Lentinan
Lentinan
This information describes the common uses of Lentinan, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Shitake, Hua gu; Snake butter; Forest mushroom, Pasania fungus

How It Works

Lentinan may help extend the survival of patients with some cancers when used with chemotherapy.

Lentinan is a type of sugar molecule called 1,3 beta glucan that comes from the shiitake mushroom. In laboratory tests, lentinan does not kill cancer cells directly. Instead, it enhances the immune system, which may aid in slowing the growth of tumors. Lentinan also kills viruses and microbes directly in laboratory studies.

Purported Uses

  • To prevent and treat cancer
    Several clinical trials show that lentinan combined with chemotherapy extends survival in patients with stomach, prostate, colorectal, and liver cancers.
  • To lower cholesterol
    Laboratory studies support this use, but human data are lacking.
  • To stimulate the immune system
    Laboratory and a few human studies show that lentinan increases the activity of certain immune cells.
  • To treat infections
    Laboratory and a few human studies show that lentinan increases the activity of certain immune cells.

Do Not Take If

You’ve had skin rash reactions from eating shiitake mushrooms.

Side Effects

  • Side effects with lentinan infusions are mainly mild, with more severe reactions (hypersentivity reaction, back pain, leg pain, depression, fever, chills, decreased white blood cell count, and elevated liver enzymes) related to short infusion times.

    Case Reports

  • A single case of chest tightness was reported following administration of lentinan.
  • Rash reactions from the ingestion of shiitake mushrooms that are related to lentinan content.