According to published studies, over 303 million people around the world have arthrosis. This does not include the many people who suffer from other kinds of arthrosis, including rheumatoid arthritis, which adds to the burden of bone and joint disease prevalence. In addition to the medical complications brought about by arthrosis, significantly decreases the quality of life of the elderly patients, who are most commonly affected. The pain can also become unbearable to some patients to the point that it limits their movement, thus discouraging them from having an active lifestyle, which should be a regular part of their daily lives.
Arthrosis involves initial damage to the chondrocytes, which can be caused by physical, biochemical, or genetic factors. This damage results in the early stages of arthritic development, an inflammatory response allows the chondrocytes to proliferate and release inflammatory mediators that aim to remodel the cartilage but also cause a secondary inflammatory process in the surrounding joint tissues. This is followed by late stage arthrosis which precipitates a cycle of chronic inflammation leading to a degeneration of joint tissues, which eventually leaves two bones rubbing against each other with painful friction .
The main forms of management for arthrosis involve nonpharmacologic management, which includes aerobic and strengthening exercises and weight loss, which helps in decreasing the body weight of heavy-set patients and thus alleviates the burden of the weight on those joints affected by arthrosis. Pharmacologic management involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as capsaicin, and duloxetine, in addition to intra-articular glucocorticoids. The problem with pharmaceutical therapy is the accompanying adverse effects of the mentioned drugs, including multisystemic drugs which can cause gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and renal complications. This limits the population that can use drug treatment and may put patients at risk of the long-term complications of these drugs.
Mycotherapeutic Management for Bones and Joints
Mushroom extracts have been utilized in pre-clinical trials and have resulted in positive outcomes in terms of fatigue, joint discomfort, and inflammation.
The Cordyceps sinensis fungus is a mushroom found endemicity in the Tibetan mountains that contains the sought-after bioactive compound, known as cordycepin. This substance regulates inflammation through a seemingly different mechanism than standard anti-inflammatory treatments. It has the capacity to manage patients’ pain, and can potentially control the progression of arthrosis.
According to ongoing research studies, Cordyceps is a good candidate in addition to the conventional anti-inflammatory and steroidal drugs, which have multisystemic side effects, broadening the treatment options for these patients. From being highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, the potential of C. sinensis and its active component, cordycepin, is currently being researched to understand better the potential target tissues it can affect , whether it’s the joint tissues or the nerve endings.
Besides the well studied C.sinensis, other mushrooms have been found to have active compounds that have potential therapeutic properties for ameliorating arthrosis.
The triterpenoids in Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) e.g. ganoderic acid, have been found to have significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can offset the pathogenesis of arthrosis in patients. G. lucidum, , known as the mushroom of immortality in traditional Chinese medicine, is also known to improve energy circulation and is currently considered as a potential source of anti-inflammatory compounds.
The “King of Mushrooms” has been known for its regulation of hyperlipidemia in patients, which is an important factor in managing arthrosis.Grifola frondosa, is well known as an edible mushroom that helps in weight control and can, thus, alleviate the pressure in the weight-bearing joints affected by arthrosis.
Lentinula edodes, an edible mushroom well known in Japanese cuisine, was discovered to have an alkalizing effect, which helps in the excretion of uric acid in the body, thus preventing its deposition in the joints. Besides its uricosuric effects, it has inherent health benefits such as an anti-inflammatory action due to its omega fatty acid content.
Royal Sun Agaricus (AbM)
Agaricus blazei Murill contains a potent cocktail of antioxidants, such as glutathione, and catalase, which protect the tissues from further cytologic deterioration, and enhance the proper healing of tissues. While its health benefits have just been explored during the last forty years, studies have already confirmed its health-promoting compounds, including beta-glucans, coenzyme Q10, and B vitamins.
Inonotus obliquus, historically known in Siberian traditional medicine, is regarded as the “black pearl” or the “forest diamond” in the field of mycology. Its health benefits for arthrosis are due to the various polysaccharides it contains, that can stimulate several macrophage membrane receptors. To further support the use of Chaga in improving arthrosis, it also has remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can alleviate the manifestations of arthrosis.
These mycotherapeutic options offer a wider range of natural solutions for osteoarthritic patients and can spare them from the complicated adverse effects of pharmacotherapy.
The traditional use of these fungi as a mycotherapeutic tool, in addition with the preceding scientific evidence presented here, support medicinal mushroom nutraceuticals as a good choice in alleviating arthrosis.