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International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms
IF: 1.211 5-Year IF: 1.394 SJR: 0.433 SNIP: 0.661 CiteScore™: 1.38

ISSN Print: 1521-9437
ISSN Online: 1940-4344

International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms

DOI: 10.1615/IntJMedMushr.v6.i2.100
6 pages

Global Marketing of Medicinal Ling Zhi Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.:Fr.) Lloyd (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Products and Safety Concerns

Tim Lai
Encore International Co. Ltd., Mt. Eden, Greenmount, Auckland, New Zealand
Yihuai Gao
Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University; Landcare Research, Private Bag 92170, Auckland, New Zealand
Shufeng Zhou
Division of Pharmacy, School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, Queensland University of Technology, Australia; Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore; University of South Florida FL 33612, USA

ABSTRACT

A number of products prepared from Ganoderma lucidum (Ling Zhi, Reishi) are sold throughout the world as dietary supplements or over-the-counter (OTC) products, while in many Asian countries (China, Japan, and Korea) Ling Zhi preparations can be sold as drugs, and a doctor's prescription is needed. There is increasing interest in the marketing of Ling Zhi, with an estimated annual sales increase of 18%. The global production of Ling Zhi was estimated to be 4900—5000 tons in 2002, and at least 100 brands of Ling Zhi products are sold on the market. The estimated annual global turnover of Ling Zhi products should be approximately US$2.16 billion. Modern research of Ling Zhi's biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutics has provided initial scientific basis for its marketing. Ling Zhi has been prepared into various types of formulations. These include slices and powder of fruiting bodies, extracts prepared by water and/or organic solvents, spore products, drinks, syrups, and lotions for external use. Ingredients from other herbal medicines have been added to Ling Zhi products to achieve synergism (pharmacodynamic potentiation). Multiple levels of marketing channels of Ling Zhi exist. These mainly include direct sale, pharmacies, tonic and health food shops, website-based sale, and herbal specialist/traditional medical doctors'clinics. There are strict limitations for herbal product claims. Product labeling may include structure/function claims or statements about well-being. Randomized, multicenter, and controlled clinical trials are the most important studies for claims for the indication of herbal medicines when appropriate. A telephone survey on consumer's evaluation of Ganopoly (a G. lucidum polysaccharide extract) in Auckland has indicated that most consumers (71.6%) used Ganopoly as a drug for the treatment of various chronic diseases, including cancer and hepatopathy. Following the administration of Ganopoly for 1−3 months, 41.3%, 38.1%, and 20.6% of consumers with various diseases claimed to obtain significant improvement, some improvement, and no effect, respectively. Ten percent of the consumers investigated experienced mild side effects, including dry mouth and dizziness. However, there are several safety concerns with Ling Zhi products, such as wrong claims/labeling, lack of public acceptability, interactions with concomitant synthetic drugs, and potential side effects. Therefore, more research is needed to explore the efficacy and safety of Ling Zhi products.