Ganoderma Lucidum (lingzhi) contains a cornucopia of beneficial bioactive compounds that enhances your health. In scientific research, the two key Ganoderma Lucidum bioactives that provide pharmacological benefits are polysaccharides and triterpenoids. It must be mentioned: in both natural and commercial lingzhi products, the amount of these beneficial compounds can vary. In one study, a random selection and testing of lingzhi products, purchased from Hong Kong shops, revealed that polysaccharide content varied from 1.1 to 5.8% and triterpenoid content ranged from undetectable to 7.8%1. What causes these variations in bioactive contents? Different species of lingzhi used and differences in processing methods both affect concentration of bioactives within lingzhi products1.
✢ Helpful Hint: Check the concentration of bioactive compounds in your G. Lucidum products – how was it manufactured?
✢ In case you’re wondering: our spores powder has 5% polysaccharides and 2% triterpenoid content; our spores oil has over 25% triterpenoid content.
What are polysaccharides?
Polysaccharides are fundamentally carbohydrates. When people think about carbohydrates, we often associate “carbs” with the calorie-contributing carbohydrates from rice, cereals, and root vegetables. This type of ‘caloric-carbohydrate’ is also known as starch – an abundant plant polysaccharide.
There are many different types of polysaccharides – including humanly indigestible carbohydrates/polysaccharides. Cellulose, for instance, is a familiar polysaccharide that falls under the category of “dietary fibre”. Hyaluronic Acid (a popular skincare ingredient) is also a polysaccharide.
How do lingzhi polysaccharides improve my health?
- Hypoglycaemic (lowers blood glucose)
- Hypolipidaemic (lowers blood lipids)
- Hepatoprotection (“hepato” = refers to the liver)
- Anti-cancer and antitumorigenic (inhibits tumour growth)
Lingzhi contains over 200 polysaccharides that exhibit a wide range of physiological effects including anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic, immunostimulatory and antitumorigenic 1,2.
In vitro and in vivo studies suggests that the anti-tumorigenic and anti-cancer effects of lingzhi polysaccharides are mediated via immunomodulatory, anti-angiogenic, and cytotoxic effects2,3.
- In vitro means ‘in glass’ which refers to research conducted in a controlled environment such as in test tubes or petri dishes.
- In vivo means ‘in the living’ and refers to research performed in living organisms such as animals or humans.
Lingzhi polysaccharides act as antioxidants – protecting against free radicals and reducing mutagen-induced cell damage4.
Liver protection, hypolipidaemic and lipid antioxidant activities – beneficial for hyperlipidaemia 2,5.
What are triterpenoids?
Terpenoids are a class of chemical compounds naturally found in all living organisms – plants and fungi are especially rich in terpenoids6. Some terpenoids are only found in specific groups of plants and fungi; terpenoids can also be exclusively associated with a single species – these are called specialised terpenoids6. Terpenoids are divided into families based on their chemical structure7. For example, menthol belongs to the monoterpenoid family and is a plant chemical found in peppermint and other mint varieties8.
Terpenoids, in lingzhi, that confer the vast array of medicinal and health benefits belong to the triterpenoid family. Ganoderma Lucidum is rich in triterpenoids – containing more than 150 types of triterpenoids; over 50 have been found to be new and unique to this fungus1. Some examples of triterpenoids found in G. Lucidum include: ganoderic acids, lucidenic acids, ganoderals, ganoderiols, ganodermic acids, and ergosterols (e.g. ergosterol peroxide)1,9.
✢ Helpful Hint: Triterpenoid content can be used to measure quality between different Ganoderma products1.
How do lingzhi triterpenoids improve my health?
Scientific studies have shown that triterpenoids isolated from Ganoderma fungi provide remarkable therapeutic and pharmacological benefits:
- Anti-cancer and antitumorigenic (inhibits tumour growth)
- Hepatoprotective (“hepato” = refers to the liver)
- Hypocholesterolemic (lowers blood cholesterol)
- Antioxidant and cell protection
Ganoderic acids provide antiviral, anticancer, antitumorigenic, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, lipid-lowering effects and hypocholesterolemic activities1,11 .
Triterpenoids possess natural chemo-preventive effects to suppress cancer cell growth and trigger apoptosis of various cancer cell lines – without damaging healthy cells and tissue11-14. Ganoderma triterpenoids are receiving increased attention to be a promising anticancer treatment or complementary treatment that can be used with conventional chemotherapy agents15.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals can damage healthy cells which causes ageing and can lead to other diseases such as cancer. Lingzhi triterpenoids have antioxidative effects – increasing activity of antioxidant enzymes that remove harmful free radicals and ROS11.
Animal studies have shown that triterpenoids enhances both innate and cellular immunity which helps to inhibit and kill tumours13,16.
- Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, Benzie IFF. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, eds. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd ed. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011.
- Yang Y, Zhang H, Zuo J, et al. Advances in research on the active constituents and physiological effects of Ganoderma lucidum. Biomed Dermatology. 2019;3(1):6. doi:10.1186/s41702-019-0044-0
- Xu Z, Chen X, Zhong Z, Chen L, Wang Y. Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharides: Immunomodulation and Potential Anti-Tumor Activities. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(01):15-27. doi:10.1142/S0192415X11008610
- Boh B, Berovic M, Zhang J, Zhi-Bin L. Ganoderma lucidum and its pharmaceutically active compounds. In: ; 2007:265-301. doi:10.1016/S1387-2656(07)13010-6
- Wu S. Hypolipidaemic and anti-lipidperoxidant activities of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018;118:2001-2005. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.07.082
- Pichersky E, Raguso RA. Why do plants produce so many terpenoid compounds? New Phytol. 2018;220(3):692-702. doi:10.1111/nph.14178
- Yaoita Y, Kikuchi M, Machida K. Terpenoids and Sterols from Mushrooms. In: ; 2015:1-32. doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-63460-3.00001-8
- Bohlmann J, Keeling CI. Terpenoid biomaterials. Plant J. 2008;54(4):656-669. doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03449.x
- Grienke U, Kaserer T, Pfluger F, et al. Accessing biological actions of Ganoderma secondary metabolites by in silico profiling. Phytochemistry. 2015;114:114-124. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2014.10.010
- Ma B, Ren W, Zhou Y, Ma J, Ruan Y, Wen C-N. Triterpenoids from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum. N Am J Med Sci. 2011:495-498. doi:10.4297/najms.2011.3495
- Bhat ZAB, ABDUL HAMID WANI, MOHD YAQUB BHAT, ABDUL RASHID MALIK. MAJOR BIOACTIVE TRITERPENOIDS FROM GANODERMA SPECIES AND THEIR THERAPEUTIC ACTIVITY: A REVIEW. Asian J Pharm Clin Res. March 2019:22-30. doi:10.22159/ajpcr.2019.v12i4.32124
- Patlolla J, Rao C. Triterpenoids for Cancer Prevention and Treatment: Current Status and Future Prospects. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2012;13(1):147-155. doi:10.2174/138920112798868719
- Y. Radwan FF. Apoptotic and Immune Restoration Effects of Ganoderic Acids Define a New Prospective for Complementary Treatment of Cancer. J Clin Cell Immunol. 2012;01(S3). doi:10.4172/2155-9899.S3-004
- Li X, Xie Y, Yang BB. Characterizing novel anti-oncogenic triterpenoids from ganoderma. Cell Cycle. 2018;17(5):527-528. doi:10.1080/15384101.2017.1315493
- Cao F-R, Feng L, Ye L-H, et al. Ganoderic Acid A Metabolites and Their Metabolic Kinetics. Front Pharmacol. 2017;8. doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.00101
- Wu X, Cao J, Li M, et al. An integrated microbiome and metabolomic analysis identifies immunoenhancing features of Ganoderma lucidum spores oil in mice. Pharmacol Res. 2020;158:104937. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2020.104937
Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational enlightenment and is not designed to diagnose, treat, or cure. Every individual is unique – if you have any health concerns, do discuss them with a medical or health professional.
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