Reishi mushroom is a natural product that may enhance immunity and response to chemo/radiotherapy, improve quality of life, and manage some side effects. 

How can reishi mushroom help me? What the research says

We summarize the clinical evidence for each medical benefit here. We begin with our assessment of the strength of evidence within each category, followed by a brief summary of individual studies or reviews of several studies. In assessing the strength of evidence, we consider the study design, number of participants, and the size of the treatment effect (how much outcomes changed with treatment).

Learn more about how we research and rate therapies.

Preclinical evidence is summarized in Are you a health professional?

Treating cancer

Is reishi mushroom linked to improved survival? Is it linked to less cancer growth or metastasis? Does it enhance the anticancer action of other treatments or therapies? We present the evidence.

Cancer as a whole

Modest evidencesignificant effects in at least three small but well-designed randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or one or more well-designed, mid-sized clinical studies of reasonably good quality (RCTs or observational studies), or several small studies aggregated into a meta-analysis (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of a better response to chemo/radiotherapy among people with cancer as a whole treated with reishi mushrooms

No evidence of an effectoverall, one or more studies did not demonstrate that a treatment or intervention led to an expected outcome; this does not always mean that there is no effect in clinical practice, but that the studies may have been underpowered (too few participants) or poorly designed. Larger, well-designed studies provide more confidence in making assessments. on long‐term survival among people treated only with reishi in a combined analysis of studies

Advanced cancer

Weak evidenceone or more case studies, supported by animal evidence OR small treatment effects of limited clinical significance OR studies with no controls OR weak trends of effects (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of modest anticancer responses among people with advanced lung cancer treated with reishi polysaccharides

Prostate cancer

No evidence of an effect on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels among men with prostate cancer treated with reishi mushrooms in a preliminary trial

Optimizing your body terrain

Does reishi mushroom promote an environment within your body that is less supportive of cancer development, growth, or spread? We present the evidence.

Blood sugar and insulin resistance

No evidence of a clinical effectoverall, one or more studies did not demonstrate that a treatment or intervention led to an expected outcome; this does not always mean that there is no effect in clinical practice, but that the studies may have been underpowered (too few participants) or poorly designed. Larger, well-designed studies provide more confidence in making assessments. on blood sugar or insulin resistance among people with type 2 diabetes treated with reishi mushrooms in a combined analysis of 3 small studies

Immune function

Good evidencesignificant effects in one large or several mid-sized and well-designed clinical studies (randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with an appropriate placebo or other strong comparison control or observational studies that control for confounds) (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of improved markers of immune function among people with cancer treated with reishi mushrooms

Oxidation

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of greater antioxidant activity among people without cancer treated with reishi supplements

Managing side effects and promoting wellness

Is reishi mushroom linked to fewer or less severe side effects or symptoms? Is it linked to less toxicity from cancer treatment? Does it support your quality of life or promote general well-being? We present the evidence.

Cancer-related symptoms as a whole

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of fewer cancer-related symptoms as a whole among people with advanced cancer treated with reishi mushrooms

Anxiety

Preliminary evidence of less anxiety during endocrine therapy among people with breast cancer treated with reishi mushroom

Blood-related side effects

Modest evidencesignificant effects in at least three small but well-designed randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or one or more well-designed, mid-sized clinical studies of reasonably good quality (RCTs or observational studies), or several small studies aggregated into a meta-analysis (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of better levels of blood components during chemotherapy among people treated with reishi mushrooms

Changes in appetite

Preliminary evidence of better appetite during endocrine therapy among people with breast cancer treated with reishi mushrooms

Cognitive difficulties

Preliminary evidence of better cognitive function during endocrine therapy among people with breast cancer treated with reishi mushrooms

Depression

Preliminary evidence of less depression during endocrine therapy among people with breast cancer treated with reishi mushrooms

Fatigue

Preliminary evidence of less fatigue during endocrine therapy among people with breast cancer treated with reishi mushrooms

Quality of life and function

Modest evidence of better quality of life during chemotherapy or endocrine therapy among people treated with reishi mushroom

Preliminary evidence of better emotional function during endocrine therapy among people with breast cancer treated with reishi mushrooms

Weak evidenceone or more case studies, supported by animal evidence OR small treatment effects of limited clinical significance OR studies with no controls OR weak trends of effects (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of better quality of life and emotional well-being during chemotherapy among people with non–small cell lung cancer treated with Reishi & Privet Formula

Sleep disruption

Preliminary evidence of less sleep disruption during endocrine therapy among people with breast cancer treated with reishi mushroom

Symptoms not related to cancer

Preliminary evidence of better liver function among healthy volunteers treated with reishi mushroom

Reducing cancer risk

Is reishi mushroom linked to lower risks of developing cancer or of recurrence? We present the evidence.

Colorectal cancer

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of substantially fewer and smaller new colorectal adenomas among people with prior adenomas treated with reishi mushrooms

Resources related to evidence

Keep reading about reishi mushroom

Authors

Maria Williams

Research and Communications Consultant
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Maria Williams is a research and communications consultant who brings over 15 years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to CancerChoices. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health.

Maria Williams Research and Communications Consultant

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Reviewer

Andrew Jackson, ND

Research Associate
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Andrew Jackson, ND, serves as a CancerChoices research associate. As a naturopathic physician practicing in Kirkland, Washington, he teaches critical evaluation of the medical literture at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. His great appreciation of scientific inquiry and the scientific process has led him to view research with a critical eye.

Andrew Jackson, ND Research Associate

Last update: August 12, 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

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