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How Medicinal Mushrooms Can Treat Gastrointestinal Disorders
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How Medicinal Mushrooms Can Treat Gastrointestinal Disorders

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
January 02, 2024
3 min

Over 40% of the world’s population has some form of a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID), yet many individuals dealing with GI conditions have trouble finding a long-lasting and effective treatment (1). Fortunately, recent research has found that medicinal mushrooms may offer a promising solution for treating these widespread conditions.

This natural remedy, which has been hailed by traditional medicine for centuries, is now gaining scientific recognition for its efficacy in treating and managing gastric illnesses. As our understanding of medicinal mushrooms continues to evolve, we may be on the cusp of a new era in effective, natural treatments for a range of GI conditions.

The connection between medicinal mushrooms and gastric health

mushrooms gastrointestinal disorders

Medicinal mushrooms have several bioactive compounds that largely contribute to their therapeutic potential. Mushrooms are notably rich in polysaccharides, like beta-glucans, known for their immunomodulating properties. These polysaccharides play a major role in enhancing the body’s immune response by activating key immune cells like macrophages and natural killer cells (NK cells), which are essential for fighting infections and diseases.

Beta-glucans also have anti-inflammatory effects, which help further modulate the immune system (2). Chronic inflammation is one of the primary causes of several illnesses and health conditions. By mitigating inflammation and boosting immune health, medicinal mushrooms are a promising natural remedy for gastric conditions, helping repair the lining of the stomach and reduce inflammation in the intestines, which are often damaged by these conditions.

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Additionally, medicinal mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which also help manage gastrointestinal health. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to the development or worsening of GI disorders (3). Antioxidants like ergothioneine, selenium, and phenolic compounds help neutralize these free radicals and reduce oxidative damage, which mitigates ulceration and inflammation.

Study background

The therapeutic benefits of medicinal mushrooms have been widely explored for cancer management, controlling obesity, and treating cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Yet, their impact on gastroesophageal diseases has had less attention in studies.

Although there are many case reports and articles regarding the therapeutic potential of medicinal mushrooms on gastric conditions, the study’s researchers decided that a complete literature review would be beneficial in determining a more comprehensive understanding of their effectiveness and the mechanisms behind it. To do so, they conducted an in-depth analysis of current medical literature on the topic.

The reviews primarily focused on direct clinical applications regarding conditions like gastric mucosa protection, gastric acid suppression, gastric ulcers, or gastroesophageal reflux. The review began with 61 articles, narrowed down to 17 after initial screening.

Further analysis led to the inclusion of seven studies due to their sole focus on the gastroprotective effects of medicinal mushrooms. Each study was experimental and performed on animal models, either rats or mice. Different concentrations of mushroom extracts with varied methods of extraction were used in the studies.

Key findings

mushrooms gastrointestinal disorders doctor

These studies demonstrated that medicinal mushroom extracts have significant gastroprotective effects compared to negative control groups, indicating their potential as a natural remedy for gastric ailments. All seven studies reported favorable results in using medicinal mushrooms for gastric-related conditions, particularly in facilitating the healing process of gastric ulcers. Following treatment, the animal models showed a reduction in ulceration areas and enhanced healing of their ulcers.

Several key mechanisms were attributed to the therapeutic effects of the extracts, including the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which are crucial in reducing the inflammation associated with gastric ulcers. The studies also noted enhanced preservation of stomach mucus, which helps protect the gastric lining from damage. 

The research also highlighted a dose-dependent effect of the mushroom extracts. Higher doses generally resulted in more significant improvements in gastric ulcer healing, suggesting the importance of dosage for achieving optimal therapeutic outcomes (4).

Future research and potential in therapeutic applications

mushrooms gastrointestinal disorders lions mane

As promising as the study’s findings are, it had some limitations that should be considered.

Firstly, the studies were all done on animal models, raising questions about the findings’ direct applicability to human subjects. Additionally, the sample sizes in the studies were relatively small, which might not accurately represent a more varied range of results than that of a larger and more diverse population.

Because of the variability of the results across different studies, there is a need for further research to establish a standardized dosage and treatment protocols. Future clinic trials conducted on human subjects are needed to thoroughly understand the therapeutic potential of medicinal mushrooms for treating gastric conditions.

However the existing research provided still establishes a solid foundation of knowledge for further analysis. With continued exploration, medicinal mushrooms could become a treatment option for those seeking a more natural remedy for their gastrointestinal disorders.

References

  1. D, Akramiene, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, and Kevelaitis E. 2007. “Effects of Beta-Glucans on the Immune System.” Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania). 2007. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17895634/.
  2. Pizzino, Gabriele, Natasha Irrera, Mariapaola Cucinotta, Giovanni Pallio, Federica Mannino, Vincenzo Arcoraci, Francesco Squadrito, Domenica Altavilla, and Alessandra Bitto. 2017. “Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2017 (8416763): 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/8416763.
  3. Puia, Aida, Diana SCHLANGER, and Ion C PUIA. 2023. “The Role of Medicinal Mushrooms as Gastroprotective Agents: A Short Narrative Review.” Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca 51 (4): 13532–32. https://doi.org/10.15835/nbha51413532.
  4. Sperber, Ami D., Shrikant I. Bangdiwala, Douglas A. Drossman, Uday C. Ghoshal, Magnus Simren, Jan Tack, William E. Whitehead, et al. 2020. “Worldwide Prevalence and Burden of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Results of Rome Foundation Global Study.” Gastroenterology 160 (1). https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.04.014.

Fact Checked: Shannon Ratliff


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science
Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

Table Of Contents

1
The connection between medicinal mushrooms and gastric health
2
Study background
3
Key findings
4
Future research and potential in therapeutic applications
5
References

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