In recent history
Phellinus mushroom gained renewed interest in the mid 20th century when it was used by the local people of the Meshima islands of Nagasaki prefecture, Japan to treat victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima who had been sent to those islands for recovery.
In 1968, Japan's Dr. Ikegawa and his research team released the paper “Anti-tumor action of some basidiomycetes, especially Phellinus linteus” in a Japanese medicinal journal. Since then Phellinus linteus has become a popular subject among researchers and scientists.
In the 1980s Phellinus research was embraced by the Korean scientific community and in 1993, Korean researchers succeeded in developing an anti-tumor medicine from Phellinus linteus that is approved for sale in Korea by the Korean FDA.
In Ancient 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."