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Functional Medicine Explained

Can Mushrooms Help The Immune System?

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Do you feel:

  • Aches, pains, and swelling throughout the body?
  • Stomach pains, burning, or aching 1-4 hours after eating?
  • Excessive belching, burping, or bloating?
  • Inflammation in your stomach?
  • Is gas immediately following a meal?

If you are experiencing any of these situations, then try these eating mushrooms for your immune system.

Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms have been traditionally used for centuries by protecting anyone against infectious diseases, and various cancers. The positive biological effects of mushrooms are due in part to the indirect action of stimulating the immune cells. These mushrooms have a long history of usages by supporting health, especially in early Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Mexican, and Roman cultures. In fact in 1991, a 5,300-year-old mummy was discovered carrying polypore fungus, which exerts a purgative effect. It may have been used to treat the mummies’ intestinal parasites.

What Are the Benefits of Mushrooms?

Modern research has shown that medicinal mushrooms can provide a rich source of nutrients and bioactive compounds that are associated with a few health effects that primarily support the immune system. Mushrooms act as an anti-bacterial, immune system enhancer and cholesterol-lowering agents. Additionally, they are an essential source of bioactive compounds, and some mushroom extracts are used to promote human health as well as being found as dietary supplements.

Since medicinal mushrooms are edible macroscopic fungi that are visible to the naked eye and are used for their beneficial health properties. Fungi, which includes yeasts molds, and mushrooms, live on the dead matter that is found in soil, plants, animals, and other fungi. It is estimated that there are 14000 to 22000 known species of mushrooms worldwide and approximately 20 to 30 mushrooms that are cultivated edible species. Even though there approximately 15 species that are wild foraged for consumption, they can be part of functional foods or dietary supplements.

Mushrooms are a source of many nutrients, including fiber, protein, selenium, potassium, and vitamins, B1, B2, B12, C, D, and E. They also possess several bioactive components like alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenes, phenolic compounds, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and polysaccharides. Mushrooms have been studied for not only its immune-stimulating and prebiotic properties, but they notably contain β- glucan, which is a polysaccharide that is commonly present in mushrooms.

Research has been examining the health effects of mushrooms and has identified approximately 130 possible therapeutic properties, including:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antidiabetic
  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidants
  • Antiparasitic
  • Antitumor
  • Antiviral
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Immunomodulating

The research on medicinal mushrooms is based on animal or in-vitro trails that are up to date. Some earlier clinical trials suggested that individuals who consume mushrooms can have the benefits of reducing cancer and it’s many symptoms in the body. There are several mechanisms that have been proposed to explain the beneficial effects of mushrooms for immune health. Certain mushrooms can positively influence the gut microbiota by protecting it from harmful pathogens. There are even several mushrooms that have been shown to support immune health by enhancing the innate and adaptive responses in the body and exerting anti-allergic effects. Here are eight mushrooms that have immune supportive properties.

The Eight Mushrooms

Chaga

The Chaga mushroom is also referred to as birch mushroom or Chaga conk. It is a dark brown and black fungus that grows on birch trees. Several beneficial compounds are found in this mushroom and contains anti-oxidant polyphenols, betulin, and betulinic acid that are associated with anti-cancer effects for the body.

Studies show that Chaga mushrooms are used in traditional medicine and can be used in different remedies. This includes using Chaga as an anthelminthic, curing digestive disorders, and to help prevent chronic illness that affects the heart and liver.

Cordyceps

Even though it is not technically a mushroom, this rare caterpillar fungus grows only in high-altitude regions in northeast India. Studies found that the bioactive components in cordyceps include polysaccharides, cordycepin, and cordycepin acid. Cordyceps was described in old Chinese medical books that traditional healers used on patients to improve their energy, stamina, and their sleeping patterns.

In a study, healthy Koreans individuals took supplements that contain cordyceps extract for eight weeks, and the results were that the extract increased the activity of NK-cells (natural killer) immune cells and improving the immune system in the body.

Lion’s Mane

Also known as Hericium Erinaceus, this mushroom has a white, fur-like appearance that resembles a lion’s mane. This mushroom can be beneficial for a healthy gut microbe and is associated with reducing colon tissue damage from inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers suggested that lion’s mane may help individuals regulate their immune system and can improve the health of those who have IBD, but there is still more research being done to confirm this finding for the future.

Maitake

Maitake is both a culinary and medicinal mushroom that has proven to have anticancer activity for a variety of cancers that can affect the body. Maitake has a component called proteoglycan, and it has been associated with the immune-simulating effects.

Studies have been shown that proteoglycan can decrease mammary tumor cell behavior in animals and more research shows that maitake can exert anti-viral activity against hepatitis B and HIV from the body.

Oyster

Oyster mushrooms are a genus-group of fungi that has serval species like Pleurotus ostreatus and Pleurotus florida. Research has found that polysaccharides that are present in P. ostreatus mushrooms can activate N.K. cells against cancer cells. While another research shows that the extract of P. florida contains several active components containing anti-inflammatory properties in animal models.

Reishi

Known as the “king of mushrooms”, reishi has been shown to prevent various diseases and can modulate inflammation that is associated with a high cholesterol diet on people.

The health effects of this mushroom may be a result of its ability to regulate the body’s microbiota composition.  The beneficial effect that is found in reishi can help increase the beneficial bacteria that are in a person’s body.

Shiitake

Shiitake mushrooms have been traditionally used to treat common ailments that a person may encounter. Studies have shown that people who consume shiitake mushroom saw that there were changes in their body as their gut immunity and the anti-inflammatory components were improving over time.

As with many mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms have anticancer effects and lentinan that is being currently used as a complementary treatment for tumors.

Turkey Tail

The turkey tail mushroom gets its name from the tan and brown rings on its surface, resembling the tail feathers of a turkey. Research has shown that in traditional medicine, healers use the turkey tail mushroom to treat fungal infections, cancer, and AIDS on patients.

A 2007 study that was conducted by the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan found that over 8,000 cancer patients that took turkey tail and combined it with chemotherapy have an increased chance of survival.

Conclusion

From coming back to the body, mushrooms are used to stop diseases and cancers. Using its many health advantages of supporting the entire body can be helpful for anyone who wants to incorporate them into their diet. Mushrooms are edible while some are poisonous from the wild consuming these eight mushrooms are safe for individuals. Combining these mushrooms and some products are beneficial in supporting the immune system and are designed for more excellent stability, bioavailability, and digestive comfort.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.


References:

El-Deeb, Nehal M, et al. “Modulation of NKG2D, KIR2DL and Cytokine Production by Pleurotus Ostreatus Glucan Enhances Natural Killer Cell Cytotoxicity Toward Cancer Cells.” Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, Frontiers Media S.A., 13 Aug. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700253/.

Feeney, Mary Jo, et al. “Mushrooms and Health Summit Proceedings.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 8 May 2014, academic.oup.com/jn/article/144/7/1128S/4569770.

Ganeshpurkar, Aditya, and Gopal Rai. “Experimental Evaluation of Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus Florida.” Indian Journal of Pharmacology, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608298/.

Géry, Antoine, et al. “Chaga ( Inonotus Obliquus), a Future Potential Medicinal Fungus in Oncology? A Chemical Study and a Comparison of the Cytotoxicity Against Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Cells (A549) and Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (BEAS-2B).” Integrative Cancer Therapies, SAGE Publications, Sept. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6142110/.

He, Yanli, et al. “Grifola Frondosa Polysaccharide: A Review of Antitumor and Other Biological Activity Studies in China.” Discovery Medicine, 23 Apr. 2018, www.discoverymedicine.com/Yanli-He/2018/04/grifola-frondosa-polysaccharide-antitumor-and-other-biological-activity-studies-in-china/.

Integrative, PDQ, and Alternative and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. “Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®).” PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 Nov. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK401261/.

Jayachandran, Muthukumaran, et al. “A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, MDPI, 8 Sept. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618583/.

Jung, Su-Jin, et al. “Immunomodulatory Effects of a Mycelium Extract of Cordyceps (Paecilomyces Hepiali; CBG-CS-2): a Randomized and Double-Blind Clinical Trial.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, BioMed Central, 29 Mar. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6441223/.

Lindequist, Ulrike, et al. “Medicinal Mushrooms.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4095656/.

Lindequist, Ulrike, et al. “The Pharmacological Potential of Mushrooms.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, Oxford University Press, Sept. 2005, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1193547/.

Oba, Koji, et al. “Efficacy of Adjuvant Immunochemotherapy with Polysaccharide K for Patients with Curative Resections of Gastric Cancer.” Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy: CII, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (U.K.), June 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17106715.

Panda, Ashok Kumar, and Kailash Chandra Swain. “Traditional Uses and Medicinal Potential of Cordyceps Sinensis of Sikkim.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Medknow Publications Pvt Ltd, Jan. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3121254/.

Valverde, María Elena, et al. “Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life.” International Journal of Microbiology, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320875/.

Wasser, Solomon P. “Medicinal Mushroom Science: Current Perspectives, Advances, Evidences, and Challenges.” Biomedical Journal, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25179726.

Dr. Alex Jimenez @dralexjimenez

Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal mobility, posture control, health Instruction, functional fitness, and structural conditioning. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility.

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