Coriolus versicolor (Yunzhi) Use as Therapy in Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients with Poor Liver Function or Who Are Unfit for Standard Therapy

J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Aug;23(8):648-652. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0136. Epub 2017 Apr 4.


Background: The majority of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are inoperable and results with conventional chemotherapy are dismal. Many end up with no treatment options and resort to alternative medicine. The authors report the use of Coriolus versicolor (CV) in advanced HCC patients with poor liver function or who were unfit to receive standard therapy.

Methods: Fifteen eligible cases were randomized 2:1 to either CV or placebo. The primary endpoint was the median time to progression (TTP) between both arms. Secondary endpoints include evaluating response rates, toxicity, quality of life (QOL), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS). Further correlative studies were performed looking at the effect of CV on the immune system.

Results: The median treatment duration was 1.5 cycles and 3 cycles on the placebo and CV arm, respectively. Median TTP was 2.5 (1.4-5.3) months compared to 4.2 (0.4-4.2) months in the CV and placebo arm, respectively, hazard ratio (HR) 0.70 (0.16-3.05 p = 0.634). Median PFS was 2.5 (1.4-5.3) months in the CV and 1.1 (0.4-4.2) months in the placebo arm, HR 0.42 (0.13-1.34, p = 0.144). Median OS was 6.5 (3.3-24.1) and 2.2 (0.8-23.3) months, respectively, HR 0.35 (0.10-1.25, p = 0.105). Social and emotional functioning scores were higher in the CV group compared to placebo group on treatment. CV subjects had less appetite loss and pain symptoms compared to placebo subjects during treatment.

Conclusions: There was no difference in TTP with use of CV compared to placebo. CV subjects generally had better QOL on treatment compared to placebo subjects. The utility of this supplement in patients whose primary treatment goal is palliation should be further explored.

Keywords: Coriolus versicolor; hepatocellular carcinoma; medicinal mushrooms; polysaccharides; quality of life; yunzhi.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Basidiomycota*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Biological Products