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Reishi's Role in Alzheimer’s Therapy: New Study Reviews Its Natural Potential
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Reishi's Role in Alzheimer’s Therapy: New Study Reviews Its Natural Potential

Shannon Ratliff
Shannon Ratliff
February 14, 2024
3 min

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of dementia, making up 60% of all dementia cases worldwide. (1) AD impacts cognitive functions, memory, and behavior, and places a substantial burden on individuals, families, and healthcare systems globally due to its chronic nature, progressive decline in function, and the lack of a definitive cure. A new paper titled “Therapeutic potential of the medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum against Alzheimer’s disease,” authored by Xu-Jia Chen and published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, examines the effects of Ganoderma lucidum (G. lucidum), or reishi mushrooms, on Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Reishi is known as the “elixir of immortality” in ancient texts, and the fruiting body and spore powder have a long, abundant history of clinical applications. Ganoderma lucidum has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, with its long history including immune-boosting and anti-aging properties. The paper reviewed over 100 studies that focused on the brain-boosting properties of reishi.

About Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2019, the study notes that “AD and other forms of dementia were listed as the seventh leading cause of death, with projections indicating the neurodegenerative disorders will surpass cancer and become the second leading cause of human death all over the world in 2040.” (1)

The main pathological features of AD include the accumulation of β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles composed of tau protein. β-amyloid plaques are dense deposits of protein and cellular material that accumulate outside and around neurons. Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides clump together to form these plaques, which are believed to disrupt cell-to-cell communication and trigger inflammatory responses, contributing to neuronal damage.

Neurofibrillary tangles form inside the neurons and are made of tau protein. Tau helps stabilize microtubules in a healthy brain, but in AD, tau proteins become abnormal and start to accumulate and pair up, eventually forming tangles. These tangles disrupt the neuron’s transport system, harming synaptic communication and leading to cell death.

Research findings

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Researchers reviewed data from studies that dealt with reishi for just about every purpose, from Alzheimer’s to cancer. If a study covered the antitumor, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties of reishi, the researchers reviewed as part of this review. The study found that reishi is a promising candidate to combat AD because of its neuroprotective effects in the brain.

Some studies in the review looked into special compounds found in reishi mushrooms that can help protect the brain and reduce aging effects. For example, one compound called Ganoderic acid D can fight off damage caused by stress in our cells by working through a specific cell signaling pathway. Another compound, Ganoderic acid A, helps protect the energy-producing parts of our cells and lowers the chance of cell death in brain cells.

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Also, reishi mushroom extracts can reduce swelling and inflammation in the brain. They do this by blocking certain pathways that cause inflammation, which is seen in experiments where brain cells are stimulated to mimic conditions of inflammation.

There’s also research showing that Ganoderic acid can help improve memory and brain function in mice that were affected by a chemical that usually causes cognitive problems. This suggests that compounds in reishi mushrooms could help with brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

The study recommendations

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The collection of data found that reishi’s “beneficial effects on cognitive function, symptoms, and quality of life in the patients with AD may be linked with its anti-amyloidogenic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, acetylcholinesterase inhibitory, and immunomodulatory properties.” (1)

“Current treatment approaches for AD mainly focus on temporarily alleviating behavioral and psychological symptoms. Currently, five drug treatments have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): rivastigmine, lantamine, donepezil, memantine monotherapy, and donepezil/memantine combination therapy. These drugs ameliorate symptoms without delaying or arresting disease progression. An alternative approach is targeted, disease-specific therapy, and the development of drugs targeting Aβ is progressing rapidly.

At non-toxic doses, the semipermeability of the brain-blood barrier limits the therapeutic effects of most drugs, thereby limiting the clinical use of many.”

Reishi is an incredible mushroom, with it and Lion’s Mane impacting the brain-blood barrier effectively. Although substantial progress has been made in delaying the progression of AD using reishi, research is limited because these results are based on animal and cell culture studies, and few clinical trials on the therapeutic potential of reishi on AD have been completed.

It is my sincerest hope that in the world of Western medicine, researchers will note the well-documented benefits of reishi mushrooms and devote resources to clinical trials to demonstrate the therapeutic potential in the future. In the meantime, be proactive and add reishi mushroom extracts to your routine. Whether it’s a powder or capsule, make sure it’s 100% fruiting bodies to get the most effective and brain-boosting power.

References

  1. Chen, Xu-Jia. “Therapeutic Potential of the Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma Lucidum Against Alzheimer’s Disease.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, vol. 172, 2024, pp. 116222. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332224001033?via%3Dihub

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science
Shannon Ratliff

Shannon Ratliff

Head of Content

Table Of Contents

1
About Alzheimer's Disease
2
Research findings
3
The study recommendations
4
References

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