Antrodia cinnamomea and Its Effects on Hair Loss

Antrodia cinnamomea is one of the key ingredients in our Lurv hair care serum. In this article we have compiled current, scientific research on Antrodia cinnamomea’s background, its medicinal and biological properties, and its effects on hair loss.

1. What is Antrodia cinnamomea?

Antrodia cinnamomea is an edible, medicinal mushroom endemic to Taiwan. A. cinnamomea, known as 牛樟芝 or “Niu-Chang-Chih” in Chinese, is a treasured natural resource due to both its scarcity and its medicinal properties.1 The mushroom gained mainstream attention in the West almost 30 years ago, but it has been widely used in ethnomedicine for more than 2000 years.2

Antrodia cinnamomea is very specific about its growth habitat. It only grows on the tree trunks of one species: Cinnamomum kanehirae,3 the small-flowered camphor tree. This tree species is endemic to Taiwan and only grows on altitudes between 450m – 1200m.4 A. cinnamomea has yellowish orange to brownish orange fruiting bodies that take on irregular shapes, such as a horse’s hoof, a plate-like shape, or a tower-like shape.1

The growth rate of wild Antrodia cinnamomea is extremely slow. It takes one full year for the mushroom to grow to the size of a 1 euro coin.5 The scarcity of the natural host tree combined with the slow growth rate has seen A. cinnamomea dubbed “the ruby of Taiwanese forests”. The scarcity has also led to the development of four major cultivation techniques: solid support culture, cutting wood culture, submerged fermentation, and dish culture.These four cultivation techniques have been studied extensively and have been proven to provide A. cinnamomea of the same high quality as the one that grows naturally in the Taiwanese forests.5

2. Medicinal and biological properties of Antrodia cinnamomea

Scientific research on Antrodia cinnamomea started in the early 1990s.5 One of the first challenges for researchers was deciding on a legitimate name. Four different names have been associated with the mushroom: Ganoderma camphoratum, Taiwanofungus camphoratus, Antrodia camphorata and Antrodia cinnamomea.5 These names have previously been used interchangeably to indicate A. cinnamomea, but according to a recent ruling from the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants (ICN) the legitimate name for this fungus is Antrodia cinnamomea.6

Over the last 15 years the research on Antrodia cinnamomea has shifted from evaluating the total biological activity of the mushroom to identifying active compounds and evaluating their effectiveness and underlying mechanisms in treating various diseases.3 In 2013 more than 78 active compounds had already been identified. These active compounds include polysaccharides, terpenoids, benzoquinone derivatives, maleic and succinic acid derivatives, lignans and benzenoids.1,7-9

A large number of phytochemical studies have been carried out on Antrodia cinnamomea, and it has been studied both in vitro and in vivo.3 The active compounds found in A. cinnamomea have also been tested both topically and internally.5 According to recent research the biological activities of A. cinnamomea include antidiabetic activity,10 hepaprotective activity,11 anticancer effects,12 anti-obesity effects,13 immunostimulatory effects,14 and anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory effects.15

Extracts from the mushroom’s fruiting body and mycelium have been proven to stimulate the immune system, improve insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress on cells and prevent liver damage.3 This makes Antrodia cinnamomea especially effective in preventing and treating different types of cancer, such as head and neck cancer, brain cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer.3 It has also made A. cinnamomea a promising candidate for treating hypertension, hepatitis, diabetes and the chronic inflammatory skin condition psoriasis.3,5

Antrodia cinnamomea has been used in ethnomedicine by aboriginal Taiwanese tribes for centuries.5 These tribes have mainly used A. cinnamomea to treat abdominal pain and food poisoning and to enhance both liver function and the peripheral nervous system.5,16

3. Antrodia cinnamomea and hair loss

Male and female pattern hair loss, collectively known as androgenetic alopecia, are the leading causes of hair loss amongst both men and women. Men over 50 have a 50 % risk of developing male pattern hair loss, and approximately 40 % of women develop female pattern hair loss by the age of 50.17 While androgenetic alopecia is not considered a life-threatening disease it can have serious impacts on a person’s self-esteem, self-image, and quality of life.18

Inflammation and oxidative stress have long been regarded as contributing factors to both male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss.17-19 Antrodia cinnamomea’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidation effects may therefore help reduce hair loss. In the following sections we will discuss the role of inflammation and oxidative stress on hair loss to further demonstrate how A. cinnamomea could help counteract them.

Inflammation and hair loss

Researchers have tested tissue samples from patients with male or female pattern hair loss and determined that hair loss can be caused by several different types of inflammation in the body.17 Moderate to severe, or even chronic inflammation signified by the presence of lymphocytes and histocytes, perivascular infiltration of mast cells, or lymphocytic folliculitis have all been observed in these tissue samples, indicating the presence of inflammation as one of the fundamental causes of hair loss.17

Targeting and treating the inflammation with effective anti-inflammatory ingredients and compounds, such as Antrodia cinnamomea, can help reduce the body’s inflammatory response. This can in turn slow down hair loss and further the efficacy of other treatments and active ingredients used in the hair loss management.17

Oxidative stress and hair loss

Oxidative stress is a product of the imbalance between the systemic manifestation of reactive oxygen species, also called free radicals, and the body’s ability to detoxify these reactive intermediates or repair the resulting damage.19 Oxidative stress can occur in every part of the body, including the scalp, the hair follicles, and the hair fibres.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are generated by internal challenges like inflammation, mental stress, or ageing, and environmental challenges like pollution, cigarette smoke, heavy metals, or radiation.20 Free radicals are characterised by having unpaired electrons in their outer shells that try to bind with other electrons to stabilise themselves, which can damage proteins, lipids, and even DNA and cause ageing.20 The body uses anti-oxidative enzymes and anti-oxidative molecules (antioxidants) to protect the cells by reducing and neutralising free radicals.19

Oxidative stress can cause hair loss by damaging both the pre-emerging hair fibre that is still within the scalp, and the visible post-emerging hair fibre. Sources of oxidative stress that impact the pre-emerging hair fibre include oxidative metabolism, inflammation, UV radiation, and smoking.19 Sources of oxidative stress that impact the post-emerging hair fibre include UV radiation, harsh chemicals, pollutants, and oxidised scalp lipids.19

Previous research has established Antrodia cinnamomea as an effective antioxidant that can reduce oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.3 Research has also shown that treating human hair fibres with antioxidants can create a protective layer that prevents oxidation in the form of UV induced protein degradation and lipid peroxidation.21 Treating hair topically with antioxidants can also make the hair fibres less prone to breakage and lower the degradation of colour and shine due to oxidation.21 The use of antioxidants like A. cinnamomea on the hair and scalp may therefore reduce or prevent oxidative stress, which in turn can slow hair loss.

Antrodia cinnamomea is just one of the many active ingredients in our hair care serum. Visit our ingredients page to see the rest of the serum’s fully organic and natural ingredients.


  1. Cherng, I. H., Chang, H. C., Cheng, M. C., & Wang, Y. (1995). Three New Triterpenoids from Antrodia cinnamomea. Journal of Natural Products, vol. 58, 3, 365–371.

  2. Chen, HY., Cheng, KC., Wang, HT., Hsieh, CW. & Lai, YJ. (2020). Extracts of Antrodia cinnamomea mycelium as a highly potent tyrosinase inhibitor. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 00, 1–9.

  3. Ganesan, N., Baskaran, R., Velmuragan, BK. & Thanh, NC. (2019). Antrodia cinnamomea – An updated minireview of its bioactive components and biological activity. Journal of Food Biochemistry, vol. 43, 8, 1–8.

  4. Liao, PC., Kuo, DC., Lin, CC., Ho, KC., Lin, TP. & Hwang, SY. (2010). Historical spatial range expansion and a very recent bottleneck of Cinnamomum kanehirae Hay. (Lauraceae) in Taiwan inferred from nuclear genes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 10, 1, 124.

  5. Lu, MC., El-Shazly, M., Wu, TY., Du, YC., Chang, TT. et al. (2013). Recent research and development of Antrodia cinnamomea. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, vol. 139, 2, 124–156.

  6. Jong, S. C. (2012). The legitimate scientific name of the valuable medicinal mushroom “Niu-Chang-Chih” known only from Taiwan. Micologia Aplicada International, vol. 24, 43–52.

  7. Chen, CH., Yang, SW. & Shen, YC. (1995). New Steroid acids from Antrodia cinnamomea, a fungal parasite of Cinnamomum micranthum. Journal of Natural Products, vol. 58, 11, 1655–1661.

  8. Geethangili, M. & Tzeng, YM. (2011). Review of pharmacological effects of Antrodia camphorate and its bioactive compounds. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2011, 1–17.

  9. Hung-Chen, C., De-Peng, W., Cherng, I. W. & Chuen-Her, U. (1995). A sesquiterpene lactone, phenyl and biphenyl compounds from Antrodia cinnamomea. Phytochemistry, vol. 39, 3, 613–616.

  10. Chung, YC., Tzeng, CY., Chen, YI., Chang, SW., Hsu, TH., Ho, WJ. et al. (2018). Improving insulin resistance with Antrodia cinnamomea mycelium powder to induce a hypoglycemic effect in dexamethasone-induced insulin-resistant rats. Molecular Medicine Reports, vol. 17, 2, 3260–3266.

  11. Liu, Y., Wang, J., Li, L., Hu, W., Qu, Y., Ding, Y. et al. (2017). Hepaprotective Effects of Antrodia cinnamomea: The Modulation of Oxidative Stress Signaling in a Mouse Model of Alcohol-Induced Acute Liver Injury. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, vol. 2017,

  12. Lu, MK., Lin, TY.,Chao, CH., Hu, CH. & Hsu, HY. (2017). Molecular mechanism of Antrodia cinnamomea sulfated polysaccharide on the suppression of lung cancer cell growth and migration via induction of transforming growth factor beta receptor degradation. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, vol. 95, 1144–1152.

  13. Chang, CJ., Lu, CC., Lin, CS., Martel, J., Ko, YF., Ojcius, DM. et al. (2018). Antrodia cinnamomea reduces obesity and modulates gut microbiota in high-fat diet-fed mice. International Journal of Obesity, vol. 42, 2, 231–243.

  14. Perera, N., Yang, FL., Lu, YT., Li, LH., Hua, KF. & Wu, SH. (2018). Antrodia cinnamomea Galactomannan Elicits Immuno-stimulatory Activity Through Toll-like Receptor 4. International Journal of Biological Sciences, vol. 14, 10, 1378–1388.

  15. Yen, IC., Shi, LS., Chung, MC., Ahmetaj-Shala, B., Chang, TC. & Lee, SY. (2018). Antrolone, a Novel Benzoid Derived from Antrodia cinnamomea, Inhibits the LPS-Induced Inflammatory Response in RAW264.7 Macrophage Cells by Balancing the NF-kappa B and Nrf2 pathways. The American Journal of Chinese medicine, vol. 46, 6, 1297–1313.

  16. Hyde, K. D., Xu, J., Rapior, S., Jeewon, R., Lumyong, S. et al. (2019). The amazing potential of fungi: 50 ways we can exploit fungi industrially. Fungal Diversity, vol. 97, 1–136.

  17. Peyravian, N., Deo, S., Daunert, S. & Jimenez, J. J. (2020). The Inflammatory Aspect of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss. Journal of Inflammation Research, vol. 13, 879–881.

  18. Prie, B. E., Iosif, L., Tivig, I., Stoian, I. & Giurcaneanu, C. (2016). Oxidative stress in androgenetic alopecia. Journal of medicine and life, vol. 9, 1, 79–83.

  19. Trüeb, R. M. (2015). The impact of oxidative stress on hair. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, vol. 37, 2, 25–30.

  20. Pham-Huy, L. A., He, H.& Pham-Huy, C. (2008). Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. International journal of biomedical science, vol. 4, 2, 89–96.

  21. Fernández, E., Martínez-Teipel, B., Armengol, R., Barba, C. & Coderch, L. (2012). Efficacy of antioxidants in human hair. Journal of photochemistry and Photobiology,vol. 117, 146–156.

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