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Lion's Mane Mushrooms Ann Miller

Some Facts about Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane Facts

* This species has many names including the bearded tooth mushroom and the pom pom mushroom. It is sometimes called the hedgehog mushroom, although that name usually refers to a different species altogether, Hydnum repandum.

* All species of Hericium are considered saprotrophs, meaning they feed on dead material. Hericium erinaceus is also a parasite, meaning it attacks and kills living trees.

* They’re found in late summer to fall on dead or dying hardwood trees, especially oak and beech. They grow in North America, China, Japan, and Europe.

* This doesn’t look like your typical mushroom. It has no real cap and no stem. Instead it sports long spines (greater than 1 cm) coming out from a single clump.

* Their color is mainly white, although they become brown or yellow with age. Their spore print is white as well.

* This is not a common species of mushroom, so finding one may be a rare treat. They grow higher up on trees rather than at the base, which means that they’re also often missed during a mushroom hunt.


Introduction to Lion’s Mane

The term “lion’s mane” sounds like something you’d find roaming the plains of the Serengeti. Yet did you know it’s also the common name for an edible mushroom with promising medicinal properties?

Lion’s mane, or Hericium erinaceus, is one of the more interesting looking types of mushrooms out there. In place of the traditional mushroom cap is a large clump of teeth, which are spine-like structures a few millimeters long.

The lion’s mane mushroom – Hericium erinaceusThe purpose of these teeth is to manufacture and release spores, the “seeds” of a mushroom that allow the fungal organism to reproduce. Many different types of mushrooms have teeth instead of a cap, but lion’s mane and other members of the Hericium genus are some of the most recognizable.

These mushrooms provide more than just a visual treat. They’re considered by many to be a gourmet edible, with a wonderfully chewy texture and taste slightly reminiscent of seafood.

Lion’s mane has also been the subject of more and more medical studies in the past decade. They appear to have nerve regenerating properties, stimulating nerve growth and aiding those with cognitive impairments. Yesterday’s funny looking mushroom may be part of tomorrow’s dementia treatment.


The King of the Herbs

History of Ganoderma (AKA. The “King of Herbs”)
Ganoderma Lucidium (AKA Reishi Mushroom) has more than 5,000 years of history. Since the ancient period, it had been called the miraculous herb, precious herb, and an herb on behalf of life. It was and treated as a “panacea” tribute on behalf of emperors and later earned the nickname “supernatural eastern mushroom” from citizens of the west.

Ancient records showed that Ganoderma Lucidum grew in the imperial palace, which is thought to tally for quiet throughout the Handi-Wudi Epoch. A man named Pengzu who was from Wuyi Mountain was thought to contain lived for hundreds of years, with the face of a immature person, in no way looking old, and allocated it to ganoderma lucidum. He understood, he kept back himself in gain vigor by taking Ganoderma Lucidum, drinking the chute and living in reclusion.

The virtues of Ganoderma (Lingshi, Reishi) have been famous since ancient time in China and principal renowned through the reign of Fu Xi (2952-2836 BC).The Infamous Seng Nong is said to have discovered teh beneficial virtues of plants by trying hundreds of spcies. “Seng Nong’s Herbal Classic” is considered to be the most primitive manuscript on Chinese Materia Medica and is still in our day the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Oriental medicine in broad-spectrum. The record describes Ganoderma Lucidum in fact: In the company of 365 specieis of plants, roots, wood, fur, animals and stones, separated into three grades, Ganoderma is listed as the highest rank- No.1 of the first of “Superior Herbs.”

Six species of Ganoderma, differentiated by color, are mentioned in the Seng Nong,classic. Li Shi Zhen, a famous medicinal scholoar duriing the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), fully researched and concretely documented the indications of the six species. The creation of Li was republished in 1956, and translated into several foreign launguages with Japanese, English, French, German, Russian and Latin. This hardback is regarded as the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

To uncover Ganoderma in ancient time, citizens had to reach in height up on the mountains and deep into forrests to harvest this a good number valuable herb. The discovery of Ganoderma led to wide-spread celebration. Ganoderma was so valued it was used almost exclusively by Emperors and by highly ranked courtesans.

– Markus

medicinal mushroom

Ganoderma Lucidium

Studies on Bioactive Substances and Medical Effects of REISHI

Reishi, the fruiting body of Mannentake, Ganoderma lucidum has been known in Japan, China, and other countries as a food and raw material for the development of drugs.  Recent studies have shown that that carcinostatic substance in Reishi is a polysaccharide, beta (1-3)- D – glucan. This polysaccharide seems to have promise as a new type of carcinostatic agent which might be useful in immunotherapy. Unlike chemicals used in chemotherapy, it has few toxic side effects because its effect is based on immunological enhancement in the host. Reishi also seems to contain other substances which reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels; and inhibit platelet aggregation, etc.

Recently, in vitro immunomodulating effects of Reishi extracts, and clinical study of micronized Reishi in Thai HIV and AIDS patients were attempted in Thailand. Some lanostane tri-terpenoids have been isolated from G. lucidum. These are highly oxidized compounds which show interesting biological activities.

Takashi Mizuno, Shizuoka University, Japan

red reishi

The Role of Reishi in Cancer Management.

The Role of Reishi Supplements in Cancer Management

Ganoderma has been used as folk medicine since ancient times and it is a popular health food frequently promoted as a cancer cure. It is now well established from in vitro and animal studies that the polyshaccharide fraction of Ganoderma is largely responsible for its anti-tumor efficacy. Although there is yet no controlled clinical trials in humans for Ganoderma against cancer to date, the indications for its supplemental use can be indirectly supported with clinical trial data from comparable fungal polysaccharides because of a common final pathway of action mediated via beta-glucan receptor. Based on such indirect data, indications for Ganoderma use in cancer include supplementation a) to reduce side-effects during chemotherapy or radiotherapy, b) to prolonging survival and minimize metastasis, c) to improve quality of life, and d) to prevent occurrence or recurrence. In sum, although the cure of any cancer with Ganoderma alone is unlikely, it is probably beneficial under defined circumstances in most cases of malignancy.


Ganoderma has been recognized traditionally and scientifically as potentially useful in the treatment of cancer, but there is a notable discrepancy with the publics frequent impression that ganoderma may be a cure for cancer and the lack of clinical trials demonstrating such efficacy. We intend to summarize the extent of available theoretical, experimental and clinical data for the use of Ganoderma Supplementation in cancer and outline its indications, especially in the context of clinical results from bioactively similar polysaccharide derived biological response modifiers (BRMs) from other fungi (Mizuno 1996).

Experimental Evidence of Ganodermas Potential in Cancer Treatment

Ikekawa et al. (1968) first reported on the efficacy of soluble extracts from Ganoderma in inhibiting transplanted sarcoma 180 in mice. This host-dependent anti-tumor activity has been subsequently confirmed to be from the polysaccharide fractions of Ganoderma (Sasaki et al., 1971). Multiple similar studies subsequently confirms this observation and anti-tumor efficacy of Ganoderma has been demonstrated from various species, at different stages of growth and using different solvents for extraction and different routes of administration. Anti-tumor activity has been demonstrated in vitro as well as in syngeneic tumor systems in animals. However, no human trials of Ganoderma against cancer in peer reviewed journals nor any controlled clinical trials in humans have yet been conducted or published.

From a theoretical point of view, it is important to note that other fungal polysaccharides of comparable structure and function as those found in Ganoderma have undergone rigorous clinical trials, including Lentinan, Sizofilan, PSK (Krestin), PSP. Since it is now increasingly clear that immunostimulatory bioactivity from most beta-glucan based compounds function via a similar beta-glucan receptor (Czop 1985), it has been possible to hypothesize that Ganoderma polysaccharides should function similarly (Chang, 1996). Clinical effects of various glucan based BRMs should therefore be comparable. Results from Lentinan, Sizofilan, PSK and PSP human trials demonstrated the efficacy of these glucan BRMs in prolonging survival in recurrent or advanced gastric and colon cancer, lung cancer and gynecological cancers, Data from such bioactively comparable compounds all suggest improved quality of life or survival for cancer patients may be possible with Ganoderma supplementation.

Indications and Evidence Supporting the Use of Ganoderma Supplementation in Cancer

Whilst some efficacy of Ganoderma in cancer is undoubted, it remains important to specify the various indications and cite the evidence to support its use. This can be discussed under four different circumstances:

A. As a supplement during chemotherapy or radiotherapy to reduce side-effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite, hair loss, bone marrow suppression and risk of infection. There are studies demonstrating Ganodermas efficacy against fatigue (Yang 1994), hair loss (Miyamoto et al. 1985), and bone marrow suppression (Jia et al. 1993) and the presence of similar clinical evidence for other glucan BRMs applied in the setting of cancer chemotherapy or radiotherapy (Shi 1993) lends further support to the supplementation of Ganoderma in combination with cytotoxic cancer therapies. The recommended dose should be in the range of five to ten grams of fruiting body or equivalent per day (Chang 1994).

B. As a supplement for cancer patients to enhance survival and reduce likelihood of metastasis. While only anecdotal data exists that ganoderma supplementation may enhance survival of cancer patients, this survival advantage has been demonstrated for a number of comparable glucan BRMs. Specifically, Lentinan use in advanced or recurrent gastric cancer demonstrated a significant life span prolongation advantage at 1, 2, 3 and 4 years in a randomized control trial (Taguchi 1987). Sizolan given together with chemotherapy enhanced survival of cervical cancers irrespective of stage in a prospective randomized controlled trial (Inoue et al. 1993), significantly enhanced survival (P.01) in lung cancer patients (Honma 1982) and improved five year survival of head and neck cancer from 73.4 to 86.7% was noted in another small study (Kimura et al. 1994). More appropriate for comparison to Ganoderma is perhaps PSK or PSP, which are orally administered. Mitomi et al. (1994) found significantly improved survival and disease-free survival (P=0.013) in resected colorectal cancer given PSK supplementation over three years when compared to control in a multi-center randomized controlled trial.

In an animal model, Ganoderma has been demonstrated to effectively prevent metastasis (Lee 1984), and these results are comparable to those of Lentinan (Suga 1994). Other glucan BRMs have been demonstrated to effectively prevent or suppress pulmonary metastasis of methylcholanthrene-induced sarcomas, human prostate cancer DU145M, and lymphatic metastasis of mouse leukemia P388 (Kobayashi et al. 1995). The recommended dose should be five to ten grams or more of fruiting body or equivalent per day, with a linear enhancement in efficacy expected up to 30 grams per day (Chang 1994).

C. As a supplement for cancer patients to improve quality of life. Again, only anecdotal information exists for Ganoderma in this situation but other oral glucan derivatives such as PSP has been found to be useful in improving quality of life in cancer patients (Yao 1993). Significantly, Ganoderma supplementation was noted to decrease pain in cancer patients (Kupin 1994). The recommended dose would be five to ten grams of fruiting body or equivalent per day (Chang 1994).

D. As a supplement for the prevention of occurrence or recurrence of cancer. Since immune stimulation, especially Natural Killer (NK) and Cytotoxic Lymphocyte (CTL) activation may be effective in the immune prevention of cancer by enhanced immune surveillance (Lotzova 1985), and Ganoderma has been demonstrated to enhance NK and CTL activity when administered orally (Won et al. 1989), it is thus a candidate for prevention of the occurrence or recurrence of cancer. Stavinoha et al. demonstrated the efficacy of Ganoderma in preventing the progression of microadenomatous growths in animals (Stavinoha 1993), and the efficacy of other glucan BRMs in primary and secondary cancer prevention have been similarly demonstrated in vitro, in vivo and in clinical trials.


Although Ganoderma and its derivatives are not pharmaceuticals and have not undergone rigorous clinical trials to be tested against cancer, there is abundant use in vitro, animal and indirect clinical evidence to support its supplemental use in cancer. Standardization in bioactive polysaccharide content and dosages will be necessary to assure its rational use, and clinical trials in select cancers with defined endpoints will confirm its efficacy.

Raymond Y. Chang, Meridian medical Group at the Institute of East-West Medicine and Department of Medicine, Cornell Medical College

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