Home > Herbal Glossary > Chinese Herb List > Ganoderma
>>Where Does It Grow?
>>Nature and Taste
>>Identified Active Components / Major Chemical
>>Drug actions in TCM
>>Traditional Uses in TCM
>>Pharmacological Actions
>>Administration and Dosage
Ganoderma lucidum
(Leyss. Ex Fr.) Karst
Ganoderma japonicum
(Fr.) Lloyd
Latin Name: Ganoderma
Common Name: Ganoderma, lucid ganoderma, reishi mushroom
Scientific Name: Ganoderma lucidum (Leyss. Ex Fr.) Karst / Ganoderma japonicum (Fr.) Lloyd
Chinese Name: 靈芝
Pinyin Name: ling zhi
Fruiting body of Ganoderma lucidum (Leyss. Ex Fr.) Karst or Ganoderma japonicum (Fr.) Lloyd, family Polyporaceae.[1]
Where Does It Grow?
In nature, ganoderma is mainly disturbed in temperate and subtropical zones. The fungal plant grows on dead or dying eastern hemlock or areas that are lack of sunshine, fertile and high humidity. Nowadays, the supply is mainly sourced from cultivation, mainly from Jiangxi and Zhejiang and other provinces of China.[1]
Nature and Taste
Sweet and bitter in tastes, neutral in nature, and manifests its therapeutic actions in the heart, lung, spleen and kidney meridians. [2]
Identified Active Components/ Major Chemical Constituents 
Major chemical compounds in Ganoderma include ergosterol 0.3-0.4%, fungal lysozyme and acidic proteases. The water extracts contain water-soluble proteins, amino acids, peptides, alkaloids, polysaccharides, triterpenoids mainly ganoderic acid, lucidemic acid and ganolucidic acid, etc. [1]
Drug actions in TCM
Nourish the heart, calm the spirit, enrich qi (vital energy) and blood, relieve cough or breathing difficulty, and general tonification.[1]
Traditional Uses in TCM?
In TCM practice, ganoderma is used for conditions like general weakness, cough, breath difficulty, insomnia, forgetfulness, poor appetite and indigestion.[4]
1. Heart dysfunction causing restless spirit will have signs like insomnia, forgetfulness and fatigue. The condition can be relieved by ganoderma combined with angelica root, sour jujube seed and longan aril.
2. Spleen deficiency leading to poor appetite and fatigue can be relieved by ganoderma combined with pilose asiabell root, largehead atractylodes rhizome and astragalus root.
3. Lung deficiency leading to cough and breath shortness can be relieved by ganoderma combined with cordyceps and tokay.
4. Ganoderma used alone promotes the production of blood and qi, which is benefit for signs like indigestion, poor appetite, fatigue, loose bowels, dizziness and soreness in the lumbar.
Pharmacological Actions
1. Analgesic Effect
Clinical study
  The efficacy and safetyof Ganoderma lucidum in combination with an herbal remedy named "San Miao San" was examined in the Chinese patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Pain score and patient's global score were improved significantly in the herbal group (p<0.05) after 6 months of treatment, but not in the placebo group. It is concluded that Ganoderma lucidum may have analgesic effects for patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.[4]
2. Hepatoprotective Activity
In-vivo study
  Ganoderma lucidum has been widely used for the treatment of chronic hepatopathy of various etiologies. The hepatoprotective effect of peptides from Ganoderma lucidum (GLP) was evaluated against d-galactosamine-induced hepatic injury in mice. Pre-treatment of GLP in mice reserved the significant increase of the activities of AST and ALT in serum and MDA level in liver (p<0.01) by significantly decreasing the activity of SOD and GSH level in liver (p<0.01). [5]
3. Antioxidation
Aminal study
  Ganoderma lucidum proteoglycan (GLPG) isolated from its mycelia was diluted with saline and given orally for 10 weeks to rats at daily doses of 1000 and 3000 mg/kg as an aqueous extract. SOD assay shows the GLPG significantly increased the SOD activity in the rat compared to the control group. The effect is dose-dependent.[6]
4. Immunostimulation
In-vitro study
  In-vitro study showed Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide (GL-PS) stimulated the maturation of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DCs). THP-1 and U937 leukemic monocytic cell lines were treated with purified GL-PS (100mul/ml) or GL-PS with GM-CSF/IL-4. GL-PS alone induced proliferative response on both cell lines. Only THP-1 DCs had significant increase expression of HLA-DR, CD40, CD80 and CD86. Similar antigen-uptake ability as the normal monocyte-derived DCs positive control was observed. It is suggested that GL-PS could induce selected monocytic leukemic cell differentiation into DCs with immuno-stimulatory function.[7]
Animal study
  Study examined the alleviation of cyclophosphamide-induced immunodepression by the antlered form of Ganoderma lucidum (G..lucidum AF). It demonstrated that G. lucidum AF alleviated cyclophosphamide –induced decrease in body weight, natural killer activity, interferon (IFN)-γ production, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity, and inhibited the abnormal increase and decrease in interleukin-4 level during to the treatment of cyclophosphamide.[8]
5. Anti-tumor
Animal study
  Study evaluated the anti-tumor and anti-metastatic effect of the antlered form of Ganoderma lucidum (G. lucidum AF) in cyclophosphamide-treated mice. Post-treatment with cyclophosphamide and G. lucidum AF significantly inhibited tumor growth in MM 46-bearing mice. It could also suppress the metastasis of Lewis lung carcinoma in mice after administration of cyclophosphamide.[8]
Animal Study
  The major bioactive composition of Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides (GlPS) has been shown a complementary effect in cancer therapy. Murine Sarcoma 180 (S180) model was established to determine the anti-tumor efficacy of GlPS. GlPS was administrated orally for 10 days. Tumors were weighed to assess the inhibitory effect of GlPS. Results demonstrated that 25, 50 and 100mg/kg administration of GlPS inhibited S180 growth by 32.7, 44.8 and 45.2% respectively (P<0.01).[9]
6. Reversal of Multi-drug Resistant in Tumor Cells
In-vitro study
  Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide (Gl-PS) has the reversal effect on multidrug resistance in the Adriamycin (ADM)-resistant leukemic cell line (K562/ADM). The reversing factor of Gl-PS at 10mg/L and 20mg/L were 6.46 and 6.8 respectively. The results also confirmed that the expression of multidrug associated protein 1 (MDP1) and P-glycoprotein (P-gp) were significantly inhibited at the m-RNA level.[10]
7. Inhibitory activity against HIV-1 protease
In-vitro study
  Study showed that ganoderic acid beta, lucidumol B, ganodermondiol, ganodermanontriol and ganolucidic acid A isolated from Ganoderma lucidum significantly inhibited human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-protease activity with IC 50 values of 20 - 90 microM.[11]
Hot water extraction of Ganoderma lucidum (Fraction A) and its dialyzed and freeze-dried extract, a polysaccharide fraction (Fraction B) were examined for acute and sub-acute toxicity. In the acute toxicity tests of fraction A and fraction B on mice, both agents did not show any serious and lethal effects. The results showed that 50% lethal doses were higher than 5,000 mg/kg. The experiments of oral administration of Fr. A (5,000 mg/kg) to mice for 30 days showed that there were no changes in body weight, hematological features and organ weight.[12]
Administration and Dosage
3 to 15 grams in decoction, 1.5 to 3 grams in powder.[3]

1. 李家實主編《中藥鑒定學》上海科技出版社, 2000.
2. 國家中醫藥管理局編纂《中華本草》上海科技出版社,1999.
3. Chen J.K. and Chen T.T. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. Art of Medicine Press 2001.
4. Li E.K., Tomlinson B., et al. Safety and efficacy of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) and San Miao San supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a double-blind, randomized, placeno-controlled pilot trial. Arthritis and Rheumatism 57: 1143-1150 (2007).
5. Shi Y., Zhang S., et al. Hepatoprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum peptides against D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in mice. J. Ethnopharmacol. 3: 415-419 (2008).
6. Yang X.J., Wu Z.H., et al. In vitro and in vivo protective effects of proteoglycan isolated from mycelia of Ganoderma lucidum on carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury. World J. Gastroenterology 12: 1379-1385 (2006)
7. Chan W.K., Chan G..C., et al. Ganoderma Lucidum polysaccharides can induce human monocytic leukemia cells into dendritic cells with immuno-stimulatory function. J. Hematol Oncol. 1: 9-20 (2008).
8. Nonaka Y., Abe S., et al. Effects of the antlered form of Ganoderma lucidum on tumor growth and metastasis in cyclophosphamide-treated mice. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 72: 1399-1408 (2008).
9. Li Y.B., Li X.J., et al. Serum amyloid A medicates the inhibitory effect Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on tumor cell adhesion to endothelial cells. Oncol Rep. 20: 549-556 (2008).
10. Li W., LIN Z., et al. Reversal effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide on multidrug resistance in K562/ADM cell line. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 20: 620-627 (2008).
11. Min B.S., Hattori M., et al. Triterpenes from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum and their inhibitory activity against HIV-1 protease. Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 46: 1607-1612 (1998).
12. Kim M.J., Kim B.K., et al. Studies on safety of Ganoderma lucidum. Korean Journal of Mycology, 14: 49 – 60 (1986).