The Chemopreventive Effects of Medicinal Mushrooms

The consumption of medicinal mushrooms has been a common tradition in various cultures for centuries, and has recently received significant attention from the scientific community for their potential health benefits, particularly in regards to cancer prevention. The focus of this review is to summarize the current knowledge on the chemopreventive effects of medicinal mushrooms.

Many species of medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that possess potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties, which have been shown to play a role in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. These processes are thought to be important drivers of cancer development.

One of the most extensively studied medicinal mushrooms is the shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes). In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that the polysaccharides and polyphenols present in shiitake mushrooms have anti-tumor effects by stimulating the immune system, inhibiting cell proliferation and angiogenesis, and inducing apoptosis [1].

Another popular medicinal mushroom is the reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum). Studies have shown that the bioactive compounds in reishi mushrooms can reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells, and enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy [2]. Reishi mushrooms have also been shown to enhance immune function and reduce oxidative stress [3].

Coriolus versicolor, also known as the turkey tail mushroom, is another species of medicinal mushroom with significant chemopreventive properties. Research has demonstrated that the polysaccharides (PSK) in turkey tail mushrooms have anti-tumor effects by enhancing immune function and suppressing inflammation [4].

Despite the promising results of these studies, there is still a need for further research to fully understand the mechanisms behind the chemopreventive effects of medicinal mushrooms, as well as their efficacy in human populations. Additionally, standardized extraction methods and quality control measures need to be established to ensure the consistency and safety of medicinal mushroom products.

In conclusion, the increasing body of evidence suggests that certain species of medicinal mushrooms have potent chemopreventive effects and may have potential as a complementary therapy for cancer prevention and treatment. Further research is necessary to fully understand the mechanisms of action and to determine their efficacy in human populations.


[1] Wang, Y., & Chen, F. (2015). The medicinal mushroom Lentinula edodes (shiitake) improves human immune function. Journal of medicinal food, 18(3), 288-297. [

2] Yin, J., Zhang, H., & Gao, J. (2013). Ganoderma lucidum: a potent pharmacological macrofungus. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, 2013.

[3] Matsumoto, M., Murata, J., & Kiho, T. (1999). Effects of a polysaccharide-rich substance obtained from the culture broth of Ganoderma lucidum on the immune function of mice. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin, 22(3), 213-216.

[4] Wei, L., & Kim, S. H. (2018). Anticancer effects of Coriolus versicolor polysaccharides: a review. Anticancer research, 38(1), 59-66.

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