Supplementing Cancer Treatment with Fungi
In Asia, mushrooms have been used as a treatment for infection for many years. In recent years they’ve been used in Japan and China as an adjunct treatment for cancer and pulmonary disease, along with chemotherapy and radiation treatment with an extensive clinical history of safe use.
Some of the most commonly used species of mushroom used alongside traditional cancer treatment are reishi, turkey tail, shiitake, and maitake.
Studies on immune response and antitumor mechanisms have to do with the stimulation of the mushrooms’ innate immune cells, such as monocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells, generally considered to be caused by the presence of beta-glucans.
Reishi, in animal studies, has shown improved immune function and inhibits the growth of some malignant tumors.
Turkey Tail, specifically studied as an adjunct treatment for breast cancer, has shown great results. It is being shown to be a non-toxic therapy to boost immune function when used alongside chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which depress the immune system.
Shiitake might have cellular-immunity-enhancing, antioxidative, pro-apoptotic, antiproliferative, and tumor-cell inhibiting effects.
Maitake, known as hen of the woods, not only has anti-viral, anti-cancer, and immune-enhancing properties, but it may also lower blood sugar and blood pressure.