Ganoderma lucidum, also called reishi mushroom, is a common Chinese fungus mentioned in the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing. Like a variety of other mushrooms, including the edible shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes), Ganoderma acts as an immunostimulant in both animals and humans. In addition to its potential to inhibit cancer through immune stimulation, Ganoderma may impede metastasis by inhibiting platelet aggregation (see Table 10.1).
Intraperitoneal administration (400 mg/kg every other day) of crude Ganoderma extract, with and without chemotherapy treatment, increased the life span of mice with lung cancer.69 The equivalent human intraperitoneal dose is about 1.9 grams per day of crude Gano-derma extract. If we assume this crude extract provided a 30 percent yield of material (as explained in Chapter 13), then the equivalent human oral dose is about 32 grams of whole dried Ganoderma. The normal dose of the whole herb in Chinese herbal medicine is about 9 grams per day in decoction.78 Since the polysaccharide content of many polysaccharide-rich herbs is roughly 7 percent (commonly 5 to 10 percent), a 32-gram dose of Ganoderma provides about 2.2 grams per day of poly-
The antitumor effects of the purified polysaccharide lentinan, which is obtained from Lentinus edodes (the shiitake mushroom), have been extensively studied in mice. The results have been very encouraging; an antitumor effect has been reported against many types of cancers.11 Lentinan has also been studied in humans with promising results. Human clinical trials have reported increased survival when used in combination with chemotherapy.12,75 In rodent studies, the dose generally given (1 mg/kg intraperitoneal) is low relative to doses of other polysaccharides discussed here. Low intravenous doses were also used in the human studies. The beneficial effects seen at low doses are due to the purified nature of lentinan and the route of administration. Clearly, the successes of lentinan demonstrate that shiitake mushrooms contain potent immunomodulating substances.
The whole shiitake mushroom also produces an antitumor effect. An oral dose of 12 g/kg per day of raw shiitake inhibited the growth of sarcoma tumors in mice by 40 percent. Doses two- and threefold greater produced additional inhibition. The growth of five other tumor types was also reduced, although generally to a lesser degree.84,85 The human equivalent of a 12-g/kg dose in mice is roughly 120 grams per day. This dose is prohibitively large but provides only about 8 grams of polysaccharides per day (assuming a 7 percent polysac-charide content), which is similar to the polysaccharide doses used in other studies discussed in this chapter.
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