Fungal beta glucans, along with beta glucans from oats and barley, have been shown to help control blood glucose levels and it has been suggested that a possible mechanism is activation of P13K/Akt through binding to receptors including Dectin 1 and scavenger receptors1.

However, daily supplementation of a normal diet with 3.5g/day beta-glucan by type II diabetics over 8 weeks failed to produce any change in fasting glucose levels2.

Agaricus brasiliensis – Consumption of 1.5g of polysaccharide extract in combination with metformin and gliclazide for 12 weeks reduced insulin resistance in patients with type II diabetes3.

Auricularia auricula – A water soluble polysaccharide from A. auricularia at 3% of feed reduced fasting glucose levels and improved glucose tolerance4.
Cordyceps sinensis – Animal studies at a dose of 250mg/kg showed improved insulin sensitivity and reduced fasting blood glucose. In one clinical trial 3g/day of a proprietary C. sinensis preparation improved blood sugar control in 95% of patients compared to 54% of a control group treated by other methods5-7.
Ganoderma lucidum – Consumption of 5.4g of polysaccharide extract for 8 weeks produced a 13% reduction in blood sugar levels in patients with type II diabetes mellitus who were not taking insulin and also led to significant improvement in peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients8.9.
Grifola frondosa – improved glucose tolerance in diabetic rats at 20% of feed and in a separate experiment at 1g/day. A water soluble extract, X-fraction increases insulin sensitivity10-12.
Hericium erinaceus – Blood sugar levels decreased by 19-26% in rats fed hericium extract at 100mg/kg13.
Pleurotus ostreatus – Reduced plasma glucose levels at 4% of feed and was reported to reduce blood glucose in diabetic patients at an unspecified dosage14,15.
Tremella fuciformis – 200mg/kg of a polysaccharide extract produced a 52% reduction in plasma glucose levels16.

Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane or Lawyers Wig) is also reported to be particularly beneficial for treatment of diabetes but there is little evidence. In one experiment normal mice were fed a diet containing 33.3% powdered dried fruit bodies of C. comatus, with reductions in plasma glucose concentrations and improvement in intraperitoneal glucose tolerance after 11 days17. Other experiments showing beneficial effects of C. comatus enriched with vanadium (a known antidiabetic agent) 18-21 are of little clinical relevance in the absence of such supplements, especially as analysis of C. comatus from different locations in northern China showed a complete absence of vanadium22.

1. Beta-glucans in the treatment of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risks. Chen J, Raymond K. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(6):1265-72.
2. A controlled study of consumption of beta-glucan-enriched soups for 2 months by type 2 diabetic free-living subjects. Cugnet-Anceau C, Nazare J.A, Biorklund M, Le Coquil E, Sassolas A, Sothier M, Holm J, Landin-Olsson M, Onning G, Laville M, Moulin P. Br J Nutr. 2010;103(3):422-8.
3. The mushroom Agaricus Blazei Murill in combination with metformin and gliclazide improves insulin resistance in type II diabetes: a randomized, double-blinded, and placebocontrolled clinical trial. Hsu C.H, Liao Y.L, Lin S.C, Hwang K.C, Chou P. J Altern Complement Med. 2007;13(1):97-102.
4. Hypoglycemic effect of water-soluble polysaccharide from Auricularia auricula-judae Quel. on genetically diabetic KKAy mice. Yuan Z, He P, Cui J, Takeuchi H. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1998;62(10):1898-903.
5. Clinical observations of adjunctive treatment of 20 diabetic patients with JinShuiBao capsule. Guo Q.C, Zhang C, Lo H.C, Tu S.T, Lin K.C, Lin S.C. J Admin Trad Chin Med. 1995;5:223.
6. The anti-hyperglycemic activity of the fruiting body of Cordyceps in diabetic rats induced by nicotinamide and streptozotocin. Life Sci. 2004;74(23):2897-908.
7. CordyMax Cs-4 improves glucose metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity in normal rats. Zhao C.S, Yin W.T, Wang J.Y, Zhang Y, Yu H, Cooper R, Smidt C, Zhu J.S. J Altern Complement Med. 2002;8(3):309-14.7.
8. A phase I/II study of Ling Zhi mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.:Fr.)Lloyd (Aphyllophoromycetideae) extract in patients with type II Diabetes mellitus. Gao Y, Lan J, Dai X, Ye J, Zhou S. Int J Med Mushr. 2004;6(1)
9. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. Tang W, Gao Y, Chen G, Gao H, Dai X, Ye J, Chan E, Huang M, Zhou S. J Med Food. 2005;8(1):53-8.
10. Anti-diabetic activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (Maitake). Kubo K, Aoki H, Nanba H. I. Biol Pharm Bull. 1994;17(8):1106-10.
11. Maitake (Grifola frondosa) improve glucose tolerance of experimental diabetic rats. Horio H, Ohtsuru M. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001;47(1):57-63.
12. Antihypertensive and metabolic effects of whole Maitake mushroom powder and its fractions in two rat strains. Talpur N.A, Echard B.W, Fan A.Y, Jaffari O, Bagchi D, Preuss H.G. Mol Cell Biochem. 2002;237(1-2):129-36.
13. Hypoglycemic effect of extract of Hericium erinaceus. Wang J.C, Hu S.H, Wang J.T, Chen K.S, Chia Y.C. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. ;85(4):641 – 646
14. Effect of the oyster fungus on glycaemia and cholesterolaemia in rats with insulin-dependent diabetes. Chorváthová V, Bobek P, Ginter E, Klvanová J. Physiol Res. 1993;42(3):175- 9.
15. Oyster mushroom reduced blood glucose and cholesterol in diabetic subjects. Khatun K, Mahtab H, Khanam P.A, Sayeed M.A, Khan K.A. Mymensingh Med J. 2007;16(1):94-9.
16. Hypoglycemic effects of exopolysaccharides produced by mycelial cultures of two different mushrooms Tremella fuciformis and Phellinus baumii in ob/ob mice. Cho E.J, Hwang H.J, Kim S.W, Oh J.Y, Baek Y.M, Choi J.W, Bae S.H, Yun J.W. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007;75(6):1257-65.
17. Effect of Coprinus comatus on plasma Glucose concentrations in mice. Bailey C.J, Turner S.L, Jakeman K.J, Hayes W.A. Planta Med. 1984;50(6):525-526
18. Vanadium uptake by biomass of Coprinus comatus and their effect on hyperglycemic mice. Han C, Cui B, Wang Y. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2008;124(1):35-9.
19. Comparison of vanadium-rich activity of three species fungi of basidiomycetes. Han C, Cui B, Qu J. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2009;127(3):278-83.
20. Comparison of hypoglycemic activity of trace elements absorbed in fermented mushroom of Coprinus comatus. Lv Y, Han L, Yuan C, Guo J. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2009;131(2):177-85.
21. Han C, Yuan J, Wang Y, Li L. Hypoglycemic activity of fermented mushroom of Coprinus comatus rich in vanadium. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2006;20(3):191-6.
22. Determination of trace elements in three mushroom samples of Basidiomycetes from Shandong, China. Wang C, Hou Y. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2010 Jul 28.

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