English: Lingzhi mushroom

Chinese: 灵芝

Parts used: Dried fungus

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Heart Kidney Liver Lung

Scientific name: Ganoderma lucidum

Other names: Reishi mushroom

Use of Ling Zhi (lingzhi mushroom) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect the fungus and dry it.

Dosage: 5 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Qi and calms the spirits. Suppresses coughing.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ling Zhi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dizziness Insomnia Palpitations Dyspnea Asthma Dry cough

Key TCM concepts behind Ling Zhi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ling Zhi belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Qi tonics are typically sweet and they tend to enter the Spleen and Lungs because these Organs are most involved with the production of Qi.

Furthermore Ling Zhi is Neutral in nature. This means that Ling Zhi typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Ling Zhi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Ling Zhi also tastes Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like Ling Zhi tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ling Zhi is thought to target the Heart, the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on Ling Zhi

G. lucidum may have benefit as an alternative adjunct to conventional cancer treatment in consideration of its potential of enhancing tumour response and stimulating host immunity.1

Different species of Ganoderma possess bioactive compounds which have already demonstrated antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal activities.2

Ganoderma lucidum improves physical fitness in women with fibromyalgia.3


1. Jin, Xingzhong; Ruiz, Beguerie Julieta; Sze, Daniel Man-yuen; Chan, Godfrey C.F. (2015). "Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 4: CD007731. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007731.pub3.

2. Rai MK, Gaikwad S, Nagaonkar D, dos Santos CA. (2015). Current Advances in the Antimicrobial Potential of Species of Genus Ganoderma (Higher Basidiomycetes) against Human Pathogenic Microorganisms (Review). Int J Med Mushrooms. , 17(10):921-32.

3.Collado Mateo D, Pazzi F, Domínguez Muñoz FJ, Martín Martínez JP, Olivares PR, Gusi N, Adsuar JC. (2015). Ganoderma Lucidum improves physical fitness in women with fibromyalgia. Nutr Hosp. , 32(5):2126-35. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9601.