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Beta Glucans (mushrooms etc)

Beta-glucan is a substance found in bacteria, plants, and certain foods, such as baker’s yeast, cereal grains, and mushrooms. It is a type of polysaccharide that is made of a string of glucose (sugar) molecules joined together. Beta-glucan may stimulate the immune system and help kill cancer cells. It is being studied in the treatment of cancer.
Source: National Cancer Institute

This study concluded: bGlucan has been reported to act as immune system activator and cell response modifier. Binding of bglucans to its specific receptors can elicit a serial cellular response ... These effects are beneficial in chemo and radiotherapy induced immune suppression and depleted hematopiesis. bGlucan shows anticarcinogenic activity, prevent oncogenesis and prevent metastasis.


This study: The healing and immunostimulating properties of mushrooms have been known for thousands of years in the Eastern countries. These mushrooms contain biologically active polysaccharides that mostly belong to group of beta-glucans. These substances increase host immune defense by activating complement system, enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell function…As immunostimulating agent, which acts through the activation of macrophages and NK cell cytotoxicity, beta-glucan can inhibit tumor growth in promotion stage too.

This study says maitake mushroom extract appears to repress cancer progression and primarily exerts its effect through stimulation of immune system activity.

Study: Mushroom b-glucan is an effective and ideal component for infusing immune health benefits into any kind of foods, baked goods, beverage and dietary supplements.

According to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, shiitake mushrooms contain an active compound called lentinan (a form of beta-glucan) that stimulates the immune system, which in turn activates cells and proteins that can inhibit cancerous growths.

Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum )
In small clinical studies, reishi increased plasma antioxidant capacity , and enhanced immune responses in advance-stage cancer patients . Remission of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was reported in a few cases in a single study.

This study says regular shiitake consumption resulted in improved immunity.

This study concluded: Short-term oral application of naturalimmunomodulating glucans from Maitake and Shiitake mushrooms strongly stimulated both the cellular and humoral branch of immune reactions.

Study: As the treatment of various cancers continues to evolve, mushrooms should be considered as an adjunct therapyWith more research and a better understanding of how different mushrooms elicit varied effects, it will be increasingly important that integrative clinicians work with oncologists to determine the appropriate treatment for each individual.

Study: The present review updates the recent findings on the pharmacologically active compounds, their anti-tumor potential, and underlying mechanism of biological action in order to raise awareness for further investigations to develop cancer therapeutics from mushrooms. The mounting evidences from various research groups across the globe, regarding anti-tumor application of mushroom extracts unarguably make it a fast-track research area worth mass attention.

See also: Chaga mushroom page

Where can I get this treatment and more information?

Available in certain foods and as a supplement in health food stores and online.

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Cancer Treatment Options

Updated 2024

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