Professional Journals
TCM Point of View: A Thousand-Year-Old Liver Protecting Fungus
Date: 05/10/2020

We often heard the elderlies saying this "your liver is unhealthy, don't consume alcohol and don't stay up late, it can be harmful to your liver!". How does liver function from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine? What should we do to protect our liver?

In the context of TCM, there are 3 biological features of liver: liver is part of the Wood element; liver can ensure the healthy flow of blood and Qi/Chi (vital energy) in our body; liver is the house of blood. Each of the Five Elements in TCM has a corresponding organ, and the corresponding organ for Wood element is liver, because liver has the ability to regenerate on its own, just like the plants in the nature. When the Qi in liver is stable, all of the organs in our body will be functioning well, and the flowing of blood and Qi in our body will also be smooth. How does liver help in ensuring the healthy flow of blood and Qi? Liver can help in regulating the blood flow of the body organs, as well as managing our emotions and enhance digestion.  

Next, liver is also a blood storage that helps to distribute blood to different parts of the body, the utilization of blood will then be managed by our heart. Our body needs more blood when we are using our physical strength in our daily life, and liver will be the importantly organ in constantly providing blood to different parts of body to fulfil the needs. However, when we are resting, sleeping, or emotionally calm, the blood that are not in use will then be stored in our liver again.   

What causes blood deficiency in liver?

There are many factors that can cause blood deficiency in liver, here are some of the most common reasons: always stay up late, emotionally unstable, hormone imbalance, long-term illness and more. 

What are the symptoms of blood deficiency in liver?

Body numbness, joint pain, insomnia and dreaminess, dizziness, dry eyes, blurred vision, light period or amenorrhea, itchy skin, fatigue and more. Fatigue is one of the key symptoms that reflects the possibility of chronic diseases in body organs. There are many reasons that could trigger the happening of organ dysfunction, including external and internal (emotional) causes. Some of the significant signs of Qi and blood deficiency in organs include fatigue and weak, shortness of breath, pale or yellowish face, pale lips and nails, palpitations and insomnia, the recovering journeys are often very long for people who encounter the above health issue. 

What should we do in our daily life to protect our liver from these complex symptoms?

There is a Chinese medicine which is highly beneficial to our liver--- LingZhi mushroom. Lingzhi mushroom is the fruiting body of Ganoderma fungus, it is a neutral-natured herb with bittersweet aftertaste. Lingzhi mushroom can be commonly found in China, North Korea and Japan. There are few different types of Lingzhi mushroom: Hong Zhi, Qing Zhi, Huang Zhi, Bai Zhi, Hei Zhi and Zi Zhi. During the ancient time of China, people believed that Lingzhi mushroom has the ability to help one comes back to life. However, myth being myth, what is so special about Lingzhi mushroom in term of health benefits? Other than protecting and nourishing the kidneys and liver, Lingzhi mushroom can also help to invigorate Qi, relieve cough, strengthen body, eliminate fatigue and improve skin condition. Modern medical research shown that Lingzhi mushroom can help in enhancing immune system, protect liver by removing toxins, anti-inflammation, reduce blood lipids, reduce blood sugar and more. 

Consuming appropriate amount of Lingzhi mushroom can benefit people who are with weaker liver functions, low immunity, weaker heart functions, elderlies, or even for general well-being. Which groups of people are not encouraged to consume Lingzhi mushroom? When you catch a cold or when your body is heaty, you should not take Lingzhi or else it will eventually worsen your condition. Also, do avoid Lingzhi mushroom two weeks before and one month after medical surgery, especially when your wound has not fully recovered or when bleeding persists. Please take note that Lingzhi mushroom can cause allergic reaction to certain people, and ladies should also avoid Lingzhi mushroom during pregnancy or period.

You should also avoid drinking coffee or tea while consuming Lingzhi mushroom, and avoid foods containing lead of other heavy metal such as century egg. Spicy and sour foods are not encouraged to be consumed while taking fungus herbs. If you are taking other western medicine such as antibiotic, you should take Lingzhi mushroom 2 hours before or after you consume your medicine. Lastly, herbs should always be taken after meals. 

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