A growing body of evidence indicates that medicinal mushrooms have several health benefits. In Western countries, aging and age-related diseases, such as neurodegenerative disorders, are among the pressing issues being studied.

According to Farida Tripodi, aqueous extracts of two edible mushrooms, Grifola frondosa, and Hericium Erinaceus represent a valuable source of β-glucans and exert anti-aging effects.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects ten million people worldwide and is associated with synuclein misfolding, as are other conditions called synucleinopathies. The study demonstrated that aqueous extracts of two edible mushrooms, Grifola frondosa, and Hericium Erinaceus, provide β-glucans and exert anti-aging effects in yeast.

A consistent increase in both mean and maximal lifespan is achieved by inhibiting the Ras/PKA pathway and increasing the expression of heat shock proteins. Also, these fungal extracts reduce the toxic effects of heterologously expressed -synuclein in yeast cells, resulting in reduced ROS levels and decreased membrane localization of the molecule. 

Grifola frondosa extracts also demonstrated neuroprotective effects in a Drosophila melanogaster PD model. A decrease in specific amino acids, such as serine, threonine, and valine, can be beneficial and prolong life, while a higher glutamate intake is anti-aging.

Additionally, adding zinc or selenium to Grifola frondosa polysaccharides could enhance their antioxidant activity. In Zhang’s study, zinc-incorporated intracellular polysaccharides were produced using the strain of Grifola frondosa as a vector for zinc biotransformation. Compared with non-zinc-incorporated intracellular polysaccharides, these showed remarkable antioxidant and anti-aging abilities.

As far as mushrooms are concerned, this is not the first time they have been claimed to reduce aging. For centuries, reishi mushrooms (also known as the “mushroom of immortality) have been used to treat infections and cancer (when combined with standard cancer treatments) in Asia. 

‘Mushrooms have long been used in Asia for their ability to improve health, maintain vitality, preserve a youthful appearance, and to counter the adverse health effects of chronic stress’ 

-a practitioner of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil.

Furthermore, they have immune-boosting properties that are beneficial both internally and externally. Finally, they are deeply hydrating, antioxidant-rich adaptogens (substances that help the body adjust to stress and fatigue). 

Health-wise, reishi mushrooms can be consumed whole or in extract or powdered form; skincare-wise, they are used in several skincare products like serums, moisturizers, and masks.

Results of the Study

The data presented here may have an important role to play in future studies to elucidate the molecular implications of mushroom-mediated inhibition of α-syn-aggregation. 

Therefore, this study opens new avenues for developing different strategies and a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in understanding the roles of mushroom extracts in inhibiting amyloid formation, preventing/alleviating synucleinopathies, and possibly other diseases related to protein misfolding. 

Overall, the study findings suggest edible mushrooms can be used as a functional food to prevent aging and age-related illnesses, further supporting the medicinal mushroom’s neuro-health benefits.

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