Many people have asked us through the forum and by email about the colours or the Reshi or ling zhi (as it is called in China) and the different properties assigned to each color. Here we make it clear where this color issue comes from and if it is real or not somehow.
In the current gender Ganoderma, where the "real" reishi is found, there are over 400 different taxa (here you will be able to see the updated list 2016) which present some variability in color, from orange and red colours to black colours.
Picture of the book Shennong Materia Medica (100 BC). The first book that speaks about the colours of the Ling Zhi.
"Red" Reishi is the common name of several taxa of the gender Ganoderma that are spread around the planet. The most studied for its medicinal properties is Ganoderma lucidum: it is the species that has the most scientific studies, more than 800 publications in international journals. Other reishis with properties in the planet are: Ganoderma oregonense (US), Ganoderma japonicum (in Japan) or Ganoderma sinense (in China). If the mushroom had another color (green, blue, purple ...) it would not be any of the above taxa and therefore its properties and virtues would be different.
The first book that talked about the colours of the reishi or lingzhi was written 100 years before Christ, in the book Shennong Materia Medica, by an unknown Chinese author. He spoke about 6 colors with 6 different properties (one for each color). Nowadays and due to advertising reasons, there are multilevel companies that, taking that into account, state their product presents a perfect combination of all the different colors of the reishi. Thus, they often say that their product has: red reishi for the cardiovascular system, purple reishi for bone or joint problems, green for kidney problems, white for the respiratory system, yellow for blood vessels and black for kidneys and brain.
What is true about that? According to the descriptions of the mushrooms in the above-mentioned book, today it is known that each of these colours represents 6 species of different fungi. Although 2 of them might belong to the genus Ganoderma, the 4 remaining have nothing to do with it (white, black, blue and green colours).
Assigning colours to the reishi is very confusing because 4 colours of the 6 colours of the reishi (ling zhi) discussed since antiquity do not belong to the genus Ganoderma. It's just a marketing strategy.
In a future post, we will talk in detail about these mushrooms that the book Shennong Materia Medica deals with.