Saturday, October 22, 2005

What is the mushroom of the immortals (신선)?

The mushroom eaten by the immortals is, of course, the 영지(靈芝), which literally translates as the "spirit mushroom." 영(靈) means "spirit," and 지(芝) means "mushroom."

The 영지 is part of the Ganoderma family of mushrooms, which in Korean is 불로초과, the "family of eternal herbs." We have all heard of 불로초, right? By the way, if you need a good mushroom dictionary, there is one here.

It is said that the 영지 was eaten by the immortal hermits who lived and meditated up deep in the sacred mountains. As might be expected, this "herb of eternal life" is quite medicinal. Here are some ailments it supposedly helps treat:
  • 허로(폐결핵)--- pulmonary tuberculosis
  • 고혈압--------- high blood pressure
  • 저혈압----------low blood pressure
  • 동맥경화------- hardening of the arteries; arteriosclerosis
  • 신부전증------- renal insufficiency
  • 뇌졸중--------- (cerebral) apoplexy; stroke
  • 건망증--------- amnesia
  • 불면증--------- insomnia
  • 위궤양--------- gastric [stomach] ulcer
  • 급성간염-------acute hepatitis
  • 만성간염-------chronic hepatitis
  • 신경쇠약-------nervous breakdown
  • 관절염--------- arthritis
  • 허약 심장------ weak heart
  • 허약 위장------ weak stomach
  • 소화불량------- indigestion
  • 변비----------- constipation
  • 하리(이질)-----dysentery
  • 복통----------- stomachache
  • 발열----------- fever
  • 알레르기증---- allergies
  • 빈혈----------- anemia
  • 심계항지------ heart palpitation
  • 도한---------- night sweats
  • 신우신염------ pyelitis
  • 폐결핵-------- pulmonary tuberculosis
  • 만성기관지염- chronic bronchitis
  • 천식---------- asthma
  • 폐렴---------- pneumonia
  • 감기---------- a cold
  • 눈병---------- eye disease
  • 비염---------- nasal inflammation
  • 중독---------- poisoning
  • 탈모증------- balding; alopecia
  • 성인병------- geriatric diseases

While researching 영지, I found a nice little article on Folk Art, which was written for middle school students. I think it is worth a read. I cannot link directly to the article, but you can find it on this site: 우리 민화

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