Ganoderma 3-5% crude fat, 59% crude fiber, and

Ganoderma lucidum contains about 1.8% ash, 26-28%
carbohydrate, 3-5% crude fat, 59% crude fiber, and 7-8% protein.1
These mushrooms also contain a wide variety of bioactive molecules including
terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides, and their derivatives glycoproteins
and polysaccharides.1 Mushroom proteins contain all the essential
amino acids but they are especially rich in lysine and leucine.1 The
low total fat content and high proportion of healthy polyunsaturated fatty
acids relative to unhealthy fatty acids is considered a significant contributor
to the health value of Ganoderma lucidum.1
The polysaccharides in the fungus exhibit a broad range of bioactivities
including anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, antiulcer, antitumorigenic, and
immunostimulating effects.1 In order to extract the polysaccharides
from the fruiting bodies, a process using hot water and precipitation with
ethanol or methanol is commonly used.1 Many of these extracted
polysaccharide components from Ganoderma
lucidum are marketed and sold as over the counter treatments for chronic
diseases including cancer and liver disease.1 Triterpenes can also
be extracted from the fungus by using methanol, ethanol, acetone, chloroform,
or ether and these give the mushroom its lipid-lowering and antioxidant effects.1

            The research on the actual health
benefits of Ganoderma lucidum have
been pretty mixed in terms of if this mushroom can actually provide its claimed
benefits.1 There are a vast number of published studies based on
animal and cell culture models and in vitro assessment that prove some health
benefits.1 However, there is no cohesive body of research or
objective evaluation of the mushrooms effects on human health.1 One
of the issues with conducting human research is that researchers don’t know if
exposing unhealthy or chronically ill patients to the mushroom’s effects will
cause them any danger in terms of their health.1 A study published
in the British Journal of Nutrition set out to determine what effects Ganoderma lucidum would have on a
population of healthy adults in hopes that it could open doors for more intense
human subject research.2 The study was a double-blinded,
placebo-controlled, cross-over intervention study which investigated the
effects of 4 weeks of Lingzhi supplementation on biomarkers for antioxidant
status, CHD risk, DNA damage, immune status, and inflammation.2 The
study also tested for markers of liver and renal toxicity.2 The
study collected its data by collecting fasting blood and urine from healthy,
consenting adults before and after 4 weeks supplementation with a commercially
available encapsulated Lingzhi preparation or a placebo.2 The study
showed that there were no significant changes in any of the variables, but
there was a slight trend toward lower lipids and increased antioxidant
capacity.2 The study also showed no evidence of any liver, renal, or
DNA toxicity.2 Overall, this study of healthy subjects provided
useful data that supports controlled intervention trials using at risk subjects
in order to assess the therapeutic effects of Lingzhi on the human population.2
It is important that we take the research on animals and cell culture models
and apply it to the human population to determine if Ganoderma lucidum can
actually provide life saving benefits to the human population.

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            Many animal and cell culture studies
have been done on Ganoderma lucidum
and its effect on cancer. There are many chemical compounds that can be
extracted from the mushroom that exhibit chemopreventive and/or tumoricidal
effects.3 Tumor implanted animal models have shown inhibitory
effects on angiogenesis and metastasis, but the evidence from human trials is
scarce.3 A study performed on the effects of Ganoderma lucidum in allogenic and syngenic tumor-bearing mice
showed inhibited tumor growth and elongated life span when Ganoderma lucidum was orally administered to the mice.3
These results indicated that the anti-tumor activity may be caused by the
mushrooms immunostimulating action and it suggests that its ingestion can be useful
in the prevention and curing of cancer.3

            Many Ganoderma lucidum products are promoted as being immunomodulating
agents and many animal and cell culture studies have been performed in order to
determine the validity of the claim.4 These studies show
considerable evidence to support the claims via the induction of cytokines and enhancement
of immunological effector.4 There are many different components of Ganoderma lucidum that proved to enhance
the proliferation and maturation of T and B lymphocytes, splenic mononuclear
cells, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells in culture in vitro and in
animal studies in vivo.4 The anti-tumor effect of the mushroom was
found to be mediated by cytokines released from activated macrophages and T
lymphocytes.4

            Ganoderma
lucidum has also been found to have antioxidant benefits and the
consumption of these antioxidants help prevent cancer and other chronic
diseases.5 The antioxidants found in the mushroom protect cellular
components from oxidative damage which decreases risk of mutations and
carcinogenesis and it also protects immune cells from damage.5 In
one study, the effects of antioxidant ethanolic extract of Ganoderma lucidum were tested in vivo and in vitro in rats induced
with mammary cancers.5 The findings of the study suggest that the
extracts from the mushroom could be considered as a potential source of natural
antioxidants and can be used as an effective chemopreventitive agent against
mammary cancer.5

            Research on the effects of Ganoderma lucidum on viral and bacterial
infections has also shown positive results in culture and animal studies.6
The goal of research in the treatment of viral and bacterial infections is to
discover new agents that specifically inhibit viral and bacterial
multiplication without affecting normal cells.6 The many side
effects of antibiotics and antivirals and the appearance of resistant and
mutant strains have made the development of new agents a growing field.6
Many studies have been done on Ganoderma
lucidum including a study on mice infected with hepatitis B.6 In
the study, mice were injected with Ganoderic acid and it was found that it
inhibited replication of hepatitis B virus and it significantly protected the
mice from liver damage.6 It has been also been shown that the
mushroom has inhibitory effects on herpes simplex viruses, vesicular
stomatitis, and against HIV protease activity.6

            Ganoderma
lucidum has also been proven to have a hypoglycemic effect in animals.7
One study looked at the use of Ganoderan B, a glycan of Ganoderma lucidum fruiting bodies and its effect on hypoglycemic
activity.7 It was found that Ganoderan B increased the plasma
insulin level in normal and glucose-loaded mice but elicited no effect on
insulin binding to isolated adipocytes.7 Overall it reduced the
glycogen content in the liver but had no influence on total cholesterol and
triglyceride levels in the plasma and liver.7 This study and many
like it were performed in animals so much more support from human clinical
studies is needed to prove the effects.7

            The final effects of Ganoderma lucidum is on liver and
gastric injury.8 The hot water and water-ether extracts of the
fruiting body were found to have a potent hepatoprotective effect on liver
injury induced by carbon tetrachloride given orally to rats.8
Another study found that high doses of freeze-dried Ganoderma lucidum mycelia induced significant prolonged total
intervals and a reduction in the number of ulcers and ulcer areas.8
The study indicates that the treatment was effective in preventing reoccurring ulcers.8

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