Medicinal mushrooms and mushroom extracts are used worldwide to fight cancer and enhance and modulate immune response. Lentinula edodes (shiitake), Grifola frondosa (maitake), Ganoderma lucidum (mannentake), and Cordyceps have a history of medicinal use for millennia in parts of Asia. Research has indicated mushrooms have possible anti-cancer, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and liver protective activities. Here are six of the most well-researched anti-cancer mushrooms rich in polysaccharides and beta glucans, the primary active immune-enhancing constituents.
1. Ganoderma Reishi Mushroom Ling Zhi, Mannentake, “The Mushroom of Immortality”
This is one of the great longevity tonics of Chinese Medicine used in cancer treatment in Traditional and Modern Chinese Medicine to improve vitality, strength and stamina and to prolong life. Reishi enhances immune response, alleviates chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and kidney damage and protects cellular DNA by raising antioxidant capacity.
2. Shitake (Lentinula edodes) Black Forest Tree Mushroom or Xiang Gu (Fragrant Mushroom)
This is a tender and tasty mushroom found in many Asian cuisines. It is considered both a delicacy and a medicinal mushroom. Shitake contains a glucan called AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound) and is widely used in alternative and complementary treatment of cancer in Japan due to its immune-enhancing functions. Lentinan, a compound found in Shitake, is used as an intravenous anti-cancer drug with antitumor properties. Clinical studies have associated lentinan with a higher survival rate, higher quality of life and lower recurrence of cancer.