Artist conk; The Ancient Reishi Part 3

Disclaimer: The information herein is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any form of disease, and is solely for the purposes of self educations and entertainment. This information has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA. If you are dealing with a real medical issue you are strongly advised to seek medical care by a qualified practitioner. Misuse of this information or the above warning is done of your own volition, and is in no way is the responsibility or liability of the author (Nathan J. Searles), blog site (One World Herbal Community) or anyone associated with this blog site. Be aware that much of the research referenced within this article/blog is on going and thus speculative at best.

The Ancient Reishi is a unique medicine among the Ganoderma (Reishi) family in my opinion, presenting a greater grounding quality, versus many of its cousins which have more airy/firey spirit elements. Oh, don’t get me wrong, those qualities are there as well, but its ability to center, draw down deeply and focus the mind and body, placing us firmly on the ground without being aggressive about it is, in my experience, seldom seen in many other herbs. Ganoderma applanatum has a bitter earthen element to it, which is mild in both dry and heat. Its heat is considered more neutral, making it applicable to a wider range of individuals and situations over its more hot running cousins. To compare it to Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma tsugae, Ganoderma applanatum is cooler than both, yet its bitter quality is somewhere in between the two. The Ancient Reishi is slightly less bitter than, and presents a unique woodsy quality over Ganoderma lucidum. This makes it useful in soups and other food stuffs as not only a mild preservative but also a medicinal and nutritional addition. Of coarse you would have to fish out the chunks if brewing it directly into the food/soup, or you could (as previously suggested) you could brew a tea and add the liquid to the stock base. Personally I love blending Artist conk with a bit of chaga, roasted dandelion root, and wild sarsaparilla root to make a spiced coffee like beverage each spring. Earthy, semi bitter, and woodsy sweet all at once, this is a great way to bring in the spring and shed the winter months, but also a good all around boost and tonic for the body.

There is a great deal that can be said about the medicinal attributes surrounding Ganoderma applanatum, and if I where to write every detail that I have come across in this article it would go on for a very long time. This ancient and wise fungus presents many of qualities of its cousins in the Ganoderma family, including their affinity to aiding stress and acting as “Adaptogens” assisting the bodies ability to deal with physical, mental and chemical stressors through various means. In the case of The Ancient Reishi, perhaps its greatest potency in this is through its tonic and protective grounding qualities. It has been traditionally used to support and protect the liver and as a kidney, and it is shown in animal studies to have a anti-inflammatory effect that directly impacts the liver, modulating and pressing the expression of IL-1β, COX-2, and inhibiting NF-kB (Nuclear Factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) [Ma JQ et al, 2011] which is associated with cytokine production (immune and inflammatory modulation) and cellular survival and viability of cellular DNA structure. In today’s societies this exceptionally important considering the level of auto immune and cancer (or cancer like) situations as well as the level of hepatitis, Lyme and other such infectious or environmental stressors we live with on a wide spread, and virtually global level.

One study done on mice injected with a fatal strain of Tick Borne Encephalitis showed that Ganoderma applanatum stimulated the production of an interferon like substance in the spleen, and up regulate splenocytes. This in turn directly aided in not only protecting the bodies of the mice but presented direct opposition to the infection [Kandefer-Szerszeń et al, 1979]. I have found time and time again that The Ancient Reishi presents a wonderfully restoring effect when under the influence of a viral infection, in fact I just recently had a bout with the flu and using regular doses of this ambitious fungus, rapidly assisted my sense of well being. It is a mild antimicrobial as well, seemingly having a stronger effect against gram negative bacteria. Personally I use this as an assist while adding in more specific antimicrobial herbs to have a greater direct effect. One example of this is in my experience with Lyme, and the use of Artist conk to bolster the body, balance inflammatory factors, ease/balance night sweats and wakefulness, protect the kidneys, liver, and cardiovascular system, and encourage splenocyte and natural killer cell activity [Jeong YT et al, 2008], all at the same time using a slurry of other supportive herbs to balance, enhance and direct.

In the area of GI effects Ganoderma applanatum has shown significant potential. A study done with rats showed increased mucosa within the gastric lining when administered an isolated polysaccharide extract of Ganoderma applanatum [Yang M et al, 2005]. This is of particular note in the case of gastric ulcers and perhaps even situations of ulcerative colitis. I suspect that a combination of this fungus with others such as Inonotus obliquus (chaga) could potentially present a strong supportive effect to the gastric lining with proper dietary and lifestyle/stress changes. Seeing as I am on the topic of polysaccharide isolates, another study showed 100% tumor inhibition in sarcoma-180 (non specific tumor cell) bearing mice using an isolate from the mycelium [Hobbs, 1986; Mizuno et al, 1982]. before you get too excited though I would like to point out that the fruiting body (the portion we recognize as the mushroom protruding from a tree or stump) only contains approximately 3% polysaccharides. You would need a great deal of fruiting bodies, as well as a relatively expensive lab to replicate these results, unless of coarse you where making a mass production of mycelial cultures. Another study using the exo-biopolymer created by Ganoderma applanatum showed a reduction in tumor formation (39.7%) and an increase in Natural Killer cell activity of splenocytes (51.6%), similarly in sarcoma-180 bearing mice [Jeong YT, 2008].

The bitter quality of this fungus on the digestive system and body in general is relatively potent, stimulating apatite, gastric function and modulation of blood glucose. This was perhaps one of the first qualities I denoted when I first began experimenting with the Ancient Reishi. I began with a tea and noticed a significant increase in apatite as well as sudden drops in my blood glucose levels (denoted by sudden shakeyness, lack of focus, and a sudden need for food which corrected the issue). Upon further investigation apparently there have been several studies surrounding Ganoderma applanatum and, not only its blood glucose reductive effects but also the reduction of aldose reductatse (which is considered to be associated with diabetic complication)[Jung SH et al, 2005; Lee S et al, 2005; Lee SH et al, 2006]. In an indirect yet still relevant topic in the area of diabetic complications, studies on renal (kidney) tissue and fibrotic (scar tissue) states due to renal damage, showed to have a potential protective effect on renal tissue [Luo Q et al, 2015]. This infomations lends itself to the possibility of reducing and protecting the delicate tissues, and the progression/damage of kidney issues. For those with family history of kidney issues, this may be an avenue of further research. On another note (still somewhat relative to the topic), other studies associated to this area of research (or others) have also shown to present potential cholesterol (approx. 20%/57% respective to studies listed) and triglyceride (approx. 22%/41% respective to studies listed) binding effects [Yang BK et al, 2007; Osiǹska-Jaroszuk M et al, 2014].

11202088_550008348484107_7063982334212339451_nA few final notes that I would like to add before finishing up here are surrounding the Ganoderma Family in general (based on common components found in most all members of this species). As I previously mentioned in the beginning of this article, and hinted at in the previous section of this series of articles (Artist conk; The Ancient Reishi Part 2), the Ganoderma family presents certain qualities, one of which can be denoted in the Ergosterols (and their ability to convert to vitamin D2). This effects a broad range of elements within the body, however one inparticular that I would like to speak on here is the ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) inhibiting qualities found withing these fungi (roughly 18 steroidal compounds have thus far been studied and shown to have varying effects, from mild to moderate, within this area), including Ergosterol. Angiotensin is a component produced within the body that can go through various conversions via enzymatic splicing, each change having different effects on the body. One of the most noted effects is in the constriction of blood vesicles, thus potentiality hypertensive situations and elevating blood pressure by means of blood flow constriction. In the short burst of fight or flight that can sometimes happen, this is not a major concern and considered a normal physiological reaction (constricted blood flow to certain areas conserves blood to areas it is needed to flee or constricts blood to damaged tissue). However prolonged constriction can have dangerous repercussions. By interfering with the conversion of Angiotensin you balance this response, and combined with the adrenal nourishing and general adaptogenic qualities of the Ganoderma family, these mushrooms have a long history of being considered a cardiovascular tonic [Hobbs, 1986].

The last point I would like to add is in association with my own personal experience with the Ancient Reishi and its effects on allergic response. I have three cats…. I am re-actively allergic to cats with runny eyes, nose, exposure rashes wherever I touch them on my skin, phlegm, and general over all constricted, mucousy and itchy discomfort. Sounds pleasant, huh? For this reason I have always been careful to either keep my distance from my cats or to wash up really well if I touched them. Even so, when the house was closed up for the winter after about a month I would be in a full blown reactive state. Imagine my surprise when after several months of experimenting with Artist conk I suddenly realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I reacted to being in proximity or touching my cats! Well, of coarse I couldn’t just leave it alone, so I not only began looking into this in research and ethno-mycological experience, but I also did a self study and discontinued the use of this mushroom. Well it took about two weeks, but my allergies returned after discontinuing using my daily Artist conk tea. As the symptoms returned I began my routine back up again and within two days I notice my symptoms significantly improved, and by the third day I was for the most part non reactive. I learned that this was a widely recognized use for the Ganoderma family, and have since noted this effect (as well as found research on) similar uses for Ganoderma tsugae. The major difference I have noticed between the two is that Ganoderma tsugae seems to have a more profound effect on the upper respiratory in the occurrence of allergic constriction, where as Ganoderma applanatum provides a greater impact on issues associated with the mucosa and itchy, swelling, irritable rashes from allergen contact. They both seem to present similar effects on many of the same areas, however this is to varying degrees depending on the tendency and issues of the individual, and require appropriate application based on this.

There is so much more that could be said about this fungus but I will leave you with this. Ganoderma applanatum, while a potent medicine, in my opinion, is by far a more powerful tonic in general. What I mean by this is that while it aids the body in healing already distressed situations, I feel its most powerful effects are in what it can do to protect us down the road. By keeping up with “housekeeping” we maintain a certain level of wellness, and potentially reduce the impact, ability to recover, and the severity of major issues that life may throw at us. This is a commonality among many tonics as they have historically been used by our ancestors as a means of self preservation rather than waiting for an issue to arise and needing to scramble to recover. There was a level of forethought, and with the limited level of “Emergency aid” and availability to it, they where required to think ahead as a matter of survival.

References:

  • http://www.pubmed.com search term “Ganoderma applanatum”
  • “Medicinal Mushrooms; An Exploration Of Tradition, Healing, and Culture” By Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac., published 1986 by Botanica Press, Summertown Tennessee. Copyright October 1986 by Christopher Hobbs.
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