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Agaricus Blazei Murill in treatment of cancer.

ABM Mushroom

Although the first reports of this mushroom date from the forties, only after its discovery in Brazil, in 1965, l – for Mr. Furumoto, a Japanese farmer from Piedade/SP -, a larger interest of the scientific community was aroused, mainly in Japan (country that received the first samples), United States and China. Since then, several researches have been accomplished, demonstrating the qualities and benefits of Agaricus.

In Brazil, the production of Agaricus blazei in commercial scalei just begun in 1989, when the Iwade Laboratory of Japan, signed a cultivation contract with SB Cristal (Kazumasa Abe). Finally, more than 20 years after, the mushroom was back to its homeland.

Considering the nutricional and physiologic importance of the Agaricus mushrooms, Kazumasa Abe requested in 1998, through National Biosciences and Human Technology Institute from the Industrial Technology Agency of the Ministry of International and Industrial Trade of Japan, the patenting of Agaricus blazei BM8, in the Budapeste Agreement about the International Recognition of Micrrorganism Deposit, with the number FERM BP-6480.

Agaricus in natura contains 85 to 87% of water. After the dehydration, it is rich in proteins and carbohydrates and it contains considerable amounts of vitamins – B1, B2, B3 and ergosterol, that it is transformed in D2 vitamin after exhibition to light and cooking -, lipeds (represented mainly by poli-insaturated greasy acids), minerals – potassium (about 2%), phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, sodium, copper, zinc, iron and molibdenium.

In chemical composition, besides the mentioned nutrients, we can found glycoproteins, steroids and polysaccharides complexes with proteins that, when analyzed in laboratory cavies, present properties that potentialize the immune system, the homeostasys and improve the physical conditions of the organism, besides producing pronounced antitumor activity.

Agaricus originates from Piedade, which is located in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The climatic conditions in Piedade include temperatures that soar to 35º during the day and dip to between 20º and 25º at night, with a humidity that averages 80 %. The place also experiences regular squall toward evening. Agaricus thrives only under these conditions, suggesting that its survival is significantly affected by these external conditions.

Some 30 years ago, a US researcher noted that the rate of occurrence of adult diseases in the Piedade region is extremely low, and found that it was because of the Agaricus that was a part of the regular diet of the inhabitants of this area.

Around the same time, Agaricus was introduced to Japan. Dr. Shoji Shibata, who at the time was a professor in the Pharmacological Department of Tokyo niversity, and Dr. Tetuo Ikegawa of the National Cancer Center, jointly researched the pharmacological effects of Agaricus. The research results were released at the general convention of the Japan Pharmacological Association and the Japan Cancer Association. The experience with mice verified that the polysaccharide Beta-glucan contained in Agaricus significantly activated the immune system.

As Agaricus grows only in certain conditions, its production in Brazil remained unstable. Moreover, Agaricus was mostly consumed locally, and importing it into Japan was extremely difficult. Despite efforts in Japan over many years to cultivate Agaricus under artificial conditions, it proved extremely difficult, and failed to guarantee a stable production output. However, in 1992, kyowa Engineering achieved a world first when it successfully mass-produced Agaricus by taking advantage of the company’s biotechnological expertise. Consequently, the company was able to provide a stable supply of Agaricus to the health food market.

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Medicinal Mushroom Study by Cancer Research UK

medicinal mushrooms

A major study of medicinal mushrooms by Cancer Research UK is the most comprehensive ever undertaken and was very positive.

The popular and wide spread use of medicinal mushrooms in Asia left the researchers wondering why we are not making better use of them in the West. They note, “The huge world wide sales of such products, can testify to the beliefs of many, of their efficacy.”

The Cancer Research UK team were impressed by “the remarkable ability of many of these non toxic compatible compounds to reduce the debilitating effects of traditional chemo-therapeutic drugs.’

Mushrooms have been treasured as remedies for disease and as natural health supports for thousands of years and are an incredibly popular food in most countries. Actually, world trade in mushrooms is as big as the trade in coffee.

The Cancer Research UK report continues, “These compounds have been shown to be safe when taken over long periods of treatment and significantly, these compounds appear to reduce the adverse effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These results are in marked contrast to the well documented adverse side effects associated with most chemo therapeutic compounds and also to a lesser extent, certain immuno therapeutics.”

More remarkable still they found, “There are also many examples where the use of these compounds allows the reduction in dose level of the toxic chemo therapeutic compound without reduced efficacy.”

Recent studies in New Zealand show that a combination of Reishi and Cordyceps extracts had beneficial effects on the quality of life for some advanced cancer patients. Researchers believe that a mixture of the active ingredients from different mushrooms maximizes the immune response by providing multiple stimuli to the body’s natural defenses.

A fully functional immune response is critical to the recognition and elimination of tumor cells. The increased incidence of spontaneous tumors in immunosuppressed individuals indicates that the immune system provides a significant mechanism for resistance against cancer. Several major immune stimulating substances have been isolated from Reishi that have extraordinary effects on the maturation, differentiation and proliferation of many kinds of immune cells. Reishi is a proven potent activator of interferon, interleukins, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), natural killer cells (NK), T lymphocytes, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL’s) and lymphokine activated killer cells (LAK). The spontaneous regression of some tumors is usually explained as a phenomenon of the individual’s own immune system attacking the tumor burden.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy invariably damage or weaken the patient’s immunological defenses which may also have been damaged by the cancer itself. Although responding favorably, cancer patients are in danger of opportunistic infections that can invade their systems because unfortunately the therapy designed to kill the pathogenic cells also kills their protective immune cells. Cancer Research UK confirm that the active compounds in Reishi cause a marked increase in the action of macrophages, thus there is a heightened response to foreign cells, whether bacteria, viruses or tumor cells. The study points out, ‘It was evident from clinical trials that Reishi extract significantly enhanced the immune systems of the elderly people taking it’.

Fungi affect humans so profoundly and are such good sources of medicinally useful products because on a cellular level fungi and animals have more in common with each other than they have with higher plants. The potent ability of medicinal mushroom bioactive compounds to modulate so many important immune cells may be due to their structural diversity and variability. Polysaccharides from medicinal mushrooms have the greatest potential for structural variability and the highest capacity for carrying biological information, e.g. the number of possible permutations for four different polysaccharides is 35,560 unique tetrasaccharides, whereas four amino acids can only form 24 different permutations.

Reishi has been rated the top medicinal herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over 2000 years with Ginseng in second place and so highly treasured it was traded for its own weight in gold and only available to Emperors. It is still the most important herb in the Orient and the most thoroughly researched. The results of many hundreds of scientific and medical studies are supporting traditional health claims. It contains over 200 active ingredients and unique compounds that are the most biologically active obtainable from any plant source. In order to obtain maximum benefit Reishi is best taken as an extract because it is a very tough, woody mushroom and the raw biomass is very difficult to digest. Its dynamic antioxidant action and immune stimulating effects are why Reishi is so highly valued as a longevity herb and called ‘The Long Life Herb’, ‘The Great Protector’ and even ‘God’s Herb’.

Cordyceps is not as well researched as Reishi but Cancer Research UK suggests that, ‘Cordyceps may be useful for cancer patients due to its enhancement of cell-mediated immunity, oxygen free radical scavenging and support for cellular bioenergy systems’.

Medicinal mushrooms have latent cancer preventative properties. Studies in Japan and Brazil strongly suggest that regular consumption over prolonged periods significantly reduce the levels of cancer incidence. Cancer Research UK also found increasing experimental evidence that medicinal mushrooms can have a cancer preventative effect, demonstrating both high anti-tumor activity and restriction of tumor metastasis. A 14-year survey in Japan revealed cancer rates of workers at medicinal mushroom farms were 1 in 1000 compared to 1 in 600 for the general population.

Howell Lewis
+44 0 1296 425744

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D Fraction

D fraction benefits on cancerMaitake D-fraction is a highly standardized and purified 3-branched beta-1,6 glucan containing about 30% of protein, extracted from the Maitake mushroom fruiting body.

D-fraction has the unique polysaccharide structure and the degree of branching is greater than any beta-glucan found in any other medicinal mushrooms that demonstrate similar immune stimulatory properties. Researchers theorize that the complexity of branching makes Maitake superior to other medicinal mushrooms in immune stimulatory effect. One of the difficulties with many of the medicinal mushrooms is that they lose much of their effectiveness when taken orally. An essential point about the D-fraction is that current research indicates it is most effective when consumed orally.