Reishi Mushroom

BCCT plans to write a summary on reishi mushroom, one of several medicinal mushrooms. While our summary is in development, you can visit these sites:

Before using this therapy, consult your oncology team about interactions with other treatments and therapies. Also make sure this therapy is safe for use with any other medical conditions you may have.


The Reishi Mushroom summary from About Herbs lists several cautions, adverse reactions and herb-drug interactions, including the potential for interfering with chemotherapy agents that rely on free radicals to kill cancer cells. Also of note is that in a small study (three patients), reishi mushroom spore powder intake was associated with an elevated tumor marker in gastrointestinal cancer, which include stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, anal cancer and others,1 so caution is advised until further studies provide more conclusive information.

Toxic effects have been noted to the liver from use in powder form.2 3 . Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. 2007 Jan;90(1):179-81.

BCCT advises you to consult your physician before taking reishi mushrooms and that you consult a healthcare provider knowledgeable and experienced in using reishi mushrooms in people with cancer.


BCCT does not recommend therapies or doses, but only provides information for patients and providers to consider as part of a complete treatment plan. Patients should discuss therapies with their physicians, as contraindications, interactions and side effects must be evaluated.

Dosage recommendations are available from these sources:


In traditional Chinese medicine and in many of the studies of medicinal mushrooms, hot water extracts have been used. The cell wall of the mushroom is indigestible by humans—hence, eating raw mushrooms for culinary or medicinal reasons is not recommended. Ground mushrooms eaten as a powder is irritating to the liver, yet when that ground mushroom is decocted (extracted) in hot water, the medicinal ingredients become available and safer to consume. As a result, several integrative oncology clinicians report that they prescribe hot water extracts of medicinal mushrooms.4

Integrative Programs, Protocols and Medical Systems

For more information about programs and protocols, see our Integrative Programs and Protocols page.


Paul Stamets advises using mushroom products that contain both the water and alcohol extractions, since each contain different medicinally important compounds.10

Integrative oncologist and BCCT advisor Keith Block, MD, advises using extracts (rather than eating whole mushrooms) that are blends of several different medicinal mushrooms, including maitake (Grifola frondosa), agaricus (Agaricus blazeii), shiitake (Lentinula or Lentinus edodes), reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), turkey tail (Trametes or Coriolus versicolor), and caterpillar fungus or cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis).11

Naturopathic oncologist and BCCT advisor Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, August 9, 2018: There are instances when I use specific mushrooms, for instance: Coriolus (aka Trametesversicolor (turkey tail) for breast cancerAgaricus blazei for ovarian cancer and chaga mushroom for melanoma. However, it is a very valuable and reasonable strategy to use a blend that includes mushrooms, each of which is standardized to its polysaccharides and beta-glucans. The key is to use a hot water extract of the fruiting bodies or a full-spectrum extract (includes mycelium) that clearly identifies on its label the quantity of mushroom extract.

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