Ganoderma mushrooms have been used for a long time in Japan, China, and other Asian countries. They are known to promote immunity and fight cancer, thereby boosting longevity (1).
Recent research has unearthed other potential benefits of this superfood. In this post, we will explore more about these mushrooms and their benefits.
Table Of Contents
What Are Ganoderma Mushrooms?
Ganoderma mushrooms are also called reishi mushrooms. They are fungi growing in the humid and hot regions in parts of Asia. The mushrooms have been recognized for their medicinal benefits over 2000 years ago, which have even been documented in ancient scriptures (1).
These mushrooms are large and black, with a glossy exterior and a woody texture.
The major bioactive compounds in the mushrooms are terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides, and polysaccharides. They also contain proteins with all the essential amino acids.
They have a low fat content and a higher concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (1).
These constituents of the mushrooms contribute to most of their health benefits.
What Are The Health Benefits of Ganoderma Mushrooms?
Ganoderma mushrooms can play a major role in cancer prevention. They may also help treat depression and boost the immune system. Some studies also suggest that they may have a beneficial effect on heart health.
1. May Aid Cancer Prevention
In ancient China, the dried powder of the ganoderma mushroom was used as a cancer chemotherapy agent. In recent studies, the mushroom was also found to suppress the migration of breast and prostate cancer cells (2).
Another study focused on the mushroom’s ability to enhance tumor response to treatment and even stimulate host immunity (3). The study, however, warranted the need for more evidence before considering ganoderma mushroom as a first-line treatment for cancer.
The polysaccharides in the mushrooms also play key roles in cancer treatment. They have been found to show potential preventive effects against cancers of the lungs, liver, skin, blood, and colon (4).
2. May Help Fight Depression
Rat studies shed light on the anti-depressant potential of the ganoderma mushrooms (5).
The mushroom was found to have anti-depressant properties similar to that of fluoxetine, a drug used in depression treatment (6).
In another study, the extracts of ganoderma mushrooms had a therapeutic effect on patients dealing with neurasthenia (a medical condition associated with emotion disturbance). Groups given the mushroom extract were found to show better responses to treatment (7).
3. May Enhance Immunity
Ganoderma mushrooms possess potent immunostimulating properties and are often considered the primary choice of treatment for any immune deficiency disease. In mice studies, these could boost the immune response in the organisms, which was reduced due to heavy-load exercise (8).
The polysaccharides in the mushrooms achieved this by elevating the concentrations of peripheral white blood cells and boosting the function of cell macrophages (8).
Some types of ganoderma mushrooms were also found to modulate inflammation pathways in white blood cells (9).
4. May Promote Heart Health
Ganoderma mushrooms were used in ancient China to strengthen cardiac function (1).
Another study shows that the mushrooms may help lower cholesterol levels in individuals with diabetes. The mushrooms were also found to elevate good cholesterol levels (10).
But another study did not find any significant link between ganoderma mushrooms and cardioprotection (11).
The cardioprotective properties of ganoderma mushrooms are yet to be investigated. Hence, consult your doctor before consuming them for this purpose.
5. May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Extracts of ganoderma mushrooms have been observed to have anti-diabetic potential. In mice studies, these mushrooms increased plasma insulin levels and reduced plasma sugar levels (12).
These mushrooms were also found to prevent the progression of diabetic renal complications (13). They were identified to be potentially beneficial in treating type 2 diabetes. They achieve this by suppressing certain enzymes involved in gluconeogenesis.
Ganoderma mushrooms are also thought to improve the antioxidant status of an individual. This way, they may protect your body’s cells from free radicals. However, there is no concrete research to establish this. The mushrooms may improve antioxidant status, given the presence of beneficial compounds.
Ganoderma mushrooms are being extensively studied only since recent times. As the future unfolds, we expect to discover more such beneficial effects. All of those can be attributed to the nutritional profile of the mushrooms, which we will look at in the following section.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Ganoderma Mushrooms?
Ganoderma mushrooms are composed of various bioactive compounds, including terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides. They are especially rich in lysine and leucine, two essential amino acids. The mushrooms are also significantly higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
In addition, about 28% of the mushrooms is carbohydrate, 5% is crude fat, 59% is crude fiber, and 8% is crude protein (1).
Looking at the nutritional profile, we might feel ganoderma mushrooms are the real deal. Of course, they are replete with powerful nutrients. But there is another side of science that has questioned their safety.
What Are The Potential Risks Of Ganoderma Mushrooms?
There was a case of liver damage following intake of the mushrooms. A woman who had taken a formulation of ganoderma mushroom experienced serious hepatotoxicity. She saw gradual improvements in her symptoms once she stopped her intake. In this case, the woman consumed not the mushrooms but their powdered formulations (14).
Another such hepatotoxic case was observed in two patients who had taken ganoderma mushroom powder (15).
Some other sources even hint at the possibility of ganoderma mushrooms being potentially harmful to pregnant and breastfeeding women. These mushrooms may also increase the risk of bleeding disorders and lower blood pressure way too much. However, there is no concrete research to prove this. But it is better to be on the safer side. If you have any specific medical condition or are pregnant/breastfeeding, please check with your doctor before taking ganoderma mushrooms.
What Is Their Ideal Dosage?
The ideal dosage for ganoderma mushrooms is yet to be established. While the recommended dose of the actual mushroom is not known, the dosage of the mushroom extract can range between 1.4 to 3 grams per day (11). However, this also is a rough assumption. Do check with your doctor for the right dosage for you.
Ganoderma mushrooms are powerhouses of important nutrients. But since research is still in its nascent stages, please consult your doctor, especially if you have a medical condition or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Did you have these mushrooms before? How did you like them? Do let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is ganoderma mushroom good for weight loss?
A: Some research suggests it may be good for weight loss, based on animal studies. But more research is warranted (16).
Do the mushrooms help you sleep?
A: Some sources say they do. But there is less information available on this.
Is mushroom coffee healthy?
A: Yes, it can be. It can have similar benefits to the mushrooms. But do check with your doctor before taking the beverage.
- Ganoderma lucidum, Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health.
- Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) in cancer treatment, Integrative Cancer Therapies, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Ganoderma: A Cancer Immunotherapy Review, Ethnopharmacology, Frontiers in Pharmacology.
- Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia in rats, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antidepressant-Like Activity of Ethanol Extract of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) in Mice, International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences.
- A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Immunomodulatory effect of ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides (GLP) on long-term heavy-load exercising mice, International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The effects of two different ganoderma species (Lingzhi) on gene expression in human monocytic THP-1 cells, Nutrition and Cancer, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Study of potential cardioprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): results of a controlled human intervention trial, The British Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Ganoderma lucidum mushroom for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Anti-diabetic effects of Ganoderma lucidum, Phytochemistry, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of medicinal mushrooms on blood cells under conditions of diabetes mellitus, World Journal of Diabetes, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Hepatotoxicity due to a formulation of Ganoderma lucidum (lingzhi), Journal of Hepatology.
- Fatal fulminant hepatitis associated with Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi) mushroom powder, Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Mushroom supplement could be one way to tackle obesity, National Health Service.
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