Artist’s conk is an important medicinal mushroom that can be used for a wide variety of complaints. But because this is a perennial bracket fungus that is not extremely common.
They survive on dead or dying Hemlock (Tsuga heterpophylla), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menzeisii) and a host of deciduous trees throughout much of the world.
Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum) is a close cousin to the most famous mushroom in the world AsianReishi (Ganoderma lucidum), the eastern Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) and our local Northwest Reishi (Ganoderma oregonense). For thousands of years Asians have been working with the Ganoderma genus for their myriad health benefits.
Artist’s Conk, like many mushrooms, carries a hard thick cell wall known as chitin. This makes the mushroom inedible and none of the medicinal constituents will be absorbed because of the chitin. Hot water breaks down this cell wall and allows access to the important polysaccharides known as Beta Glucans. Beta glucan polysaccharides are powerful immunomodulators, working in a number of ways to help improve immune system function.
These beta-glucans can pass through the stomach without being broken down by stomach acids. In the mucosal layer of the GI the polysaccharides come into contact with lymphoid tissue that contains macrophages (think of these as like pac-men gobbling up foreign and destructive tissue for elimination). The macrophages have specific receptors for the beta glucans polysacharides. Once they “dock” at the macrophages, they cause them to release cytokines that then stimulate the production of cytotoxic T Cells and Natural Killer cells that are specific for attacking malignant tumors and viruses.
The heavier and harder to extract triterpenes confer a bitter quality that is helpful for a variety of health issues. Bitter substances improve digestive and hepatic function, improved digestion, assimilation of nutrients and elimination. And while the polysaccharides as useful prebiotic for important bacteria such as lactobacillus, the terpenes are hepatoprotective. The bitter quality of the terpenes is also useful for regulating blood sugar levels, for their antimicrobial and antiviral effects well as conferring anti-tumoral effects by directly attacking cancer cells.
Finally Artist’s conk increases Nitric oxide levels that directly increase blood flow to the arteries. This in turn improves cardiac, digestive, eliminative and genital blood flow. Because of the improvement in sexual organ blood flow, I have heard it anecdotally referred to as a libido enhancer.
Common Name: Artist’s Conk
Species Name: Ganoderma applanatum
Important Constituents: Beta Glucans, triterpenes, ganoderic acids, Ergosterol. Applanoxidic acids A, B, C, D
Properties: Digestive aid, carminative, styptic, immunomodualotry, antiinflammatory. antimiocrobial, antioxidant, anti-viral, hypoglycemic, anti-tumoral, antiallergenic
Actions: Regulates blood sugar, improves digestive function- digestion, assimilation, elimination, improves immune system response, reduces tumor growth in some studies, is good for cirrhosis, hepatitis, upper reparatory infections, tuberculosis, in Chinese medicine seen as strengthening “lung qi”, clears UTIs, improves circulatory flow, libido enhancer