Phellinus linteus is a fungus that feeds on the wood of several types of trees, including mulberry, and produces a woody, perennial fruiting body shaped a bit like a large hoof. It grows wild across much of the world, and is an important part of traditional folk medicine in parts of Asia. Its common name in English is the descriptive “black hoof,” but English speakers are often more familiar with the scientific name, or with one of the Asian names. The mushroom is “sangwhang” in Korea, “sanghuang” in China, and “meshimakobu” in Japan (or “mesima” for short).
WHO IS PHELLINUS FOR? As one of the most effective immunomudulators in the world, Phellinus is for anybody of any age wanting to support their immune to optimize their own body's anti-viral and anti-aging potentials.
BENEFITS Phellinus has a long history of use in folk medicine and in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a treatment for several conditions, including diarrhea and other gastroenteric problems, haemorrhage, and cancers. As is usually the case, scientific research focuses less on confirming or refuting the efficacy of traditional uses and more on investigating the biochemistry of the fungus with the goal of identifying substances that might someday be made into pharmaceuticals. However, P. linteus is also being used as alternative or supplemental medicine in some clinical contexts.
Possible benefits for P. linteus use suggested by research include:
Asthma and certain allergy symptoms
Eczema and other forms of allergic dermatitis
Some colon cancers, including certain difficult to treat colon cancers.
Certain breast cancers
Protection against certain forms of liver damage
Protection against certain degenerative neurological conditions
A study showed that treatment with an ethanol extract of P. linteus reduced the inflammatory response of mice in whom asthma had been induced. Previously, the use of the mushroom in treating asthma had not been well investigated.
A hot-water extract of P. linteus lowered blood glucose levels in rats experimentally given diabetes but did not prevent the development of diabetes. In contrast, a polysaccharide isolated from P. lineus did prevent diabetes in mice with an autoimmune disease that otherwise causes diabetes.
Polysaccharides isolated from P. linteus sensitized colon cancer cells so that a standard chemotherapy agent could kill the cancer at a much lower dose, thus minimizing harmful side-effects; non-cancerous colon cells were unharmed.
In both in vitro studies and in animal studies, a water extract of P. linteus killed human prostate cancer cells; in the animal studies, human cancer cells were injected into mice. In the mice, the mushroom extract could not prevent the growth of tumors but did slow it. One man with a difficult-to-treat form of prostate cancer experiences a sudden remission after consuming P. linteus. A single case is by no means proof, but it does suggest possibilities.
In one in vitro study, P. linteus showed itself able to interfere with the ability of human breast cancer cells to go through the steps necessary for successful metastasis and invasion.
There have been very few clinical studies in human patients yet, and the mushroom’s value as a treatment for cancer has not been proven, but there is reason for optimism.
Phellinus linteus contains several polysaccharides that, in in vitro studies, alter a number of biomedical pathways suggesting real immunomodulatory activity that could be part of the mushroom’s cancer-fighting potential and has also effectively treated mice experimentally given a form of allergy-induced eczema. Anti-inflammatory properties studied in cell cultures also suggest extracts of the mushroom may be useful against certain types of allergy.
The mushroom can also do what the immune system alone cannot. An extract of the fruiting body was effective against several strains of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Another study tested a different extract’s effectiveness against cultures of a group of pathogenic microbes and found that the mushroom does have potential as an antimicrobial agent.
A study involving cultures of rat cells suggested that P. Linteus may be able to help protect against liver damage. Another study involving cultures of human cells suggested that the mushroom may also protect against certain types of brain degeneration.