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HISTORY & VALUES 历史与价值

Lingzhi, without a doubt, is one of the most famous medicinal mushrooms that that has been used as a folk remedy in China for more than 2000 years of history. Since ancient times, it has been called many names such as “Mushroom of immortality”, “Elixir of life” or “King of herbs”.  Lingzhi is also rooted deeply into their history and culture, as a symbol of peace, prosperity, happiness and longevity.

Lingzhi is made up from chinese characters 灵(ling) + 芝 (zhi) which literally means  “灵 – spiritual, soul, sacred, divine” and “芝 – longevity, seed, branch”.  Due to its well known medicinal benefits in the past, people also named them神芝 (shen zhi) “divine mushroom”, 仙草(xian cao) “immortality plant”, 瑞芝(rui zhi) “auspicious mushroom” and so on. Reishi is another name commonly used for Lingzhi in Japan. Other names include 万年茸(mannentake) “10,000 year mushroom”, 聖茸(hijiridake) "sage mushroom" and many more.

The use of medicinal herbs had been found in many historical texts. 神农本草经 “Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing” or “ The Divine Farmer’s Materia medica”, is the oldest surviving Chinese pharmacopoeia that describes herbs, animals and minerals according to their medicinal properties. 365 kinds of Chinese medicine were classified into three grades; 1) Superior (上) – medicine that protects and prolongs life without any known toxicity, 2) Intermediate (中) – medicine that benefits human and have some medicinal function, 3) Low ( 下) -   medicine that cures diseases but with toxic. Lingzhi is one of the upper grade herbs that tonifies 气 “qi”, protects liver, kidney and strengthens the heart,  relieves cough and boosts our lungs, improves memory and eases the mind and etc.

Peng Zu (literally mean Ancestor Peng) is a legendary figure in China well known for long life and nutrition treatments. Legend said that one year is 60 years in China and documents showed that he lived over 800 years, which made him more than 130 years old. People believed that his good health and youthful appearance is due to consumption of Lingzhi. 

“Ruyi”, a curved decorative object that serves as a talisman for good fortune, prosperity and longevity, takes the shape of a Lingzhi mushroom head with a long S-shaped handle. Back in the Chinese dynasty, this Lingzhi-shaped ornament had been used as luxurious symbols of political power and were regularly used as gifts to the Emperors. 

Images of Lingzhi can also be found and seen from ancient works of arts either in the form of paintings, sculptures, clothes, buildings, embroideries and etc. For example, the famous Forbidden City, the well preserved building built at the heart of Beijing, is carved with Lingzhi throughout the imperial palace.

Painted by the famous Italian painter Giuseppe Castiglione’, to commemorate Yong Zheng Emperor’s birthday which represent longevity and peace under the reign of a wise Emperor (1724). 

 

THE SCIENCE 科学证实

Did you know?                                                                                                                                                               

Lingzhi or Reishi mushroom or Ganoderma Lucidum is a polypore mushroom, meaning that it does not have grills on the underside like normal mushroom, but instead it has small tubes (like pore) that release spores. Spores are one of the edible        parts of Lingzhi that contain numerous health benefits.                                                                                                           


What is Lingzhi?

Taxonomy & Physical appearance

Lingzhi is a type of fungus that is soft (when fresh), flat and shaped like a kidney. As they grew older, they became more woody, harden and darker in colour.

Taxonomy of Lingzhi

Kingdom:

Fungi  

Division:

Basidiomycetes

Class:

Agaricomycetes

Order:

Polyporales

Family:

Ganodermataceae

Genus:

Ganoderma

Species:

G.Lucidum

 

They are many species within Ganoderma genus but only a few can be used for medicinal purposes and one of the most popular species is Ganoderma Lucidum (G. Lucidum), which is distinguished by its glossy red appearance. One can usually find wild Lingzhi growing on living aged trees or dead wood logs, in high and remote mountains.

Depending on its living environment, Lingzhi can grow into different shape and sizes. When there is both sufficient nutrients and oxygen, Lingzhi stems tend to be thicker and shorter and vise versa. For example, the famous “antle-shaped Reishi”; occurring when there is more carbon dioxide in the air, forcing the Lingzhi stem to elongate dramatically and lose its umbrella cap.

 

Lingzhi Life Cycle

Unlike normal plants, Lingzhi does not have chlorophyll and cannot produce their own food via photosynthesis. Instead they obtain their nutrient requirements by feeding off dead and decaying organic matter, a process called saprophytism. They can also survive as a parasite on trees. What happens is that Lingzhi fruiting bodies release million of spores into the air that are blown to different places. If the place that they landed had favorable conditions, the spores will germinate and form many tiny threads call “hyphae” under the ground. Digestive enzymes are released at the tip of these hyphae, for them to break down and absorb nutrients from their wood source, and continue to grow and combine to form “mycelium”. When conditions are right, the fruit body will grow above the ground and spores are released into the environment again when they are matured.

 

Lingzhi Cultivation using Modern Technology

Wild Lingzhi is extremely rare as they are easily damaged and contaminated by the environment. One can only find one or two Lingzhi out of 10,000 aged trees and they rarely reach maturity in good condition. Moreover, different living conditions can result in inconsistent amount of bioactives in wild Lingzhi. Due to the increase in demand for Lingzhi, modern technologies had made successful attempts to cultivate Lingzhi under controlled and sterile conditions, carefully selecting the cultivars based on their potency to produce a uniform and consistent product. The most commonly used cultivation methods are Bag Cultivation and Log Cultivation.

 

Bag Cultivation

Polypropylene bags are used to grow Lingzhi, filling them up with mediums such as saw dust, wood chips, crop waste, gypsum, calcium carbonate, etc. These bags are fully filled and sterilized using heat treatment before growing the selected Lingzhi strain. Once the fruiting body reached maturity, Lingzhi is harvested, washed and dried under controlled environment. This economical and high productivity process does meet the increasing demand for Lingzhi but they are found to have less healing effect and bioactives compared to log cultivation.

 

Log Cultivation

Natural logs are used in order to mimic the natural growing condition. These logs are pre-sterilized before inoculating the cultivars. The process takes longer time and effort and is found to produce better quality Lingzhi than that of the bag cultivation method; resulting in bigger and heavier fruiting body Lingzhi that has better therapeutic properties.

 

ACTIVE COMPONENTS & BENEFITS  活性成分与功效

Cracked Spores

These tiny spores, which cannot be seen by naked eyes, are produced by the fruiting body when they are matured. Similar to Lingzhi fruiting body, these spores are equally potent but are protected by a double layered cell wall called sporoderm. Imagine a nut with a thick shell that cannot be cracked by bare hands, sporoderm cannot be digested by our digestive enzymes due to their hard coating. Many technologies were developed to break down these “walls” in order to extract the essences within the spores. Processes include physical smashing, ultrasonic, high pressure, using of enzymes and bacteria fermentation.

Lingzhi Cracked Spores is a natural source of many valuable bioactive components that provides numerous health benefits without interfering with our body’s system. Although it can provide wonderful health benefits, it is not a medicine that can provide instant effect. Instead it is a natural herb regulates the body overtime and brings balance back to our body.

 

Lingzhi is an Adaptogen

Lingzhi in general, is an excellent adaptogenic herb that helps our body resists stress, supports metabolic function and restores balance. In order to be classified as an adaptogen, the herb needs to be 1) nontoxic, 2) able to produce a nonspecific remedies and 3) able to provide normalizing effect. To explain further,

1) Lingzhi is nontoxic and it has been used as a folk remedy for thousands for years. It has also been classified in the Chinese pharmacopeia as one is the superior herbs with no known side effects. Studies have shown that these mushrooms have extremely low or no toxicity and are long used as a food source.​

2) Lingzhi is able to adapt or resist to any type of illness from fatigue to cancer. They respond to pathogen infection and protect the body with general protection against any foreign invaders.

​3) Lingzhi is able to create a normalizing effect by inducing a bidirectional effect on physiological function. For example, many studies had reported that Lingzhi works well for both insomnia and increasing mental clarity, meaning that it is able to identify and act on your problems, either to improve your sleeping quality or give you a clear and focused mind. 

 

Bioactive components

Therapeutic properties and the high level of bioactive components in Lingzhi cracked spores had led to many research and studies on their function with our immune system, organs and general well being. Similar to Lingzhi fruit body, they do have major bioactive components like polysaccharides, triterpenes, nucleosides, fatty acids, minerals and etc. All these compounds need to work together to produce a synergistic effect, beneficial for prevention and treatment of various ailments.

 

1. Polysaccharides

This component mainly acts as an

  • Immunoregulator that protects our body against diseases
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory agent

It is one of the key components in Lingzhi that provides multiple benefits such as immunomodulation, hepatoprotection, anti-proliferation, anti-tumorigenic, anti-oxidant effects and so on. Polysaccharides are a group of macromolecules, composed of many repeated monosaccharide units joined together by glycosidic linkages. Beta glucan is a type of polysaccharide that can be found in oats, barley, mushroom and yeast. Researchers found out that the bioactive substances found in Lingzhi polysaccharides are mainly Beta glucans. They are our “immune system activator”, playing an important role in defense response against diseases.

 

2. Triterpenes

This component mainly helps to

  • Improves immunity and protects our body against diseases
  • Protects liver
  • Provides anti-tumor and anti-allergy properties

It is another key ingredient that is highly available in Lingzhi and exhibits similar therapeutic benefits as polysaccharides such as immunomodulation, anti-oxidation, hepatoprotection, anti-allergy, anti-tumorgenic, anti-hypertensive effects, anti-oxidant effects  and so on. They are a large group of hydrocarbons that are found naturally in animals, plants and fungus. Majority of the triterpenes isolated from Lingzhi are known to be ganoderic acid. Triterpenes are generally bitter in taste and it has been known that the level of triterpenes in a product can often be determined by its bitterness.

 

3. Nucleosides

This component mainly good for

  • Supporting our immune system and absorption of minerals
  • Anti-tumor and anti-viral properties
  • Promoting sleep
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation and regulate blood flow

Years of studies had shown that this component acts as a strong supportive role by enhancing immune response, helping in the absorption of minerals, influencing metabolism, has anti-tumor and anti-viral properties and so on. Adenosine is a type of nucleoside extracted from Lingzhi. It is a naturally occurring component that is believed to relax your mind and promotes sleep, has anti inflammatory properties, inhibit platelet aggregation and regulate blood flow.

 

4. Other components

Lingzhi spores also contain many beneficial compounds such as saturated and unsaturated fatty acids that have shown to exhibit anti-tumor activities. They also contain minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, choline, betaine, etc that plays an important role in immune function and general well-being.

 

EFFECTS ON IMMUNITY  免疫功效

Lingzhi Cracked Spores and Immunity

Even since modern technology had successfully developed sporoderm breaking technology, scientist began to study the bioactive components in Lingzhi cracked spores on its immunomodulating properties.

 

Study 1: Triterpenes in Lingzhi Cracked Spores have strong anti-viral properties.

Triterpenes were isolated from the spores of Lingzhi by repeated column choromatograpy using alcohol and acid fractions. These isolated compounds includes major compounds like Ganoderic acid A, Ganoderic acid B and Lucidumol A. They were tested for their inhibitory activities on HIV-1 protease using lab incubated virus. Results showed that they do have significant inhibitory activity against this human immunodeficiency virus.

 

Study 2: Polysaccharides have the ability to activate our immune response to protect our body against infectious disease and foreign invaders.

There are many studies on antitumor activity with Lingzhi Cracked Spores. In one of the studies, anti-tumor activity using polysaccharides extracted from Lingzhi Cracked Spores were examined. Tumor growing cells like Murine Sarcoma 180 were injected into 50 mice and there were divided into 5 random groups. A 14-day treatment of Lingzhi polysaccharides (Gl-BSP) of different dosage level were given to these subjects. Comparing with controlled group,

  1. Adminstration of medium to high dosage of Gl-BSP inhibit tumor growth by 49% and 59% respectively.
  2. All levels of Gl-BSP treated mice inhibited tumor cells proliferation and promoted spleen lymphocytes proliferation. These mice also have increased NK cytotoxic activity (a type of white blood cell that kills virally infected cells).

 

Study 3:  Lingzhi Cracked Spores helps with the activation of stress signalling to increase phagocytic activity to fight off harmful foreign particles. This helps to boost our immune system. 

Lingzhi Cracked Spores can also enhance immune system by improving the function of human polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs). PMNs are body’s first line of defence where there is any tissue injury or inflammation. In an in-vitro system study, blood of healthy individuals was obtained to isolate PMN in order to measure their phagocytic activity (process when the defence cells engulf harmful foreign particles) when treated with various concentration of Lingzhi Cracked Spores.    

  1. Lingzhi Cracked Spores resulted in significant increase of the level of PMN phagocytic activity after a 10 minutes pre treatment and 30 minutes of incubation period at 37oC.
  2. Lingzhi Cracked Spores also significantly increases p38 MAPK activation that provides signalling to variety of stress response in addition to inflammation, osmotic shock, heat and oxidative stress.

 

References

1. “Lingzhi mushroom.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 7 Aug. 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingzhi_mushroom.

2. “Ganoderma.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 18 Jun. 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016. https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%9D%88%E8%8A%9D%E5%B1%AC.

3. “Shennong.” Baidu. Baidu, Inc. 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016. http://baike.baidu.com/view/15091.htm.

4. Lin, ZB. Lingzhi: From Mystery to Science. Beijing: Peking U Medical, 2009.

5. Rai, R.D. Cultivation of Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum). National Research Centre for Mushroom.

6. Ron Teeguarden, MH. “What You Should Know About Reishi Mushroom.” Acupuncture Today 15.01 (2014). Acupuncture Today. Web. 19 Aug. 2016. 

7. Chaiyasut et al. “Breaking the spores of Ganoderma lucidum by fermentation with Lactobacillus plantarum.” African Journal of Biotechnology 9.43 (2010): 7379-7382.

8. Menaga, et al. “Beta-Glucans: A New Source for Human Welfare.” International Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences 3.01 (2012). IJCPS. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. 

9. Wasser, Solomon P. “Reishi or Ling Zhi (Ganoderma lucidum).” Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements (2004): 603-622.

10. Paterson, R.R.M. “Ganoderma – A therapeutic fungal biofactory.” Phytochemistry 67 (2006): 1986-1998.

11. Wang, JY, et al. “An analysis on nucleosides of spore powder produced by Ganoderma Lingzhi.” Mycosystema 32.01 (2016): 77-85.

12. EMEA/HMPC/102655/2007. “Reflection paper on the adaptogenic concept.” European Medicines Agency, London. 8 May 2008.

13. Panossian, A, et al. “Plant adaptogens III.*Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action.” Phytomedicine. 6.04 (1999): 287-300.

14. Min, BS, et al. “Triterpenes from the Spores of Ganoderma lucidum and Their Inhibitory Activity against HIV-1 Protease.” Chem Pharm Bull, Tokyo. 46.10 (1998): 1607-12.

15. Wang, PY, et al. “Antitumor and immunomodulatory effects of polysaccharides from broken-spore of Ganoderma lucidum.” Frontiers in Pharmacology 3.135 (2012).

16. Hsu, PY, et al. “Extract of Sporoderm-Broken Germinating Spores of Ganoderma lucidum Activates Human Polymorphonuclear Neutropjils via P38 Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Pathway.” Chang Guan Med J 35.02 (2012).

 

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