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Ganoderma

INTRODUCTION

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Mushrooms represent a major untapped source of
potent pharmaceutical products. Nearly, 10,000 mushroom species are known of
which 2000 are safe for humans and about 300 of them possess medicinal
properties. Ganoderma lucidum has been used in folk medicine in China
and Japan for over 2000 years for a wide range of ailments. In China, fruiting bodies
of Ganoderma have been regarded as a panacea for all types of diseases (Joseph
et al., 2009). Different workers have reported a wide range of
pharmacological potential of this wonder herb (Sanodiya et al., 2009; Zengtao
et al., 2011; Bata et al., 2011).

Numerous mushrooms have for centuries been revered
for their miracle cures and general health promoting benefits (Ferreira et al.,
2010). Predominantly in Asian countries, various mushroom species are grown in
the wild and used as nutraceuticals, despite much of the evidence for benefit
being anecdotal or obtained from animal model experiments. Nonetheless, there
is evidence of potential benefit from using various mushroom extracts with respect
to anti-bacterial, anti- inflammatory, anti-viral, antiatherosclerotic, anti-diabetic
and anti-cancer activity (De Silva et al., 2012; Wasser, 2011). Many feel that
medicinal mushrooms are underutilised and have huge potential for providing health
benefit (Jenkin, 2014).

There are a number of fungal species that are
traditionally used as nutraceuticals around the globe (Ferreira et al., 2010;
Wasser, 2011). These include G. lucidum (Lingzhi), Ophiocordyceps (previously
Cordyceps) species (Paterson, 2008), Grifola frondosa (Hen of the
woods/Maitake), Lentinula edodes (Shiitake), Piptoporus betulinus (Birch
polypore/ bracket), Inonotus obliquus (Chaga), and Agaricus subrufescens (Almond
mushroom), amongst numerous others (De Silva et al., 2012; Wasser, 2011).
However, Lingzhi is probably the most widely known and highly revered medicinal
mushroom amongst populations living in Asia.

Ganoderma
lucidum, an oriental fungus, is a highly ranked herbal
medicine with a long history of use in promoting health and longevity in China,
Japan, and other Asian countries (Paterson, 2006). It is a large, dark mushroom
with a glossy exterior and a woody texture. The Latin word lucidus means
“shiny” or “brilliant” and refers to the varnished appearance of the surface of
the mushroom. The genus Ganoderma is related to polypore macrofungi and mostly
found in tropical and subtropical areas. It is saprobic fungus grows on living
or deadwood as well as occasionally on soils ascending from the buried roots
during high humidity monsoon season (Rakhee et al., 2017). It is a well-known
basidiomycete and has been referred to as the “Mushroom of Immortality and God
of herbs” (Al-Obaidi et al., 2016).The commonly used Ganoderma species include G. lucidum, G. tsugae, G. caspense
and G. applanatum (Lai et al., 2004).

The
fruiting body of G.lucidum, called Ling-Zhiin
China and Reishi in Japan, has been used since ancient times for the treatment of
a series of diseases including: hepatitis, arthritis, nephritis, bronchitis, asthma,
arteriosclerosis, hyper- tension, cancers and gastric ulcer (Berovi? et al., 2003;
Paterson, 2006). Modern studies have confirmed the traditional knowledge and
reported a list of medicinal effects of G.
lucidum extracts, such as: immunomodulating, antitumor, antioxidant, antimicrobial,
cardiovascular, anti-allergenic, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, etc. (Berovi?
et al., 2003; Liu et al.,2010; Wasser,2010).

The
use of G. lucidum even to cure major
disease conditions prompted extensive phytochemical and biological studies (Ríos
et al., 2012). So far, over 240 secondary compounds have been isolated from G. lucidum (Chen et al., 2012; Qiao et
al., 2007). Triterpenoids are the major constituents in G. lucidum and they play a critical role in its biological effects.
G. lucidum has a strong bitterness
which originates from its triterpenes and it depends on the strain, cultivation
conditions and manufacturing processes (Seo et al., 2009).

This
mushroom contains several distinctive secondary metabolites such as fatty
acids, flavonoids, nucleobases, polyphenols, polysaccharides, steroids, and
vitamins etc. (Batra et al., 2013; Joseph et al., 2011; Khan et
al., 2015; Kirar et al., 2015; Rathor et al., 2014).

 

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