Mushrooms extracts are used treatments for diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders. Some mushroom materials, including polysaccharides, glycoproteins and proteoglycans could modulate immune system responses and inhibit tumor growth, antibacterial, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and antidiabetic properties. Currently, several extracts have widespread use in Japan, Korea and China, as adjuncts to radiation treatments and chemotherapy.
Mushrooms have long been thought to hold medicinal value, especially in traditional Chinese medicine. They have been studied in modern medical research since the 1960s, where most studies use extracts, rather than whole mushrooms. Only a few specific extracts have been tested for efficacy in laboratory research. Polysaccharide-K and lentinan are among extracts best understood from in vitro research.
Experiments show glucan-containing mushroom extracts may affect function of the innate and adaptive immune systems, functioning as bioresponse modulators. In some countries, extracts of polysaccharide-K, schizophyllan, polysaccharide peptide, or lentinan are government-registered adjuvant cancer therapies.
As of June 2014, whole mushrooms or mushroom ingredients are being studied in 32 human clinical trials registered with the US National Institutes of Health for their potential effects on a variety of diseases and normal physiological conditions, including vitamin D deficiency, cancer, bone metabolism, glaucoma, immune functions and inflammatory bowel disease.