Active Ingredient: The Polysaccharide Lentinan
Lentinan is a particular polysaccharide that is classified as a beta-glucan. Beta-glucans are typically found in grains, baker’s yeast, and some kinds of mushrooms. Since 1980, and especially in Japan, beta-glucans have been used as part of cancer therapy, to aid the natural functions of the immune system. Because they benefit mostly by boosting the immune system, the beta-glucans have been proven to be effective in fighting a broad range of cancers. Several studies show that lentinan extracted from shiitake mushrooms inhibit or even stop the growth of tumors in lab animals.
In some Japanese hospitals, lentinan is extracted from the shiitake, and this extract is given intravenously to caner patients. In 1984, a group of researchers in Japan “showed that lentinan cleared both the virus and the antibody from HTLV-1, as well as an HTLV-III [AIDS] patient” (Murray). HTLV, like HIV, is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically white blood cells.
But lentinan isn’t just for cancer; this polysaccharide can has other health benefits. Since it boosts the immune system, it has promise for supplemental use by HIV / AIDS patients, and it also appears to lower cholesterol. What’s more, it may help in the treatment of hepatitis-B.