Why Men Need Mushrooms

Nutrients in mushrooms support men's healthMushrooms are foods that don’t get nearly the amount of respect they deserve, at least among Western cultures. That’s in contrast with Eastern societies, where many types of mushrooms have been valued for their medicinal powers for more than 6,000 years.

In particular, Asian mushrooms, including maitake, oyster, reishi and shiitake, among others, have been found to contain components that can be of special value to men’s health, and especially prostate health. Men may benefit from mushrooms by adding them to their diet, but especially by taking mushroom extract supplements.

Mushrooms And Prostate Health

According to Cancer Research UK, medicinal mushrooms possess a variety of cancer-fighting properties, such as inhibiting the spread of cancer (metastasis) and boosting the immune system to ward off cancer. For example, extracts of the Phellinus linteus mushroom, also known as song gen in Chinese medicine and meshimakobu in Japan, has been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer cells and to have anticancer effects on prostate cancer cells.

In fact, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine tested Phellinus linteus on prostate cancer cells and found that when they used the extract along with doxorubicin, a commonly used chemotherapy drug, the extract increased the number of cancer cells the drug was able to kill. [1]

While Phellinus linteus mushrooms may be a bit exotic, reishi are more familiar and also possess healing abilities. Tests on extracts from reishi mushrooms, for example, have shown that reishi mushrooms have an ability to interfere with cancer spread and cancer invasion. [2]

Reishi mushroom extract also revealed an ability to help men who suffered with lower urinary tract symptoms characteristic of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia). In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, men who took reishi mushroom extract for 12 weeks reported significant improvement over men who took a placebo. [3]

Mushrooms were the origin of a component called ergosterol peroxide that researchers discovered was effective against prostate cancer cells by inhibiting their growth and prompting them to commit cellular suicide (apoptosis). These findings prompted the study’s authors to “confirm the use of mushrooms as origin of compounds to be used as novel therapeutic agents for prostate cancer treatment.” [4]

A unique mushroom extract called AHCC (active hexose correlated compound) also falls into the category of medicinal mushrooms. AHCC is a hybridized extract of the underground portion of shiitake mushrooms and is a rich source of alpha-glucans, a compound that possesses potent immune system-enhancing advantages. Thus far, AHCC has shown cancer-fighting action against various types of cancer, while its role in prostate health is still under investigation. [5]

Using Mushrooms

From a nutritional standpoint, mushrooms are low in calories, high in fiber, cholesterol-free, fat-free, very low in sodium and a decent source of niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin D and more. They are a nutritious addition to any meal. From a medicinal standpoint, mushroom extracts are suggested. Mushroom extract supplements are available as capsules, tablets and liquid extract and often contain more than one mushroom variety. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a mushroom supplement or any supplement program.

For more information on men’s health, see prostate.net.


[1] “Mushroom may boost cancer therapy drug.”   http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/news/archive/pressrelease/2006-08-01-mushroom-may-boost-cancer-therapy-drug

[2] “The in vitro and in vivo experimental evidences disclose the chemopreventive effects of Ganoderma lucidum on cancer invasion and metastasis.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20461449

[3] “Randomized clinical trial of an ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidumin men with lower urinary tract symptoms.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18097505

[4] “Pro-apoptotic activity of ergosterol peroxide and (22E)-ergosta-7,22-dien-5alpha-hydroxy-3,6-dione in human prostate cancer cells.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20100469

[5] Memorial Sloan Kettering, entry for AHCC. http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/ahcc

Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.