Treatment and diagnostics methods
The doctor examines the patient: observes its appearance, behaviour manner, finds out details about the state of health during the survey. The doctor can be interested in all aspects of life of the patient: food preferences of the patient, what kind of weather he endures worse what psychological background is prevailing and so forth. The unique method of diagnostics is pulse diagnostics: all basic organs are projected at three points on arteries of wrists. Probing pulse and analyzing character of a pulsation the doctor receives the information on a condition of organs and the basic systems of an organism. Except pulse diagnostics the doctor can receive the information from survey of a morning portion of urine: the slightest details in a deposit, foam, colour of urine can tell much about inner condition of the patient. Often it is useful to make researches by the European methods: ultrasonic, MRТ, laboratory analyses.
Include correction of a diet, a way of life, a medicine and procedure.
The dietology, as well other sections of the Tibetan medicine is based on the theory of 5 elements. Disease — is balance frustration of elements in a body. It is possible to regulate it, prescribing products with different properties. Properties of a product are defined by what elements are prevailed in it. If disease is connected with “fire” lack — “warm” products are useful if it is a lot of “fire” — than cold. Without knowing properties of products, patients often do not suspect that the use of such familiar and habitual products actually worsens their condition. For example, frequent error of people with excess weight is their preference in a diet of raw vegetables is an error. Excess weight is more often connected with weakening of digestive heat, and raw vegetables and fruits weaken it even more. In spite of the fact that they refer to the low-calorie products, some patients even continue to gain weight, not to mention that fact that in strategic prospect it will even more weaken digestive fire that will strengthen a disbalance.
The dietology of the Tibetan medicine is good because the foodstuff is recommended to the person depending on a concrete situation. That is, the universal diet does not exist. People have different constitutions, and are in different situations, therefore it is impossible to find something obviously useful to all and always. In can be such period in life when it is necessary to emphasize cool qualities but when the condition changes, it is necessary to use products with other qualities.
The doctor of the Tibetan medicine seldom recommends something very special, more often is recommended to exclude products which are definitely harmful from the diet, and to take more those products which promote recovery.
2. A way of life
We are influenced not only what we eat but also how we move, how much we sleep, whether our work is connected with constant conversations or not; is our intimate life active or not and so on. Our activity influences balance of organism and can be a part of disease. The doctor of the Tibetan medicine reveals possible negative factors of a way of life during survey and recommends to eliminate them, or if it is impossible, to compensate. For example: person’s occupation is connected with constant speech activity (teachers, singers) often wind disorder arises that can be expressed in insomnia, disorder of concentration, etc. The doctor’s recommendations can eliminate risk of disease and help to recover. Such patients are recommended to put sesame oil on crown of the head before going to bed, have a good dinner before performance, to use aromas type “Agar-35”. It is interesting example of the patient whose disease has been caused almost exclusively by his way of life. (See “Cases from practice. 3”).
It is the basic tool of the doctor of the Tibetan medicine. Medicines of the Tibetan medicine are multicomponent mixes basically from vegetative raw materials: herbs, seeds, fruits, wood, flowers. Minerals and fauna components can be included: horns, bones, bile, etc. The doctor does not think out medicine by himself that is not that we see in national tradition of herbal medicine where personal experience of the expert, his “feeling of each herb” helps to select a certain mixture.
The combination of components is made on a scientific basis in medicines of the Tibetan medicine where the quantity of each component is strictly proved. The scientific basis of creation of medicines, as always in the Tibetan medicine is the theory of 5 elements. Knowing the structure of elements in each component the big summary tables were made up where qualities of each substance were compensated or amplified by the qualities of other substances. This section — “the internal structure” of substances was always the most closed part of the Tibetan medicine. The ways of processing of raw materials are also refer to this. It’s not always possible to include at once the collected raw materials in medicinal composition: it is often necessary to remove preliminary poisons, to change physical and chemical properties of a plant, mineral or animal component. For example, poisonous aconite it is very dangerous even in contact with skin. The Tibetan doctors have learnt to remove its “rough poisons”, having kept curative force of a plant. For this purpose aconite’s root can be cooked in broth of other plant, or soak in the cow’s urine.
Some spices can be infused for three days in milk, or in broth that strengthens and makes their influence deeper. Minerals can be pounded in a powder and infuse in lemon juice for some days, or to bake at high temperature, and then immerse in various liquids. Mineral substances and metals sometimes can be processed for weeks before they become suitable for a medicine, and other substances are involved in their processing.
Medicines can include very different quantity of components. Few-componental — 3-5; “medium-componental: from 5-6 to 18-20. There is variety of the classical 25 componental. Rare medicines from herbs to 35-37 components often include mineral or metal.
The top of the Tibetan pharmacology are the most difficult medicines of a class “Rinchen” — “the Jewelry” consisting of precious metals, minerals, possessing improbably multilateral effect. They consist of 70 to 140 substances. They are taken in a particular treatment, usually at a full moon and a new moon, 2-4 times a month. (The PHOTO of Rinchen)
Procedures — is a very big context section of the Tibetan medicine. It includes “soft” procedures — massage with oil, compresses; and rough — blood-letting, cauterisation of points with moxa, acupuncture.
In initial recommendations it is said that the doctor should appoint a diet at first and correct a way of life; if it didn’t helped — to give a medicine if it didn’t helped either — to appoint a procedure.
In our fast world all possible ways of correction are applied simultaneously.
5. “Secret” methods.
The method which is applied in the Tibetan medicine in especially hard cases could be named in scientific language the informational one. The modern science has already precisely established that sound fluctuations change properties of water — information carrier. Since ancient times doctors of Tibetan Medicine used sound combinations — mantras which were recited over the water and was given to the patient. There are a lot of medical mantras. There are mantras for all diseases. Doctor can give such “mantra-water” if he has received transmission from the authorized teacher.
The iconic mushroom commonly known as Reishi (in Japanese) or Ling Zhi (靈芝 in Chinese) is probably the most respected medicinal mushroom in Asia. The earliest mention of Ling Zhi was in the era of the first emperor of China, Shinghuang of the Ch’in Dynasty 221-207 B.C.E. Once reserved for royalty to extend life and improve health, this polypore mushroom is strikingly beautiful. Deep reddish brown and saucer-shaped, often emerging from a branch-like stem, its smooth upper surface looks lacquered when wet. Because of this glossy appearance, Western mycologists called them “varnished conks” for many years (conks are mushrooms that have pores instead of gills on their undersides, such as maitake and turkey tails). While reishi mushrooms have historically been prepared as teas or infusions, other modern preparations include capsules, tinctures, and fractionated extracts of mushrooms, mycelium, and spores. Reishi is also added to chocolate bars, candies, energy drinks, and even coffee blends!
“Reishi” is a common name for a complex of closely-allied species of the Ganoderma genus. Until recently the name reishi referred to the species Ganoderma lucidum; however, new DNA barcoding and phylogenetic techniques have revealed that this name had been inappropriately applied by taxonomists to what is in fact a group of close relatives. These new techniques are now revealing that “reishi” mushrooms once all thought to be Ganoderma lucidum may have been misclassified. This misclassification is understandable, as all these morphologically-similar species naturally grow on old or dead tree trunks and all display remarkable glossy cap surfaces that can vary in color from bright red to black according to their age and environmental factors. Although these species (G. tsugae, G. oregonense, G. carnosum, and G. oerstedii, and G. resinaceum) have 98-100 percent commonality of DNA using the common “ITS genetic region,” they are now considered separate species.
Because of its rich history and long tradition of medicinal use, Ganoderma lucidum (in the strictest sense) is now one of the few mushroom species whose DNA has been fully sequenced (16,113 genes). Others are button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) with 10,438 genes and oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) with 12,330 genes (Joint Genome Institute). Reishi is remarkable for its diversity of genes coding for cytochrome P450 enzymes. These enzymes not only afford this species a broad arsenal for producing secondary metabolites for digesting nutrients, but may also confer benefits to human health such as enhancing the degradation of toxins and free radicals and increasing the liver’s metabolic efficiency. The variety of these enzymes, among more than 400 active constituents that have been found, indicates to me that mushrooms such as reishi are like miniature pharmaceutical factories that can produce hundreds of medicinally-interactive compounds. Through trial-and-error and observable outcomes, our ancestors narrowed the field of edible mushroom candidates to just a few with remarkable, health-supporting properties. Today, reishi stands out as one the most valuable of all polypore mushrooms in nature for the benefit of our health. Many naturopaths and doctors prefer organically-grown reishi from pristine environments because they are more pure.
Reishi has been called the “panacea polypore,” in part due to a widespread popular belief that this mushroom can help alleviate certain age-related diseases. Although many such claims are exaggerated and unsubstantiated, a number of studies have documented a range of medicinal effects.
In 2000, a group of Merck pharmaceutical scientists at the Centro de Investigaci´on B´asica, Merck Sharp & Dohme in Madrid, Spain tested the mycelial extracts of 204 species of mushrooms for their antimicrobial properties (Suay et al., 2000). The mushrooms showing the most activity were “reishi” species (G. lucidum, G. resinaceum and G. pfeifferi) of which 73 percent of the strains showed activities against the bacterium Bacillus subtilis. However, while extracts of the reishi species group all strongly inhibited Bacillus bacteria, they were curiously inactive against other disease-causing bacteria and fungi. That these Ganodermas are species specific in their antimicrobial activities suggests a unique mode of activity, a benchmark test that attracts medical researchers interested in new antibiotic drug discovery.
In my work with the U.S. Defense Department’s BioShield BioDefense program, ethanol and water extracts of the living mycelium of Ganoderma resinaceum inhibited virus replication as measured by the viral yield reduction (VYR) assay of Flu A (H5N1) aka “bird flu,” and Flu B viruses. Notably, a “traditional” hot water extract of the fruitbodies arising from the same mycelium demonstrated no notable antiviral activity (Stamets, 2008).
A review of the scientific literature reveals that many of the traditional medicinal claims can now be validated, especially the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the anti-cancer claims have yet to achieve the credibility of comparable studies on Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) mushrooms (see Turkey Tail post). In a recent critique of reishi studies published through 2012, the authors concluded:
Our review did not find sufficient evidence to justify the use of G. lucidum as a first-line treatment for cancer. It remains uncertain whether G. lucidum helps prolong long-term cancer survival. However, G. lucidum could be administered as an alternative adjunct to conventional treatment in consideration of its potential of enhancing tumor response and stimulating host immunity. (Jin et al. 2012)
While such conclusions presume similar sample preparations and consistent taxonomic identification from study to study, one common theme emerges. The species in the taxonomic constellation of “reishi” mushrooms consistently activate, in vitro and in vivo, human immune cells: macrophages, NK and cytotoxic T cells, on a dose-dependent basis. Moreover, in the previously-mentioned comparison of peer-reviewed studies on reishi and cancer, the authors conclude that the adjunct use of reishi may augment chemotherapeutic drugs to treat cancer and may extend their effectiveness. This is particularly important since a common concern among oncologists is that the antioxidant properties of medicinal mushrooms may interfere with chemotherapeutic drugs. Addressing this issue, Simone et al. (2007) reported:
[280 peer-reviewed studies] have consistently shown that non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with cancer therapeutic modalities. In addition, nonprescription antioxidants and other nutrients enhance the killing of cancer therapeutic modalities, decrease their side effects, and protect normal tissues, and in 15 human studies, 3,738 patients actually had prolonged survival.
Although the trends are promising and reishi mushrooms exhibit a number of interesting medicinal properties, modern scientific techniques have yet to affirm its traditional “panacea polypore” status. For now we can state that reishi use is generally safe and has high antioxidant value. While we cannot yet state that reishi mushrooms extend the disease-free period of cancer patients, reishi remains as an excellent candidate for augmenting chemotherapy, according to some cancer researchers. Since funding of clinical studies is either industry-based or from grants — few and far between — the jury is still out on the usefulness of reishi, the “mushroom of immortality,” for extending life. That said, I for one, join our ancestors in being drawn to this mushroom and regularly ingest it in many forms.
Financial Disclosure: Paul Stamets, author of Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms and educator of mushroom cultivators world-wide, is also the Founder of Fungi Perfecti, LLC — a company that supplies mushroom related products including whole, encapsulated powders, and extracts of mushrooms.
Linchzhi Mushrooms (Reishi) are excellent for finding, decomposing and flushing out subpar cellular matter throughout the body. They can be called miniature pharmaceutical factories that produce hundreds of medicinally-interactive compounds.
For years, I have wanted to include something from Chinese Medicine into my protocol, something universal and not needing a Chinese herbalist to prescribe it. Finally, I have found the perfect answer. Lingzhi mushrooms has literally hundreds of unique bio-active compounds that have life extending  properties,  stimulates brain neurons,  searches out and destroys cancer cells  and prevents the development of new fat cells in obese individuals.  In terms of life span extension it has been shown to increase life in studies by 9% to more than 20% in animal studies.
Ganoderma lucidum, an oriental fungus, has a long history of use for promoting health and longevity in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. It is a large, dark mushroom with a glossy exterior and a woody texture. The Latin word lucidus means “shiny” or “brilliant” and refers to the varnished appearance of the surface of the mushroom. The iconic mushroom commonly known as Reishi (in Japanese) or Ling Zhi (靈芝 in Chinese) is probably the most respected medicinal mushroom in Asia.
While mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, and cordyceps, all share similar immune boosting properties, Red Reishi has also the longest history and has been known to be effective in the treatment of the widest range of health conditions. Unlike other mushrooms, only Lingzhi has many important compounds such as triterpenes (ganoderic acid) that gives them a unique characteristic of being bitter in taste.
Use of Lingzhi mushrooms as a medicine goes as far back as the Han Dynasty’s “Materia Medica” or Ben Cao Gang Mu (the earliest herbal pharmacopoeia text known, written around 1590 AD). No other plant is better at finding, decomposing and flushing out subpar cellular matter throughout the body, which then allows the surrounding organ and blood system to function at a higher level. Lingzhi is loaded with terpenes. It makes sense that one of its innate abilities is to do a similar breaking-down and dissipating action in the body.
Because of its rich history and long tradition of medicinal use, Ganoderma lucidum is now one of the few mushroom species whose DNA has been fully sequenced (16,113 genes). Paul Stamets, author of Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms and educator of mushroom cultivators world-wide says,
“Reishi is remarkable for its diversity of genes coding for cytochrome P450 enzymes. These enzymes not only afford this species a broad arsenal for producing secondary metabolites for digesting nutrients, but may also confer benefits to human health such as enhancing the degradation of toxins and free radicals and increasing the liver’s metabolic efficiency. The variety of these enzymes, among more than 400 active constituents that have been found, indicates to me that mushrooms such as Reishi are like miniature pharmaceutical factories that can produce hundreds of medicinally-interactive compounds.”
Terpenes—Nature’s Internal Solvent
Out of the functional compounds found thus far in Lingzhi, the largest group is terpenes, of which triterpenes are a derivative. You know that aroma from pine trees? From clove? Or anise, oregano, menthol, cinnamon, and citrus? That largely comes from terpenes (more commonly referred to as essential oils). Terpenes are considered the strongest anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor compounds found in nature. Numerous triterpenoids have been shown to possess rapid acetylcholine action, our brain’s main neurotransmitter. Oral administration of Lingzhi show triterpenes appearing in blood plasma in high quantities in under 20 minutes from ingestion.
Aside from this speed and breadth of effect, the more fascinating property of all terpenes is their ability to dissolve, dissipate, and decompose cellular matter. One of the first terpenes ever extracted (12th century, by Arnaud de Villanosa) from nature was turpentine—yes, the paint thinner, which is natural.
For those looking for an ultra-low cost solution to part of what Lingzhi mushrooms can do know that turpentine has what we would expect from terpenes. Turpentine and petroleum distillates similar to kerosene have been used medicinally since ancient times and are still being used as folk remedies up to the present. They were used in ancient Babylon to treat stomach problems, inflammations and ulcers.
Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), an organic sulfur compound that was used only as an industrial solvent, is also known for its positive health effects. (Look soon for an essay on the importance and use of biological solvents in medicine.) It is also important to know that marijuana is loaded with terpenes and that is one of the reasons it makes such a good natural chemotherapy agent.
The Adaptogen Concept
Regular consumption of Lingzhi mushrooms can enhance our body's immune system and improve blood circulation, thus improving better health conditions. Generally, Lingzhi is recommended as an adaptogen, immune modulator, and a general tonic. These mushrooms are also used to help treat anxiety, high blood pressure, hepatitis, bronchitis, insomnia, and asthma.
In some ways, similar to medical marijuana (which has regulatory effects of the nervous system) adaptogens are substances that work by adjusting altered body conditions back to normal, resulting in stabilization of cellular and psychological homeostasis. The traditional herbal texts, as well as these recent scientific studies, report that Lingzhi works both for insomnia and increasing mental clarity—two seemingly opposing problems. It’s also been found to work for both for high and low blood pressure symptoms; both over-active and under-active thyroids; both overactive immunity (Lupus, Fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases), and weak immunity (colds, flu, and viruses).
To a western approach, these health issues are seen as polar opposites, and medically treated as such. To any natural healing model, such as acupuncture, these are seen more as conditions of deficiency or excess. This is where the adaptogenic concept applied to certain herbs and plants works well, because their main end effect is homeostasis and balance.
Lingzhi fits the classic definition of an adaptogen. It has double-direction activity, meaning that it, as an example, improves functioning of the immune and organ systems, whether they are deficient or excessive. It doesn’t stimulate the liver, the kidney, the overall system. Rather, it regulates them. It doesn’t stimulate or suppress the immune system—it’s called an immuno-modulator. Lingzhi’s wide ability to repair the function of one person’s liver, while increasing the function of another’s lungs, or kidneys, or skin, or mental function, seems less odd once we view it from the adaptogen angle.
Table - Pharmacological effects of Lingzhi Mushrooms
In Chinese, the name lingzhi represents a combination of spiritual potency and essence of immortality, and is regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency,” symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity. Among cultivated mushrooms, G. lucidum is unique in that its pharmaceutical rather than nutritional value is paramount.
Part Two - Lingzhi Mushrooms - Enough Science to Drown Doctors
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