Western cultures. However, in many indigenous traditions around the world, as well as in most Asian countries, fungi have been a well known and highly praised medicine and food for the body, mind and soul for thousands of years. The first herbal book in Chinese medicine, locus classicus of premodern and contemporary Chinese herbal medicine, Shen Nong Ben Cao (The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica), opens its discussion of herbs with classification of the most superior mushroom of all: the Ganoderma (Latin), Ling Zhi (Chinese) or Reishi (Japanese) mushroom.

Because of the diverse meanings of the word Ling and the word Zhi (Reishi is Sino- Japanese for Ling Zhi) there are numerous of interpretations of Chinese and Japanese names for the Ganoderma mushroom in English translations: 'Immortal Weed', 'Divine Mushroom', 'Auspicious Mushroom', 'Numinous Mushroom', 'Mushroom of the Soul', and 'Marvelous Fungi', just to name the few. The Latin name for most similar species of Ganoderma coming from Far East is Ganoderma lucidum. The name is interesting compound of old Greek and Latin words ( ganos- bright,shiny and derma- skin, old Greek) and lucidum Lat. which means again shiny, bright. Common English name for particular species is lacquered bracket. Ganoderma is a bracket mushroom which grows directly from the stump or the trunk of the dead tree. Surface of the mushroom is very shiny and it almost looks like being lacquered with some translucent shiny gloss.

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Two thousand years the old Divine's Farmer Materia Medica states that 'protracted taking of Ganoderma mushroom may make the body light, prevent senility, and prolong life so as to make one an immortal. It is not only able to prevent and treat disease but is said to even cultivate the virtues.' More mundane, but nevertheless the mighty medicinal properties of 'ancient' mushroom written in that epic herbal book were following: regulate and strengthen energy of Lung, Heart and Liver; strengthen energy of the Kidneys, Stomach and Spleen; treats the cough; improves memory and hearing; quiets the spirit; cultivates humanity and compassion; loyalty, honesty, gentleness, and acarefree mind; and  fortifies the will to cultivate bravery and undauntedness.

The legendary use of this marvelous fungi promotes 'eternal' life in a more symbolical sense. By cultivating soulful living we are ever present beings in a different forms and emanations.

Ganoderma is very rare mushroom in nature. Only two to three stumps or dead tree trunks in ten thousand are inoculated with spores of this magic fungus. Harvesting was considered spiritual quest and soulful journey of self-discovery and honoring of nature's gifts.  Their colors, shapes and appearance would teach Daoist alchemists and Tibetan Buddhists profound and timeless wisdom of the Earth. Many Buddhist shrines and temples have the Mushroom of Immortality painted as an artistic redemption for more virtuous life.

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These days Ganoderma is relatively inexpensive and easy to cultivate in laboratory from the spores. Although cherished for so long in the Orient, only in the past two decades has this ancient mushroom been in the spotlight of scientific research.

A Search of Pub Med revealed over a thousand entries for Ganoderma lucidum . Many studies are coming from Asian countries and are still largely not recognized as valuable in allopathic medicine. In a complementary medical field potent activity of beta- glucans, ganoderic acid and other active constituents of Reishi mushroom are used as anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral agents.

Ganoderma mushroom is also used for blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, as an immune system enhancer and stress managing herb (adaptogen). It is effective for minor depression and anxiety by promoting calmness and inner peace.  It has beneficial effects on lower urinary tract problems (prostate) and brain. It promotes vitality and rejuvenation because of its high capacities to increase oxygen in cells. There has been no one known to live forever, but to aim for a long and healthy life is only natural.

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Farming of Ganoderma ensures to greater degree survival of this fungi in its natural habitat. We, who have been lucky enough to find Ganoderma lucidum in a deep, luscious woods can humbly confirm all of Diva like attributes and epithets gifted to these magnificent plant from simple observation. I have been witnessing and photographing little colony of 'Diva' mushrooms on a dead maple tree for a few weeks now and am sharing my photos with you in this article. First comes a beige ball-like formation, with very bright potential in shady parts of the woods. The stem and pilus (body of the mushroom) opens up in yellow, cinnabar red, and a brownish color with a shiny luster on top. The bottom of the pilus is light brown and coarse. The whole mushroom is hard as a cork.  Fully mature, it appears as a cloud-like, kidney-like, embryo-like, smile-like wonder of nature.

Everything in nature has its own vibrant soul. Mushroom of the Soul reminds us to take better care of our own human soul. How do you do it?


Suzana Jelovecki, MS, Licensed Acupuncturist, is the owner of Roots and Branches Acupuncture and Nature Bound Woman
The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for in-person consultation with and advice from a health care professional. The dietary, nutritional, lifestyle and other information on this website are not intended to be and do not constitute health care or medical advice.
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