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Medicine: A mushroom that shrinks mice

Nature Communications

June 24, 2015

A mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine, called Ganoderma lucidum, has been shown to reduce obesity in mice by altering the composition of the gut microbiota, reports a study in Nature Communications. The results suggest G. lucidum supplements may be useful for the treatment of obesity and associated disorders, however further research is necessary to confirm theses effects in people.

The high prevalence of obesity is a major threat to public health, with approximately 500 million obese people and 1.4 billion overweight individuals worldwide. G. lucidum has been used in Asian medicine for centuries to promote health and has been proposed to have anti-diabetic effects.

Hsin-Chih Lai and colleagues use a mouse model to study the effect of adding an extract of G. lucidum to the food of mice fed a high-fat diet. The treated mice showed a reversal of the microbial imbalance in the gut caused by a high-fat-diet-induced and also showed reduced body weight, whilst maintaining intestinal barrier integrity. The authors also observe that faecal transplants from the treated mice to other obese mice can reproduce the beneficial metabolic effects caused by consumption of the mushroom extract. This is the first time G. lucidum has been shown to have prebiotic and weight-lowering functions.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms8489

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