Men’s Health and Medicinal Mushrooms

Men’s health is not a commonly discussed topic, especially amongst other men. However, this trend is slowly dissipating as more and more men are taking steps to improve their health and educate themselves on disease prevention. Although everyone is susceptible to the development of various medical conditions and diseases, there are some risk factors that put men at an additional risk, as well as unique health problems, such as prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia, that men must worry about. Mushrooms have been used as medicine for centuries to improve longevity and vitality in both men and women. For today, let’s focus on the impact mushrooms may have on the unique health issues that men face every day.  

Research for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the more common cancers that men face the risk of developing. One study published by the International Journal of Cancer illustrated a possible connection between regular mushroom consumption and lower prostate cancer risk [1]. Men who consumed mushrooms in their diet, once or twice a week (3 ounces per serving), had an 8% lower risk of prostate cancer compared to those who ate no mushrooms at all [1]. Even more significant is that men who ate mushrooms 3 or more times per week experienced a risk that was 17% lower [1]. This decrease in risk existed regardless of the individual intake of other fruits and vegetables, dairy or meats in their diets [1].

Another study on almost 40,000 Japanese men also found this inverse relationship to exist between mushroom consumption and prostate cancer risk [2]. Although this was just regular consumption in the diet, it suggests how powerful the antioxidant effects of mushrooms can be in cancer prevention [1]. Imagine what a concentrated mushroom extract could do for our bodies! 

Although there are treatments for prostate cancer and, when caught early, treatments are very successful, there exists a resistant form known as hormone-refractory prostate cancer. With hormone-refractory prostate cancer, there is commonly a poor efficacy of chemotherapy [3]. Because of this, alternatives to chemotherapy or even chemo-sensitizing methods are being investigated to improve efficacy of treatment [3,4].

Studies and Research of Maitake Mushroom

One study focused on the potential anti-tumor effect of the polysaccharide, beta-glucan, which can be found in the Maitake mushroom [4]. Maitake, or Grifola frondosa, is commonly recognized as an adaptogen because it assists the body to fight against mental or physical ailments and prevents the consequences of chronically living in “fight or flight” mode [5]. Like most medicinal mushrooms, Maitake is rich with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, so it can be of use in the treatment or prevention of many health conditions [5]. In this particular study, the beta-glucan constituent of Maitake was found to illustrate a cytotoxic effect on prostatic cancer cells and lead to their death, ultimately preventing their multiplication and migration [4]. Moreover, beta-glucan was found to sensitize cells to chemotherapy, which would make the treatment of prostate cancer more efficient because, as mentioned, chemotherapy alone has poor efficacy in hormone-refractory prostate cancer [3].  

Cordyceps for Sexual Health

Cordyceps for Sexual Health

As males get older, they may present with symptoms such as muscle pain, hot flashes, loss of libido or sex drive, and other functional irregularities that come about as a result of a reduction in androgen levels [6]. The androgens, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, are essential for a variety of systemic functions in males and any alterations in their usual balance may result in conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate), as well as late-onset hypogonadism (failure of the gonads or testes to function properly) [6].  

Although not life-threatening, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) can negatively affect quality of life by causing many urinary tract symptoms (i.e., frequent urination) or symptoms related to loss of functioning of the testes [6].  

An extract from the fruiting body of Cordyceps militaris was found to improve signs and symptoms of BPH and LOH in one study [6]. Findings suggested that Cordyceps was able to increase androgen levels by suppressing its breakdown or enhancing its secretion from testicular cells if they were androgen-deplete [6]. Overall, it was found that in instances of androgen imbalances, Cordyceps helped to maintain androgen levels and inhibit prostate hypertrophy, assisting in the treatment or prevention of LOH or BPH in aging males [6].  

Reishi Benefits for Men's Health

Another mushroom powerhouse is Ganoderma lucidum, better known as Reishi. Reishi mushroom is commonly recommended for those who need some help relaxing, getting to sleep, and just promoting an overall state of peacefulness. However, much like most mushrooms, its versatility allows its uses to be applied to many different medical conditions and disease states. A study published in the Int Journal of Oncology found that Reishi was able to suppress migration of cancer cells, specifically prostate cancer cells [7]. This is significant because if cells are not able to migrate to other organ systems, the cancer is likely to be more treatable than if the cells become widely dispersed.  

Additionally, Reishi was shown to inhibit cell growth by forcing arrest at one of the phases of the cell cycle and by inducing death of cancer cells, preventing their multiplication and dispersion [7]. Overall, the study suggested that Reishi may hold a role in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer [7].   

Although we are all susceptible to cardiovascular disease to some extent, men are thought to be at an increased risk due to various lifestyle factors, such as awareness of well-being, diet, and exercise. Although proper diet and exercise are the cornerstones to our health, we can further assist our bodies by supplementing with powerful antioxidants, such as medicinal mushrooms. 

The use of Reishi is increasing in popularity as a complementary treatment for cardiovascular health [8]. Oxidative stress and high cholesterol levels have been linked to an increased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease, both of these being more common in men than women [8]. One study found that Reishi was able to lower plasma levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), while simultaneously increasing levels of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) [8]. Overall, the study suggests that Reishi exhibited the potential to ameliorate cardiovascular disease due to its antioxidant and hypocholesterolemic effects [8].  

Although we have described the benefits of a few medicinal mushrooms on the unique properties of men’s health, the bottom line is that most mushrooms are power horses packed into small packages! Not only are they beneficial in our diet but consuming their fruiting body extracts allows us to pack that extra punch into our everyday lives and support overall health and well-being. Eversio Wellness has created multiple blends and single mushroom extracts that can be easily incorporated into the diet by adding to food and drinks or just taking as capsules. And, if you’re interested in other aspects of your health, such as how to boost your exercise performance, we have articles on many health topics that you can find on our Wellness Blog.  

By Silvana Jakupovic — BSc and 4th Year Student of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM-Boucher) 


[1] Mushrooms may protect against prostate cancer. Harvard Health. (2020, January 1). Retrieved November 20, 2022

[2] Zhang S, Sugawara Y, Chen S, Beelman RB, Tsuduki T, Tomata Y, Matsuyama S, Tsuji I. Mushroom consumption and incident risk of prostate cancer in Japan: A pooled analysis of the Miyagi Cohort Study and the Ohsaki Cohort Study. Int J Cancer. 2020 May 15;146(10):2712-2720. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32591. Epub 2019 Sep 4. PMID: 31486077; PMCID: PMC7154543. 

[3] Finkelstein MP, Aynehchi S, Samadi AA, Drinis S, Choudhury MS, Tazaki H, Konno S. Chemosensitization of carmustine with maitake beta-glucan on androgen-independent prostatic cancer cells: involvement of glyoxalase I. J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Oct;8(5):573-80. doi: 10.1089/107555302320825084. PMID: 12470438. 

[4] Fullerton SA, Samadi AA, Tortorelis DG, Choudhury MS, Mallouh C, Tazaki H, Konno S. Induction of apoptosis in human prostatic cancer cells with beta-glucan (Maitake mushroom polysaccharide). Mol Urol. 2000 Spring;4(1):7-13. PMID: 10851301. 

[5] Cronkleton, E. (2017, October 12). Maitake mushroom: Risks, benefits, and more. Healthline. Retrieved November 14, 2022

[6] Kusama K, Miyagawa M, Ota K, Kuwabara N, Saeki K, Ohnishi Y, Kumaki Y, Aizawa T, Nakasone T, Okamatsu S, Miyaoka H, Tamura K. Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body Extract Decreases Testosterone Catabolism and Testosterone-Stimulated Prostate Hypertrophy. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 26;13(1):50. doi: 10.3390/nu13010050. PMID: 33375244; PMCID: PMC7824671. 

[7] Jiang J, Slivova V, Valachovicova T, Harvey K, Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells PC-3. Int J Oncol. 2004 May;24(5):1093-9. PMID: 15067330. 

[8] Rahman MA, Abdullah N, Aminudin N. Evaluation of the Antioxidative and Hypo-cholesterolemic Effects of Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes), in Ameliorating Cardiovascular Disease. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2018;20(10):961-969. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2018028370. PMID: 30806268. 

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