Reishi mushroom (G. lucidum) is a popular medicinal mushroom, considered inedible due to its solid texture and bitterness. Traditionally, it was used in Japan and China to treat nephritis, chronic hepatitis, hepatopathy, gastric ulcers, asthma, bronchitis, insomnia and arthritis (Jong et. al. 1992, Hobbs 1995, Chang and Buswell 1999, McKenna et al. 2002). G. lucidum contains more than 400 biologically active compounds belonging to the groups of polysaccharides, triterpenes, sterols, nucleosides, fatty acids and proteins (Mizuno 1995, Kim and Kim 1999, McKenna 2002, Gao et al. 2002, Boh 2013), from which polysaccharides and triterpenes have been researched the most. Jin and colleagues (2012) published an intervention review on clinical studies using G. lucidum in cancer patients.
Polysaccharides are considered the main pharmacologically active compounds in G. lucidum. The mushroom contains more than 100 types of polysaccharides (Wasser 2005) with immunomodulatory properties exhibiting potent immune-enhancing effects. These include mitogenicity and activation of immune effector cells, such as T lymphocytes, macrophages and NK cells, leading to the production of cytokines, including interleukins, tumour necrosis factor alpha and interferons (Zhou et. al. 2002).
In addition, G. lucidum contains more than 140 triterpenes (Yue et. al. 2010), which have been shown to inhibit histamine release, viral infections and cholesterol synthesis, as well as possess hepatoprotective, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, apoptosis-inducing, antioxidative, anti-tumour, anti-microbial and immunomodulatory properties (Boh et al. 2007, Powell 2010). Moreover, a protein tyrosinase from G. lucidum fruiting bodies, has been demonstrated to have genoprotective properties (Shi et al. 2002).
Jin, X., Ruiz, B.J., Sze, D.M.Y., Chan, G.C.F., 2012. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment (Intervention review). Cochrane database syst. Rev., 13 (6), 1-35.
Jong, S.C., Birmingham, J.M., 1992. Medicinal benefits of the mushroom Ganoderma. Adv. Appl. Microbiol., 37, 101–134.
Hobbs, C., 1995. Medicinal mushrooms: An exploration of tradition, healing, and culture. 2nd Ed. Botanica Press, Inc.: Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
Chang, S.T., Buswell, J.A., 1999. Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) – a mushrooming medicinal mushroom. Int. J. Med. Mushrooms, 1 (2), 139-146.
McKenna, D.J., Jones, K., Hughes, K., 2002. Reishi Botanical Medicines. The Desk reference for Major Herbal Supplements. 2nd Ed. The Haworth Herbal Press: New York, London, Oxford, 825–855.
Boh, B., 2013. Ganoderma lucidum: A potential for biotechnological production of anti-cancer and immunomodulatory drugs. Recent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery, 8, 255-287.
Wasser, P., 2005: Reishi or Ling Zhi (Ganoderma lucidum). Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York: Marcel Dekker, p. 842.
Zhou, Sh., Gao, Y., Chen, G., Dai, X., Ye, J., Gao, H., 2002. A phase I/II study of a Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst. (Ling Zhi, reishi mushroom) extract in patients with chronic hepatitis B. Int. J. Med. Mushrooms, 4 (4), 321–328.
Yue, Q.X., Song, X.Y., Ma, C., Feng, L.X., Guan, S.H., Wu, W.Y., Yang, M., Jiang, B.H., Liu, X., Cui, Y.J., Guo, D.A., 2010. Effects of triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum on protein expression profile of HeLa cells. Phytomedicine: International journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 17 (8-9), 606-613.
Boh, B., Berovic, M., Zhang, J.S., Zhi-Bin, L., 2007. Ganoderma lucidum and its pharmaceutically active compounds. Biotechnology Annual Review, 13, 265-301.
Powell M., 2010. Medicinal mushrooms: A clinical guide. 1st ed. Mycology press, East Sussex, p. 128.
Shi, Y., James, A.E., Benzie, I.F.F., Buswell, J.A., 2002. Genoprotective effects of selected mushroom species. Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products. Sánchez et al. (eds).