LingZhi & Diabetes (Summary)

Updated: Oct 4

Diabetes, as a metabolic disorder caused by a lack of insulin and characterized by hyperglycemia, is nowadays no longer considered a rare, congenital disease, becoming increasingly common and thus a serious problem.


Diabetes was once considered one of the diseases of the wealthy or powerful as they were usually the only ones able to maintain excessive lifestyles and diets, but diabetes has come to be an affliction of the common person as well in less than a century.


Renown for its multi-pronged health benefits, the prized LingZhi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is prevalent throughout the realm medicinal herbs and supplements and It has been used in multiple medical traditions for various ailments, diabetes being one of them.


In this article, we will be summarising the key points of Mushrooms of the Genus Ganoderma Used to Treat Diabetes and Insulin Resistance, a review by Wińska, K. et al. in 2019 [1], on perspectives, recent advances, and major challenges of Ganoderma species in the field of diabetes, our focus being on the effects that bioactive compounds found in Ganoderma species have on diabetic mice as a proxy for human beings.


You might also be interested in LingZhi Files: Diabetes, where we thoroughly unpack this review's content describing the mechanisms of action of Ganoderma compounds and metabolic processes influenced.


This article will cover in brief point form:

  • types and causes of diabetes;

  • the experimental results of administering Ganoderma extracts to diabetic mice;

  • the key bioactive compounds of Ganoderma species and their anti-diabetic effects; and

  • how you might apply the information presented in this review.



​Quick Links For This Article:


1. Types & Causes Of Diabetes

2. Current Treatment Of Diabetes & Their Disadvantages

3. Effect Of Ganoderma Extracts On Diabetic Mice

4. Polysaccharides Isolated from Ganoderma Species & Their Interactions

5. Terpenoids Isolated from Ganoderma Species & Their Interactions

6. Summarized Treatment Mechanism by Ganoderma

7. Adding LingZhi Into Your Schedule For Diabetes



Types & Causes Of Diabetes


Diabetes occurs when blood glucose (blood sugar) remains chronically elevated and results in glucose toxicity in the body. This is usually due to impairment or insufficiency of β-cells in the pancreas that diminishes insulin production and gradually deteriorates whole body functions.


  • Autoimmunity of the pancreatic islet β-cells, in which the body's immune system attacks other cells of the body, causes declining insulin production and the insulin shortage is the cause of type 1 diabetes;

  • In type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance also contributes in perpetuating the disorder, where liver and muscle cells fail to effectively uptake glucose from circulating blood and store it as glycogen due to their poor sensitivity to insulin.


Type 1 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes

Core Mechanism

Autoimmunity in which the body attacks pancreatic islet β-cells inhibiting insulin production

Insulin resistance in which the pancreas produces insulin but the body has poor response to insulin

Marker

Presence of antibodies that target islet β-cell antigens

Absence of antibodies that target islet β-cell antigens



Current Treatment Of Diabetes & Their Disadvantages


Current treatment involves the use of drugs that influence certain pathways relating to diabetes.


  • These drugs are prescribed with the goal of improving insulin sensitivity and/or inhibiting the breakdown of complex sugars into glucose in the small intestine.


However, the use of synthetic drugs is known to come with their drawbacks, coming in the form of side effects and risks of certain hazardous conditions. Examples of such drawbacks as cited by the authors include:


  • Prolonged use of metformin, for example, while safe, inexpensive and effective in treating Type 2 diabetes, risks inducing lactic acidosis, the acidification of blood which should otherwise be slightly alkaline (pH 7.35 - 7.45);

  • Thiazolidinediones (TZD), prescribed when use of metformin is contraindicated, has many side effects such as weight gain and heart failure, thought to be caused by increased fluid retention seen in patients treated with TZD;

  • The authors also cited further papers describing various other examples of medication for diabetes as well as their reported side effects.



Effect Of Ganoderma Extracts On Diabetic Mice


While both water and alcohol extracts contain both types of bioactive compounds, polysaccharides are more water soluble while triterpenoids are more alcohol soluble.


Past research on both water and alcohol extracts of G. lucidum for their ability to reduce blood glucose in rodents with induced diabetes have consistently returned encouraging the results:


  • Blood glucose levels were halved in diabetic mice after four weeks of water extract administration at a dose of 0.3 g/kg body weight of the extract used;

  • Other researchers using various alcohol extracts prepared with fruiting bodies (the mushroom itself) also achieved similar reductions in blood glucose concentrations.


The evidence presented suggests that Ganoderma species carry a wide range of bioactive compounds that suppress excessive blood glucose levels, the prime hallmark of diabetes and immediate cause of glucose toxicity.



Polysaccharides Isolated from Ganoderma Species & Their Interactions


Polysaccharides:


  • are long chains of at least ten monosaccharides which are in turn single molecules of somple sugars such as glucose, fructose, and so on;

  • Range from being long linear chains to being highly branched;

  • are used as both sources of energy and building blocks for growth and repair, beta-glucan polysaccharides being of core interest to researchers for their medicinal properties and use in many diseases.


The following is a summary of the main anti-diabetic interactions between Ganoderma polysaccharides and various biological functions as demonstrated by other researchers and reviewed by the authors:


  • Reduction in blood glucose levels through raised circulating insulin levels observed as early as one hour after administering extract;

  • Significant decrease in fasting blood glucose concentration, excess insulin, and epididymal (a testicular duct) white fatty tissue;

  • Reduction in levels of enzymes involved in gluconeogenesis (sugar production by the liver);

  • Protects against alloxan-induced pancreatic islet damage by countering free radical action;

  • Resensitizing of cells to insulin and reducing insulin resistance;

  • Low molecular weight polysaccharides regulate proteins and related mRNA expression that control apoptosis (programmed cell death), protecting the body’s pancreas cells against apoptosis and also initiating their regeneration;

  • Improves wound healing, a major concern in diabetics, by accelerating formation of scar tissue and new blood vessels (angiogenesis);

  • Oral use of inulin with Ganoderma polysaccharides may have synergistic effects which increase insulin sensitivity.



Terpenoids Isolated from Ganoderma Species & Their Interactions


Triterpenoids:


  • Consist of six isoprene units and various functional groups;

  • Have been identified and studied in species of the genus Ganoderma and consist of over 140 different triterpenoids, with as many as 15 of them are derived from G. lucidum.

  • Exhibit their anti-diabetic effects by inhibiting enzymes that are associated with glucose, cholesterol, and other diabetic hallmarks.

  • Are structurally reminiscent of steroid hormones and thus speculated to interact with with glucocorticoid-responsive elements (GRE) and suppress pro-inflammatory proteins and increase the expression of anti-inflammatory proteins.

  • Penetrate both cell membranes and the blood–brain barrier, accumulate in the liver, circulatory system, and other tissues, exerting their beneficial effects.


The following is a summary of the main anti-diabetic interactions between G. lucidum terpenoids and various biological functions as demonstrated by other researchers and reviewed by the authors:


  • Inhibits conversion of glucose to sorbitol - sorbitol accumulation leading to complications such as neuropathy, nephropathy, cataracts, and retinopathy;;

  • Inhibits conversion of complex sugars into glucose, thus slowing glucose uptake into the bloodstream;

  • Inhibits enzyme involved in LDL cholesterol formation.



Summarized Treatment Mechanisms by Ganoderma


As a final note, the authors note the satisfactory effect and medical potential of Ganoderma, citing 61 other clinical studies carried out for various indications, and reiterated the following for diabetes:


On pancreatic islet β-cells:


  • Impairment or insufficiency of β-cells by high glucose levels or autoimmunity, diminishes insulin production, leading to chronic toxicity from high blood glucose levels that gradually deteriorates organ tissues and thus whole body functions;

  • Ganoderma polysaccharides can inhibit β-cell apoptosis and initiate their regeneration;

  • Ganoderma peptidoglycans (cell wall fragments, also polysaccharides) raise insulin release by β-cells, improving insulin resistance.


On the liver and digestive system:


  • Ganoderma polysaccharides increase removal of glucose by the liver from circulation and stores it as glycogen within liver cells.

  • Ganoderma triterpenoids inhibit the conversion of complex sugars into glucose in the small intestine, thereby reducing the uptake of glucose into circulating blood.


On various bodily functions:


  • Especially in type 2 diabetes, decreasing insulin secretion commonly coincides with increasing insulin resistance;

  • Excessively high blood glucose levels and glucotoxicity produces excess reactive oxygen species (ROS), compromising the body's antioxidant defence system - Ganoderma polysaccharides modulate the various enzymes involved in antioxidant defence, mitigating the effects of ROS;

  • By controlling the various factors leading to diabetes, Ganoderma bioactive compounds help to reduce fasting blood glucose levels in a holistic manner;



Adding LingZhi Into Your Schedule For Diabetes


With the information reviewed by the authors, here are a few suggestions as to the steps you could take with Ganoderma mushrooms:


  • Ingest Ganoderma polysaccharides at mealtime to reduce the uptake pf glucose into circulating blood by your small intestine;

  • Ingest Ganoderma polysaccharides and triterpenoids daily for 4 - 8 weeks or longer to reduce blood glucose levels (as in mice study).


Teas are easy to prepare and are a good source of Ganoderma polysaccharides and triterpenoids.



Disclaimer: While we resolve to ensure that each and every one of our articles is well and sufficiently researched, providing accurate and detailed information regarding herbal and pharmacological research, we do not claim to distribute any form of medical or medical-related advice on our site and blog. Medical advice should only be administered by your qualified medical practitioner(s) . The statements, findings and opinions mentioned are solely those of the respective individuals and entities quoted to have had expressed them.

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