Benefits of reishi mushroom

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Reishi mushroom

The reishi mushroom is scientifically named Ganoderma lucidum (G. lucidum) and is also known as ‘lingzhi’ in China. It is a woody mushroom that is commonly used in medicine and is widely consumed in the belief that it improves health, extends life, reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, and strengthens the immune system. [1]
Reishi mushrooms have fruiting bodies with a flat, spherical, or kidney-shaped cap, lustrous, red, crimson, or reddish-brown in color, and uneven on the stripe. [2-3] It may be consumed raw or more frequently in a powdered form, that can be mixed with water, coffee, or tea.

Major bioactive components of the reishi mushroom.

The reishi mushroom is a source of bioactive compounds. The basidiocarp, mycelia, and spores of G. lucidum contain more than 400 various bioactive components, which mainly include polysaccharides, triterpenes, proteins, steroids, nucleotides, glycoproteins, peptides, fatty acids, vitamins, and trace elements. [4] Among them, two major components in mushrooms are polysaccharides and triterpenes),
Polysaccharides: The major bioactive polysaccharides are glucans: β-1-3, and β-1-6 D glucan. These polysaccharides have a variety of biological actions, such as hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, anti-tumorigenic, and immune-stimulating properties. [5]
Triterpenes: Triterpenes have cytotoxic, hepatoprotective, hypocholesterolemic, and hypolipidemic effects. They affect platelet aggregation and prevent the production of histamine and the angiotensin-covering enzyme. [6]

Therapeutic application
G. lucidum is an important source of natural fungal medications and has been used for many years to treat various diseases. It has a wide spectrum of pharmacological and therapeutic effects and has been used as a health enhancer. The major medicinal uses are:

Anti-cancer effect
Polysaccharides and triterpenes, the two main components of reishi mushrooms, are well known for their chemo-preventive and tumor-curing properties. They exhibit carcinostatic effects on a range of cancer cell lines, including those from the prostate, pancreas, breast, lung, skin, colon, and liver. They have an impact on different stages of cancer development by inhibiting angiogenesis, preventing metastasis, and inducing and accelerating cancer cell apoptosis. [7]
Triterpenes activate mitochondria-dependent mechanisms to trigger apoptosis in cancer cell lines. Polysaccharides have the power to improve the host’s immunological response. by stimulating the development of macrophages, NK cells, and T-lymphocytes. This can prevent tumor-derived angiogenesis by limiting the growth of HUVEC (human umbilical vein endothelial cells) and by preventing the release of angiogenic factors like VEGF and TGF-β1. [7]

Prevents cardiovascular diseases
Compounds from G. lucidum lower the incidence of coronary artery diseases by lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol, and reducing blood platelet adhesion. [8] Moreover, two well-conducted clinical studies have demonstrated the effects of Ganoderma on high blood pressure in humans, and their findings dramatically lower blood pressure when compared to placebos or controls [9]. Polysaccharide and peptide complexes protect the human endothelial cells that line blood vessels [10].

G. lucidum supports protecting cellular constituents from oxidative harm to minimize the risk of mutation and carcinogenesis. [11] Compounds of G. lucidum, particularly polysaccharides, and triterpenoids, demonstrate antioxidant activity. Polysaccharides protect the immune cells and cellular DNA from oxidative damage, In addition, G. lucidum also prevents kidney damage by restoring the renal antioxidant defense system. [12]

Anti-diabetic activity
Triterpenoids, proteins, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides have hypoglycemic effects. [13]. Polysaccharides prevent hyperglycemia by controlling the expression of numerous vital enzymes in the glucose metabolic pathway, including hepatic glucokinase, glycogen phosphorylase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, phosphofructokinase, hepatic fructose-1, 6 bisphosphatases, and glucose-6-phosphatase. [14] Polysaccharides possess an anti-oxidative protective effect on pancreatic β-cells and lower apoptosis. They contain an enzyme, a non-competitive cholesterol esterase inhibitor, that facilitates the absorption of dietary fat; inhibiting this enzyme lowers cholesterol absorption from the diet. [15] Triterpenoids exhibited aldose reductase and α-glucosidase inhibitory actions, which are linked to complications of diabetes and glucose metabolism. [16]. Triterpenoids have the capacity to stop the aldose reductase enzyme and maintain retinal function in individuals with type II diabetes. [17]

Anti-microbial activity
Anti-bacterial activity: G. lucidum contains antibacterial substances that can inhibit both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Several compounds, including ganomycin, triterpenoids, and others, exhibit comprehensive antibacterial action [18].
Anti-fungal activity: Ganodermin, an antifungal protein, inhibits the mycelial growth of Botrytis cinerea, Physalospora piricola, and Fusarium oxysporum. [19]
Anti-viral activity: It also reduces viral multiplication without affecting normal cell division. Compounds from G. lucidum carpophores considerably inhibited the cytopathic effects of the herpes simplex virus and the vesicular stomatitis virus. [20]

Improves immune cells
G. Lucidum compounds like β-D-glucans, triterpenoids, and Zhi-8 proteins act as immunomodulating agents, which enhance the immunological effectors and induce the cytokines [21]. They also promote the growth and development of NK cells, splenic mononuclear cells, T and B lymphocytes, and dendritic cells. [22] Moreover, polysaccharides increase the expression of a histocompatibility complex in a melanoma cell line, which improves antigen presentation, thereby enhancing viral immunity and cancer. [23]

Neuroprotective effect
G. lucidum slows the advancement of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s illnesses (neurodegenerative diseases that cause progressive degeneration or death of nerve cells, and impair movement or mental functioning), enhances neuritogenesis, and delays neuronal aging [24]. According to (Qin et al., 2019) [25], a combination of triterpenoid drugs increases neuronal survival and decreases fatigue.

Anti-inflammatory effect
G. Lucidum has a strong anti-inflammatory effect due to the suppression of cytokines: IL -6, IL -23p19, and chemokines. [26] The anti-inflammatory properties of polysaccharides were evaluated in carrageenan-induced edema and formalin-induced edema inflammation experiments. Findings indicate that polysaccharides successfully suppressed both chronic inflammations caused by formalin and acute inflammation caused by carrageenan. [27]

Liver injury
The enzymes aspartate, alanine transaminases, and lactate dehydrogenase are used as indicators of liver damage. [28] Polysaccharides from Ganoderma greatly reduce the liver injury biomarkers, triglyceride, and cholesterol in plasma and the liver. Studies on Ganoderma have identified several hepatoprotective benefits for a variety of liver injuries, including alcoholic liver disease, hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatitis B, fibrosis, nonalcoholic liver disease, inflammation, and toxicant-induced liver injury. [29][30]

Skin diseases and care
Recent research has shown that G. lucidum can treat skin conditions and enhance skin quality. Polysaccharides can be used to improve the healing of skin wounds, reduce post-burn infection, and limit ischemia-reperfusion harm to skin flaps. They can also be used in skincare products. due to their involvement in skin photoaging and skin whitening, [31]

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