Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ling Zhi

My former roommate with some Ling Zhi

Eric Brand has a good blog post about about Ling Zhi (灵芝 ganoderma, aka reishi mushroom). Some key points are that although Ling Zhi is mentioned from way back as a very important herb, it does not appear in a single classical formula. Does that mean it was meant to be taken only by itself? Only on special occasions? Who knows?

The modern TCM functions, covered in Eric's blog post, suggest that it could be a useful addition to Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan or Yu Ping Feng San. Many people swear by it to prevent and/or as an adjunct therapy for cancer (see what Wikipedia has to say about it), but beware of the internet - it's full of shady sites that will claim to cure your cancer/AIDS/etc. with their special blend of super-extracted reishi mushroom (this blog post may automatically generate Google ads for some of these same sites). As always, the best way to determine how to use Chinese herbs is by visiting a trusted herbal doctor, or at the very least very careful and thorough self-directed research from authoritative sources.

A few years ago I took a trip to Chinatown and bought one of the large whole mushrooms, about a foot in diameter (that's it in the picture above). I took it home and looked at it for awhile, took pictures of it. Then I tried slicing it - very difficult. It turned out that the easiest way for me to decoct it was to break off pieces in chunks. I didn't bother weighing it since it was for personal use. I cooked it as do most tonics - low and slow with plenty of water, about 2 hours in all. It was late afternoon when it was done. I drank a mug. It was certainly bitter, but something about the taste appealed to me, like clean spicy dirt. About twenty minutes later I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep right there on the couch and woke up feeling slightly drugged but also very very refreshed.


Damo said...

This post deserves a comment! I cannot believe you drank a whole mug of this stuff! And that is also an awesome specimen!
I have also heard of its uses but I have been told of its yin nature. The concept being that its energy is not very uplifting due to the fact it grows on decaying matter. However TCM seems to use Fu Ling all the time (another type of mushroom). Great post!

Damo said...


Jonah Ewell said...

Ha ha, thanks Damien.