David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A.

Medicinal Mushroom Monograph

The Japanese, Chinese, and others have used medicinal mushrooms for centuries. Two good examples are the mushrooms Shiitake and Reishi (Ganoderma).

There are actually dozens of medicinal mushrooms, all possessing some similar characteristics, such as immune enhancement. In addition, each also has its own unique properties. Ganoderma has been shown to regulate immune functions and coronary cerebral blood flow, reduce blood lipid levels, protect the liver from toxicosis and treat liver disease. Shiitake is used to treat cancer. Tremella contains tumor and ulcer inhibiting polysaccharide. Uses might include cancer therapy, following illness to boost strength, and following injury.

Medicinal mushrooms seem to be one of the best methods for long-term immune stimulation.

One can give only one mushroom if you understand which one is best. What is more common is to give a combination of several mushrooms. Neither approach is necessarily better, as it always depends on the animal's condition.

A variety of different medicinal mushrooms are available in combination products, including:


    1. Especially beneficial for cancer therapy
    2. Shown to help fight cancer
    3. Particularly beneficial in countering the side effects of cancer chemotherapy
    4. Has complex mucopolysaccharides that are nonspecific immune boosters.


    1. Anti-tumor activity
    2. Antiviral action
    3. Reduces bronchial inflammation

Ganoderma (Reishi)

    1. Improves cellular immunity
    2. Has antifibrotic or scar decreasing properties, making it beneficial for liver cirrhosis among other disorders
    3. Shown to reduce
      • Aspartate transaminase (AST)
      • Alanine transaminase (ALT)
      • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
      • Total bilirubin
      • Collagen content

Tremella fuciformis

    1. Enhances cellular and humoral immunity
    2. Increases interleuken-2
    3. Protects against some of the negative effects of radiation therapy
    4. Is a live protectant (hepatoprotective)
    5. Anticancer
    6. Increases the effectiveness of interferon (antiviral)

Cordyceps sinensis

    1. Enhances red blood cells (erythroid progenitor cells and erythroid colony-forming units in the bone marrow)
    2. Immune stimulation and immune regulation effects
      1. Stimulates phagocytic function and macrophage activity
      2. Thus it is beneficial in cleaning up diseased tissues and restoring health
    3. Anticancer effects
      1. Shown to lengthen the life of lymphoma patients
      2. Counters some of the negative effects of cyclophosphamide (a powerful cancer chemotherapy drug)
    4. Seems to be most effective in treating cellular immunity


Yu, et al. Combined traditional Chinese and Western Medicine: Effects of Cordyceps sinensis on erythropoiesis in mouse bone marrow. Chinese Medical Journal 106:313-367, 1986.

Tang, M. et al. In Vitro generation of activatied natural killer cells and cytotoxid macrophages with lentinan.. Eur. J Clin Pharmacol. 42:623-627, 1986.

Yang, J. et al. Stimulatory effect and kinetics of carboxymethylpachymaran on the induction of interferon by lymphoblastoid cell culture. Chin. F. Microbiol. Immunol. 6:157-159. 1986.

Zhou, A. et al. Antineoplastic effect of the polysaccharides of Tremella fucifomris. F Beijing Med. Univ. 19:150, 1987.

Zhou, H. et al. Antihepatitis and antimutation effect of polysaccharide from Tremella fuciformis and Auricularia auriculara. Xhonggua Yaoke Duxue Xuebao. 20: 303-306, 1989.