◎ This article was first published in traditional Chinese in Issue 96 of “Ganoderma” (December 2022), and was first published in simplified Chinese on “ganodermanews.com” (January 2023), and is now reproduced here with the authorization of the author.

In the article “The basis of Reishi to prevent influenza ─ Sufficient healthy qi inside the body will prevent invasion of pathogenic factors” in the 46th issue of “Ganoderma” in 2009, I mentioned that the theory of traditional Chinese medicine believes that health and disease belong to the different states of “conflict between healthy and pathogenic qi”. Among them, the “healthy qi” refers to the human body’s ability to resist diseases, and “pathogenic qi” generally refers to viruses and bacteria that invade the human body or tumors that generate in the body. 

That is to say, a person is in a healthy state because sufficient healthy qi inside the body prevents the invasion of pathogenic factors, that is, the human body has a strong ability to resist diseases, which does not mean that there is no pathogenic qi in the body but means that the pathogenic qi in the body cannot overwhelm the healthy qi; a person is in a state of illness because pathogenic factors invade the body deficient in healthy qi, that is, the deficiency of healthy qi weakens the body’s disease resistance, and the accumulation of pathogenic factors in the body leads to disease. The ideal method of treatment is to completely eliminate the pathogenic factors. However, up to now, neither Western medicine nor traditional Chinese medicine can completely eliminate some pathogenic factors. 

Isn’t that the case with today’s novel coronavirus infection? Due to the lack of specific antiviral drugs, neither western medicine nor traditional Chinese medicine can thoroughly kill viruses. The reason why infected people can recover is to rely on strengthening the body’s immunity (healthy qi) on the basis of symptomatic treatment (relief of uncomfortable symptoms) to eventually clear the virus (pathogenic qi). 

A strong immune system makes it difficult for viruses to cause disease. 

The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has infected and ravaged the world for 3 years. By the end of 2022, more than 600 million people have been infected and more than 6 million people have died. At present, the Omicron variants of the novel coronavirus are still spreading wildly around the world. Although their pathogenicity and fatality rate are both reduced, it is highly contagious and its infection rate is extremely high. 

Existing antiviral drugs cannot kill specific viruses, but can only inhibit the proliferation of viruses. Apart from routine preventive measures such as wearing masks, paying attention to hand hygiene, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding gatherings, the most important thing is nothing more than “strengthening healthy qi”. 

Immunity refers to the ability of the body’s immune system to resist and eliminate the invasion of pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, remove aging, dead or mutated cells in the body and substances that cause allergic reactions, maintain the stability of the body’s internal environment and keep the body healthy. 

Many factors such as mental stress, anxiety, overwork, malnutrition, sleep disorders, lack of exercise, aging, disease and drugs can affect the body’s immunity and can cause immune hypofunction or immune dysfunction. 

During the epidemic, some people who had close contact with people infected with the novel coronavirus did not get sick and became asymptomatic cases; some people got sick but had mild symptoms. 

The reason why these people are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms is that the body’s strong immunity (healthy qi) suppresses the virus (pathogenic qi). When there is sufficient healthy qi in the body, pathogenic factors have no way to invade the body.

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Schematic diagram of Reishi strengthening healthy qi and eliminating pathogens 

Reishi enhances immunity and inhibits viral infections. 

Reishi has an immune-boosting effect. First of all, Reishi can enhance the non-specific immune function of the body, including promoting the maturation, differentiation and function of dendritic cells, enhancing the killing activity of mononuclear macrophages and natural killer cells, and can directly eliminate invading viruses. 

Secondly, Reishi enhances the functions of humoral immunity and cellular immunity such as promoting the proliferation of B cells, promoting the production of immunoglobulin (antibody) IgM and IgG, promoting the proliferation of T cells, enhancing the killing activity of cytotoxic T cells (CTL), and promoting the production of cytokines like interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). 

Studies have shown that Reishi can inhibit the immune escape of tumor cells, but whether it has a similar effect on the immune escape of viruses remains to be further studied. However, for the immune hypofunction caused by various reasons such as mental stress, anxiety, overwork, aging, disease and drugs, Reishi has been proven to help restore normal immune function. 

The immune-boosting effect of Reishi provides a theoretical basis for its prevention of coronavirus infection. 

Reishi quiets the spirit, resists stress and enhances immunity. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some people experienced fear, tension, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even depression due to mental stress caused by COVID-19 infection or epidemic prevention and control measures, all of which will affect immunity. 

In the article “Animal Experiments and Human Experiments of Ganoderma Lucidum Against Stress-Induced Immune Function Suppression” in the 63rd issue of Ganoderma in 2014, I talked about the pharmacological experiments that Ganoderma lucidum improved the immune function of mice caused by stress. This paper points out that the physical and mental stress produced by high-intensity training can suppress the immune function of athletes, but Ganoderma lucidum can improve immune function.   

These effects are related to the immune-boosting and spirit-quieting features of Reishi. In another word, Reishi helps alleviate mental stress by its effects such as sedative hypnosis, anti-anxiety, and anti-depression. Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine that the spirit-quieting efficacy of Reishi could reduce the mental stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and boost immunity.

Ganoderma lucidum also has an anti-novel coronavirus effect. 

Ganoderma lucidum is well known for its antiviral properties. During the epidemic, people are more concerned about whether Ganoderma lucidum has an anti-novel coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2) effect. 

The research by scholars from Academia Sinica, Taiwan published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” In 2021 proved that Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide (RF3) has obvious anti-novel coronavirus effects in in vivo and in vitro antiviral tests, and is non-toxic. 

Studies have shown that RF3 (2 μg/ml) has a significant antiviral effect on SARS-Cov-2 cultured in vitro, and it still has inhibitory activity when diluted to 1280 times, but it has no toxicity to the virus-host Vero E6 cells. Oral administration of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide RF3 (at a daily dose of 30 mg/kg) can significantly reduce the viral load (content) in the lungs of hamsters infected with SARS-Cov-2 virus, but the weight of experimental animals does not decrease, indicating that Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide is non-toxic (as shown in the figure below) [1]. 

The anti-novel coronavirus effect of the above-mentioned Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in vivo and in vitro provides a theoretical basis for “eliminating pathogenic factors” for its prevention of novel coronavirus infection.

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The experimental results of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides against the novel coronavirus in vivo and in vitro

Ganoderma lucidum enhances the effect of the virus vaccine.

Virus vaccines are autoimmune preparations made by artificially attenuating, inactivating or genetically modifying viruses or their components to prevent viral infections.

The vaccine retains the characteristics of the virus or its components to stimulate the body’s immune system. Vaccination against viruses can train the immune system to recognize viruses and induce immunoglobulins (such as IgG and IgA antibodies) to protect against bacterial and viral infections. When viruses enter the body in the future, vaccines can recognize and kill viruses. Vaccines can also stimulate cellular immunity and form corresponding immune memory. When viruses enter the body in the future, vaccines can quickly identify and eliminate viruses.

It can be seen from this that the purpose of vaccination is also to prevent the invasion of pathogenic factors by sufficient healthy qi inside the body so as to obtain specific antiviral immunity. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide alone can enhance the body’s non-specific immunity as well as specific humoral immunity and cellular immunity. The combination of Ganoderma lucidum and vaccine (antigen) has the function of adjuvant, which can enhance the immunogenicity of antigen and enhance the effect of the virus vaccine. 

In the article “Adjuvant properties of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides – enhancing the effect of virus vaccines” in the 92nd issue of Ganoderma in 2021, I introduced in detail that Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides extracted and purified from Ganoderma lucidum fruiting bodies can enhance the effects of porcine circovirus vaccines, swine fever virus vaccines and chicken Newcastle disease virus vaccines, promote the production of specific antibodies and immune cytokines such as interferon-γ, alleviate symptoms caused by virus attack on experimental animals and reduce mortality. These studies provide a basis for the research and application of Ganoderma lucidum to enhance the effect of the novel coronavirus vaccine. 

Ganoderma lucidum + vaccine” can improve protection. 

Omicron virus has low pathogenicity and low case fatality rate, but is highly contagious. After the novel coronavirus epidemic control was lifted, many families or units tested positive for nucleic acid or antigen rapid screening. 

Therefore, the most important preventive measure for those who have not turned positive is to “strengthen healthy qi and eliminate pathogen”, namely to enhance immunity to resist viral infection. Ganoderma lucidum is one of the great options for boosting immunity. With Ganoderma protection combined with vaccination, you may have a chance to escape. 

Finally, I sincerely hope that Ganoderma lucidum which strengthens healthy qi and eliminates pathogens can be used to prevent and control the epidemic, overcome the pathogens, and protect all living beings.

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Reference: 1. Jia-Tsrong Jan, et al. Identification of existing pharmaceuticals and herbal medicines as inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2021; 118(5): e2021579118. doi: 10.1073/ pnas.2021579118.

Brief Introduction of Professor Zhi-bin Lin

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He has devoted himself to the study of Ganoderma for nearly half a century and is a pioneer in the study of Ganoderma in China.

He has successively served as the vice president of Beijing Medical University, the deputy dean of the School of Basic Medicine of Beijing Medical University, the director of the Institute of Basic Medicine and the director of the Department of Pharmacology of Beijing Medical University. He is currently a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, the School of Basic Medicine of Beijing Medical University.

From 1983 to 1984, he was a visiting scholar at the WHO Traditional Medicine Research Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, USA, and a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong from 2000 to 2002. Since 2006, he has been an honorary professor at the Perm State Pharmaceutical Academy in Russia. 

Since 1970, he has used modern sci-tech methods to study the pharmacological effects and mechanisms of Ganoderma and its active ingredients and has published more than 100 research papers on Ganoderma. 

In 2014 and 2019, he was included in the Most Cited Chinese Researchers list published by Elsevier for six consecutive years. 

He is the author of a number of Ganoderma works such as “Modern Research on Ganoderma” (1-4 editions), “Lingzhi From Mystery to Science” (1-3 editions), “Adjuvant Treatment of Tumors with Lingzhi that strengthens healthy qi and eliminates pathogens”, “Talk about Ganoderma” and “Ganoderma and Health”.

Post time: Mar-02-2023

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