Cancer Treatement: Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) for Patients: Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®)–Patient Version
National Cancer Institute, USA
Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms that are used as medicine. They have been used to treat infection for hundreds of years, mostly in Asia. Today, medicinal mushrooms are also used to treat lung diseases and cancer. For more than 30 years, medicinal mushrooms have been approved as an addition to standard cancer treatments in Japan and China. In these countries, mushrooms have been used safely for a long time, either alone or combined with radiation or chemotherapy.
In Asia, there are more than 100 types of mushrooms used to treat cancer. Some of the more common ones are Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor (turkey tail), Lentinus edodes (shiitake), and Grifola frondosa (maitake).
Mushrooms are being studied to find out how they affect the immune system and if they stop or slow the growth of tumors or kill tumor cells. It is thought that certain chemical compounds, such as polysaccharides (beta-glucans) in turkey tail mushrooms, strengthen the immune system to fight cancer.
This PDQ cancer information summary gives an overview of the use of medicinal mushrooms in treating cancer. The following information is given for Trametes versicolor, also called Coriolus versicolor (turkey tail), and Ganoderma lucidum (reishi):
How it is given or taken.
Reviews of laboratory and animal studies.
Results of clinical trials (studies in humans).
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) information.
Eating L. edodes for 4 weeks resulted in increased ex vivo proliferation of γδ-T (60% more, p < 0.0001) and NK-T (2-fold more, p < 0.0001) cells. Both cell types also demonstrated a greater ability to express activation receptors, suggesting that consuming mushrooms improved cell effector function.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a leading cause of cancer deaths, and over 60% of patients present with advanced stages.
To evaluate the efficacy of Krestin (PSK) as adjuvant treatment after radical radiation therapy (RT) for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), treatment results of 225 patients with NSCLC treated with RT followed by adjuvant administration of PSK between 1976 and 1989 were analyzed. Of these patients, 170 (76%) had squamous cell carcinoma.
We found that continuous Maitake intake raised HI titers against influenza type A virus H1N1 and type B virus, and significantly increased the seroconversion rate for older adults (>60 years of age).
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