What Is the Best Mushroom to Fight Cancer?

Mushrooms indicated by cancer type

Reishi mushroom, scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum or Ganoderma sinense, has been commonly known as the mushroom of longevity or immortality. Out of all of the different types of mushrooms, reishi mushrooms seem to be the most widely used mushrooms for cancer prevention and to inhibit tumor growth.

Reishi mushroom, scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum or Ganoderma sinense, has been commonly known as the mushroom of longevity or immortality. Out of all of the different types of mushrooms, reishi mushrooms seem to be the most widely used mushrooms for cancer prevention and to inhibit tumor growth. Mushrooms play a role in boosting the immune system and brain function.

Reishi has been used medicinally in East Asia since ancient times. It is a traditional medicine used throughout Asia for cancer prevention.

Reishi mushrooms were outed to prolong life, prevent aging and increase energy. In China, mushrooms are used to fortify the immune system of people with cancer who receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

These mushrooms are known as reishi In Japan. In China, G. lucidum is known as chizhi and G. sinense is known as zizhi.

Different types of mushrooms that are effective against different types of cancer are listed below.

Table 1. Medicinal mushrooms indicated by cancer types

Type of cancer          Indicated mushroom
 Breast cancer  Reishi, maitake and turkey tail
 Colon cancer  Reishi, maitake and turkey tail
 Gastric cancer  Turkey tail
 Hepatocellular carcinoma  Agaricus and reishi
 Leukemia  Agaricus and reishi
 Lymphoma  Cordyceps
 Lung cancer  Reishi
 Non-small cell lung cancer  Cordyceps
 Prostate cancer  Reishi
 Sarcoma  Reishi

What are medicinal mushrooms?

Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms that are used as medicines. They are mainly used in the treatment of

  • Infections
  • Lung diseases
  • Cancer

Reported benefits of medicinal mushrooms include

  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immune boosting
  • Cardiovascular protective
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Liver protective
  • Anticancer

In Japan and China, mushrooms have been used safely for a long time, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. There are more than 100 types of mushrooms used to treat cancer. The most common ones include

  • Ganoderma lucidum (reishi)
  • Trametes versicolor
  • Coriolus versicolor (turkey tail)
  • Lentinus edodes (shiitake)
  • Grifola frondosa (maitake)

Research has been conducted to determine the antitumor activity of mushrooms and mushroom extracts.

Some of the traditionally used mushroom species include

 Scientific name          Common name        
 Cordyceps spp  Caterpillar fungi
 Fomes fomentarius  Tinder fungus
 Fomitopsis officinalis  Wood conk or Agaricon
 Ganoderma lucidum  Ling Zhi
 Grifola frondosa  Hen of the woods and dancing mushroom
 Inonotus obliquus  Chaga, Cinderconk and Clinker fungus
 Lentinula edodes  Shiitake, huagu and snake butter
 Piptoporus betulinus  Birch polypore

Why people with cancer use medicinal mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms contain several biologically active compounds that are effective against the development of cancer cells. They contain a class of polysaccharides known as beta-glucans. Beta-glucans have shown anti-cancer activity.

Who should not take medicinal mushrooms?

Medicinal mushrooms are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because they come under the category of dietary supplements. Hence, take mushrooms at your risk. You shouldn’t take medicinal mushrooms if

  • You are taking warfarin or other blood thinners.
  • You are undergoing chemotherapy.
  • You are taking immunosuppressants.
  • You are taking cytochrome P450 2E1, 1A2 and 3A substrate drugs.

What are the risks of taking medicinal mushrooms?

Generally, mushrooms are considered safe to include in your daily diet. However, there have been reports of side effects with medicinal mushrooms. These include

A few types of mushrooms may cause hallucinations because of the content of psilocybin. It is important to differentiate psychogenic, medicinal and poisonous mushrooms before you consume them.

Source: What Is the Best Mushroom to Fight Cancer?