Suketu Desai, Contributor
Role of Mushrooms in Autoimmune Disorders
Mushrooms are valuable health food – low in calories, high in vegetable proteins, chitin, iron, zinc. fiber, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Mushrooms also have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.Their legendary effects of promoting good health and vitality and increasing your body’s adaptive abilities have been supported by recent studies. These studies suggest that Mushrooms are probiotic – they help our body strengthen itself and fight off illness by maintaining physiological homeostasis – restoring our body’s balance and natural resistance to disease. (Autoimmunity)The compounds they contain have been classified as Host Defense Potentiators (HOP) which can have Immune system enhancement properties. That is one of the reasons they are currently used as adjuncts to cancer treatments in Japan and China.
“In Japan, Russia, China, and the U.S.A. several different polysaccharied antitumor agents have been developed from the fruiting body, rnycelia, and culture medium of various medicinal mushrooms (Lentinus edodes, Ganoderma lucidum, Schizophylium Commune, Trametes versicolor, Inonotus obligquus, and Flammulina veluipes). Both cellular components and secondary metabolites of a large number of mushrooms have been shown to effect the immune system of the host and therefore, could be used to treat a variety of disease states”.
Many scientific studies performed in universities and medical facilities have produced volumes of studies on the medicinal effects of mushrooms on many different ailments affecting humans. For example : Reishi has been called an “immune potentiator” and can increase the production of Interleukin-l & 2. It has been reported that Reishi extracts exerted an inhibition effect on tumor growth.
Recent studies have also indicated that Reishi can have a number of other positive and helpful effects:
- Antiviral through inducing interferon production
- Lowers blood pressure
- Cardiotonic action through lowering serum cholesterol
- Expectorant & Antitussive
- Liver (Hepatitis) – protecting and detoxifying
- Protection against ionizing radiation
- Anti-HIV Activity
Reishi Mushrooms contain:
- vitamin C
- vitamin D
- vitamin B
- Including pantothenic acid, which is essential to nerve function and the adrenal glands
An extract (Lentinan) from Shiitake Mushrooms (for centuries called “Elixir of Life”) has been
incensed as a anti-cancer, stomach cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer.
Lentinan stimulates the production of T lymphocytes and natural killer cells and can potentiate the effect of A Z T in the anti-viral treatment of A.I.D.S.
Shiitake mushrooms are also rich in several anti-oxidants (Selenium, Uric acid & Vitamin A, E and C) as well as Vitamin D.
They may also lower blood pressure in those with hypertension, lower serum cholesterol levels, increase libido, stimulate the production of interferon which has anti-viral effects, and has proven effective against Hepatitis, in some cases.
The right species of Cordyceps can be a powerful stimulant for macrophage activity, strengthening your immune system’s ability to fight against bacterial and viral infection. Human clinical studies indicate that Cordyceps can be effective for treatment of high cholesterol, poor libido/impotence, arrhythmia, lung cancer, and chronic kidney failure. It is also reported That Cordyceps causes smooth muscle relaxation. This can make it especially helpful for treating chronic coughs, asthma, and other bronchial conditions.
Recent human clinical studies have indicated that Tremella fuciformis (Bai Mu Eth) stimulates the immune system. Other recent studies have indicated that Tremella fuciformis demonstrates anti-tumor activity, lowers LDL, cholesterol, protects the liver, is anti-inflammatory and may slow the aging process. Grifola frondosa (Maitake Mushrooms) have also been shown to stimulate The immune system and to be effective against some tumors.
Many of the compounds founds in Shiitake, Reishi, Cordyceps, and other mushrooms are classified as Host Defense Potentiators (HOP), These compounds include: heimcellulose (AHCC), polysaccharides, polysaccharide – peptides, nocleosides, triterpeniods, complex starches, and other metabolites.
It is believed that combinations of these products target the human immune system as well as aid in neuron transmission, metabolism, hormonal balance and the transport of nutrients and oxygen. Through a Host-mediated (T cell) immune mechanism, they help the body regulate the development of lymphoid stem cells and other important defense responses.
It is important to maintain both your good health and your body’s balance. Each time we get sick, a potential vulnerable spot may open in our body’s defenses. Over time, cell mediated immunity may become inadequate or malfunction- This could allow multiple genetic mutations in the same location (malignant transformations) to reach cell proportions resulting in abnormal or malignant growth. The process is generally quite slow and takes many years and may take many bouts of illness to manifest itself. The objective should to maintain a well-regulated body, If we can keep our immune system functioning efficiency, minimize the frequency and severity of all illness, and recover quickly, we are more likely to enjoy a healthy quality of life.
Most studies on the health benefits of mushrooms for humans have focused on immune enhancement properties. Complex sugars and they are able to stimulate a higher level of cytokine production in humans. Cytokines are proteins produced by the immune system to facilitate communication between cells. Complex cellular processes such as proliferation and differentiation are regulated in part by extracellular signaling molecules: for example, polypeptide growth factors, cytokines, and peptide hormones. Many exert their mitogenic effects by binding to specific cell surface receptor protein tyrosine kinases. This interaction triggers numerous biochemical responses, including changes in phospholipid metabolism, the activation of a protein phosphorylation cascade, and the enhanced expression of specific immediate-early, delayed-early, or late response genes. (Common cytokines include interleukins, interferon, natural killer cells (NK cells) activating factors and tumor necrosis factors.)
Vitamin and mineral supplements should be taken on a regular basis to be most effective. A well-rounded, balanced diet, sufficient rest, a positive outlook, real food and regular consumption of nutrient supplements, including nutraceutical mushroom products, can increase the odds of obtaining and maintaining optimal health.
Many times we get sick because of deficiencies or imbalances in our systems that allow pathogens to attack our bodies. Today, we live in artificial environments where air is filtered and food in processed. We frequently administer antibiotics and a variety of interventions to cure our aliments to mask their symptoms. Our immune systems are no longer being challenged as often as they would be in a more natural environment.
A major function of our immune system works like a computer data file. Pathogens invading our systems are being monitored constantly: Information on new pathogens and other molecules is stored in our immune data base. When hostile pathogens attack our bodies, our immune systems are more capable of mounting fast immune responses if” we have a substantive data base of foreign substances. However, with a meager data base in an under developed immune system, we are incapable of dealing with many pathogens. A low immune response will not able to cope with an onslaught of pathogens. Mushrooms nutraceuticals can provide a regular benign challenge to the immune system by presenting many different molecules to the data base in a non-hostile manner.