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Mushrooms of Immortality: Anti cancerous use of mushrooms in Chinese medicine | Mushroom And Cancer Prevention|

Mushrooms of Immortality: Anti cancerous use of mushrooms in Chinese medicine | Mushroom And Cancer Prevention

Mushrooms of Immortality: Anti cancerous use of mushrooms in Chinese medicine

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine has used mushrooms for thousands of years. 
  • There are over 200 species of mushrooms in China that are used to practice healing. An amazing 25 percent of these mushrooms are credited with tumor-fighting capabilities.
  • All varieties of mushrooms possess cleansing capabilities. Another amazing property of mushrooms is a compound named Polysaccha- rides. 
  • This enables mushrooms to boost the immune system and fight the growth of tumors. Medicinal mushrooms also contain other compounds that further enhance tumor-fighting capabilities. 
  • Long-chain polysaccha- rides, particularly alpha- and beta-glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms beneficial effect on immune system. 
  • Other compounds in mushrooms such as fungal proteins, lectins, peptides and laccases have also been reported to have significant effects on immune function. 
  • A protein-bound polysaccha- ride extract from turkey tail mushrooms is also being used to boost cancer patients’ immune function. 
  • An extract from maitake mushrooms has also been shown to stimulate the immune system in breast cancer patients.From long time mushrooms have been valued by humankind as a culinary wonder and folk medicine in Oriental practice.

  • Here are six of the well-researched anti-cancer mushrooms rich in polysaccharides and beta glucans, the primary active immune-enhancing constituents.

1. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum):

  • Commonly called the Ling-Zhi in China and Reishi in Japan. This species is one of the bracket fungi, but unlike most species, typically has a long slender stalk that attaches to the side of the "cap" of the fruiting body.
  • This is one of the great longevity tonics of Chinese Medicine used in cancer treatment (Sanodiya et al., 2009). Reishi enhances immune response, alleviates chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and kidney damage. A number of anti-cancer constituents have been isolated from G. lucidum.
  • These compounds have demonstrated antitumor and immunostimulating activities. Various studies showed that Reishi, restricted blood vessels to prostate cancer tumours and stopped cancer cell proliferation.
  • Anticancer effect of Ganoderma lucidum has been studied alone or in combination with chemothe- reupatic drugs as well as radio therapy effectively Ganoderic acids A and C from G. lucidum are inhibitors of farnesyl protein transferase, an enzyme that participates in Ras-dependent cell transformation. 
  • Inhibitors of this enzyme represent a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer.
  • The proliferation, maturation and activities of both T and B lympocytes, NK cells and dendritic cells improved significantly during both lab and animal tests when taking Reishi. Beta-glucan is the most constituent for immune support.
2. Turkey tail mushroom:

  • Coriolus versiciolor is one of the most clinically studied botanical in the world with over 400 studies. It is a biological response modifier.
  • Turkey Tail has been used in Chinese Medicine as a tonic for centuries.
  • Studies show that it improves survival rates and acts as an immune modulator with immune stimulating and anti-tumor properties.
  • Some studies show that it can enhance the effects of chemotherapy cancer treatment and reduce the side effects of radiation therapy.
  • Reports showed that gastric cancer, lymphoma, leukaemia and lung cancer cell lines being suppressed by extracts of Coriolus. Coriolus versicolor also increases Natural Killer cells, and CD8+ T-cells (a type of white blood cell) that can kill cancer cells.
  • Coriolus Versicolor has been shown to activate T-lymphocyte production, macrophage activity and other immune system functions.
  • The Coriolus extract, PSP, has been shown to have immune boosting and modulating effects and anticancer properties in both pre-clinical experiments and clinical trials.
  • The protein bound polysaccharide that was isolated from the mushroom is called Polysaccharide–K (Krestin, PSK). Their research found that PSK is effective as an immune system boosting agent (Kidd, 2000). In the 1980s, Chinese researchers improved upon the Japanese finding a decade earlier and introduced a more potent extact called Polysaccharide-Peptide or PSP.
  • Both PSK and PSP have been successfully used in Japan, China, Hong Kong, and some European countries for medical treatments of various types.

Anticancer Properties Of Turkey Tail Mushroom
Anticancer Properties Of Turkey Tail Mushroom

3. Caterpillar mushroom:

  • In the wild, this mushroom is parasitic on caterpillar with an elongated, cylindrical fruiting body with the mycelium invading and completely covering the caterpillar.
  • This caterpillar fungus or “mushroom” has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Because of the scarcity of this mushroom in the wild, the mycelia of this mushroom is now cultivated on solid substrate such as brown rice or in liquid medium for use as a dietary.
  • Cordyceps acts an immune stimulator by raising cancer- and virus-fighting T Cells and Natural Killer Cells and prolongs the life of white blood cells, improving resolution of infections.
  • It has demonstrated anti-tumor properties and also protects the kidneys from chemotherapy side effects.
  • It is one of the most widely used tonics in anti-cancer formulas in Chinese Medicine.
  • Some studies have shown that CS prevents metastasis by inhibiting angiogenesis; the process by which tumor cells make new blood vessels, allowing tumors to grow in size, allowing cancer cells to enter the blood stream and travel to other parts of the body.

Anticancer Properties Of Caterpillar Mushroom
Anticancer Properties Of Caterpillar Mushroom

4. Brazilian mushroom (Agaricus blazei Murill):

  • Brazilian mushroom is an edible mushroom native to Brazil and is cultivated widely. A cold-water extract of this mushroom is consumed traditionally in Brazil. 
  • Delmanto studied immunomodulatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic effects of Agaricus blazei Murrill extracts on clastogenicity induced by cyclo-phosphamide (CP) in mice. KA21 is the polysachharide fraction of this mushroom with immune-modulating activity containing a β- glucan content of about 12%.
  • Several studies have shown that beta glucans from these mushrooms can alter cytokine and T- and B-cell activity. 
  • This prompted the view that the mushrooms would not just be applicable to fighting solid tumour cancers, but also in fighting blood cancers where the white cells themselves were in trouble like leukaemia.
  • Research showed that Agaricus blazei has anti-angiogenic (inhibits the formation of new blood-vessels to the tumour) properties.
  • It inhibits the enzyme aromatase, which is associated with the development of breast cancer. Liver protective and detoxifying properties of Agarics blazei extracts have a detoxifying, blood purifying effect that can help rid the body of dangerous toxins and restore a healthful balance.
  • In addition, other health benefits including normalized liver function and decreased blood cholesterol levels, were also observed.
  • Mushroom extract also was beneficial in reducing the chemotherapeutic side effects such as nausea, hair loss, loss of appetite, insomnia and other symptoms.
Anticancer Properties Of Brazilian Mushroom
Anticancer Properties Of Brazilian Mushroom


5. Shittake mushroom:

  • Lentinula edodes is an antiproliferative mushroom widely known as Shittake mushroom an edible fungus native to Asia, and cultivated for food in many countries.
  • The fresh and dried forms of the mushroom are commonly used in East Asian cooking. Extracts from the mushroom, and sometimes the whole dried mushroom, are used in herbal remedies.
  • Shiitake mushroom is used for boosting the immune system, lowering blood cholesterol levels, treating prostate cancer, and as an anti-aging.
  • One shiitake extract called lentinan is a beta glucan. This is a type of complex sugar compound. Beta glucan is believed to stimulate the immune system and trigger certain cells and proteins in the body to attack cancer cells. In laboratory studies, it seems to slow the growth of some cancer cells.
  • Lentinan, a compound found in Shittake, is used as an intravenous anti-cancer drug with antitumor properties (Yang et al., 2008). Both α and β-glucans derived from shiitake are used as adjuvants in various clinical studies.
  • Clinical studies have associated lentinan with a higher survival rate, higher quality of life and lower recurrence of cancer.
  • From a clinical standpoint, AHCC has generally been administered as an adjuvant in combination with surgery and chemotherapy or radiation.

Anticancer Properties Of Shittake Mushroom
Anticancer Properties Of Shittake Mushroom

6. Maitake mushroom: 

  • Maitake (Japanese for “dancing mushroom”) is an edible mushroom that grows in clusters at the foot of oak trees. Maitake (Grifola frondosa) contains grifolan, a beta glucan polysaccharide.
  • This activates macrophages which search and engulf foreign invaders in the body. Another ingredient, termed d-fraction, stimulates the immune system at the cellular rather than blood stream level.
  • D-fraction can be used on its own, but seems capable of enhancing the effect of cancer drugs whilst reducing side-effects such as nausea and hair loss.
  • For medicinal purposes, maitake is used as a dried powder, hot water extracts, or isolated fractions and compounds. β- glucan is the active polysachharide extracted or isolated from fruiting bodies.
  • This is used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to enhance the immune system. 
  • Studies have shown that it can enhance both the innate immune response to fight infections as well as adaptive immune response conferring long-term immune enhancement.
  • Maitake also protects cells with its antioxidant properties and decreases the inflammatory factor COX2 enzyme so common in cancer physiology. Studies have also shown that Maitake has potential anti-metastatic properties inhibiting the proliferation and spread of cancer.
Mushroom consultants in India.

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