9 Mushrooms That Help Protect the Liver
An increasing chorus of research is finding that some edible and medicinal mushrooms can help the liver heal. Certain mushrooms can also protect the liver against many of the toxins that are now bombarding our livers.
When the liver is damaged by toxins such as alcohol, pharmaceuticals, preservatives, pesticides and other toxins, liver cells begin to produce enzymes such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in an attempt to heal and remove the toxins. As liver cells become more damaged, fibrosis can occur, which can progress to a complete shutting down of the liver.
Studies on mushrooms and liver health
A number of studies have shown that extracts from a number of medicinal and edible mushrooms reduce the levels of these enzymes in liver damage situations, and help bring about a healthier liver. Let’s look at a few of these.
A 2018 study from the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences studied the ability of Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) to help protect the liver. The researchers found that a number of polysaccharides from Reishi protected against oxidative damage to the liver. Reishi reduced liver enzymes. Reishi also boosted the liver’s antioxidant status and provided protection against the liver.
A 2018 study from India’s National Institute of Technology at Manipur found that the Auricularia delicata mushroom significantly protected rats from liver damage from acetaminophen.
In a 2014 study from Turkey’s Osmangazi University, researchers tested Agaricus brasiliensis and Phellinus linteus on alcoholic liver damage. The Agaricus brasiliensis mushroom decreased ALT liver enzyme levels.
In a 2013, study, Panus giganteus – also called Pteropus giganteus with a common English name of Indian Flying Fox, part of many Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian recipes – was found to reduce AST and ALT levels at similar rates as a standardized extract of Silymarin (Milk Thistle’s active liver constituent). In this study, the mushroom was tested against liver injury caused by the drug thioacetamide.
In another study– this from Japan’s Osaka University – found that two different fractions of Shiitakes (hot-water extraction and ethanol extraction) not only decreased AST and ALT levels, but also inhibited the formation of collagen fibrils – which produce liver fibrosis.
Liver fibrosis is quite common amongst those with a long history of drinking alcohol or taking pharmaceutical drugs.
Which mushrooms are good for the liver?
According to these studies and others some of the more productive medicinal mushrooms in terms of reducing liver damage include:
- Lentinula edodes (also known as Shiitake)
- Agaricus blazei
- Ganoderma lucidum (also known as Reishi)
- Ganoderma tsugae (Tsugae Reishi)
- Pleurotus cornucopiae (Oysters)
- Panus giganteus
- Agaricus brasiliensis
- Auricularia delicata
- Other medicinal mushrooms are also suspected
The fact that many edible and medicinal mushrooms can not only reduce liver enzymes but also keep the liver from fibrosis lends once again to the conclusion that nature provides the best means for healing in the long run. Mushrooms provide a number of other healing responses in the body. Some mushrooms inhibit cancer according to other research. Some medicinal mushrooms also combat the flu.
Wangkheirakpam SD, Joshi DD, Leishangthem GD, Biswas D, Deb L. Hepatoprotective Effect of Auricularia delicata mushroom (Agaricomycetes) from India in Rats: Biochemical and Histopathological Studies and Antimicrobial Activity. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2018;20(3):213-225. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2018025886.
Chen TQ, Wu JG, Kan YJ, Yang C, Wu YB, Wu JZ. Antioxidant and Hepatoprotective Activities of Reishi, Ganoderma lucidum Crude Polysaccharide Extracts, by Ultrasonic-Circulating Extraction. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2018;20(6):581-593. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2018026536.
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Jayakumar, T.; Ramesh, E.; Geraldine, P. Antioxidant activity ofthe oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, on CCL4-induced liver injury in rats. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2006, 44, 1989–1996.
Akamatsu S, Watanabe A, Tamesada M, Nakamura R, Hayashi S, Kodama D, Kawase M, Yagi K. Hepatoprotective effect of extracts from Lentinus edodes mycelia on dimethylnitrosamine-induced liver injury. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Dec;27(12):1957-60.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.