Mushrooms and Cancer

 

Mushrooms belong to the fungi kingdom.

 

Mushrooms are non-flowering plants and are best thought of as nature’s recyclers.

 

Mushrooms convert dead organic matter into humus and then converts humus into life supporting nutrients.

 

 

Mushrooms come in a large variety of unusual shapes and sizes. While there is an estimated 40,000 species of mushrooms only a few are part of the diet. Mushrooms have been used since pre-history for their flavor.

The classic mushroom is composed of a cap and a stem.

The underside of the cap contains many thin blades that radiate out from the mushroom’s central stem. These blades are called gills and are the spore-releasing surface of the mushroom.

A Spore is the equivalent of a plant’s seed. Spores allow a mushroom to spread to new areas. The stem allows the cap to remain above the earth and enables the spores to be lifted into the air. Shiitake mushrooms are an example of this mushroom design.

Other mushrooms that do not have gills and stems, are known as polypores, because the underside of their cap is composed of a tightly packed layer of pores.

 

 

Spores are produced on the inside of these pores.

Reishi are examples of mushrooms of this type.

 

Mushrooms are the reproductive organ and fruiting body of a fungus.

 

 

The mycelium is a network of fine filaments that originates from the germination of spores.

Mycelia derive their nutrients from the dead organic matter in their environment and recycle it into humus.

Out of the humus, the mycelia are able to synthesize their unique library of medicinal compounds and nutrients.

The mycelia use the nutrients to produce a new generation of mushrooms, which then send more spores into the environment.

 

Mushrooms in the wild grow in dark moist areas.

Commercially, mushrooms are grown in large vats in a solution of sugars and starches.

The library or universe of phytochemicals synthesized by mushrooms include polysaccharides, sterols, lipids, proteins, and triterpenes.

 

One of the attributes on these unique polysaccharides is the ability to inhibit viruses and cancer cells.

 

These polysaccharides are bound and embedded with proteins and thus may not be active when separated from its protein component.

 

These poylsaccharides form the starting point for many anti-cancer drugs. 

 

It makes perfect medicinal sense to include mushrooms as a supplement.

 

Mushrooms are a source of protein, fiber, B vitamins and calcium.

 

In addition to its nutritional content, mushrooms contain healing compounds that help the body cope with stress.

 

Avoiding stress increases resistance to disease.

 

Certain species of mushrooms have a strong healing potential.

 

They include maitake, shiitake, reishi and cordyceps.

These are referred to as medicinal mushrooms or mycomedicinals.

 

 

These mushrooms are believed to possess anti-cancer activity, improve immunity and prevent virus, bacteria and fungal infections.

 

These mushrooms are also believed to reduce inflammation, minimize allergic reactions, maintain blood sugar levels, and support the body's detoxification mechanisms.

 

Other species believed to provide healing potential include turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) and lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus), agaricus (Agaricus brasiliensis), and oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus).

 Whole mushrooms as well as extracts are available in various formulas and combinations.

They are primarily marketed as foods that enhance immunity.

 

Shiitake

 

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are believed to enhance immunity and prevent fatigue.

 

They are also used to treat nutritional deficiencies and improve liver function. Shiitake mushrooms grow in the wild on the fallen oak trees in forests. They are also grown commercially on synthetic logs of sawdust. Shiitake mushrooms are rich in B-vitamins and leucine isoleucine and valine, the branch-chained amino acids.

These amino acids are often metabolized for energy during periods of intense exercise.

Shiitake, like the other medicinal mushrooms, owe their healing properties and bioactivity to the polysaccharides they contain.

 

Shiitake mushrooms contains lentinan, a unique and very special polysaccharide.

Lentinan is believed to reduce the size of tumors.

Shiitake may be effective against viruses as well.

Human immune deficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS and hepatitis B virus may be most susceptible to the mushrooms phytochemicals.

These lignins or extracts of shiitake mushroom block HIV cells from reproducing and thus prevent the virus from damaging T cells.

They are also believed to stop cell damage from herpes simplex I and II, two viral infections associated with HIV.

In addition to lentinan, shiitake contains two versions of hydroxy-butyric acid, a compound believed to speed up the metabolism of cholesterol by the liver.

 

This activity is thought to lower cholesterol levels, especially the low-density or lousy variety.

Reishi Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) are known for their power to enhance immunity.

 

Reishi mushrooms have a purple appearance and are made of a long stalk and a fan-shaped cap.

 

Chinese and Japanese healers have used Reishi mushrooms since antiquity as a treatment for liver disorders, hypertension, and arthritis.

 

Reishi mushrooms grow in the wild on decaying wood, tree stumps and fallen Japanese plum and oak trees.

 

Reishi are also commercially cultivated using bed logs and saw dust. Known as the mannentake or 10,0000 year mushroom in Japananese.

 

Resihi is at the center of the search for powerful anti-cancer drugs that produce little or no side effects.

 

Reishi mushrooms are thought to promote respiratory health and spiritual enhancement. .

 

Reishi thus improves immune function, promotes peace of mind and increases stamina..

 

Reishi mushrooms are found in a spectrum of colors, each one containing a different library of phytochemicals providing a range of medicinal activities.

 

These phytochemicals are believed to improve mood and help transform the individual into a more spiritual being.

 

Conceptually this is consistent with the observation that mushrooms transform decaying material into healthy nutrients

 

It therfores seems reasonable to accept reishi mushrooms as being able to convert metabolic and psychic wastes into a spiritual wellness

 

Like the other medicinal mushrooms, resihi owe their healing properties and bioactivity to the polysaccharides they contain.

Reishi mushrooms contain beta-D-glucans, a polysaccharide responsible for the mushrooms anticancer effects.

In addition, reishi mushroom contains a series of triterpenoids thought to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, inhibit platelet aggregation and improve liver function

 

Cordyceps Cordycep mushrooms (Cordyceps sinensis) are also known as caterpillar fungus, winter worm and summer grass.

 

Cordyceps grows on moth larvae or caterpillars that live in the high altitude areas of China, Tibet and Nepal.

 

Cordyceps were once considered a national treasure in China and were only allowed to be eaten by their emperors.

 

The fungus itself grows by penetrating the larva thereby killing and mummifying its host.

 

The mushroom then develops a stalk that releases spores.

Cordyceps is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat fatigue and is a popular longevity tonic.

 

Cordycep is purported to be a supertonic that increases physical stamina, sexual power, and mental acuity.

Cordyceps extract are used in many different tonic formulas and as an alternative to pharmaceutical treatment of erectile dysfunction.

 

Cordyceps is also used by Chinese athletes to enhance their performance and is partially credited with helping them set world records in running.

Cordycep contains the ative agent cordycepin, an adenosine-based compound.

 

Cordyceps appears to aid the body in coping with stress and may be useful to athletes to enhance athletic performance. 

 

In Traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps activity is considered similar to ginseng. Ginseng is discussed in Natural Healing.

 

 

Maitake Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) have been used over the centuries to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity; a triumvirate of nutritional diseases.

 

Maitake mushrooms also enhance the body’s immunological response to injury and illness.

Maitake mushrooms grows in the wild as clusters near the base of oak trees.

Their rippling flowery arms gives this dancing mushroom. known for their cancer-fighting potential, is a wondershroon.

Maitake mushrooms lack the cap and gills of classic mushrooms.

 

This mushroom is a polypore has multiple branching stems with flowery ruffled caps.

Maitake contains grifolan, a beta-1.6-glucan polysaccharide.

Grifola stimulates macrophages, the cells responsible for immunity and the production of T-cells, the cells that defend the body against viruses and cancer.

Maitake has Traditionally been used to treat stomach and intestinal disorders, as well correcting blood sugar levels.

Research suggests that maitake mushrooms reduce insulin resistance thereby increasing insulin sensitivity.

This delicious food is a valuable ally in the fight against nutritional diabetes.

Turkey tail Turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor) is a relatively unknown medicinal mushroom.

Turkey tail contains the protein-bound polysaccharide PSK (Krestin).

Krestin is believed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by stimulating the immune system.

 

Lion’s Mane Lion’s Mane or Hedgehog mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is named for the long tendrils that fall from the base that grows on fallen oak trees.

 

The hedgehog has been used over the centuries to improve memory function. Lion’s Mane contains a unique the polysacharide called Hericenone, which is believed to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF improves cognition, memory and delays the onset of dementia.

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