Triterpenes belong to the lipid group. So-called steroids are derived from tripertenes, such as:

  • steroid hormones

  • sterines (= steroles) such as cholesterol or mycosterines (ergosterine or ergosterol as preliminary vitamin D stage)

  • bile acids

However, triterpenes are also secondary plant products that are also found in fungi. As members of the lipids they are not soluble in cold water, only in hot water and alcohol.


Steroids have been found in Agaricus blazei murrill and Cordyceps. Reishi is said to contain more than 100 different triterpenes, and triterpenes (polyporusterones) have also been found in Polyporus umbellatus. However, Reishi deserves a special mention since it is extremely rich in spores - where the most triterpenes have been identified. Hericium erinaceus has been proven to contain diterpenoids (cyathan derivate), i.e. the so-called erinacine. Ergosterol, also known as ergosterine, is found in Agaricus blazei murrill, Cordyceps, Coriolus, Hericium, Maitake, Polyporus, Reishi (fruiting body) and in Shiitake. Another sterol, so-called lanosterole, is extant in Reishi.


Terpenes and the substances derived from them – such as triterpenes – are co-responsible for fungal adaptogenic properties. Due to their chemical structure, they are mainly used to treat conditions for which steroid hormones such as cortisone are administered.

Triterpenes are supportive in the treatment of:

  • inflammations

  • allergies

  • viral diseases (inhibit the reverse transciptase by HIV or EBV)

  • hepatic diseases (protect the liver)

  • cancer (cytotoxic and anti-angiogenetic)

  • impotence

  • hypertension (high blood pressure): ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) is inhibited; ACE is indirectly vaso-constrictive.

  • increased cholesterol and triglyceride values (inhibits the cholesterol biosynthesis and lowers the LDL cholesterol)

  • tendency to thrombosis (anti-aggregative)

The triterpenes found in Polyporus (polyporusterone A and B) have antioxidant and anti-hemolytic effects on hemolysis due to chemical substances.

Erinacines from Hericium erinaceus additionally stimulate the cerebral and peripheral nerve growth factors (NGF). This leads to a regeneration and remyelination of nerves. Moreover, NGF regulates the central nervous system’s TH 1- / TH 2-immune responses in autoimmune processes.

Ergosterol, a preliminary stage of vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), is exclusively found in plants and mushrooms and is thus essential for the human body. It plays an important role in storing calcium in the bone matrix.


  • Willard, T.: "Reishi - Der Wunderpilz der alten Chinesen"; Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1999
  • Halpern, G.M.: "Healing Mushrooms. Effective Treatments for today’s illnesses"; Square One Publishers, 2007
  • Prof. Dr. med. Ivo Bianchi: "Moderne Mykotherapie"; Hinckel Druck, 2008
  • Smith, Rowan and Sullivan: "Medicinal Mushrooms: Their therapeutic properties and current medical usage with special emphasis on cancer treatments"; May 2002, University of Strathclyde
  • Halpern, G.M.: "Healing Mushrooms. Effective Treatments for today’s illnesses"; Square One Publishers, 2007