The Health Benefits of Phellinus Linteus

Phellinus linteus is a type of medicinal mushroom that grows on mulberry trees. Also known as Meshima, song gen, sanghuang, and black hoof mushroom, it has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine.

Alternative health practitioners say the mushroom stimulates the immune system and protects against illness. Some alternative medicine proponents suggest that Phellinus linteus also can help fight some forms of cancer, including breast cancer and lung cancer, a claim that modern science is aiming to confirm.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Phellinus linteus is often taken in combination with other medicinal mushrooms (such as reishi and maitake). It contains a number of compounds thought to influence health, including ellagic acid and caffeic acid (two types of natural chemicals with antioxidant effects).

In alternative medicine, Phellinus linteus is said to help with the following health problems:

In addition, Phellinus linteus is said to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

While more research is needed to confirm any health benefits of Phellinus linteus, a 2019 review of published studies note the medicinal mushroom contains bioactive compounds—polysaccharides, triterpenoids, phenylpropanoids, and furans—that have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antioxidative, and antifungal activities, as well as antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective effects.

Health Benefits

To date, very few clinical trials have tested the health effects of Phellinus linteus. Still, a number of preliminary studies suggest that this mushroom may offer some benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from those studies.

Cancer

Phellinus linteus shows promise as an alternative anti-cancer agent, according to a report published in Current Medicinal Chemistry in 2008.

In their analysis of the available research on Phellinus linteus, the report's authors also found that it may help increase the effectiveness of existing anti-tumor drugs used in the treatment of cancer.

This research includes a number of preliminary studies showing that extracts from Phellinus linteus might help enhance immune function, curb inflammation, and suppress the growth and spread of cancerous tumors.

More research is needed before Phellinus linteus can be recommended as a treatment for cancer.

Diabetes

Phellinus linteus might help inhibit the development of type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells that are responsible for producing insulin.

In a study published in International Immunopharmacology in 2010, tests on mice demonstrated that polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate) extracted from Phellinus linteus may help fend off autoimmune diabetes by regulating the expression of cells involved in the immune response.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found hispidin, another compound found in Phellinus linteus, protects beta cells and significantly increased insulin production.

However, the research so far has is limited to cell cultures and animal studies and it has not been tested in humans. More research is needed before Phillinus linteus can be recommended to prevent or treat diabetes.

Eczema

A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2012 shows that Phellinus linteus might help treat atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema associated with the malfunction of the immune system.

For the study, scientists examined the effects of Phellinus linteus extract on human cells and on mice. Results revealed that Phellinus linteus might help fight atopic dermatitis by reducing levels of immune cells that play a key role in eczema-related inflammation.

While the research is promising, more studies are needed before Phellinus linteus can be recommended for treating atopic dermatitis.

Possible Side Effects

Although little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of Phellinus linteus, there's some concern that this mushroom can be harmful to people with certain autoimmune disorders. People with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis should consult their physician prior to taking Phellinus linteus.

Men with an enlarged prostate should also avoid using Phellinus linteus as it may enlarge the prostate.

Women who are pregnant or lactating should not use Phillinus linteus as its safety has not been tested.

Selection, Preparation & Storage 

Phellinus linteus is also sold as sanghuang, Meshima, song gen, and black hoof mushroom. It is sold as capsules and a powder that can be mixed with hot or cold beverages or added to recipes. It is typically sold in preparations containing other medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi and Chaga, and is available online or in natural-food stores.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals.

A Word From ​Verywell

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend Phellinus linteus as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating cancer (or any other serious health condition) with Phellinus linteus and avoiding or delaying standard care might have harmful consequences. If you're considering using it for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

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