Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi or Ling-zhi), a popular medicinal mushroom, is regarded by the Chinese as “mushroom of immortality”. It is believed that regular consumption of Ganoderma lucidum in the form of tea or mushroom powder can preserve the human vitality and promote longevity1. Scientific investigations have been conducted to show its anti-cancer, hypoglycemic and immuno-modulating effects. Its bioactive components comprise of triterpenes, polysaccharides and immune-modulatory proteins.
Anti-tumour activities are mediated through stimulation of spleen-cell proliferation and expression of cytokines such as interleukins Iand IIand IFN γ. 2
Β-D-glucan polysaccharides stimulate or modulate the immune system by activation of macrophages and helper T-cells, as well as increase the immunoglobin levels to produce a heightened response to foreign cells. 3
Possible mechanism may be due to stimulation of insulin release from the islets directly, through facilitation of Ca2+ inflow to the pancreatic cells.4
Enhanced innate immunity by promoting function of macrophages, B and T lymphocytes, and dendritic cells.5
1. Shiao MS, Lee KR, Lin LJ, Wang CT. Natural products and biological activities of the Chinese medical fungus, Ganoderma lucidum. In: Ho CT, Osawa T, Huang MT, Rosen RT, editors. Food phytochemicalsfor cancer prevention. II. Teas, spices, and herbs. Washington,DC: American Chemical Society; 1994. p. 342–54.
2. Wang YY, Khoo KH, Chen ST, Lin CC, Wong CH, Lin CH. Studies on the Immuno-modulating and anti-tumor activities of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) Polysaccharides: Functional and Proteomic Analyses of a Fucose-Containing Glycoprotein Fraction Responsible for the Activities. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chem 2002, 10:1057-1062.
3. Gao Y, S. Zhou, Jiang W, Huang and X. Dai, Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunol. Invest 2003, 32(3): 201-215.
4. Zhang HN, Lin ZB. Hypoglycemic effect of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2004, 25 (2): 191-195
5. Shao BM, Dai H, Xu W, Lin ZB, Gao XM. Immune receptors for polysaccharides from Ganoderma lucidum. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 2004, 323:133-141
6. Liu J, Kurashiki K, Shimizu K, Kondo R. Structure-activity relationship for inhibition of 5alpha-reductase by triterpenoids isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2006, 14 (24): 8654–60.