Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment

Each year, an increasing number of patients are diagnosed with cancer. Although the disease stands as an established global health threat, research has shown that certain populations are more susceptible to specific types of the disease.

When diagnosed, it’s understandable that patients want to explore their options for treatment, as well as manage the symptoms and side effects of the treatment path they opt for. A growing number of patients are starting to turn away from hospital cures and test the waters of alternative medicine. One option, highly regarded by Chinese medical practitioners is G. lucidum extract.

Having been widely used amongst the traditional medicine community, G. lucidum is frequently recommended as a natural supplement that has shown promising results in preclinical trials for its anti-tumor properties. Sadly, contrary to initial results the medicine has yet to be backed by clinical evidence.

The review was conducted with five randomized controlled trials, which encompassed the analysis of 373 test subjects. Although failing to display the medicine as having a significant effect on tumor shrinkage during solitary use, the results displayed that patients exposed to G. lucidum extract were 1.27 times more likely to respond to chemo/radiotherapy than the control group without.

Additionally, the significant increase in CD3, CD4 and CD8 lymphocyte percentages showed that G. lucidum caused an increase in host immune functions. Notably, NK cell activity, a suggested marker of natural immune defense against tumor cells, displayed a slight increase.

As a result of G. lucidum extract treatment, patients reported an elevated quality of life in comparison to the control group. Only a marginal number of cases reported slight side effects including nausea and insomnia.

As is the case with many, this systematic review had its anticipated limitations. Due to the small sample size of the individual studies, concerned were raised as to the representativeness of trials. As well as this, due to cancer affecting some populations more than others and the participants all being from the Chinese population, ethnocentric bias is likely to have affected the results. These two combined are likely to have affected the validity of the study’s final results.

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