The hormones in our body have the ability to control our overall health and well-being. They affect our mood, digestion, sleep, stress, exercise, weight, immunity – the list is never-ending. Moreover, at the root of many medical conditions are hormone imbalances that remove us from our natural states of homeostasis, the self-regulating process within us that attempts to maintain internal stability in the presence of changing external conditions.
Our bodies try their best to fight and stay in this optimal state of balance, but there are many exogenous factors that derail our systems and make us susceptible to the development of disease and health problems. Certain male conditions, such as late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), are a result of hormone imbalance. Even more female conditions are being recognized daily to be a result of hormone imbalances – such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis, difficult menopause, even difficult menstrual cycles! Alternatives to targeting these imbalances are increasing in popularity daily, but one of the best options for us lies in some powerful fungi, often referred to as medicinal mushrooms.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a Powerful Hormone Balancer
An extract of the fruiting body of Reishi found that the mushroom exhibited estrogen-like activity . The mushroom extract illustrated the ability to bind to human estrogen receptor alpha and beta, which would result in activation of these receptors . In fact, estrogen receptor beta is recognized in many studies as a target in the treatment of menopausal mood symptoms, such as depression and anxiety . Thus, the ability to activate these receptors may result in favourable mental and cognitive conditions for those in menopause.
Overall, the ability to activate these receptors is significant as a marked decrease in estrogen production occurs as women age and approach menopause . This is actually the underlying cause of many of the common signs and symptoms seen in menopause as estrogen has actions on almost every system in the body, not only the reproductive tract . In fact, with the onset of menopause, the primary form of estrogen in the body switches from estradiol (produced mainly in the ovaries) to estrone (produced mainly in body fat) .
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) a Result of a Hormone Imbalance
In this case, there is an increased concentration of androgens (primarily, male hormones) present in females that causes hormonal disruptions. The imbalance can manifest with irregular menstrual periods, lack of ovulation, facial hair, acne (face, chest, and back), as well as metabolic conditions, such as insulin resistance.
Anti-androgens are compounds that can reduce the levels or activity of androgen hormones in the body . Anti-androgen drugs are often used to treat conditions such as PCOS, hirsutism, acne, BPG, and certain cancers (i.e., prostate cancer) . In a research study exploring anti-androgenic effects of 20 species of mushrooms, Reishi had the strongest effect in inhibiting testosterone . Reishi exhibited the ability to reduce 5-alpha reductase levels, meaning it was able to prevent the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent androgen . High levels of DHT have been established as risk factors for several conditions, such as BPH, acne, balding, and PCOS . This study suggests that the use of Reishi may have a role in the treatment or prevention of multiple conditions related to hormone imbalances.
Another potential benefit of Reishi mushrooms that can make it beneficial in hormone balancing is its hepatoprotective effects . Reishi’s hepatoprotective effects and ability to improve liver functioning have been confirmed in some studies, which is important as the liver is involved in the metabolism of many hormones [5,6]. Optimal liver functioning is needed for optimal hormone balance as the liver can remove, inactivate, or excrete excess levels in the bile .
Although the research into alternative methods of treating hormone imbalances is increasing, the ability to heal multiple aspects of our health should be held as priority. Medicinal mushrooms, such as Reishi, hold many powerful healing properties. From being strong antioxidants, supporting your immune system, reducing inflammation, exhibiting anti-tumor properties and neuroprotective effects, the actions of medicinal mushrooms are endless. Eversio Wellness makes it so simple to add mushroom supplements into your daily routine. From their mushroom blend formulations and fruiting body extracts, it’s so simple to add into your morning cup of coffee, tea, or even a smoothie!
By Silvana Jakupovic — BSc and 4th Year Student of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM-Boucher)
 Shimizu, K., Miyamoto, I., Liu, J. et al. Estrogen-like activity of ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum . J Wood Sci 55, 53–59 (2009).
 Vargas KG, Milic J, Zaciragic A, Wen KX, Jaspers L, Nano J, Dhana K, Bramer WM, Kraja B, van Beeck E, Ikram MA, Muka T, Franco OH. The functions of estrogen receptor beta in the female brain: A systematic review. Maturitas. 2016 Nov;93:41-57. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.05.014. Epub 2016 Jun 4. PMID: 27338976.
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 Genes SG. Rol' pecheni v obmene gormonov i v reguliatsii ikh soderzhaniia v krovi [Role of the liver in hormone metabolism and in the regulation of their content in the blood]. Arkh Patol. 1977;39(6):74-80. Russian. PMID: 334126.