Category: Immune, Integrative Nutrition, Sin categorizar


Víctor Blasco, PhD in Chemistry. Specialist in Medicinal Chemistry.

In these ever-changing times, where new pathogens are constantly appearing that affect human beings, new diseases are being discovered and our immune system is permanently threatened, it is necessary to have certain tools that can favour an effective immune response to the different threats that are lurking around us.
One such strategy involves the fungus Ganoderma Lucidum, better known as Reishi. Its medicinal properties are well established as it has been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. Given its enormous usefulness in natural medicine, it has now become extremely popular and is considered a symbol of longevity and happiness. But it is not the only member of the Ganodermataceae family with interesting properties. Its siblings Ganoderma applanatum and Ganoderma tsugae also exhibit potentially beneficial health effects. In fact, the combination of these three species provides a synergistic effect, with greater therapeutic effects observed than when taken separately.
A very important fact to bear in mind when consuming medicinal mushrooms is to know where they come from. It is strongly advised that they are grown in a controlled, organic environment, as mushrooms are excellent heavy metal chelators. In addition, it is ideal to consume the whole mushroom, including both the mycelium and the fruiting body. In this way, we will be able to take advantage of all the active ingredients contained in the mushroom.

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What is Reishi (Ganoderma) for? MEDICINAL USES OF REISHI
The therapeutic benefits attributed to it are extensive and varied, including anti-tumour, immunomodulatory and antioxidant properties, as well as helping to combat anxiety and stress. These properties are mainly due to the presence of certain highly bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides such as beta-glucans, and fatty acids such as terpenes and alkaloids. In particular, Reishi is the only natural source of a group of triterpenes known as ganoderic acids, which have a molecular structure similar to those of steroid hormones and are responsible for part of the aforementioned therapeutic activity. [1]
In addition to these properties, in recent decades a multitude of scientific evidence has been found of the importance of this fungus in the treatment of various types of pathologies such as bronchitis, gastritis, hepatitis, nephritis, haemorrhoids, chronic diseases, hypertension, arthritis, asthma, diabetes and even cardiovascular diseases. [2] It also contributes strongly to improving the mental and emotional health of individuals, reducing fatigue, stress and improving the quality of sleep.

The molecules responsible for the immunomodulatory effect of this mushroom are mainly beta-glucans and ganoderic acids. On the one hand, beta-glucans improve the immune system’s response capacity by promoting the action of lymphocytes. At the same time, they stimulate the function of macrophages and natural killers, which are responsible for the detection, phagocytosis and destruction of harmful organisms.
On the other hand, triterpenes, such as ganoderic acids, inhibit enzymes associated with the proliferation of viruses, fungi and bacteria, promoting anti-inflammatory control and stimulating the intestinal microbiota.
In terms of their antioxidant properties, beta-glucans have been shown to neutralise free radicals (ROS) generated in the body, prolonging the lifespan of cells and thus promoting their longevity. [3]

The triterpenes mentioned above are capable of modulating cellular synapses and responses to different stimuli. In addition, these molecules are involved in the production of hormones such as epinephrine and serotonin, which are directly involved in controlling emotions and mood. In this way, the Ganoderma Lucidum mushroom improves insomnia and promotes psychological well-being.
Unlike most drugs with similar properties, this mushroom does not affect only one specific receptor, but affects several genes and complex systems in the body, leading to less dependence and fewer side effects. [4]
Moreover, this mushroom has a significant nootropic effect, regulating human cognitive functions such as memory, intelligence, creativity and concentration.

One of the most complex challenges facing medicine today is the need to halt the precipitous advance of cancer, a devastating disease that is spreading unchecked in our society.
In relation to this, a multitude of studies have shown that the polysaccharides present in Reishi possess potential anti-cancer activity mainly due to their immunomodulatory, pro-apoptotic, anti-metastatic and anti-angiogenic properties. This suggests that they not only act by stimulating the immune response, but also show cytotoxic and cytostatic effects on tumour cells. However, they are not usually proposed for use as first-line therapy, but because they stimulate the immune system and improve tumour response in the long term, they are commonly used as adjuvant therapy. [5]

Cardiovascular diseases are those that affect the heart and circulatory system, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke. Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases include hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidaemia.
On the one hand, the efficacy of Reishi in reducing high blood glucose or cholesterol levels has not been fully proven, and more studies are needed to demonstrate this property. [6] However, there are studies showing the importance of Reishi in helping to reduce blood pressure, prevent platelet aggregation, prevent thrombosis and facilitate blood circulation. [7]
All in all, Reishi is considered a medicinal substrate with a wide range of beneficial properties for our organism. It stands out mainly as an agent that stimulates the immune system, as an anti-tumour and antioxidant agent, as well as for its beneficial effects on people’s psychological and emotional development. For all these reasons, it is considered to be an excellent complement for strengthening and maintaining the physical and mental health of our body.

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Bibliographic References:
[1] Baby, sabulal; Johnson, anil-john; Govindan, balaji. Secondary metabolites from Ganoderma. Phytochemistry, v. 114, 2015, p. 66-101.
[2] Poomsing, P.; Pattanapanyasat, K.; Wongsinkongman, P.; Soonthornchareonnon, N. Research and Development of Ganoderma lucidum Cultivated in Thailand. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, v. 40, n. 3, 2013, p.1-7.
[3]. Wang J, Cao B, Zhao H, Feng J. (2017). Emerging Roles of Ganoderma Lucidum in Anti-Aging.
[4]. Wang J, et al. (2017). Emerging Roles of Ganoderma Lucidum in Anti-Aging Dis. 2017; 8 (6): 691-707.
[5] Sohretoglu D, Huang S. (2018). Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharides as An Anti-cancer Agent. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2018; 18 (5):667-674.
[6] Klupp NL, Chang D, Hawke F, Kiat H, Cao H, Grant SJ, Bensoussan A. Ganoderma lucidum mushroom for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD007259.
[7] Meng, J., Yang, B. (2019). Protective Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) on Cardiovascular System. In: Lin, Z., Yang, B. (eds) Ganoderma and Health. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 1182. Springer, Singapore

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