Terpenes are a group of phytochemicals associated most commonly with plants, where they function as secondary metabolites. However, other organisms produce terpenes. Ganoderma is a basidiomycete fungus that produces terpenes. Ganoderma atrium has been shown to possess a number of health effects including hypolipidemic, antiatherosclerotic, anticoagulant, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, anticancer, antidote (for heavy metal poisoning), hepatoprotective and immunomodulatory actions, and some or all of these may be in part due to the presence of terpenes. Isolated terpenes from Ganoderma atrium have been shown to protect neuronal cells from experimentally induced toxicity. The main mechanism identified for this effect was the antioxidant function of the terpenes. Therefore terpenes from Ganoderma atrium may protect neurones from destruction by oxidative processes through a significant antioxidant effect. This antioxidant effect may also explain the health benefits of the fungus.
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