As well as in bacterial, fungal and viral infections the ability of mushroom polysaccharides to help promote an effective immune response has implications for parasitic infections with Lentinan from Lentinula edodes and aqueous and ethanolic extracts from Ganoderma lucidum showing protection against malarial infection in murine models1-3.
In addition aqueous extracts of Agaricus subrufescens showed in vitro activity against different species of Leishmania while a number of compounds produced by Cordyceps species showed anti-parasitic activity including cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris and pyridones from Cordyceps nipponica4-8.
The main role of medicinal mushrooms in parasitic infections is in supporting the immune system and other herbs have stronger direct anti-parasitic activity.
1. The shiitake mushroom-derived immuno-stimulant lentinan protects against murine malaria blood-stage infection by evoking adaptive immune-responses. Zhou LD, Zhang QH, Zhang Y, Liu J, Cao YM. Int Immunopharmacol. 2009;9(4):455–462.
2. Modulation of Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Plasmodium berghei Malarial Infection by Crude Aqueous Extract of Ganoderma lucidum. Oluba OM, Olusola AO, Eidangbe GO, Babatola LJ, Onyeneke EC. Cholesterol. 2012;2012:536396.
3. Antimalarial and hepatoprotective effects of crude ethanolic extract of Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.:Fr.)P.Karst. (higher Basidiomycetes), in Plasmodium berghei-infected mice. Oluba OM, Olusola AO, Fagbohunka BS, Onyeneke EC. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012;14(5):459–466.
4. Leishmanicidal activity of the Agaricus blazei Murill in different Leishmania species. Valadares DG, Duarte MC, Oliveira JS, Chávez-Fumagalli MA, Martins VT, Costa LE, Leite JP, Santoro MM, Régis WC, Tavares CA, Coelho EA. Parasitol Int. 2011;60(4):357–363.
5. Prophylactic or therapeutic administration of Agaricus blazei Murill is effective in treatment of murine visceral leishmaniasis. Valadares DG, Duarte MC, Ramírez L, Chávez-Fumagalli MA, Martins VT, Costa LE, Lage PS, Ribeiro TG, Castilho RO, Fernandes AP, Régis WC, Soto M, Tavares CA, Coelho EA. Exp Parasitol. 2012;132(2):228–236.
6. Therapeutic efficacy induced by the oral administration of Agaricus blazei Murill against Leishmania amazonensis. Valadares DG, Duarte MC, Ramírez L, Chávez-Fumagalli MA, Lage PS, Martins VT, Costa LE, Ribeiro TG, Régis WC, Soto M, Fernandes AP, Tavares CA, Coelho EA. Parasitol Res. 2012;111(4):1807–1816.
7. The effects of cordycepin on malaria parasites. Trigg PI, Gutteridge WE, Williamson J. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1971;65(4):514–520.
8. Structures of cordypyridones A-D, antimalarial N-hydroxy- and N-methoxy-2-pyridones from the insect pathogenic fungus Cordyceps nipponica. Isaka M, Tantichareon M, Thebtaranonth Y. J Org Chem. 2001;66(14):4803–4808.