Reishi

Reishi / lingzhi (spirit plant)

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) revered in China and Japan for centuries is said to promote longevity.  It is called “The Mushroom of Immortality” and, in fact, has high levels of terpenoids known to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Eating reishi can protect against skin cancer and can slow down aging of the skin.  The use of chemo- therapy to treat cancer can kill blood cells including white blood cells that travel through the bloodstream to infected areas to help the body heal. Bone marrow, where white blood cells are produced are sensitive to radiation and radiation reduces white  blood cell synthesis. Reduction of white blood cells makes the human body more subject to disease and infection. Hebei Academy of Medical Sciences (China) experiments demonstrate that reishi prevents white blood cell count from decreasing due to exposure to irradiation.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong isolated very strong antioxidants (terpenes) in Reishi that regulate oxygen utilization.  An excess of oxygen in the blood can damage our health. This is the metabolic pathway by which the terpenes found in reishi fortify the body and help to maintain balance (homeostasis).

Science has identified substances associated with controlling the growth of malignant cancer cells. The most notable of these are TNF alpha,, Interleukin 1 beta or II-1 beta, and interleukin 6. Taiwanese scientists found that polysaccharies in reishi cause an increase in these substances to a level at the high end of the normal range – high enough to kill the malignant cells but not so high that they might negatively effect healthy cells.  The immune system is boosted, but not to the extent that the immune system is overstimulated.


Shiitake

Shiitake

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) came to the forefront in the 1960’s when Japanese researchers uncovered two remote mountanous districts with abnormally low incidents of cancer. In these two districts growing shiitake mushrooms for culinary use was the main local industry and the delicious shiitake was part of their regular diet.

Shiiake is high in nutrition containing all the essential amino acids as well as a unique amino acid that is said to lower cholesterol.  It is high in vitamin B1 and B2 and high in niacin and iron. Shiitake was highly regarded in Traditional Chinese Medicine and traditional used to treat high blood pressure, hign cholesterol, colds and flu. It was said to have been used in ancient Japan as an aphrodisiac by the royal court which is consistent with the belief that it boosted the primal life force.

Modern science has shown that Shiitake promotes the synthesis of T-cells and natural killer cells. The Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry (the Japanese equivalent to the U.S.A. FDA) approved drug, Lentinan,  isolated from a polysaccharide from the fruit body of shiitake, is commonly prescribed by doctors to boost immunity in human cancer cases. Studies show that another compound found in shiitake (Lentinula edodes) may help in cases of hepatitis B by stimulating the production of antibodies that counteract hepatitis.

End Note: The information contained herein is credited to “Medicinal Mushrooms – Ancient Remedies for Modern Ailments” by Georges M. Halpern, MD, PhD. and Andrew H. Miller


Maitake

Maitake

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms (“dancing mushooms” in Japanese) are large delicious culinary mushrooms valued for their medicinal properties which have been extensively studied and largely confirmed by modern experimental science.  Maitake has been shown (in animal studies) to increase the production of insulin as well as helping to normalize glucose levels. This double effect suggests the value of further experimentation in terms of using Maitake to assist humans that suffer from diabetes. Since Maitake lowers blood sugar levels people with low blood sugar should be careful not to take maitake without consultation with their health care professional.

Japanese scientists at Kobe Pharmaceutical University found evidence to suggest that Maitake mushrooms may inhibit lipid (fat) production and thereby lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels without lowering HDL (good cholesterol).

New York Medical College Department of Urology (Valhalla, N.Y.) recently conducted experiments wherein they isolated and grew hormone-resistant prostate cancer cells which they treated with  purified beta glucan extracts from Maitake. After only 24 hours almost all the prostate cancer cells had died. Further experiments indicated that the kill rate of prostate cancer cells was enhanced by the addition of Vitamin C. With the addition of Vitamin C, the same results were achieved with one eighth the quantity of the beta gluten extract. This has been attributed to the high antioxidant effect of Vitamin C which may reverse the oxidative damage of free radicals.  

Bladder cancer researchers (Gunma University, Japan) found that the ability of macrophages (powerful immune-system cells) to attack foreign cells was enhanced by medicinal mushrooms even in the presence of carcinogens that normally suppress macrophages’ ability to identify and destroy foreign cells. Maitake was found to be the most effective medicinal mushroom tested to eliminate the carcinogen (BBN) known to cause bladder cancer.  

Maitake performed better than all other medicinal mushrooms tested in an animal study performed in Shizuoka University (Japan) in protecting the liver by detoxifying the gastrointestinal tract by eliminating bad bacteria that produce D-galactosamine which is associated with liver toxicity and inflammation.

Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science studied the behavior of a cytokine called interleukin II- 6 which effectively kills malignant tumor cells. Maitake stimulated interleukin II-6 production.

Much more research into the promising possibilities that Maitake holds for healing humans, is warranted by the results found thus far.


Lions Mane

Lion’s Mane

 

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) were primarily culinary mushrooms noted for their styptic (ability to stop bleeding) properties.  Only recently has lion’s main mushrooms been the focus of serious scientific studies yielding impressive results.   Dr. Takashi Mizuno of Japan’s Shizouka University has noted the strong immune system boost due to the polysaccharides that abide in the fruiting body of the lion’s mane mushroom. Studies show that low-molecular-weight phenol and fatty acids found in Lion’s Mane mushrooms seem to directly combat cancer cells.  Additionally, Dr. Mizuno reports that lion’s mane may stimulate production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein needed for the brain to develop and maintain sensory neurons. This ability to regenerate nerve tissue in the brain suggests lion’s mane potential to be used to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.  Additional research is underway to investigate these exciting possibilities.

Chinese scientists at Zhejiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that the combination of polysaccharies from Lion’s Mane, when combined with other substances known for lymphocyte synthesis increased their T lymphocyte proliferation by two hundred to three hundred percent.  Japanese scientfic studies found (in animal studies) that tumors either stopped or growing or shrank in size in fourteen days due to lion’s mane’s stimulation of the immune system.


Chaga

Chaga

Chaga, Inonotus obliqus, known as  “King of Medicinal Mushrooms” is the most nutrient dense of all the medicial mushrooms. Rich in Beta-D-Glucans, Chaga is an immune system modulator and a natural Biological Response Modifier.  It stimulates the immune system when needed, but slows the immune response if the immune response becomes overactive. This strong immune booster is used to support conventional cancer therapies which depleat the immune system and may also show promise in helping to combat cancer initiation.

In the back pigments of Chaga we find strong antioxidants.  Chaga displays super-high ORAC values. Chaga displays effective pain relief and supports healthy cholesterol levels.

Chaga’s appealing taste makes it a perfect addition to teas, coffee and as a healthy ingredient to be added to a wide variety of  formulations.


Agaricus Blazei

Agaricus Blazei is not one of the more well-known medicinal mushrooms but scientists recognize this species as having the highest levels of potent beta glucans that  support your immune system and as well as strong anti-tumor effects.

Until recently (about 1965) Agraricus Blazei was known only to the remote mountain village of Piedade, Brazil where it is referred to as Cogumela do Deus: “The mushroom of God.”  

Beta glucans, are known to activate and balance the immune system. The beta glucans in Agaricus Blazei have a low molecular weight that makes them more easily absorbed and, therefore, more effective than beta glucans found in other mushrooms.

Recent scientific studies indicate that the polysaccharides found in Agaricus Blazei increase the level of lymphocyte T cells – immune system cells involved in fighting cancer.

Polysaccharides found in Agaricus Blazei have also been shown to selectively kill tumors without damaging healthy surrounding cells and activate potent chemical compounds that help to control acute inflammation. Taken early in life for accumulated protection against cancer and tumors may be a good idea.