About "Luchaio Ling Chih"
Answered by: Robert Newman, L.Ac.
Question from: Dennis
Posted on: October 20, 2004

Sir, I am so sorry for taking up your valuable time. I had asked for any information on a chinese herb, LUCHAIO LING CHIH, in my two prior e-mails to you and I spelled it wrong, both times.

I did a search on the internet for the whole phrase you had sent me, because the first word ("LUCHAIO") of the herb name you wrote to me about was spelled strangely and it was not clear to me to what it was referring. I recognized the second part of the name, "Ling Chih." Ling Chih is actually known in Chinese Pinyin Mandarin as Ling Zhi, Ganoderma lucidum. This is a well-known tonic mushroom, also referred to in the marketplace by its Japanese name, Reishi Mushroom. But the "Luchaio" was apparently spelled differently than present standard Mandarin spelling -- this spelling confusion is very common since there was a previous system in place years ago before the current Pinyin system replaced that earlier system for phoneticizing Chinese characters into English-written words.

Anyways, when I did the internet search, it turned up only one reference and that was to a product sold by a man named Peter North, a porn film star, who is selling the product as a sexual tonic. When I read that, I realized what the first word, Luchaio, was probably referring to; there is another herb that is used frequently as a tonic herb for strengthening the "Kidney" Yang of the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) (for further explanation about Yin and Yang and the concept of the Kidneys in TCM, go to the Richters Chinese herbs Q&A web page and see my replies to the questions, "Is There An Herb That Can Help Acid Reflux?," "Which Herbs Can Be Used to Increase Ability to Have a Climax?" and "What Herbs and Other Approaches Can I Use for Uterine Prolapse?"). As part of its function of tonifying the Kidney Yang, it is considered a very strong herb for increasing the sexual fertility and the sexual function and libido -- particularly for men. This herb is made from Deer antlers and has become rather popular in many sexual libido/fertility herbal products in the marketplace now. It is known in Chinese Pinyin as Lu Jiao -- you can see the similarity in the spelling to the first word Peter North’s product name has in it. Probably Mr. North is selling some product which he obtained from a Chinese supplier/company and he didn’t realize that it is not made from just one herb, the Ling Zhi, but is made from at least two herbs, both the Ling Zhi and the Lu Jiao. And it is even possible that there might be other herbs in the product as well which Mr. North may or may not be aware are present in it and which are not listed as part of the main name, "LUCHAIO LING CHIH." If there are indeed other herbs in this formula and Mr. North is not aware of that, it may be because the manufacturer may not have wanted to divulge that information (some companies’ formulas are "family secrets" that they don’t want others to steal the recipe for), or they may have written any other ingredients in Chinese characters on their bottles or in their product information flyers of which Mr. North therefore would understandably have no knowledge or awareness.

Lu Jiao ("loo gee-oww") is actually a gelatin which has been prepared from the main herb -- Deer antlers -- known as Lu Rong ("loo rohng"), after the Lu Rong has been cooked in lightly boiling water for many hours. The properties of Lu Jiao are very similar to Lu Rong, but the Lu Jiao is just not as strong. Lu Jiao’s properties and functions are the following: it is considered salty and warm; it enters and affects the Liver and Kidney channels and organs; less strong than Lu Rong to tonify the Kidney yang; Lu Jiao invigorates (moves/circulates) the blood, warms the Kidneys, nourishes "Essence," and reduces swellings, for treating: impotence, premature ejaculation, blood stasis pain, deep low back pain with dark circles under the eyes and mental and physical lethargy; toxic swellings/sores/breast abscesses/mastitis with fixed nodules or chronic sores, general chronic/non-healing concave sores; dosage is typically 5-10g as a decoction or as a powder used directly; also used topically as a powder or as a juice. For an explanation about the concept of Essence in TCM, see my reply to the question, "What Herbs and Other Approaches Can I Use for Uterine Prolapse?," also on the Richters Chinese herbs Q&A page.

It is best to start out using rather low doses of Lu Jiao or any product containing Lu Jiao, and any increase of the amount should be done very slowly. High doses should be used very cautiously: possible problems from taking too much of this herb can involve falling hair, vertigo, epistaxis, and bleeding gums, to name a few. Since this is a warming herb for the Kidneys, these potential problems can occur more easily if someone already has too much heat in his system (either Yin deficiency heat or excess heat: Yin deficient heat is milder than excess heat and symptoms of it usually show up only in the afternoons and evenings. Please see my cautions and warnings about using herbs to tonify the Kidneys in my reply to the question, "Which Herbs Can Be Used to Increase Ability to Have a Climax?," also on the Richters Chinese herb Q&A website page.

As mentioned earlier, the other part of the formula name comes from the mushroom, Ling Chih (as it is sometimes written). The species commonly used is Ganoderma lucidum: as mentioned above, in standard Chinese Pinyin, it is Ling Zhi, meaning "Spirit Plant." It is often found growing on Oak trees and stumps. It was listed in the classic ancient herbal reference, "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing," as a superior herb. It has been used in China and Japan for thousands of years, for Liver diseases, for tonifying the Kidneys and treating Kidney diseases, for strengthening the cardio-vascular system, for musculoskeletal pains and arthritis, insomnia, coughs/asthma/bronchial problems, digestive system problems, weakness and debility, and more recently for high blood pressure, diabetes, and hepatitis. It is believed to be a potent tonic herb which can increase the life-span and help with stress reduction (e.g., having "adaptogenic" properties).

From a traditional TCM standpoint, Ling Zhi is considered sweet and neutral to slightly warm. It’s functions specifically include nourishing, tonifying, toxin-removing, astringing (this means it stops the losses of fluids and Qi from weakness/deficiency: e.g., excessively frequent urination, or a chronic cough, from deficiencies) and the dispersing of accumulations and blockages. It is used to treat consumptive diseases, cough (especially bronchial coughs in the elderly or weak), asthma, insomnia, carcinomas, indigestion, and deafness/decreased hearing; it can benefit arthritic conditions, protect the mind/spirit (the "Shen" in TCM), benefit the Kidney Essence, strengthen the tendons and bones, and improve the facial color/complexion. From a western research standpoint, it contains many potent compounds, including ones that are anti-histamine/anti-allergenic, anti-tumor, anti-viral, cholesterol-reducing, anti-fatigue, pain-relieving, anti-hypertensive, anti-hepatotoxic (protects the Liver and reduces toxicity damage to it), immune-stimulating (this is an important factor in it’s anti-tumor properties), heart tonifying, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, muscle relaxing, antitussive (stops coughs), expectorant, etc. The fruiting bodies as well as the mycelium are considered necessary for many of the desired effects.

In Christopher Hobb’s book, "Medicinal Mushrooms," he has listed a number of different species and forms of Ganoderma -- these different types of Ling Zhi have somewhat different effects. There are typically 6 types that are distinguished, based on a color designation of the mushroom, according to the Japanese (and possibly originally from one of the original ancient Chinese texts on herbs, "Ben Cao Gang Mu"): Red Ling Zhi, considered the best medicinally: it is bitter; for internal organs, memory, vitality. Blue Ling Zhi: it is sour; especially good for the eyes, the Liver; calms the nerves. Yellow Ling Zhi: it is sweet; helps the digestive system, calms the Spirit. White Ling Zhi: it is acrid; for the Lungs, and for courage. Black Ling Zhi: salty; for the Kidneys. Purple Ling Zhi: it is sweet; for the ears, the joints, muscles, and complexion.

I would also like to emphasize here that you should see a local TCM practitioner for advice specific to your condition. He or she will advise how Chinese herbs should be taken and which herbs or formulas would be best for your constitution and condition.

Richters sells growing kits for the above-mentioned Ganoderma, if you are interested in growing your own herbs or making your own remedies.

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