Add as bookmark

Cancer Killing Medicinal Mushrooms

by Lev G Fedyniak(more info)

listed in cancer, originally published in issue 220 - February 2015

Cancer can be a brutal disease and its treatment can be as brutal as the disease itself!

Where once surgery, radiation and chemotherapy were the standards of care, treatment options have expanded to include targeted therapies, drugs that inhibit the formation of arteries feeding cancer tumors and biologicals as well. Some of these new treatments induce the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, known as the immunotherapy approach. Many of these drugs are based on genetics that we are only beginning to understand. Side effects can be extreme even inducing other forms of cancer!

But there is one natural-based form of immunotherapy that is garnering significant attention. Recent scientific and medical research has confirmed that specific medicinal mushrooms are a significant treatment option in and of themselves, substantially enhancing the immune system to fight off cancer tumors. But they also work to enhance the effect of conventional cancer therapy while reducing the side-effects of such conventional chemo- and radiation procedures.

Mushrooms, part of the fungi kingdom, have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Even the ‘Iceman’ was found to have two types of medicinal mushrooms in his pack! However, it’s only been recently that they have come under careful scientific scrutiny and long-held beliefs either decimated or confirmed. For instance, for the longest time, nutritionists believed mushrooms to have no nutritional value. But that was discovered not to be the case. Shiitake mushrooms, for example, are among the most delicious and very nutritious, composed of 18 types of amino acids, including seven of the eight essential amino acids in a ratio similar to the 'ideal protein' for humans.

Medicinal mushrooms are known as functional foods. That is, they supplement and help the body's immune system to fight off diseases. The polysaccharides, beta-glucans and linoleic acid groups present in mushrooms have anti-carcinogenic properties, which makes mushrooms an ideal agent for reducing the risk and effects of cancer. They stimulate the production of our immunity cells, such macrophages and Natural Kill (NK) cells, that protect the body from foreign invaders as well as from our own ‘out of control’ cells, as in the case of cancer. Many studies have proven that these polysaccharides give a boost to the immune system, particularly increasing the production of compounds such as cytokines, including interleukins and interferons, that generate the immune response.

Chinese Mushrooms

Chinese mushrooms - from left to right: Maitake, Ganoderma, Cordyseps, Shiitake and Fu-Ling. Reproduced from Medicinal Mushrooms - Ancient Medicine in Modern Times by James Zhou PH Online Issue 73 - Feb 2002.

Some of the well-known medicinal mushrooms include reishi (ganoderma), shiitake and maitake, though there are over 200 mushrooms classified as medicinal. But they don’t have to be exotic. For example, a 2004 study showed that eating 100 grams of white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) per day can have a significant effect in preventing new breast cancers.[1]    These were quickly followed by two more studies confirming the significant positive effect of white button mushrooms on breast cancer[2,3] while an Australian study showed that women who ate an average of only 10g of mushrooms (about half a button mushroom) a day had a 65% lower risk of breast cancer![4]

One of the reasons mushrooms are so effective in preventing breast cancer is that they induce aromatase inhibition.[5] Aromatase is an enzyme that converts the hormone androgen to oestrogen, which in turn can promote the development of breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women. Aromatase inhibitors also form a class of drugs in the conventional treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer and can be very expensive.

The lingzhi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) also known as reishi mushroom, is said to possess such potent preventive and curative properties as to be able to ‘bring the dying back to life’.  It is a treasure trove of healing components and compounds including alkaloids, lactones, sterols, coumarin, mannitol, polysaccharides, triterpenoids, vitamins and minerals. Studies in the US and abroad show that the reishi mushroom can induce regression of cancer cells, suppress the progression and invasiveness of cancers such as breast and prostate and even impede the formation of arteries to feed tumors (angiogenesis). And a review published in the May 2012 issue of The Cochrane Library found that people with various cancers who took reishi mushroom supplements responded more positively to chemotherapy and radiation treatments.[6]

Making a reishi mushroom tea is an effective way of obtaining the benefits of reishi (as well as popping them into your salad!). Just mix 5 g of dried reishi mushroom with about five cups of water. Boil and then let simmer about two hours. Strain, let cool and sweeten with honey.

But it’s not in just fighting breast cancer that these medicinal mushrooms are proving to be effective. They have also shown effectiveness against a myriad of other cancers including liver, prostate and lung cancers, among others.

Another cancer-fighting medicinal mushroom was made famous by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who in his book Cancer Ward maintained that he was cured of cancer by chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus).  Chaga or ‘tsyr’ has been part of Russia’s traditional medicine since the sixteenth century and is utilized in hospitals in Russia and Ukraine as a botanical product called Bifungin. Chaga contains virtually every nutrient except for Vitamins A and K. It is particularly rich in antioxidants (SOD), Vitamin B complex, Vitamin D, triterpenes, betulin, polysaccharides (beta glucan), and soluble lignins. Betulin is an extremely important component as it is a precursor to betulinic acid, shown to inhibit the cancer-promoting enzyme topoisomerase. Betulinic acid has been found to be active against skin, brain, ovarian and head and neck cancers by promoting apoptosis, or programmed cell death, something lacking in cancer cells.

Ground into a coarse powder and boiled for a minimum of 15 minutes, chaga is prepared as a mushroom tea with a deliciously rich black tea/coffee taste.

But probably one of the most currently studied medicinal mushrooms used for the treatment of cancer is the turkey-tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor), named for its colorful stripes.

In fact, the NIH has recently awarded Bastyr University in the United States a $5.4 million investigational grant to intensely study this mushroom, particularly in cancer. And the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a clinical trial for a turkey tail extract in advanced prostate cancer (in combination with conventional chemotherapy).

While strongly effective in treating cancer, medicinal mushrooms have also been found to be effective in treating many other diseases. For example, white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus ) in diabetes, Maitake (Grifola frondosa) in arthritis, enoki (or enokitake) mushroom (Flammulina velutipes) in cardiovascular disease and many other diseases as well.

To date, penicillin, lovastatin, ciclosporin, griseofulvin, cephalosporin, ergometrine and statins are the most famous pharmaceuticals that have been isolated from the fungi kingdom.

Simply put, people have been using medicinal mushrooms for thousands of years for good reasons: They are effective and they have benefited from them, especially when it comes to treating cancer. But there is no doubt that we’ve only scratched the surface in both our understanding and application of mushrooms in the prevention and treatment of disease. The best part is that many of these mushrooms are readily available in the supermarket or health food stores and can be easily included into one’s diet or supplement regimen. So don’t wait until you get sick with a disease like cancer. Use medicinal mushrooms now to prevent getting ill in the first place!

Cover Cancer Killing Medicinal Mushrooms


  1. Chen S. Anti-cancer activities of white button mushrooms. Mushroom Science XVI: 25-29. 2004.
  2. Shin A, Kim J, Lim SY, Kim G, Sung MK, Lee ES, Ro J. Dietary mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer based on hormone receptor status. Nutrition & Cancer 62 (4): 476-483. 2010.
  3. Hong SA, Kim K, Nam SJ, Kong G, Kim MK. A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. International Journal of Cancer  122: 919-923. 2008.
  4. Zhang M, Huang J, Xie X, Holman CDJ. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer 124: 1404-1408. 2009.
  5. Grube BJ, Eng ET, Kao YC, Kwon A, Chen S. White button mushroom phytochemicals inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer proliferation. Journal of Nutrition 131: 3288-3293. 2001.
  6. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM-y, Chan GCF. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.  Issue 6. Art. No.: CD007731. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007731.pub2. 2012.

Further Information

Cancer Killing Medicinal Mushrooms is available on Amazon:


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Lev G Fedyniak

Lev G Fedyniak MD is the author of Cancer Killing Medicinal Mushrooms available from Amazon. He began his medical career by studying Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, herbs, etc.) before going to medical school. He has since traveled the world studying indigenous medical traditions and researching plants and healing therapies that can help heal disease and ease suffering. Dr Fedyniak can be reached at

  • Ultimate Body Detox

    Immune system support & heavy metal detox - 3 powerful products: ACS 200, ACZ Nano & ACG Glutathione

  • Liposomal Nutrients

    Optimum system for nutrient delivery to cells - fully bioavailable vitamins absorbed and metabolised

  • Flower essences online

    Fine quality flower essences international ranges to help promote vitality and emotional well-being.

  • Seaweed as Superfood

    Comprehensive nutrient balance found in no other natural food but seaweed: colon health, weight loss

  • Beginner's Guide to ME

    Essential reading for people/carers with ME/CFS serious debilitating illness. Counteracts bad advice

  • Super Patch Wellbeing

    Super Patches – a most revolutionary advance in wellbeing strategies in the history of medicine

  • nutrition and cancer

    by Sandra Goodman PhD The latest scientific research regarding Nutrition and Cancer. Full details at

  • mycology research MRL

    MRL markets mushroom products food grade US & Netherlands GMP standards. Health Professional Videos

  • College of Ayurveda UK

    Diploma in Āyurvedic Medicine, 4-year self-paced distant learning program in Āyurvedic medicine.

  • Water for Health

    Specialist online health store focused on hydration, body pH balance and quality nutrition.

top of the page