Reishi mushroom is a natural product that may enhance immunity and response to chemo/radiotherapy, improve quality of life, and manage some side effects.
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More on safety
A cell study found toxic effects on human leukocytes.1Gill SK, Rieder MJ. Toxicity of a traditional Chinese medicine, Ganoderma lucidum, in children with cancer. Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2008 Summer;15(2):e275-85.
Treating cancer: preclinical evidence
Enhanced response to chemotherapy
- Enhanced anticancer effects of chemotherapeutic agents including cisplatin, arsenic trioxide, and cyclophosphamide2Sohretoglu D, Huang S. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides as an anti-cancer agent. Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. 2018;18(5):667-674; Zhao S, Ye G, Fu G, Cheng JX, Yang BB, Peng C. Ganoderma lucidum exerts anti-tumor effects on ovarian cancer cells and enhances their sensitivity to cisplatin. International Journal of Oncology. 2011 May;38(5):1319-27; Suarez-Arroyo IJ, Loperena-Alvarez Y, Rosario-Acevedo R, Martínez-Montemayor MM. Ganoderma spp.: a promising adjuvant treatment for breast cancer. Medicines (Basel). 2017 Mar;4(1):15; Ouyang MZ, Li LZ et al. Effects of the polysaccharides extracted from Ganoderma lucidum on chemotherapy-related fatigue in mice. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 2016 Oct;91:905-10.
Brain and nervous system cancers: tumor response
- Anaplastic meningioma: lower tumor volume, less tumor cell proliferation and longer survival in rats3Das A, Alshareef M et al. Ganoderic acid A/DM-induced NDRG2 over-expression suppresses high-grade meningioma growth. Clinical & Translational Oncology: Official Publication of the Federation of Spanish Oncology Societies and of the National Cancer Institute of Mexico. 2020 Jul;22(7):1138-1145.
- Glioma: slower tumor development and longer survival in rats4Wang C, Shi S et al. Antitumor and immunomodulatory activities of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in glioma-bearing rats. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2018 Sep;17(3):674-683.
Breast cancer: tumor response and less cell invasion, migration and metastasis
- Slower tumor growth in mice5Su J, Li D et al. Anti-breast cancer enhancement of a polysaccharide from spore of Ganoderma lucidum with paclitaxel: suppression on tumor metabolism with gut microbiota reshaping. Frontiers of Microbiology. 2018 Dec 17;9:3099. and lower rate of breast cancer cell invasion, growth, migration and metastasis in cell and animal studies,6Barbieri A, Quagliariello V et al. Anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties of Ganoderma lucidum extract effects on melanoma and triple-negative breast cancer treatment. Nutrients. 2017 Feb 28;9(3). pii: E210; Suarez-Arroyo IJ, Rosario-Acevedo R et al. Anti-tumor effects of Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) in inflammatory breast cancer in in vivo and in vitro models. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57431; Zhang Y. Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) suppresses proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells via inhibiting Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2017 Jul 8;488(4):679-684; Weng CJ, Yen GC. The in vitro and in vivo experimental evidences disclose the chemopreventive effects of Ganoderma lucidum on cancer invasion and metastasis. Clinical and Experimental Metastasis. 2010 May;27(5):361-9. including suppression of adhesion and migration of highly invasive breast cancer cells in lab studies7Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) in cancer treatment. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2003 Dec;2(4):358-64; Wu G, Song Y et al. Ganoderiol A-enriched extract suppresses migration and adhesion of MDA-MB-231 cells by inhibiting FAK-SRC-paxillin cascade pathway. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 29;8(10):e76620.
- Slower growth and lower weight of tumors in mice given a reishi extract with cyclophosphamide injections8Suarez-Arroyo IJ, Loperena-Alvarez Y, Rosario-Acevedo R, Martínez-Montemayor MM. Ganoderma spp.: a promising adjuvant treatment for breast cancer. Medicines (Basel). 2017 Mar;4(1):15.
- Fewer mammary tumors, smaller average number of tumors per animal, and longer tumor latency period in mice and rats9Smina TP, Nitha B, Devasagayam TPA, Janardhanan KK. Ganoderma lucidum total triterpenes induce apoptosis in MCF-7 cells and attenuate DMBA induced mammary and skin carcinomas in experimental animals. Mutation Research. 2017 Jan;813:45-51.
Colon cancer: improved sensitivity to 5FU
- Colon cancer cells more sensitive to 5-fluorouracil (5FU)10Opattova A, Horak J et al. Ganoderma lucidum induces oxidative DNA damage and enhances the effect of 5-Fluorouracil in colorectal cancer in vitro and in vivo. Mutation Research. 2019 Sep;845:403065.
Gynecological cancer: tumor response in combination with cisplatin
- Slower growth of tumors in combination with cisplatin11Zhu J, Xu J et al. Improved antitumor activity of cisplatin combined with Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in U14 cervical carcinoma-bearing mice. The Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences. 2019 Apr;35(4):222-229.
Liver cancer: tumor response
- Liver cancer: slower tumor growth in mice12Li A, Shuai X et al. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma growth by downregulating regulatory T cells accumulation and function by inducing microRNA-125b. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2015 Mar 26;13:100.
Lung cancer: tumor response and reduce mobility
- Lung cancer: slower tumor growth13Rossi P, Difrancia R et al. B-glucans from Grifola frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum in breast cancer: an example of complementary and integrative medicine. Oncotarget. 2018 May 15; 9(37): 24837–24856. and lung cancer cell growth14Wu C, Lin T et al. Ling Zhi-8 mediates p53-dependent growth arrest of lung cancer cells proliferation via the ribosomal protein S7-MDM2-p53 pathway. Carcinogenesis. 2011 Dec;32(12):1890-6; Chen Y, Lv J et al. Sporoderm-broken spores of Ganoderma lucidum inhibit the growth of lung cancer: involvement of the Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. 2016 Oct;68(7):1151-60. and inhibited cancer cell viability and mobility in mice15Hsu W, Qiu W et al. Effects of WSG, a polysaccharide from Ganoderma lucidum, on suppressing cell growth and mobility of lung cancer. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 2020 Dec 15;165(Pt A):1604-1613.
Ovarian cancer: tumor response
- Ovarian cancer: less proliferation in cell studies16Dai S, Liu J, Sun X, Wang N. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation of human ovarian cancer cells by suppressing VEGF expression and up-regulating the expression of connexin 43. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014 Nov 5;14:434; Hsieh TC, Wu JM. Suppression of proliferation and oxidative stress by extracts of Ganoderma lucidum in the ovarian cancer cell line OVCAR-3. International Journal of Molecular Medicine. 2011 Dec;28(6):1065-9.
Prostate cancer: less adhesion and migration
- Prostate cancer: less adhesion and migration of highly invasive prostate cancer cells17Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) in cancer treatment. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2003 Dec;2(4):358-64.
Optimizing your terrain: preclinical evidence
- Anti-inflammatory18Sohretoglu D, Huang S. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides as an anti-cancer agent. Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. 2018;18(5):667-674; Rossi P, Difrancia R et al. B-glucans from Grifola frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum in breast cancer: an example of complementary and integrative medicine. Oncotarget. 2018 May 15; 9(37): 24837–24856; Suarez-Arroyo IJ, Loperena-Alvarez Y, Rosario-Acevedo R, Martínez-Montemayor MM. Ganoderma spp.: a promising adjuvant treatment for breast cancer. Medicines (Basel). 2017 Mar;4(1):15.
- Antioxidant: protected neuroblastoma cells from oxidative stress19Wang C, Liu X, Lian C, Ke J, Liu J. Triterpenes and aromatic meroterpenoids with antioxidant activity and neuroprotective effects from Ganoderma lucidum. Molecules. 2019 Nov 28;24(23):4353; XiaoPing C, Yan C et al. Free radical scavenging of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides and its effect on antioxidant enzymes and immunity activities in cervical carcinoma rats. Carbohydrate Polymers. 2009; 77(2):389-393.
- Microbiome: better microbiome composition in mice20Rossi P, Difrancia R et al. B-glucans from Grifola frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum in breast cancer: an example of complementary and integrative medicine. Oncotarget. 2018 May 15; Yang Y, Nirmagustina DE et al. Feeding of the water extract from Ganoderma lingzhi to rats modulates secondary bile acids, intestinal microflora, mucins, and propionate important to colon cancer. Bioscience, biotechnology and biochemistry. 2017 Sep;81(9):1796-1804.
Managing side effects and promoting wellness: preclinical evidence
Blood-related side effects
- Less radiation-induced DNA damage in bone marrow in mice21Zhao W, Jiang X et al. Antioxidant activities of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides and their role on DNA damage in mice induced by cobalt-60 gamma-irradiation. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2012 Feb;50(2):303-9.
- Significantly less cardiotoxicity in rats given doxorubicin22Veena RK, Ajith TA, Janardhanan K. Lingzhi or reishi medicinal mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes), prevents doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in rats. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2018;20(8):761-774; Xu F, Li X et al. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2017 Nov;95:504-512.
Changes in appetite
- Better appetite and general health in rats23Wang CZ, Basila D et al. Effects of ganoderma lucidum extract on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in a rat model. American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2005;33(5):807-15.
- Less chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in rats24Wang CZ, Basila D et al. Effects of ganoderma lucidum extract on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in a rat model. American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2005;33(5):807-15.
- Less small intestinal damage induced by methotrexate25Chen L, Lin Z, Li W. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides reduce methotrexate-induced small intestinal damage in mice via induction of epithelial cell proliferation and migration. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica. 2011 Dec;32(12):1505-12.
- Less small intestinal injury caused by several chemotherapy drugs in mice with a cultured reishi extract26Kashimoto N, Ishii S et al. A water-soluble extract from cultured medium of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) mycelia attenuates the small intestinal injury induced by anti-cancer drugs. Oncology Letters. 2010 Jan;1(1):63-68.
- Significantly longer survival of small intestinal crypts, which support the regeneration of the intestinal lining, in mice undergoing X-ray irradiation with a cultured reishi extract27Kubo N, Myojin Y et al. Protective effects of a water-soluble extract from cultured medium of Ganoderma lucidum (Rei-shi) mycelia and Agaricus blazei murill against X-irradiation in B6C3F1 mice: Increased small intestinal crypt survival and prolongation of average time to animal death. International Journal of Molecular Medicine. 2005 Mar;15(3):401-6.
- Improvement in gut microbiota disrupted by paclitaxel in mice28Su J, Li D et al. Anti-breast cancer enhancement of a polysaccharide from spore of Ganoderma lucidum with paclitaxel: suppression on tumor metabolism with gut microbiota reshaping. Frontiers of Microbiology. 2018 Dec 17;9:3099.
Other chemotherapy and radiotherapy side effects
- Less kidney toxicity (nephrotoxicity) from cisplatin in rats and mice29Mahran YF, Hassan HM. Ganoderma lucidum prevents cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity through inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor signaling and autophagy-mediated apoptosis. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2020 Jul 6;2020:4932587; Pillai TG, John M, Thomas GT. Prevention of cisplatin induced nephrotoxicity by terpenes isolated from Ganoderma lucidum occurring in southern parts of India. Experimental and Toxicological Pathology: Official Journal of the Gesellshaft fur Toxicologische Pathologie. 2011 Jan;63(1-2):157-60.
- Less cisplatin-induced liver injury in rats30Hassan HM, Al-Wahaibi LH, Elmorsy MA, Mahran YF. Suppression of cisplatin-induced hepatic injury in rats through alarmin high-mobility group box-1 pathway by Ganoderma lucidum: theoretical and experimental study. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 2020 Jun 11;14:2335-2353.
Reducing cancer risk: preclinical evidence
Bladder cancer: tumor inhibition
- Slower tumor formation in mice31Yuen JWM, Mak DSY, Chan ES, Gohel MDI, Ng CF. Tumor inhibitory effects of intravesical Ganoderma lucidum instillation in the syngeneic orthotopic MB49/C57 bladder cancer mice model. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2018 Sep 15;223:113-121.
Colorectal cancer: less carcinogenesis
- Lower rate of carcinogenesis in both cell and animal studies;32Na K, Li K et al. Anticarcinogenic effects of water extract of sporoderm-broken spores of Ganoderma lucidum on colorectal cancer in vitro and in vivo. International Journal of Oncology. 2017 May;50(5):1541-1554. prevention and suppression of colitis-associated carcinogenesis in mice33Sliva D, Loganathan J et al. Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum prevents colitis-associated carcinogenesis in mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47873.
Prostate cancer: inhibition of premalignant cells
- Slower growth of premalignant prostate cells34Lee YF, Guo D, Thomas NR, Watson SA. Triterpene extract of Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation of premalignant human prostate cells by regulation of epithelial mesenchymal transition. Cancer Research. 2010 April;70(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 1462.
Skin cancer: fewer tumors and longer latency
- Lower incidence of skin papilloma and average number of tumors per animal, and longer tumor latency period in mice and rats35Smina TP, Nitha B, Devasagayam TPA, Janardhanan KK. Ganoderma lucidum total triterpenes induce apoptosis in MCF-7 cells and attenuate DMBA induced mammary and skin carcinomas in experimental animals. Mutation Research. 2017 Jan;813:45-51.
Resources for professionals
This table summarizes the evidence of interactions with reishi (Lingzhi) and turkey tail (Yunzhi) mushrooms and components with 17 chemotherapy drugs.
From Lam CS, Cheng LP, Zhou LM, Cheung YT, Zuo Z. Herb-drug interactions between the medicinal mushrooms Lingzhi and Yunzhi and cytotoxic anticancer drugs: a systematic review. Chinese Medicine. 2020 Jul 25;15:75.
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