Medicinal mushrooms have always been used for hundreds of years, mainly in Asian countries, specifically for treatment of infections. More recently, these beings have also been used in the treatment of pulmonary diseases and cancer.
Medicinal mushrooms have an extensive clinical history of safe use as a single agent or combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Cancer treatments or cancer advice are not within the scope of this article.
There are more than hundred species of medicinal mushrooms that have recently been used not only in Asian practices, but more in Europe through integrative medicine doctors. Some of the more commonly used species include the following:
– Ganoderma lucidum (reishi)
– Trametes versicolor or Coloriolus versicolor (turkey tail)
– Lentinus edodes (shiitake)
– Grifola frondosa (maitake)
There is a growing body of evidence showing positive results on the effects of mushrooms on immune response pathways and on direct anti-tumor mechanisms.
These effects are happening through a stimulation of the innate immune cells, such us monocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells through the mushroom’s stimulation ability. This activity is considered to be caused by the incredible presence of “high-molecular-weight polysaccharides”, the very well known beta-glucans in the mushrooms.
Therefore, clinical trials conducted in cancer patients have demonstrated a robust effect of G. lucidum products in modulating immune system and anti-tumor mechanisms.
Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze dm, et al.: Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 6, Pubmed.
PQD Integrative, Alternative, and Complimetary Therapies, Editorial Board.
Blagodatski A., Yatsunskaya M, Valeriia Mikhailova, Vladlena Tiasto, Alexander Kagansky, Vladimir L Katanaev, 2018 Jun 26.