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Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - History

Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup was first conceived as a treatment for cancer in the mid-1980s. In an effort to help a relative who was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (metastasis to the left adrenal gland), the developer created a mixture that contained shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes [Berk.] Singer), mung bean (Phaseolus radiatus L.), Hedyotis diffusa Willd., and barbat skullcap (Scutellaria barbata D. Don) in the belief that these plant materials had anticancer and/or immune-system –stimulating properties.[1] After the relative appeared to benefit from this treatment (the relative was reported to be alive and cancer free for more than 13 years [1]), three additional patients (one with stage IV kidney cancer that had metastasized to the lungs, one with stage IV kidney cancer that had metastasized to the liver and to the lungs, and one with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer that had metastasized to the brain) were treated with a variant of the original mixture (i.e., a combination of shiitake mushroom and mung bean).[1] (Note: No explanation has been given for the omission of Hedyotis diffusa and barbat skullcap for these patients.) These additional patients were also said to benefit from vegetable/herb treatment.[1] (Refer to the Human/Clinical Studies section of this summary for more information.)

In June 1992, the developer filed a patent application for the "Herbal treatment of malignancy," and a patent was awarded in August 1995.[1] Also in June 1992, the developer initiated a clinical trial in the Czech Republic to test Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup as a treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.[2] A second clinical study (a nonconsecutive case series) that also involved patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer was completed in 1997.[3] It is unclear, however, when patient accrual for this second study began.[3] In both reports of the clinical study results, the authors concluded that patients who received Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup had prolonged survival.[2,3] (Refer to the Human/Clinical Studies section of this summary for more information.)

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As noted previously (refer to the General Information section of this summary for more information), the proposed mechanism of action for Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup involves anticancer and/or immune-system–stimulating activities associated with some of the ingredients. Reviewed in [1,2,3] The following types of compounds likely found in Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup have been investigated for these activities: protease inhibitors and autoclave-resistant factors, which are found in soybeans (Glycine max L. Merr.); plant sterols; saponin; inositol hexaphosphate (IP6); beta-glucans; lectins; coumestans such as coumestrol; and isoflavones such as daidzein, genistein, biochanin A, and formononetin. Reviewed in [2,3]

One beta-glucan found in shiitake mushroom (lentinan) has been used as an adjunctive therapy for cancer (primarily gastric cancer and colorectal cancer) in Japan.[4,5] Reviewed in [6,7] Treatment with lentinan has been reported to prolong the survival of patients with gastric cancer [4,5] Reviewed in [6,7] and to improve their quality of life.[4] However, lentinan may not be an active component in Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup. This compound has a large molecular mass and is believed to have only limited oral bioavailability. Reviewed in [6,7,8] Therefore, lentinan has usually been given by intravenous injection. Nonetheless, other substances in shiitake mushroom have been identified as having greater oral bioavailability, and these substances have shown anticancer activity in animal experiments. Reviewed in [6,8]


  1. Sun AS: Herbal Treatment of Malignancy. US Patent 5437866. August 1, 1995. Washington, DC: US Patent and Trademark Office, 1995. Available online. Last accessed January 10, 2013.
  2. Sun AS, Ostadal O, Ryznar V, et al.: Phase I/II study of stage III and IV non-small cell lung cancer patients taking a specific dietary supplement. Nutr Cancer 34 (1): 62-9, 1999.
  3. Sun AS, Yeh HC, Wang LH, et al.: Pilot study of a specific dietary supplement in tumor-bearing mice and in stage IIIB and IV non-small cell lung cancer patients. Nutr Cancer 39 (1): 85-95, 2001.
  4. Nakano H, Namatame K, Nemoto H, et al.: A multi-institutional prospective study of lentinan in advanced gastric cancer patients with unresectable and recurrent diseases: effect on prolongation of survival and improvement of quality of life. Kanagawa Lentinan Research Group. Hepatogastroenterology 46 (28): 2662-8, 1999 Jul-Aug.
  5. Taguchi T: Clinical efficacy of lentinan on patients with stomach cancer: end point results of a four-year follow-up survey. Cancer Detect Prev Suppl 1: 333-49, 1987.
  6. Borchers AT, Stern JS, Hackman RM, et al.: Mushrooms, tumors, and immunity. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 221 (4): 281-93, 1999.
  7. Kidd PM: The use of mushroom glucans and proteoglycans in cancer treatment. Altern Med Rev 5 (1): 4-27, 2000.
  8. Wasser SP, Weis AL: Therapeutic effects of substances occurring in higher Basidiomycetes mushrooms: a modern perspective. Crit Rev Immunol 19 (1): 65-96, 1999.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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