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Ganoderma Lucidum

(from Medicinal Mushrooms - A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell, Pub. Mycology Press 2014)

Japanese name - Reishi or Mannetake (10,000 year mushroom/mushroom of immortality)
Chinese name - Ling Zhi (spirit mushroom - mushroom of spritual potency)

The most famous of all the medicinal mushrooms with annual sales of over US$2billion, G. lucidum’s wide-ranging health benefits are due to its combination of high polysaccharide content (Stamets reports the fruiting body to contain 41% beta-glucan) and triterpenoid compounds.1-4 Over 130 of these have been identified, belonging primarily to two families: ganoderic and lucidenic acids with functions including:

• Inhibiting histamine release
• Hepatoprotective
• Anti-hypertensive (ACE inhibiting)
• Inhibiting cholesterol synthesis
• Anti-inflammatory
• Inducing apoptosis
• Inhibiting viral induction
• Antioxidant
• Anti-tumour
• CNS sedation
• Antimicrobial
• Immune modulation

Levels of triterpenes are particularly high in G. lucidum spores, typically >2.0% in shell-broken spore powder and 30% in the spore oil and recent studies report promise for the spores and spore oil as anti-cancer and neuroprotective agents5,8.

G. lucidum shows exceptionally high tyrosinase inhibition with the highest activity in the aqueous extract. This has led to its inclusion in many commercial skin whitening products and has medical implications, especially in relation to Parkinson’s Disease (see discussion under Parkinson’s Disease)9,11.

A number of related species have also been investigated with polysaccharides and triterpenes from both Ganoderma tsugae and Ganoderma applanatum showing similar anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and hepatoprotective activity to those from G. lucidum and Ganoderma japonicum showing neuroprotective properties.12, 21

CANCER - G. lucidum has a long history of traditional use in the treatment of cancer and is credited with many cases of spontaneous remission22, 23. As well as the immune modulating effect of its high polysaccharide content, its triterpenes show significant cytotoxic activity against different cancer cell lines, as well as inhibitory effects against Epstein-Barr virus, known to be associated with some cancers24-35. In addition triterpenes from G. lucidum show inhibition of the nuclear transcription factor, NF-kappaB (NF-kB), which is overexpressed in various cancer cell lines, and also the AP-1 signalling pathway.36 Inhibition of NF-kB is of particular importance in the activity of G. lucidum against breast and prostate cancers as it is considered to play an essential role in the hormone independent growth and spread of these cancers37,38. In addition, G. lucidum triterpenes have been shown to block the androgen receptor on prostate cancer cells, supporting G.lucidum’s use in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Clinical studies with G. lucidum polysaccharide extract confirm its ability to enhance immune status in cancer patients with increases in NK cell activity and Th1 cytokine levels and decreases in Th2 cytokine levels in advanced lung cancer patients, and reduction in side effects when given alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy39-41.

In vitro and in vivo studies also indicate significant anti-tumour activity for the triterpene-rich G. lucidum spore powder and spore oil42-47. A randomized controlled trial of 48 breast cancer patients reported reductions in fatigue, anxiety and depression in the treatment group (3g/day G. lucidum spore powder), together with improvements in immune parameters48.

ALLERGIES - As well as immuno-modulatory activity, G. lucidum demonstrates strong anti-inflammatory activity with suppression of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-6 (IL-6), the inflammatory mediator nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2, mediated through inhibition of the NF-kB and AP-1 signaling pathways. This combination of immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory activity contributes to its efficacy in the treatment of allergies and other inflammatory conditions.49-52

G. lucidum is a component of FAHF-2, a Chinese herbal formula that has been reported to completely block anaphylactic reactions in a mouse model of peanut allergy.53

LIVER DISEASE - The fruiting body of G. lucidum has long been a popular traditional treatment for liver diseases and demonstrates wide hepatoprotective properties 54-60. It appears that at least part of its action in this regard may be through the ability of G. lucidum triterpenes to block platelet-derived growth factor beta receptor (PDGFbetaR), thus inhibiting the activation and proliferation of hepatic stellate cells, a key event in hepatic fibrosis.61

G. lucidum is also traditionally used in the treatment of hepatitis and in a clinical study of 355 cases of hepatitis B treated with Wulingdan Pill, of which G. lucidum is the major component, 92.4% of patients were reported to have positive results 62. Again, it appears that triterpenes are the key components.63,64

HYPERTENSION - G. lucidum has a broad range of action on cardiovascular health. Polysaccharides and triterpenes isolated from G. lucidum have shown hyperlipidaemic, hypotensive, and anti-thrombotic effects while a polysaccharide preparation (Ganopoly) led to improved ECG and lowered chest pain, palpitation and shortness of breath in a double-blind, randomized, multi-centre study65.MildACE-inhibitory activity has also been demonstrated for some of G. lucidum’s triterpenoid compounds66,67.

INSOMNIA/ANXIETY - The traditional name ‘spirit mushroom’ points to the sedative action of its triterpenoid components and many herbalists value its benefits in cases of insomnia. Christopher Hobbs recommends G. lucidum for deficiency insomnia while Mizuno recommends it for ‘mental stabilisation’68-71.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS - G. lucidum’s combination of immuno-modulatory and anti-inflammatory action suggests potential application in the treatment of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and a proteoglycan fraction from G. lucidum has been shown to inhibit production of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts in vitro, in part through inhibition of the NF-kB transcription pathway72.

NEURO-PROTECTIVE - Traditionally considered to promote longevity, G. lucidum extract has been shown to inhibit beta-amyloid synaptic toxicity with potential benefits in Alzheimer’s disease73. Both polysaccharides and triterpenes from G. lucidum exhibit neuroprotective and anticonvulsant effects at levels of 10-80mg/kg while G. lucidum spores have shown ability to protect neurons from apoptosis and improve cognitive dysfunction in vivo74-78.

ANTI-AGEING - Traditionally known as the ‘mushroom of immortality’, G. lucidum’s broad-spectrum cardiovascular, neurological and immunological benefits, together with its support for blood sugar and cholesterol control79-82, contribute to its anti-ageing properties.



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5. Antitumour activity of the sporoderm-broken germinating spores of Ganoderma lucidum. Liu X, Yuan JP, Chung CK, Chen XJ. Cancer Lett. 2002;182(2):155-61.
6. Sterols and triterpenoids from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum. Zhang CR,Yang SP,Yue JM. Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(13):1137-42.
7. Chemical constituents of the spores of Ganoderma lucidum. Zhang XQ, Pang GL, ChengY,WangY,YeWC. ZhongYao Cai. 2008;31(1):41-4.
8. Comparative studies on the immunomodulatory and antitumour activities of the different parts of fruiting body of Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma spores. Yue GG, Fung KP, Leung PC, Lau CB. Phytother Res. 2008;22(10):1282-91.
9. Inhibition of tyrosinase from Ganoderma lucidum. Chu HL, Wu HC , Yen-Chin Chen YC, Kuo JM. 12th World Food Congress. 2003;166(2):117-20.
10. Effects on tyrosinase activity by the extracts of Ganoderma lucidum and related mushrooms. Chien CC, TsaiML, Chen CC, Chang SJ, Tseng CH. Mycopathologia. 2008;166(2):117-20.
11. Dopamine- or L-DOPA-induced neurotoxicity: the role of dopamine quinone formation and tyrosinase in amodel of Parkinson’s disease. Asanuma M, Miyazaki I, Ogawa N. Neurotox Res. 2003;5(3):165-76.
12. Effect of polysaccharides from Ganoderma applanatum on immune responses. I. Enhancing effect on the induction of delayed hypersensitivity in mice. Nakashima S, Umeda Y, Kanada T. Microbiol Immunol. 1979;23(6):501-13.
13. Antitumor active protein-containing glycans from the Chinese mushroom songshan lingzhi, Ganoderma tsugae mycelium. Zhang J et al. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1994 Jul;58(7):1202-5.
14. Effect of Ganoderma tsugae on chronically carbon tetrachlorideintoxicated rats. Wu YW, Chen KD, Lin WC. Am J Chin Med. 2004;32(6):841-50.
15. Effects of triterpenoid-rich extracts of Ganoderma tsugae on airway hyperreactivity and Th2 responses in vivo. ChenML, Lin BF. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2007;143(1):21-30. 
16. A comparison study on the physical/chemical properties and immunomodulatory activities of mycelial polysaccharide extracts from five Ganoderma species. Chen CF, Yang XT, Li XQ, Mi K, Yang QY. Wei Sheng Wu Xue Bao. 2007 Aug;47(4):628-33.
17. Antiinflammatory triterpenoids and steroids from Ganoderma lucidum and G.tsugae. Ko HH, Hung CF, Wang JP, Lin CN. Phytochemistry. 2008 Jan;69(1):234-9
18. Ganoderma applanatum: a promising mushroom for antitumor and immunomodulating activity. JeongYT,Yang BK, Jeong SC, Kim SM, Song CH. Phytother Res. 2008 May;22(5):614-9.
19. Ganoderma tsugae extracts inhibit colorectal cancer cell growth via G(2)/M cell cycle arrest. Hsu SC et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Dec 8;120(3):394-401.
20. Ganoderma applanatum terpenes protect mouse liver against benzo(α)pyrene-induced oxidative stress and inflammation.Ma JQ, Liu CM, Qin ZH, Jiang JH, Sun YZ. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2011 May;31(3):460-8.
21. Ganoderma tsugae Extract Inhibits Growth of HER2- Overexpressing Cancer Cells via Modulation of HER2/PI3K/ Akt Signaling Pathway. Kuo HP et al. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. Epub 2013 Apr 7.
22. Anticancer effects of Ganoderma lucidum: a review of scientific evidence. Yuen JW, Gohel MD. Nutr Cancer. 2005; 53(1):11-7.
23. Regression of gastric large B-Cell lymphoma accompanied by a florid lymphoma-like T-cell reaction: immunomodulatory effect of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) CheukW, Chan JK, Nuovo G, Chan MK, Fok M. Int J Surg Pathol. 2007;15(2):180-6.
24. Potential of a novel polysaccharide preparation (GLPP) from Anhui-grown Ganoderma lucidum in tumour treatment and immuno-stimulation. Pang X, Chen Z, Gao X, Liu W, Slavin M, Yao W, Yu L.L. J Food Sci. 2007;72(6):S435-42.
25. Cytotoxic triterpenoids from Ganoderma lucidum. Cheng CR, Yue QX,Wu ZY, Song XY, Tao SJ,Wu XH, Xu PP, Liu X, Guan SH, Guo DA. Phytochemistry. 2010;71(13):1579-1585.
26. Triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum induce autophagy in colon cancer through the inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated kinase (p38 MAPK). Thyagarajan A, Jedinak A, Nguyen H, Terry C, Baldridge L.A, Jiang J, Sliva D. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(5):630-40.
27. Ganoderic acid T inhibits tumour invasion in vitro and in vivo through inhibition of MMP expression. Chen NH, Liu JW, Zhong JJ. Pharmacol Rep. 2010;62(1):150-63.
28. Inhibitory effects of Ganoderma lucidum on tumourigenesis and metastasis of human hepatoma cells in cells and animal models. Weng CJ, Chau CF, Yen GC, Liao JW, Chen DH, Chen KD. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(11):5049-57.
29. Cytotoxic lanostanoid triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum. Guan SH, Xia JM,YangM,Wang XM, Liu X, Guo DA. JAsian Nat Prod Res. 2008;10(7-8):705-10.
30. The anti-invasive effect of lucidenic acids isolated from a new Ganoderma lucidum strain.Weng CJ, Chau CF, Chen KD, Chen DH, Yen GC. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007;51(12):1472-7.
31. Lucidenic acids P and Q, methyl lucidenate P, and other triterpenoids from the fungus Ganoderma lucidum and their inhibitory effects on Epstein-Barr virus activation. Iwatsuki K et al. J Nat Prod. 2003 Dec;66(12):1582-5.
32. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides: immunomodulation and potential anti-tumor activities. Xu Z, Chen X, Zhong Z, Chen L,Wang Y. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(1):15-27.
33. Antitumor and anti-inflammatory activities of polysaccharides isolated fromGanoderma lucidum. Joseph S, Sabulal B,George V, Antony KR, Janardhanan KK.Acta Pharm. 2011 Sep 1;61(3):335-42.
34. Anti-cancer properties of triterpenoids isolated from Ganoderma lucidum - a review. Wu GS, Guo JJ, Bao JL, Li XW, Chen XP, Lu JJ, Wang YT. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2013 Aug;22(8):981-92.
35. Triterpenoids from Ganoderma lucidum and their cytotoxic activities. Li P, Deng YP, Wei XX, Xu JH. Nat Prod Res. 2013;27(1):17-22.
36. Suppression of the inflammatory response by triterpenes isolated from the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum. Dudhgaonkar S, Thyagarajan A, Sliva D.Int Immunopharmacol. 2009;9(11):1272-80.
37. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses motility of highly invasive breast and prostate cancer cells. Sliva D, Labarrere C, Slivova V, Sedlak M, Lloyd F.P Jr, Ho N.W. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002;298(4):603-12.
38. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses growth of breast cancer cells through the inhibition of Akt/NF-kappaB signaling. Jiang J, Slivova V, Harvey K, Valachovicova T, Sliva D. Nutr Cancer. 2004;49(2):209-16.
39. Effects of ganopoly (aGanoderma lucidumpolysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients.Gao Y, Zhou S, JiangW, HuangM, Dai X. Immunol Invest. 2003;32(3): 201-15.
40. Effects of water-soluble Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on the immune functions of patients with advanced lung cancer. Gao Y et al. J Med Food. 2005;8(2):159-68. 41. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM, Chan GC. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jun 13.
42. Antitumor activity of the sporoderm-broken germinating spores of Ganoderma lucidum. Liu X, Yuan JP, Chung CK, Chen XJ. Cancer Lett. 2002 Aug 28;182(2):155-61.
43. Glossy ganoderma spore oil promotes apoptosis of human lung adenocarcinoma SPC-A1 through down-regulation of miR-21. Zhao G, Guo W, Zhao X, Wang Y, Hou Y. Zhongguo ZhongYao Za Zhi. 2011 May;36(9):1231-4.
44. Inhibitory effects of sporoderm-broken Ganoderma lucidum spores on growth of lymphoma implanted in nude mouse. Chen J, Yu YH. Zhongguo Shi Yan Xue Ye Xue Za Zhi. 2012 Apr; 20(2):310-4.
45. Extract of sporoderm-broken germinating spores of Ganoderma lucidum activates human polymorphonuclear neutrophils via the P38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Hsu PY, Chen JL, Chen HY, Yang SH. Chang Gung Med J. 2012 Mar-Apr; 35(2):140-7.
46. Study the rudimentary immunoregulatory mechanisms of Ganoderma Spore oil on immunocompromized mice. Yi Y, Hu S, Xiong X, Liu D, Zhong Y. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2012 Sep; 41(5):833-9.
47. Ganoderma spore induced increased CA72-4 in three gastroenteric tumor patients and literature analysis. Yan B, He ZH, Qin ZF. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2012 Oct;32(10):1426-7.
48. Spore Powder of Ganoderma lucidum Improves Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Endocrine Therapy: A Pilot Clinical Trial. Zhao H, Zhang Q, Zhao L, Huang X, Wang J, Kang X. Evid Based ComplementAlt Med. Epub 2011 Dec 10.
49. Anti-allergic constituents in the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum. (I). Inhibitory effect of oleic acid on histamine release. Tasaka K, Akagi M, Miyoshi K, Mio M, Makino T. Inflammation Research. 1988;23(3-4):153-6.
50. Anti-allergic constituents in the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum. (II). The inhibitory effect of cyclooctasulfur on histamine release. Tasaka K, Mio M, Izushi K, Akagi M, Makino T. Inflammation Research. 1988;23(3-4):157-60.
51. Effectiveness of Dp2 nasal therapy for Dp2- induced airway inflammation in mice: using oral Ganoderma lucidum as an immunomodulator. Liu Y.H, Tsai C.F, Kao M.C, Lai Y.L, Tsai J.J. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2003;36(4):236-428.
2. The use of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) in the management of histamine-mediated allergic responses. Powell M. Nutritional Practitioner Magazine. October 2004.
53. The Chinese herbal medicine formula FAHF-2 completely blocks anaphylactic reactions in murine model of peanut allergy. Srivastava KD et al. JAllergy Clin Immunol. 2005;115(1):171-8.
54. Antimutagenic activity of methanolic extract of Ganoderma lucidum and its effect on hepatic damage caused by
benzo[a]pyrene. Lakshmi B, Ajith T.A, Jose N, Janardhanan K.K. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;107(2):297-303.
55. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide on CYP2E1, CYP1A2 and CYP3A activities in BCG-immune hepatic injury in rats. Wang X, Zhao X, Li D, Lou Y.Q, Lin ZB, Zhang GL. Biol Pharm Bull. 2007;30(9):1702-6.
56. Post-treatment of Ganoderma lucidum reduced liver fibrosis induced by thioacetamide in mice.Wu YW, Fang HL, Lin WC. Phytother Res. 2010;24(4):494-9.
57. In vitro and in vivo protective effects of proteoglycan isolated from mycelia of Ganoderma lucidum on carbon tetrachlorideinduced liver injury. Yang XJ, Liu J, Ye LB, Yang F, Ye L, Gao JR, Wu ZH.World J Gastroenterol. 2006;12(9):1379-85.
58. Antifibrotic effects of a polysaccharide extracted from Ganoderma lucidum, glycyrrhizin, and pentoxifylline in rats with cirrhosis induced by biliary obstruction. Park EJ, Ko G, Kim J, Sohn DH. Biol Pharm Bull. 1997;20(4):417-20.
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60. Hepatoprotective Effects of Aqueous Extract from Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) on α-Amanitin−Induced Liver Injury in Mice. Wu X, Zeng J, Hu JS, Liao Q, Zhou R, Zhang P, Chen ZH. Int J Med Mushr. 2013;15(4):383-391.
61. Ganoderma lucidum extract attenuates the proliferation of hepatic stellate cells by blocking the PDGF receptor.Wang GJ, Huang YJ, Chen DH, Lin YL. Phytother Res. 2009;23(6):833-9.
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63. Effects of total Triterpenoids extract from Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst. (Reishi Mushroom) on experimental liver injury models induced by Carbon Tetrachloride or D-Galactosamine in mice. Lin ZB,WangMY, Liu Q, Che QM. Int J Med Mushr. 2002;4(1):37-41.
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66. Effect of Ganoderma lucidum on the quality and functionality of Korean traditional rice wine, yakju. Kim JH, Lee DH, Lee SH, Choi SY, Lee JS. J Biosci Bioeng. 2004;97(1):24-8.
67. Anti-angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) proteins frommycelia of Ganoderma lucidum (Curtis) P. Karst. Mohamad Ansor N, Abdullah N,Aminudin N. BMC ComplementAlternMed. 2013 Oct 4;13:256.
68. A preliminary study on the sleep-improvement function of the effective ingredients of Ganoderma lucidum fruitbody. Jia W, WuM, Zhang JS, LiuYF.Acta Edulis Fungi. 2005;12(3):43-47.
69. Sleep-promoting effects of Ganoderma extracts in rats: comparison between long-term and acute administrations. Honda K, Komoda Y, Inoué S. Tokyo Ika Shika Daigaku Iyo Kizai Kenkyusho Hokoku. 1988;22:77-82.
70. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum potentiates pentobarbital induced sleep via a GABAergic mechanism. Chu QP, Wang LE, Cui XY, Fu HZ, Lin ZB, Lin SQ, Zhang YH. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 2007;86(4):693-698.
71. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats. Cui XY et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Feb 15;139(3):796-800.
72. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide peptide reduced the production of proinflammatory cytokines in activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblast. Ho YW et al. Mol Cell Biochem. 2007; 301(1-2):173-9.
73. Antagonizing beta-amyloid peptide neurotoxicity of the antiaging fungus Ganoderma lucidum. Lai CS, Yu MS, Yuen WH, So KF, Zee SY, Chang RC. Brain Res. 2008;1190:215-24.
74. Neuroprotective effects of water-soluble Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on cerebral ischemic injury in rats. Zhou ZY et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Aug 19;131(1):154-64.
75. Ganoderma lucidum reduces kainic acid-induced hippocampal neuronal damage via inflammatory cytokines and glial fibrillary acid protein expression.AguirreMAC, Campos PV, Villeda HJ, León RI, MontielAE. ProcWest Pharmacol Soc. 2011;54:78-9.
76. Triterpenoidswith neurotrophic activity from Ganoderma lucidum. Zhang XQ et al. Nat Prod Res. 2011 Oct;25(17):1607-13.
77. Anticonvulsant and Neuroprotective Effects of Oligosaccharides from Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes). Aguirre-Moreno A et al. Int J Med Mushr. 2013;15(6):555-568.
78. Neuroprotective effect of preadministration with Ganoderma lucidum spore on rat hippocampus. Zhou Y et al. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2012 Nov;64(7-8):673-80.
79. Novel hypoglycemic effects of Ganoderma lucidum water-extract in obese/diabetic (+db/+db) mice. Seto SW, Lam TY, Tam HL, Au AL, Chan SW, Wu JH, Yu PH, Leung GP, Ngai SM, Yeung JH, Leung PS, Lee SM, Kwan YW. Phytomedicine. 2009;16(5):426-36.
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