There are approximately 100 thousand known mushroom species in the world, which have been a rich medicinal reservoir that continues today. Since ancient times, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners have used mushrooms or “zhi,” as they were referred to in China, in their prescriptions to treat patients with aliments and for health maintenance. The earliest complete Chinese pharmacopoeia reference (200–300 BC), Shennong Bencaojing (Classic of Herbal Medicine), regarded zhi as a “godly medicine” and classified zhi into red, green, white, yellow and purple colors. Functions of zhi were listed as “replenishing liver chi (vital energy), tranquilizing the soul, maintaining optimal weight, favoring longevity and avoiding unnecessary aging, if taken appropriately.”
How to decide which mushroom is right for you?
Contemporary mushroom scholars classify red zhi as Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum), and green zhi as Yunzhi (Coriolus versicolor). Scientific research shows both Lingzhi and Yunzhi are rich in biologically active compounds, such as sterols, triterpenes, alkaloids, polysaccharides and peptides. These compounds either singly or in combination have been shown to regulate our body’s immune system and improve a sub-health state before disease occurs. Today, medicinal mushrooms are readily found in over the counter healthcare supplements for a myriad of uses such as anti-aging, fatigue prevention, allergies, improving blood flow, liver protection, digestive tract regulation and cold prevention. Because these products are abundant and varied in their claims, it can be confusing to know which is the best or most effective mushroom supplement to take.
Before buying mushroom health supplements, consumers should identify the ingredients and benefits of the product that are listed on the label. Consumers may need to do homework in advance and know a little about the ingredients listed on the packaging. For example, although Yunzhi and Lingzhi are both mushrooms, their functions are both similar and different, so it is important to make the distinction to know what product will best fit a person’s particular health needs.
Often referred to as the cloud mushroom and sometime turkey tail, Yunzhi (Coriolus versicolor) is made up of many fan-like pileus, that look like colored clouds in the sky. Yunzhi functions according to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia include fortifying the spleen, replenishing essence and chi, and regulating immune functions. It is generally recommended by TCM practitioners for symptoms of tiredness, lack of appetite, loose stool, chronic cough and shortness of breath. Research has shown Yunzhi to have immunomodulatory properties and may be of particular assistance in people who have weakened body functions due to aging, are immuno-suppressed or who have cancer. It may also play an important role in maintaining appetite and preventing weight loss due to disease. Clinical studies have reported Yunzhi’s active ingredient, polysaccharopeptide (PSP) extracted from the mushroom’s mycelium, can help alleviate some side effects associated with particular chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens such as fatigue, loss of appetite and prevention of secondary infections.
Lingzhi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), looks like an umbrella, and consists of a single kidney-liked pileus and stripe. Lingzhi functions listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia include nourishing and pacifying the mind, nourishing chi and blood and alleviating coughing. It is commonly prescribed to regulate neurasthenia (a condition characterized by chronic fatigue, listlessness and mental sluggishness), high blood lipids, heart disease and respiratory diseases such as asthma. Studies have shown that Lingzhi has certain beneficial effects on chronic bronchitis, asthma, neurasthenia, high blood lipids and high altitude sickness.
Be Aware of Advertising
Some marketers emphasize “wild” mushroom as a selling point for their products. In fact, wild mushrooms are usually mingled with different species, therefore it is hard to guarantee the quality, and thus, wild mushrooms do not necessarily equal high quality. Wild Yunzhi, as an example, is usually mixed with different strains; and only a small amount of specific species have been verified for medicinal or health purposes. Due to optimized techniques in modern cultivation, it is no big difference with most mushrooms if the species are wild-crafted or cultivated. For example lingzhi mushrooms grown on real logs in greenhouses are as potent as the wild ones.
Lastly, every product should undergo strict quality control testing of its products from government recognized institutes and accredited labs. Health food supplements should comply with heavy metal, microbial and pesticide safety standards set by the country in which it is sold. It is important to note that these standards can be different from country to country. If the manufacturer or supplier cannot give you guarantees that the product complies with the country’s regulations, don’t take it. Additionally, there are many misleading advertisements in the market regarding supplement products. Some health supplements claim to have medicinal effect which is illegal in the United States without proper studies supporting the claims and approval from the FDA. Some products exaggerate their benefits. Rule of thumb, if the claim feels too good to be true, it generally is. Consumers should be careful to choose appropriate health supplement products for health maintenance. Reputable companies usually freely share supporting research to back their claims.
I’m-Yunity® – a herbal health supplement contains the active ingredient polysaccharopeptide, which is extracted from an optimal cultivated Yunzhi proprietary strain is specially cultivated using a deep layer cultivation technology with submerged fermentation in order to have consistent quality. It contains no additives and its active ingredient content is approximately 10 times more concentrated than those of the wild species.
I’m-YunityToo – a herbal health supplement contains two premium mushrooms extracts – Yunzhi and Lingzhi. It combines the benefits of two well-researched mushrooms. Yunzhi supports immune health while Lingzhi invigorates the spleen, tonifies chi and calms the mind.
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