Cholesterol Balance with Medicinal Mushrooms

Cholesterol is a fatty structure that is vital for many body functions. It participates in the  structure  of various hormones, especially hormones
related to the sexual and the reproductive systems, accumulates in lipid layers that engulf and protect organs and is an important part of the composition of bladder salts used for decomposition and digestion of food fats and more…

As a lipid structure found in the blood, cholesterol is very sensitive to oxidation damage that causes it to sediment in the walls of blood vessel, thus narrowing the blood vessels diameter which impairs normal blood flow up to full blockage and may even create blood clots 90% percent of our body cholesterol is produced by our own body and only 10% comes from dietary sources. Many factors affect the cholesterol production in the
liver. The cholesterol is carried in the blood by special proteins that are produced in the liver. The first is LDL that is also known as “ bad cholesterol” which carry the cholesterol from the liver through the blood vessels to the various body parts, while the second, HDL, “ good cholesterol” leaves the liver cholesterol free, and collect the excess cholesterol and transfer it back to the liver for metabolizing or secretion  from the body. It turns out that the proper levels HDL are very important if the cholesterol level is mildly higher than normal. However high HDL levels (in relations to other blood parameters) reduces the risks involved, especially the risk of Atherosclerosis in the blood vessel walls.

Many people think that high cholesterol levels are directly related to the amount of fat (especially saturated fats) that they consume in their diet. This is partially true because the main “activator” of cholesterol synthesis is the hormone insulin. When we consume carbohydrate rich foods especially empty and refined carbohydrates from white sugar, white bread, potatoes and sweetening syrups  sources (corn syrup), the insulin is secreted and the sugar is transformed into fat in the liver.

Modern drugs for reducing cholesterol levels decrease the total cholesterol and the LDL levels, but also the reduce levels of the good cholesterol (HDL). One of the side effects of these drugs is related to impairing the synthesis of the Q10 enzyme which is necessary for the body energy production. The deficiency in Q10 can cause muscle ache, especially leg muscle, and gum sensitivity and bleeding.

The “statins” family of drugs is composed from active ingredients that were originally isolated from medicinal mushrooms, and today they are synthesized chemically. Populations that historically consumed medicinal mushrooms regularly, hardly suffered from heart and blood vessel diseases that are the result of high blood lipid levels. Along the history, many healers gave medicinal mushrooms to people who suffered
from high levels of cholesterol and lipids in their blood. Today, when the  natural substances  is tested in clinical laboratories, the mushroom ability to reduce blood lipids, especially cholesterol, and elevating the good cholesterol levels (HDL) was proven.

The mushroom contains various ingredients that contribute to balancing the levels of the blood lipids by the following routes:

  1. Inhibiting cholesterol absorption from the intestine into the blood
  2. Increasing cholesterol secretion from the  liver  into the digestive system, and from there discharging it from the body while inhibiting its re-absorption.
  3. Suppressing the LDL cholesterol synthesis mechanism, without damaging the Q10 enzyme synthesis.
  4. Reduces the carbohydrate absorption from the intestine into the blood stream and by that reduces the insulin secretion that causes cholesterol synthesis.

The mushrooms that were scientifically proven to have cholesterol reducing effects are:

Pleurotus ostreatus A recent study published in 2010 in “Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism” tested the effect of Pleorotus on balancing the sugar and lipid levels in the blood of patients suffering from type 2 diabetes.

A double blind random study.

The study included 120 patients that were divided into 3 groups. Each group received conventional drug treatment for treating diabetes, an appropriate diet and physical activity. The patients filled questionnaires throughout the study. During the first months the patients did not receive any mushrooms for testing the effects of the regular treatment on the patients. Starting from the second month and during the following 3 months the groups indices were recorded weekly. Parameters checked were levels of glycated hemoglobin (HBa1c), blood sugar while fasting, lipid profile, blood pressure and life quality parameters.

After 3 months the mean results were:

Values at experiment start

Values at experiment end




Blood sugar






General cholesterol

Effect of oyster mushroom on glycemia, lipid profile and quality of life in type 2 diabetic patients: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism 2010 22(2)


Miitake (Grifola frondosa)

In- vivo animal study examined the effect of the Miitake on the blood lipid profile. The Shiitake does not affect cholesterol synthesis in the
liver, but rather its absorption from the food in the intestine and its increased discharge from the body. Mice fed by Miitake received a cholesterol rich diet.
One group received the diet only and the other received a Miitake enriched diet.

The lipid blood level in mice that received a Miitake enriched diet was similar to this that received cholesterol rich diet with Miitake supplement. The mushroom caused increased discharge of the fat in the mice feces.
Anti-hyperliposis effect of maitake fruit body (Grifola frondosa) Biol Pharm Bull. 1997 Jul;20(7):781-5.


Cordyceps sinensis

By summarizing research results, the Cordyceps was found to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides levels, to increase HDL and to reduce LDL levels.

Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The scientific rediscovery of a precious ancient Chinese herbal regimen: Cordyceps sinensis. Part II. J Altern Complement Med 1998; 4(4):429–457.