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 Apr;9(4):455-62.
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. Epub 2012 Jul 25.
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 E. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012;14(5):459-66.
4. Leishmanicidal activity of the Agaricus blazei Murill in different Leishmania species. Valadares DG et al. Parasitol Int. 2011 Dec;60(4):357-63.
5. Prophylactic or therapeutic administration of Agaricus blazei Murill is effective in treatment of murine visceral leishmaniasis. Valadares DG et al. Exp Parasitol. 2012 Oct;132(2):228-36.
6. Therapeutic efficacy induced by the oral administration of Agaricus blazei Murill against Leishmania amazonensis. Valadares DG et al. Parasitol Res. 2012 Oct;111(4):1807-16.
7. The effects of cordycepin on malaria parasites. Trigg PI, Gutteridge WE, Williamson J. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1971;65(4):514-20.
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;66:4803–08.