Three Popular Medicinal Mushroom Supplements: A Review of Human Clinical Trials
There are many mushroom supplements on the market claiming a variety of health benefits, and it is difficult to discern which of these claims are backed by reliable research. Most of the existing research is conducted using either human cells or animal models rather than human participants. Without being tested directly on humans, this research has limited application. A review of the literature reveals a relatively small number of studies have been conducted using human patients and those that do exist vary widely in study design and quality.
This article brings together all the existing studies that involve human participants for three popular mushroom species that are commonly consumed as dietary supplements. The three species reviewed are Agaricus blazei or royal sun agaric, Inonotus obliquus or chaga, and Ganoderma lucidum or reishi. Each study described includes the study’s design, the condition being treated, the preparation, dosage, and duration of treatment, the number of subjects, and a summary of the results.
While there is value in combining the available clinical trials for these three mushroom species, it is important to address the difficulties involved in evaluating this kind of research. Many factors make it challenging to ascertain the health benefits of mushroom supplements.
The human trials included in this review vary greatly with regard to study design, preparation, dosage, and number of subjects, as well as the analysis and reporting of results. While many show interesting possibilities for the use of these three mushroom species in treating a variety of medical conditions, additional research using well-designed clinical studies and reliable statistical methods is still needed. Further double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies with large trial populations and well-standardized preparations are necessary to reliably establish the efficacy of these mushrooms as dietary supplements.
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