Ganoderma Research: Lingzhi Reduces Risks of Obesity Complications in High Fat Diet

Saturday 7 October 2023

This article is translated from Ganoderma Magazine Issue 89. It is a report of a scientific study concluding that Lingzhi / Ganoderma promotes metabolism and reduces the risks of obesity complications in high fat diet.

Obesity is a metabolic disease associated with excess fat deposit that can increase the adipose tissues (fats) mass by increasing the number and enlargement of adipocytes (fat cells). Enlargement of fat cells causes dysregulation in hormone signaling and increases the secretion of inflammatory cytokines, leading to insulin resistance and chronic low-grade inflammation. As obesity disrupts metabolism, it is a major risk factor for multiple metabolic disorders, such as Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of arteries), fatty liver and cancer. Many therapeutic methods have been developed to inhibit obesity and some researchers are targeting the potential of AMPK signaling pathway.

Lingzhi has been used for centuries to improve health and longevity, and to treat diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

Researchers from Korea's Chungbuk National University and the National Institute of Horticultural and Herbal Studies verified researches on Lingzhi's anti-obesity effects and its prevention of metabolic diseases via the AMPK Pathway. The study, which was headed by Hyeon A. Lee, is titled Ganoderma lucidum extract reduces insulin resistance by enhancing AMPK activation in high-fat diet-induced obese mice, and was published in the Nov 2020 issue of Nutrients.

What is AMPK Pathway?

AMPK (5' AMP-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme that plays a role in regulating energy metabolism. AMPK activation will set off downstream enzymes that:

(a) Increases glucose uptake and utilization, fatty acid oxidation and autophagy (breakdown and cleaning out of damaged body cells).
(b) Decreases the synthesis of glycogen (glucose storage), fatty acid, protein and cholesterol (in general, lipid metabolism).

AMPK can be activated through exercise, by liver enzyme LKB1 (liver kinase B1) and adipose tissues.

The Experiment

Lingzhi extracts (GEP), containing 53% triterpenoids and 27% polysaccharides, were used in the experiment. Young C57BL/6 mice were divided into 5 groups and fed (ad libitum) as follows:

(i) ND (Normal Diet) group fed with normal diet containing 10% fat.
(ii) HFD (High Fat Diet) group fed with high fat diet containing 45% fat.
(iii) HFD + 1% - group fed as (ii) but contains 1% Lingzhi extract.
(iv) HFD + 3% - group fed as (ii) but contains 3% Lingzhi extract.
(v) HFD + 5% - group fed as (ii) but contains 5% Lingzhi extract.

Duration of experiment was 12 weeks.
Food intake was measured every other day.
The mice were weighed once a week.

The Results

As expected HFD increased the final size and weight of the mice, which was also displayed in their appearance. However, the final increase in size and weight of the Lingzhi group were much lower, indicating that Lingzhi may have played a role in suppressing the increase in weight.

Further analysis of the data showed that:

Left diagram: HFD increased weight gain but was suppressed by GEP (Lingzhi).
Mid diagram: Food intake was constant amongst groups, indicating that the effect of GEP (Lingzhi) on weight gain may be attributed to metabolic changes.
Right diagram: The feeding efficiency ratio (body weight gain / food intake) suggested that GEP (Lingzhi) treatment reduced the body mass gained per calorie eaten.

Compared to ND, HFD increased the weight of liver and epididymal white adipose tissues (WAT) (these are obesity parameters), whereas GEP (Lingzhi) reduced these weight gain.

A = Liver cells.
B = WAT (white adipose tissues).

There was greater fat accumulation in both A and B for mice consuming HFD than ND.
But with GEP (Lingzhi) supplementation, the accumulation were lesser and the size of adipocytes smaller, especially in the 3% and 5% group.

HFD increased all parameters on obesity that were analyzed, but with GEP (Lingzhi), they were reduced, suggesting that GEP is able to reduce the higher concentration of cholesterol and lipid in the blood from the HFD.

HFD increased glucose and insulin levels compared to ND, but GEP (Lingzhi) significantly reduced their levels, especially insulin, suggesting better utilization of glucose.

The Mechanism of Action

Without any change in the amount of high fat food intake, why was GEP (Lingzhi) able to reduce fat accumulation and the possible risks of complications from the resulting obesity?

The researchers analysed the liver tissues and WAT of the mice and found that the enzymes responsible for regulating energy (AMPK) were greatly increased in both tissues of the mice fed with GEP (Lingzhi). AMPK activation reduces the enzymes responsible for lipogenesis (formation of fat) and thus inhibiting fat formation and the resulting obesity.

When fatty tissues declined, the hormones responsible for reducing insulin sensitivity declined, resulting in increasing insulin sensitivity for the GEP (Lingzhi) group and increases glucose utilisation.


The study showed that Lingzhi supplementation can prevent obesity and insulin resistance by enhancing lipid metabolism. Lingzhi helps to increase the utilisation of glucose from excess calories consumed and not store it, thereby reducing the risks of obesity and its related complications. Lingzhi, by being able to activate AMPK, is similar to Metformin (the drug commonly used to lower blood glucose), where part of the mechanism works through the same pathway.

** In other words, with regular Lingzhi supplement, we can enjoy our food and not worry too much that it will make us fat.**

(Source: Shuang Hor Video Depository, 6/3/2022)

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