Introduction Maitake (Grifola Frondosa): Maitake contains active ingredients ‘Grifolan

Introduction

In
ancient times, when there were no medicines, herbs were used to treat all
diseases and ailments known then. One of the most important herbs used by Egyptians and Asians was
Mushrooms. 100 of different species of mushroom have been used treatments. With
the introduction of antibiotics and other drugs in the 1800s the use of
mushroom decreased but now through research and studies,
it has been proven that mushroom has many beneficial effects and uses (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1193547/).
A few health benefits of mushrooms include;
a dense source of vitamins and minerals, as an
anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and antimicrobial agent as a natural an
antiaging product and as a cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure lowering
product (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258329/).
One of the most important uses of
Mushroom is in the treatment of one of the deadliest diseases known to man,
which is one of the leading cause of deaths worldwide; Cancer.

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Mechanism of Anti Cancerous
Effect

Japanese studies show that
mushroom reduces the overall risk of developing a particular type of
cancer. It also boosts the immune system of the body to help fight against the
cancerous cell growth. It increases the lytic (cell destruction) activity of
the body by activating the Macrophages and increasing
the production of the B lymphocytes and the T lymphocytes (body Immune cells).
Other than activating the immune system, they also function by modifying the
enzyme activity at nuclear and cytoplasmic levels (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1160565/).
Some mushrooms have known to inhibit the
DNA replication process in the cancerous cells leading to a marked reduction in
the size of the tumor. In clinical trials, they have shown to increase the
survival duration of the patients and have reduced the side effects of Radiotherapy
and Chemotherapy, such as a reduction in nausea
and hair loss. They have also shown a protective effect in preventing the occurrence of certain types of cancers in the
population through mechanisms that remain
largely unknown at present.

Mushrooms and their
associated Cancers                                                                                                                                                                 

There
are hundreds of different class of mushrooms with anti-cancerous properties. Some of the most common mushroom and the
type of cancers they effect are mentioned below.

Maitake
(Grifola Frondosa): Maitake contains active ingredients ‘Grifolan and
d-fraction’, which activates the macrophage system in the body thus, increasing
the body immunity. Studies have shown that d-fraction especially increase the therapeutic effects of Chemotherapeutic
agents e.g. 5 Fluorouracil (5FU) and decrease their side effects, such as
nausea and hair loss, up to 95% in the clinical trials. It also has
anti-metastatic properties, thus reducing the spread of tumor cells. It has
been to be most effective against Leukemia, Gastric (stomach) carcinoma and
Osteosarcoma (bone cancer). According to a research at New York Medical Center, Grifola Frondosa (Maitake) has reduced
the size of Bladder and Prostate carcinoma up to 75% and to disappear in
certain cases (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/).

Shitake (Lentinula edodes):
Lentinan, which is an active ingredient present in Shitake, has shown to reduce
the size of tumors by more than 80%. Another active ingredient SLNT has shown
an inhibition in the proliferation of colon carcinoma by direct antitumor
effect due to an increase in cellular apoptosis (programmed cell death) through
TNF (Tissue Necrotic Factor) pathway (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/).
Clinical trials conducted primarily in Japan has shown an increase in the
quality of life and survival in the Gastric (Stomach), Hepatic (Liver) and
Pancreatic carcinoma.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidium):
It is also known as the ‘mushroom of immortality’. Due to its anti-cancerous properties, it has been used in
Asia for centuries. It is effective alone as well as an adjuvant with anti-cancerous drugs (Chemotherapy). Its active
ingredient is ganoderic acid, which shows
tumor-suppressing properties by
increasing the programmed cell death (apoptosis) through extrinsic and
intrinsic pathways, causing a reduction in the size
of colon carcinoma. In adjuvant to vitamin C, it stimulates the macrophages and
T cell activity leading to tumor regression in a
variety of cancer such as Brain, Lung, and
Breast Tumors (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/). It also decreases
the progression of Prostate carcinoma by constricting its blood vessels and
reducing its blood supply.

Coriolus
versicolor (Trametes versicolor):
It has shown to an increase in the number of T lymphocyte cells, and an
increased activity of macrophages. It has shown an increase in the cancer
survival rates and enhances the effect of
chemotherapeutic drugs and a decrease in the side effects of radiotherapy. It
has shown to be effective for prostate cancer adjacent to the chemotherapy. It
has also shown potential to effective in the treatment
of Breast cancer, gastric cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/).

Cordyceps
Sinensis: It acts as an immune stimulant, and act by
increasing cancer-destroying cells, T
cells, and Natural Killer Cells. It has
shown anti-tumor properties for a variety of cancers including Gastric cancer,
Lung cancer, leukemia and Lymphoma and has been widely used in Chinese medicine
for this purpose. It has shown protective effects towards kidneys from
chemotherapeutic drugs. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/)

Chaga Mushroom and its Anti Cancerous Properties

Chaga
Mushrooms, also known as Inonotus obliquus, is one of the most commonly used mushrooms for its properties in Asia and has
been for centuries. It belongs to family
Hymenochaetaceae of Basidiomycetes mushrooms. It grows on the trunk of Birch
tree. In several regions of Siberia where drinking Chaga in form of tea is very
common, it has been seen that prevalence of cancer is very rare in that area along with an increase in lifespan.
Throughout Asia, it is known as ‘King of
Herbs’ and has been for centuries.

It
consists of a wide variety of therapeutic effects owing to its number of active
ingredients such as mushroom polysaccharides (beta glucans), Betulin; an active
ingredient in Betulinic acid and phytochemicals such as Phytosterols,
lanosterols, and notorious. Beta glucans, which are mushroom carbohydrates, boosts
body metabolism, increase energy levels and increases brain, Kidney and Liver
function. Phytochemicals and phenols prevent
the growth of microbes by activating body’s defense mechanisms. Other important
benefits include anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant properties. Due presence of melanin as one of the ingredient, it has shown to have
anti-aging properties by enhancing hair, eyes, and skin.

Of
all the medical mushrooms, it has the highest antioxidant capabilities due to
the presence of superoxide dismutase
(SOD). In models, it has shown to increase lipid metabolism leading to a
decrease in cholesterol levels (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625788/).
It has also been found to inhibit viruses, Hepatitis C virus and Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It has also shown effectiveness in the treatment of diabetes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5437617/),
stroke, endocrinal (hormonal) and Cardiac
(heart) diseases. Other than its disease relating properties, it is also a rich
source vitamins and minerals. Chaga as a whole enhances the effects of
therapeutic drugs or medicines and decreases the drugs associated side effects.

The
most important active ingredient of Chaga is betulinic acid, it consists of active ingredient Betulin which is
known for its anti-cancerous properties. It
produces its anti-cancerous properties
through inducing cell apoptosis through the destruction of mitochondria of the
cancerous cells without harming the normal tissue of the human body (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5141589/).
The effect of Betulin is PH-specific,
i.e. it only affects the cells which have a low PH (acidic), which occurs in most of
the cancerous cells thus sparing the normal body tissues and cells. It has
shown a marked reduction in cancerous cell proliferation (growth) and the
harmful effects of tumors leading to a direct growth suppression of tumor
growth and spread. Despite its anti-cancerous
effects, the majority of its mechanism is
still largely unknown. It down-regulates
the metabolic pathways leading to formation and growth of cancers especially associated with inflammation.

The
cancers it is most effective against are melanoma (skin cancer), Brain, Ovarian
and head, and neck. It has shown a marked
reduction in colon and colorectal carcinoma by increasing the tumor-suppressing genes. Injection of pure
Chaga extracts in the mice has shown a direct reduction in the size of the
tumors with a dose of 20mg/kg/day within a duration of 10 days (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946216/).
Associated with that it has shown a decrease in the side effects and enhancing
the benefits of chemotherapeutic drugs. It not only improve the survival of a cancer patient but also prevents the occurrence of cancer.

Chaga
was traditionally grated into a powder form and was then brewed in tea or
coffee, but now its active ingredients are extracted and are taken in pure form
in a quantity of three tablespoons per day. The maximum beneficial effects
appear after a continuous use of 8 to 12 weeks. There are no known potential
side effects and appears safe for use.

Conclusion                                                                                    

There
are a hundred of species of the mushroom present which has the potential to
cure or treat cancer but very little research has been done to show their
effectiveness. Only very short and small studies have been done and none
including the randomized control trials or long-term cohort studies. The
benefits of mushrooms have remained largely unknown and are most of them are
still unknown due to very few proper researches done. In itself, no mushroom
extracts or teas can cure cancer, as due to lack of research we do not know the
exact quantity and dose required but they have been shown to be effective as an
adjuvant to chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy. To use mushroom products
effectively we should always consult a licensed Practitioner so that they may
guide us to the specific mushroom product and its most effective intake methods
most suitable for the condition we need it for. We also need to consult the
practitioner in case of other prescribed drugs such as anti glycemic
(antidiabetic) or antihypotensive (blood pressure lowering) drugs. This should
be discussed since most of the medical mushrooms has other anti-cancerous
benefits such as their antidiabetic and anti-hypotensive benefits leading to a
potentially harmful decrease in blood glucose and blood pressure levels,
therefore to prevent these potentially harmful effects the physician will alter
the dose of the drugs for them to show their maximum efficacy.

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