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What is Sang Hwang?

Phellinus linteus (Japanese “meshimakobu”, Chinese “song gen”, Korean “sanghwang”, English “Meshima”, American English “black hoof mushroom”) is a medicinal mushroom used in Japan, Korea and China for centuries to prevent ailments as diverse as gastroenteric dysfunction, diarrhea, haemorrhage and cancers.It is shaped like a hoof, has a bitter taste, and in the wild grows on mulberry trees. The stem’s color ranges from dark brown to black. In Korean traditional medicine, the mushroom is consumed in the form of hot tea.

According to Harvard Medical School, extracts from Phellinus Linteus contain potential anti-cancer agents. The British Journal of Cancer reported that the Phellinus Linteus mushroom was able to disrupt and curtail the performance of the AKT enzyme and hence preventing further development of breast cancer.

Nine compounds were isolated from the active ethylacetate fraction of the fruiting body and identified as protocatechuic acid, protocatechualdehyde, caffeic acid, ellagic acid, hispidin, davallialactone, hypholomine B, interfungins A and inoscavin A of which interfungins A is a potent inhibitor of protein glycation.

Extracts from fruit-bodies or mycelium of Phellinus linteus stimulate the hormonal and cell-mediated immune function; quench the inflammatory reactions caused by a variety of stimuli, and suppress tumor growth and metastasis.

Extracts of this mushroom have anti-bacterial properties too. The methanoextracts contain compounds, (CHCl3, n-BuOH and H2O), that fight against bacteria. These particular compounds are found very precious because they are able to fight a bacteria resistant to existing medication. Staphylococcus aureus is the stubborn bacteria. It is resistant to Methicillin.

Staphylococcus aureus causes different infections including furuncles and staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. The latter usually occurs in infants. Someone can get infection by touching pus that is infected with the bacteria staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria can also cause septic arthritis, especially for people using prosthetics. Among the most serious infections caused by staphylococcus aureus is the infection of the valves of the heart. In medical terms it is called staphylococcal endocarditis.

Phellinus igniarius (syn. Phellinus trivialis ) is a fungus of the family of Hymenochaetaceae. Like other members of the genus of Phellinus it lives by saprotrophic nutrition, in which the lignin and cellulose of a host tree is degraded and is a cause of white rot. Common names are Willow bracket and Fire spongeThe fungus forms perennial fruiting bodies that rise as woody-hard, hoof or disc-shaped brackets from the bark of the infested living tree or dead log. The tree species is often willow but it may be commonly found on birch and alder and other broad leafed trees.The top is covered with a dark, often cracked crust, a stem is present only in its infancy. Unlike most fungi it has a hard woody consistency and may persist for many years, building a new surface layer each year. It was prized as kindling material.

Phellinus igniarius is a different species of mushroom from Phellinus linteus and the second most biologically active Phellinus species known of. Although not recorded to be as potent as Phellinus linteus, modern research reveals the presence of many beneficial compounds inside Phellinus igniarius natural fruiting body with a variety of useful health applications.

Phellinus in History

Phellinus linteus has been revered as herbal medicines for thousands of years in China and Japan. Emperors of the great Chinese Dynasties and Japanese royalty drank tea and concoctions made from Phellinus linteus for vitality and long life.

In ancient Chinese History, the first emperor of China, Emperor Qin Shi Huang, in 220 B.C. sent 3000 boys and girls to Japan’s outlying islands to search for a kind of lingzhi believed to be the elixir of eternal youth: Phellinus linteus. The 2000 years old medical book: Shen Nong’s Herbal classic (considered today as the oldest book on oriental herbal medicine), classifies 365 species of roots, grass, woods, furs, stones and animals that can be used in natural remedies and divides them into 3 catagories. The first category, called superior, includes herbs effective for multiple diseases and mostly responsible for maintaining and restoring the body balance. They have no unfavorable side effects.

The second category, average, comprises tonics and boosters and their consumption must not be prolonged. The third category, inferior, may only be taken in small dosages and for specific ailments. This category includes some poisonous herbs. In this classification system, Phellinus linteus is ranked number one in the superior medicines category, exalted since ancient times for its absence of side effects and many applications, especially for perceived youthfulness and longevity. All observations in traditional usage showed Phellinus linteus is safe to be consumed in high dosages, as well as in parallel with other remedies. As a result from knowledge accumulated through 4000 years of human observation, traditional Chinese medicial practice asserts that health can be maintained by sustaining the right balance within the body. This system classifies disease as an imbalance somewhere within our body and treatment aims to restore balance through a combination of nutrition, medicinal herbs, exercise and mental peace. In other words, a disease is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, the result of a bigger underlying imbalance of the body which must be restored. Centuries-old useage from traditional doctors shows us that the Sang Hwang was also used as a diagnostics tool of sorts, providing early detection and action against health issues inside the patients’ body that attending doctors were not yet aware of. They believed that if the patient experienced a strong flare-up or inflammatory reaction after taking Sang Hwang an a part of the body, it was an indicator of a problem that might not have yet revealed itself. In the 16th century pharmacopoeia: Pen Tsao Kang Mu, which contains hundreds of medicines the Chinese have used for thousand years, compiler Le Shih – Chen described the uses of Sang Hwang. It positively affected the life energy or qi of the heart, repairing the chest area and benefiting those with a knotted and right chest. He wrote that it also increased intellectual capacity and banished forgetfulness. He wrote that “taken over a long period of time, ability of the body would not cease and the years would be lengthened to those of the immortal fairies.”

REFERENCES

  1. Antitumor activity of some basidiomycetes, especially Phellinus linteus. Ikekawa et al. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1968;59:155-157
  2. A medicinal mushroom: Phellinus linteus. Zhu T, Kim S.H, Chen C.Y. Curr Med Chem. 2008;15(13):1330-5.
  3. Dramatic remission of hormone refractory prostate cancer achieved with extract of the mushroom, Phellinus linteus. Shibata Y, Kurita S, Okugi H, Yamanaka H. Urol Int. 2004;73(2):188-90.
  4. Spontaneous regression of a large hepatocellular carcinoma with skull metastasis. Nam S.W, Han J.Y, Kim J.I, Park S.H, Cho S.H, Han N.I, Yang J.M, Kim J.K, Choi S.W, Lee Y.S, Chung K.W, Sun H.S. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005;20(3):488-92.
  5. A case of spontaneous regression of hepatocellular carcinoma with multiple lung metastases. Kojima H, Tanigawa N, Kariya S, Komemushi A, Shomura Y, Sawada S, Arai E, Yokota Y. Radiat Med. 2006;24(2):139-42.
  6. Modulation of lung cancer growth arrest and apoptosis by Phellinus Linteus. Guo J, Zhu T, Collins L, Xiao Z.X, Kim S.H, Chen C.Y. Mol Carcinog. 2007;46(2):144-54.
  7. Phellinus linteus sensitises apoptosis induced by doxorubicin in prostate cancer. Collins L, Zhu T, Guo J, Xiao Z.J, Chen C.Y. Br J Cancer. 2006;95(3):282-8.
  8. Phellinus linteus activates different pathways to induce apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Zhu T, Guo J, Collins L, Kelly J, Xiao Z.J, Kim S.H, Chen C.Y. Br J Cancer. 2007;96(4):583-90.
  9. Phellinus linteus suppresses growth, angiogenesis and invasive behaviour of breast cancer cells through the inhibition of AKT signalling. Sliva D, Jedinak A, Kawasaki J, Harvey K, Slivova V. Br J Cancer. 2008;98(8):1348-56.
  10. Effect of various natural products on growth of bladder cancer cells: two promising mushroom extracts. Konno S, Alt Med Rev. 2007;12(1):63-68
  11. Acidic polysaccharide from Phellinus linteus inhibits melanoma cell metastasis by blocking cell adhesion and invasion. Han S.B, Lee C.W, Kang J.S, Yoon Y.D, Lee K.H, Lee K, Park S.K, Kim H.M. Int Immunopharmacol. 2006;6(4):697-702.
  12. The inhibitory effect of polysaccharide isolated from Phellinus linteus on tumor growth and metastasis. Han B, Lee C.W, Jeon Y.J, Hong N.D, Yoo I.D, Yang K.H, Kim H.M. Immunopharmacology. 1999;41:157-164
  13. Oral administration of proteoglycan isolated from Phellinus linteus in the prevention and treatment of collagen-induced arthritis in mice. Kim G.Y, Kim S.H, Hwang S.Y, Kim H.Y, Park Y.M, Park S.K, Lee M.K, Lee S.H, Lee T.H, Lee J.D. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26(6):823-31.
  14. Antiarthritic activity of a Polysaccharide-protein complex isolated from Phellinus rimosus (Berk.) Pilát (Aphyllophoromycetideae) in Freund’s complete adjuvant−induced arthritic rats. Meera C.R, Smina T.P, Nitha B, Mathew J, Janardhanan K.K. Int J Med Mushr. 2009;11(1):21-28
  15. Alleviation of experimental septic shock in mice by acidic polysaccharide isolated from the medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus. Kim G.Y, Roh S.I, Park S.K, Ahn S.C, Oh Y.H, Lee J.D, Park Y.M. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26(10):1418-23.
  16. Stimulation of humoral and cell mediated immunity by polysaccharide from mushroom Phellinus linteus. Kim H.M, Han S.B, Oh G.T, Kim Y.H, Hong D.H, Hong N.D, Yoo I.D. Int J Immunopharmac. 1996;18(5):295-303
     
  17. Phellinus linteus extract augments the immune response in Mitomycin C-induced immunodeficient mice. Matsuba S, Matsuno H, Sakuma M, Komatsu Y. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;5(1):85-90.6.
  18. Phellinus linteus grown on germinated brown rice suppresses IgE production by the modulation of Th1/Th2 balance in murine mesenteric lymph node lymphocytes. Lim B.O, Jeon T.I, Hwang S.G, Moon J.H, Park D.K. Biotechnol Lett. 2005;27(9):613-7.
  19. Inhibition of anaphylaxis-like reaction and mast cell activation by water extract from the fruiting body of Phellinus linteus. Choi Y.H, Yan G.H, Chai O.H, Lim J.M, Sung S.Y, Zhang X, Kim J.H, Choi S.H, Lee M.S, Han E.H, Kim H.T, Song C.H. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006;29(7):1360-5.
  20. Inhibitory effects of Agaricus blazei on mast cell-mediated anaphylaxis-like reactions. Choi Y.H, Yan G.H, Chai O.H, Choi Y.H, Zhang X, Lim J.M, Kim J.H, Lee M.S, Han E.H, Kim H.T, Song C.H. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006;29(7):1366-71.
  21. Chinese Pharmacopoeia, 2010. Beijing:Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Publishing House