| By Cathleen Vought, MSc

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GANODERIC ACIDS?

In the modern era, it's pretty common for people to look for their own hacks to enjoy their best possible health outcomes. One of these options is turning to traditional Chinese medicine and natural products that help you maintain your health. If you've taken this route, you may have stumbled upon the fungus Ganoderma lucidum, or reishi mushroom. Grown in nature on hardwood logs, the fruiting bodies of the reishi mushroom contain an amazing set of triterpene compounds known collectively as Ganoderic acids, which are separated into a range of specific compounds. 

list of ganoderic acids

What Are Ganoderic Acids and How Do They Work?

Ganoderic acids are tetracyclic triterpenoids that are derived from lanosterol. Terpenes are a set of six isoprenes in a chain, and a triterpene is three of these units banded together, forming essentially a long unsaturated hydrocarbon. In simpler terms, these acids are a building block for various steroids and other compounds that are used by the body for a wide range of purposes. Triterpenes in reishi mushrooms tend to fall into three different categories, for the most part: ganoderic acids, lucidenic acids and sterols. However, it's the variety of triterpenes that make reishi mushrooms so promising for pharmacological activities, with over 140 triterpenes isolated to date. 

Previous study has shown that the triterpene compounds have hepatoprotective, antitumor and 5-alpha reductase inhibition effects. This means that these compounds are effective in treating issues of the liver and kidneys, including polycystic kidney disease and hepatitis, fighting cancerous tumors and inhibiting 5-alpha reductase which can reduce enlarged prostates and male pattern baldness. But how do these compounds work? Does it matter which ones you're using? In this article, we'll take a solid look at the research that has been done on the pharmacological activities of these compounds and how they'll impact your health.

Cancer-Fighting Effects

Ganoderic acids have a range of cancer-fighting effects. Ganoderic acid DM is specifically effective against prostate cancer, inhibiting prostate cancer cell growth and preventing the cancer from moving on to more complex and serious stages of development. The same compound is also noted to be effective against some forms of breast cancer, including inhibiting cell proliferation and colony formation in MCF-7 cells. Ganoderic acid D has also been found to be effective against cervical and colon cancer, stopping cell growth by inhibiting the cancer cell's ability to take up glucose for energy and growth. Ganoderic acid A (GAA) has been shown in prior studies to provide anti-tumor activity on osteosarcoma, lymphoma, meningioma and breast cancer cells. 

Liver and Kidneys Protectant

For autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, GAA has been identified as the prime compound that significantly inhibits cyst growth. Though GAA was reported to exhibit the most significant inhibition of cyst growth, other Ganoderic acid compounds, specifically the D, F, G and T compounds also have inhibitory effects on cyst growth, which shows that a holistic approach to taking the entire mushroom rather than only GAA could produce an entourage effect, where the entire range of pharmacological activities produced provides a stronger effect than a single enhanced product.

red reishi

Male Health Effects

Ganoderic acid DM is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and is also an androgen receptor binder, which means that it acts to reduce 5-alpha reductase enzyme activity, one of the enzymes involved in androgen and estrogen metabolism, as well as bile liquid production. It's used in pharmaceutical medications to treat male-pattern baldness and enlarged prostate, as well as specific hormonal imbalances. Its role in prostate reduction also makes it effective for treating prostate cancers, providing significant inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth and preventing the progression of many stages of prostate cancer. 

Fatigue-Fighting and Energy-Building Properties

Though studies of the specific compounds involved have not taken place during the previous studies, one study of chemotherapy patients showed that a general ganoderic acid extract provided to patients greatly relieved the patients' fatigue, specifically for patients being treated with 5-fluorouracil or similar compounds. However, it was also found that the Ganoderic acid extract provided relief from general fatigue related to chemotherapy as well, beyond specific chemotherapy agents, improving patient quality of life while undergoing chemotherapy. Given that the mushroom as a whole has been proven in numerous studies to boost energy and slow aging, it's not a far reach to believe that it's the Ganoderic acid that is providing these benefits.

Pain-Reducing Effects

A wide range of Ganoderic acids have proven to be effective in reducing pain, specifically Ganoderic acids A, B, C, D, G and H. In early studies, A, B, G and H appear to be effective as an analgesic, or direct pain reliever, while the antioxidant properties of A, B, C and D by protecting cells against oxidative damage and aging. Early studies have shown GAA to be effective in treating pain from rheumatoid arthritis, probably due to a combination of the antioxidant and analgesic effect, as well as anti-inflammatory effects from this or a related triterpene.

Antioxidant Effects

Generally speaking, Ganoderic acids are considered a highly oxygenated triterpene, which allows them to act as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress at the cellular level, rebuilding damaged tissues from the very start. This is one of the reasons why the compounds are so effective in fighting cancer, as they are able to reduce the oxidative damage that leads to cancer as well as directly reducing the growth of the cancer while keeping surrounding tissues healthy. This also impacts pain level and inflammation, which is why it has been found to be a solid option for relieving symptoms and damage from rheumatoid arthritis. 

When you understand how Ganoderic acids can impact your health, you can take charge of your wellness to make simple changes to your health practices and improve your overall health. Look at the available research to decide whether adding reishi mushrooms, Ganoderma lucidum, to your routine as a solid source of beneficial Ganoderic acids for your diet, then take some time to talk to your health care practitioner to ensure there are no problems with you using it before you start. 

ganoderic acids a and b

In the modern era, it's pretty common for people to look for their own hacks to enjoy their best possible health outcomes. One of these options is turning to traditional Chinese medicine and natural products that help you maintain your health. If you've taken this route, you may have stumbled upon the fungus Ganoderma lucidum, or reishi mushroom. Grown in nature on hardwood logs, the fruiting bodies of the reishi mushroom contain an amazing set of triterpene compounds known collectively as Ganoderic acids, which are separated into a range of specific compounds. 

 

WHAT ARE GANODERIC ACIDS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Ganoderic acids are tetracyclic triterpenoids that are derived from lanosterol. Terpenes are a set of six isoprenes in a chain, and a triterpene is three of these units banded together, forming essentially a long unsaturated hydrocarbon. In simpler terms, these acids are a building block for various steroids and other compounds that are used by the body for a wide range of purposes. Triterpenes in reishi mushrooms tend to fall into three different categories, for the most part: ganoderic acids, lucidenic acids and sterols. However, it's the variety of triterpenes that make reishi mushrooms so promising for pharmacological activities, with over 140 triterpenes isolated to date. 

Previous study has shown that the triterpene compounds have hepatoprotective, antitumor and 5-alpha reductase inhibition effects. This means that these compounds are effective in treating issues of the liver and kidneys, including polycystic kidney disease and hepatitis, fighting cancerous tumors and inhibiting 5-alpha reductase which can reduce enlarged prostates and male pattern baldness. But how do these compounds work? Does it matter which ones you're using? In this article, we'll take a solid look at the research that has been done on the pharmacological activities of these compounds and how they'll impact your health.
 

CANCER-FIGHTING EFFECTS

For autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, GAA has been identified as the prime compound that significantly inhibits cyst growth. Though GAA was reported to exhibit the most significant inhibition of cyst growth, other Ganoderic acid compounds, specifically the D, F, G and T compounds also have inhibitory effects on cyst growth, which shows that a holistic approach to taking the entire mushroom rather than only GAA could produce an entourage effect, where the entire range of pharmacological activities produced provides a stronger effect than a single enhanced product.
  

LIVER AND KIDNEYS PROTECTANT

A wide range of Ganoderic acids have proven to be effective in reducing pain, specifically Ganoderic acids A, B, C, D, G and H. In early studies, A, B, G and H appear to be effective as an analgesic, or direct pain reliever, while the antioxidant properties of A, B, C and D by protecting cells against oxidative damage and aging. Early studies have shown GAA to be effective in treating pain from rheumatoid arthritis, probably due to a combination of the antioxidant and analgesic effect, as well as anti-inflammatory effects from this or a related triterpene.

 

MALE HEALTH EFFECTS

Ganoderic acid DM is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and is also an androgen receptor binder, which means that it acts to reduce 5-alpha reductase enzyme activity, one of the enzymes involved in androgen and estrogen metabolism, as well as bile liquid production. It's used in pharmaceutical medications to treat male-pattern baldness and enlarged prostate, as well as specific hormonal imbalances. Its role in prostate reduction also makes it effective for treating prostate cancers, providing significant inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth and preventing the progression of many stages of prostate cancer. 

FATIGUE-FIGHTING AND ENERGY-BUILDING PROPERTIES

Though studies of the specific compounds involved have not taken place during the previous studies, one study of chemotherapy patients showed that a general ganoderic acid extract provided to patients greatly relieved the patients' fatigue, specifically for patients being treated with 5-fluorouracil or similar compounds. However, it was also found that the Ganoderic acid extract provided relief from general fatigue related to chemotherapy as well, beyond specific chemotherapy agents, improving patient quality of life while undergoing chemotherapy. Given that the mushroom as a whole has been proven in numerous studies to boost energy and slow aging, it's not a far reach to believe that it's the Ganoderic acid that is providing these benefits.

PAIN-REDUCING EFFECTS

A wide range of Ganoderic acids have proven to be effective in reducing pain, specifically Ganoderic acids A, B, C, D, G and H. In early studies, A, B, G and H appear to be effective as an analgesic, or direct pain reliever, while the antioxidant properties of A, B, C and D by protecting cells against oxidative damage and aging. Early studies have shown GAA to be effective in treating pain from rheumatoid arthritis, probably due to a combination of the antioxidant and analgesic effect, as well as anti-inflammatory effects from this or a related triterpene.


ANTIOXIDANT EFFECTS

Generally speaking, Ganoderic acids are considered a highly oxygenated triterpene, which allows them to act as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress at the cellular level, rebuilding damaged tissues from the very start. This is one of the reasons why the compounds are so effective in fighting cancer, as they are able to reduce the oxidative damage that leads to cancer as well as directly reducing the growth of the cancer while keeping surrounding tissues healthy. This also impacts pain level and inflammation, which is why it has been found to be a solid option for relieving symptoms and damage from rheumatoid arthritis. 

When you understand how Ganoderic acids can impact your health, you can take charge of your wellness to make simple changes to your health practices and improve your overall health. Look at the available research to decide whether adding reishi mushrooms, Ganoderma lucidum, to your routine as a solid source of beneficial Ganoderic acids for your diet, then take some time to talk to your health care practitioner to ensure there are no problems with you using it before you start. 

CATHLEEN VOUGHT, MSC

Cathleen Vought, MSc in Plant Sciences, writes about issues at the intersection of agriculture, sustainability and human health. She lives on her family farm in southwest Missouri teaching about wild edible and medicinal plants to students in the area, helping hundreds of people find self-sufficiency, local foods and plant medicines as close as their own backyard.

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