Greater than 50% of anti-cancer medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are extracted from plants, indicating that herbal medicines are vital and very relevant in the development of anticancer drugs (Kim, 2002). Eastern medicine has widely popularized items such as edible mushrooms like Ganoderma lucidum or lingzhi for overall health promotion and longevity. The name lingzhi is regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency” in the Chinese culture, symbolizing well-being, longevity and success (Wachtel-Galor, 2011).
In a Shanghai breast cancer survival study by Bao et al., the 36 month post-survey showed that 58% of participants reported using G. lucidum (Bao, 2012). Jin et al. reviewed five randomized controlled trials to conclude that patients using G. lucidum alongside chemo/radiation therapy were more likely to respond positively compared to chemo/radiation therapy alone (p=0.02) (Jin, 2012).
Studies show G. lucidum may help by these mechanisms:
- Increasing the percentages of T-cells such as CD3, CD4 and CD8 (Jin, 2012).
- Protective effect against free radicals, cell damage and anti-cancerous effects
- Reduction in PD-1 proteins/attachment to ligand protein (Wang, 2019)
- 6 chemotherapeutics have been approved over past decade related to this target
More studies need to be performed to better understand the effects of G. lucidum. It is through this research we better explain how these magical mushrooms explain their effects on our body.
Bao, P. P., Lu, W., Cui, Y., Zheng, Y., Gu, K., Chen, Z., Zheng, W., & Shu, X. O. (2012). Ginseng and Ganoderma lucidum use after breast cancer diagnosis and quality of life: a report from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study. PloS one, 7(6), e39343. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039343
Jin, Xingzhong, et al. (2016). “Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi Mushroom) for Cancer Treatment.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,. 4, 4, CD007731.
Kim, J. & Park, E.J. (2002). Cytotoxic anticancer candidates from natural resources. Curr. Med. Chem. Anticancer Agents. 2, 485-537.
Wachtel-Galor S., Yuen, J., Buswell, J.A., et al. (2011) Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects 2nd ed. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/
Wang, X., Fang, G. & Pang, Y. (2018). “Chinese Medicines in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer: From Formulas to Extracts and Compounds.” Nutrients. 10, 3, 283.