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Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, thereby leading to chain reactions that may damage the cells of organisms. This plays a major role in heart disease, cancer and many other diseases. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food or when you're exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.
The high amounts of antioxidants found in Reishi are an important foundation of its immune-boosting benefits. Antioxidants protect cellular components from oxidative damage, which is likely to decrease risk of mutations and carcinogenesis and also protect immune cells, allowing them to maintain immune surveillance and response. (1)
A short term effect of Reishi was investigated on its antioxidant capacity using urine from human subjects. In just 10 days, results indicated that Reishi intake causes an acute increase in plasma antioxidant capacity. (2)
An in vitro study tested a polysaccharide (designated as 'G009') from Reishi for the ability to protect against oxidative damage. G009 significantly inhibited iron-induced lipid peroxidation in rat brain damage and showed a dose-dependent inactivation of hydroxyl radicals and superoxide anions. It also reduced strand breakage from a DNA virus called phiX174. (3)
Another study comparing 3 species of medicinal mushrooms concluded Reishi to be one of the more effective in antioxidant activity, which provided higher scavenging and chelating abilities, and total phenol content. (4) A similar study showed a positive correlation existed between the phenolic content and antioxidant activity. The results indicated that ethanol extract of Reishi fruiting bodies can be exploited for therapeutic application on oxidative stress. (5)
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