The white underside of the mushroom Artist Conk (Ganoderma applanatum) turns brown when bruised and can be intricately etched into detailed carvings, hence the English common name of this ubiquitous American tree fungus.
Artist Conk is a perennial that can live for 40-50 years or longer and grow quite large. Mushroom expert David Arora calls it “the most common conk in our area [USA],” together with Red-belted Conk (Fomitopsis pinicola). 
“The only regions where [Artist Conk] seems to be absent are those where there aren’t any trees!” says Arora.  It can grow on most hardwood trees plus some conifers species, like the northwestern Douglas Fir.
Historically, Artist Conk was sometimes burned, which produced an insect repellant smoke. It also gives off a pleasant scent. 
As is common in modern medical science, much of the recent research on Artist Conk extract has been focused on its cancer fighting properties. In a study conducted in 2008, Jeong et al. concluded that a compound [exo-biopolymer] isolated from Artist Conk “significantly inhibited the growth of solid tumor [Sarcoma-180] and increased the natural killer (NK) cell activity.”  (Natural killer cell is a type of white blood cell that is of particular importance in the human body’s natural defense against cancer.) Several other studies have also found Artist Conk extract to possess anti-tumor properties. [402, 403, 404, 405]
Another area of interest in the study of Artist Conk extract has been its effect on blood sugar and potential to inhibit some of the complications of diabetes. A study in 2007 found that a compound extracted from Artist Conk was able to lower the glucose levels in body fluids by 22.0%, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 20.3%.  The glucose lowering effect of an alcohol extract of Artist Conk was previously noted in a study by Jung in 2005. 
However, the main purpose of the 2005 study by Jung was to assess Artist Conk’s effect on inhibiting aldose reductase, an enzyme that’s considered responsible for the organ complications seen in diabetics. It is commonly believed that inhibiting aldose reductase in diabetics could have a major effect on decreasing side-effects of diabetes. Jung reports that “these results suggested that G. applanatum [Artist Conk] might possess constituents with anti-diabetic and inhibitory effects on diabetic complications.”  Two other studies have also found Artist Conk exhibiting significant aldose reductase inhibiting properties. [408, 409]
Moving on to other areas of health, a 2005 paper published findings that Artist Conk extract “could strengthen gastric mucosa barrier,” which may come in handy for treating gastric ulcers.  Other studies have reported Ganoderma applanatum extract as immune boosting,  anti-bacterial, [411, 412, 413] antioxidant,  anti-viral,  diuretic and anti-parasitic. 
Additionally, world renowned medicinal mushroom expert Paul Stamets also includes inflammation and respiratory conditions as two more areas where scientific research on Artist Conk extract have yielded positive results. 
Note: The statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult a licensed medical practitioner before using any herb (or mushroom) for medicinal purposes.