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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
LIFEFORCE HERBS
Howell@lifeforce-herbs.co.uk
+44 0 1296 425744
http://www.lifeforce-herbs.co.uk

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Cordyceps – The Caterpillar Fungus

The Strange Mushroom with it’s Secrets

While most commonly known as Caterpillar Fungus, Dong Chong Xia Cao Tachukas and Deer Fungus, Cordyceps are a type of mushroom that is found scarcely in Sweden and Finland, very few Norwegian localities, and very isolated areas of southwest China. These incredibly rare types of mushrooms were first noticed more than 1500 years when the effects of their ingestion became evident in the health and vitality of grazing animals in the Tibetan Himalayan meadows. Herdsmen noticed that their sheep and cattle had become much stronger and healthier, thus drawing attention to their grazing patterns. Upon studying the diet of these animals, it was noted that much of their diet consisted of the thin, grass-like mushroom. As news of this miraculous mushroom spread, Chinese doctors soon attempted to use the medicinal properties of Cordyceps Mushrooms to treat diseases for which there had been no previous treatment. Simply by the spreading of the word, the Cordyceps became a revered drug in Chinese Culture.

Use in Medicine

In specific regions of China, many generations of proficient doctors have used the Cordycep Mushroom to address a great number of issues associated with circulation, respiration, sexual dysfunctions, and immune deficiencies. The Cordycep Mushrooms also are quite effective at staving off the effects of depression, many types of allergic conditions, colds and flues by means of helping to boost the energy supply of the lungs and adrenal glands. Due to the Cordyceps natural ability to boost stamina and energy and regulate one’s appetite and patterns of sleep, Cordyceps have won general health tonic classification. Quite often, it is recommended that those who suffer from the trials and tribulations of shortness of breath, depression, and general aches and pains due to stress ingest the Cordycep Mushroom due to their beneficial healing powers.

Of even greater importance, Cordycep Mushrooms have been proven to be quite beneficial to the treatment and prevention of various male potency issues, and a great number of diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, rheumatoid arthritis, neurasthenia, and even the build up of excess fat around the waist and knee areas of the body. Various studies have also demonstrated that the Cordycep mushrooms are quite effective in the prevention of coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, and the reduction of the level of lipoproteinemia in the human blood stream. In traditional Chinese medical practices, the Cordycep Mushroom is quite often used for the kidney and lung meridians. In terms of relation to health benefits, it is well known that the Cordycep Mushroom also helps to prolong life and heighten the levels of naturally occurring antioxidants in the human bloodstream. Cordyceps are also quite adept at increasing the level of Andenoise Tri-phosphate in the mitochondrial part of human cells. This increase aids in increasing energy levels. It can be considerably beneficial to those who participate in sports and athletic events. Typically, those athletes who consumed the Cordycep Mushroom during their training cycle noticed significant gains in performance. In many instances, these athletes have succeeded in shattering world records and further legitimizing the Cordycep mushroom.

In terms of the kidney and lung meridians, Cordyceps are frequently prescribed for those with asthma, weak lung, coughs, asthma, shortness of breath, wheezing, and phlegm reduction. This also explains why those in sports seem to perform better. Those who need extra energy to perform certain tasks need stronger respiratory systems, which is what Cordyceps do for these individuals.

Cordyceps and Sexual Health

Cordyceps is said to be a natural aphrodisiac and is considered to be a type of sexual tonic for those suffering from sexual dysfunctions. The effect may not be as quick as other supplements for sexual dysfunction, but the strengthening effect is more profound. The kidney channel is fortified, which is the area that is responsible for desire and sexual energy. In countries such as China, Cordyceps are commonly used for those suffering from such conditions as erectile dysfunction, infertility, and impotence. Libido is improved, performance is improved, and sexual desire increases. Energy and physical endurance benefits as well. There have been a large number of studies that point out how Cordyceps stimulate the release of testosterone and improve blood flow in order to enable a stronger erection and make sexual sensations more improved. One such study was conducted at Beijing Medical University and it found that Cordyceps have a 64% success rate in those men suffering from erectile dysfunction.

Anti-Aging Effects of Cordyceps

There is also an anti-aging effect when it comes to Cordyceps, which is another ways in which it is considered a tonic. They help rejuvenate the body and they promote longevity. The Yin and Yang energy are replenished and strength is restored after physical activity. Studies have found that the powerful antioxidant superoxide dismutase is increased by Cordyceps and that these mushrooms also take out the free radicals that are responsible for premature aging and other diseases that are considered degenerative.

Overall, Cordyceps have been used to strengthen the body’s immune system against infections and diseases. Clinical studies have shown it to be a natural immune booster because the production of immune cells is increased significantly. In addition, the immune system is regulated. With all of these immune benefits, benefits to the bodily organs, and the effects on sexual disorders, Cordyceps make an excellent part of an individual’s diet.

The Power Within the Mushroom
By Omid Jaffari

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Cordyceps and Cancer

Researchers from the University of Nottingham have found that a rare, wild mushroom called cordyceps is an effective treatment for cancer. Commonly used in Chinese medicine, the cordyceps fungi inhibits the growth, division, and proliferation of cancer cells in the body.

Cordyceps was originally formulated into a cancer drug called cordycepin back in the 1950s. Though the drug version was ultimately found to be ineffective because of rapid degradation inside the body once it was administered, the active components from the mushroom continue to be effective cancer fighters.

Depending upon dosage levels, cordyceps mushroom extracts directly impact the process of cell protein development, impeding the production of the mRNA molecules that create them. At high doses, cordyceps inhibits protein development directly, essentially eliminating the ability of cancer cells to function and survive.

Since the study focused on the pharmaceutical drug formulation derived from cordyceps, called cordycepin, lead scientist Dr. Cornelia de Moor and her team specifically sought ways to improve the effectiveness of that particular drug. Their only solution was to suggest giving another drug alongside cordycepin in order to prevent it from degrading in the body. The team warned that the other drug causes serious side effects which may discourage its use.

Though the research focused primarily on cordycepin, it ultimately revealed the powerful effects of cordyceps in preventing and treating cancer. The study is set to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and its authors hope that the findings will spark further research into the potential uses for cordyceps as a cancer treatment.

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

Learn more: About Cordyceps and Cancer