MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS

Agaricus Mushroom

Agaricus mushroom is a Brazilian rainforest herb that is among the premier immune system tonics of all known natural substances. It is the richest source in the world of a type of polysaccharide known as beta-glucans (see section on this), which has been solidly established to be among nature’s most potent immune potentiating substances. Agaricus has double-direction activity on the immune system. In other words, it may be used to bolster a deficient immune system, as occurs in cases involving infections, or Agaricus may be used to moderate an excessive system, as occurs in cases of autoimmune disease and allergies. This means it is an “immune modulator”. In cancer patients, it helps suppress a hyper-active Th2 system and increase a Th1 response! Agaricus may therefore be used by anyone. In Japan, Agaricus is considered a “cure-all” herb.

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Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps is one of the ‘major players’ of the Chinese tonic herbal system and is a ‘hit’ in dealing with cancer. It is an extremely effective and powerful life-enhancing agent, boosting energy and vitality. Because it is rare, potent and highly treasured, like Deer Antler, ‘good cordyceps’ can be expensive. It is a mushroom that consumes the body of a particular type of caterpillar in mountainous regions of China, Mongolia, and Tibet. It has enormous renown as a ‘supertonic’ in Chinese herbal circles, and is said to build sexual and physical power, mental energy, the immune system and is universally believed in the Orient to prolong life.

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Cordyceps is used to strengthen and stabilize the body and mind at a fundamental level. It is said to be able to increase the “primary motive force for life activities” which can be lost following a grim diagnosis. Some people walk into my office with a complete loss of hope; cordyceps is one tool that can give people a renewed desire to live.  Because it contains both Yin and Yang (Chinese medicine for a balance in force) it can be used by anyone safely and over a long period of time. It replenishes the deep energy expended as a result of excessive exertion, adapting to extreme stress (the real killer in cancer patients) or from aging.

Cordyceps is also used for the purposes of strengthening the Kidney functions and kidney detoxification, which also includes sexual function, brain power (decreasing Th17 activity that causes inflammation in the brain), structural integrity and healing ability. Consistent use of Cordyceps helps to strengthen the skeletal structure, and specifically benefits the lower back region, the knees and ankles. It can be great for patients with metastatic disease to the bones.

Cordyceps is also a major Lung tonic. It can be used to strengthen respiratory power in those who require extra energy in order to perform physical work (e.g. labor, sports or exercise) or it can be used by those who suffer from deficiency of Lung strength due to cancer, asthma, Mesothelioma, etc. It is especially beneficial to those who suffer chronic Lung weakness with cough, wheezing or shortness of breath. It is highly regarded in China as a tonic for those who are recovering from an illness or an operation, or after giving birth.  In these cases, the Cordyceps helps the patient more quickly recover their physical power, to improve their appetite, and to protect the body from infection.

Maitake Mushroom

Maitake mushroom has gained a place in tonic herbalism due to its broad spectrum tonic benefits similar to Agaricus and Reishi. Like Agaricus, it is primarily beneficial to the immune system, having double-direction activity on the entire immune system. It is often called the “king of mushrooms” and though only a legend, it has been said that Japanese monkeys who commonly consume large quantities of Maitake have no know cancer and other diseases.

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Clinically, Maitake has proven itself to be an effective tool for cancer patients. In laboratory tests, Maitake increased the activity of three types of Th1 immune cells -macrophages, natural killer (NKC) cells, and T cells by 140, 186, and 160 percent, respectively. A Chinese clinical study established that Maitake treatment reduces the recurrence of bladder surgery from 65 to 33 percent. Researchers have found that Maitake, when combined with the standard chemotherapy drug mitomycin (Mutamycin), inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells, even after metastasis. (Note: most studies on alternate products like this MUST be done “in conjunction with standard pharmaceutical drugs” to get funding!)

Maitake also protects the liver. Chinese doctors conducted a controlled trial with thirty-two patients who had chronic hepatitis B. The recovery rate was 72 percent in the Maitake treatment group, compared with 57 percent in the control group. Hepatitis antigens disappeared in more than 40 percent of the Maitake patients, indicating the virus had been purged from the liver. Laboratory studies also show that Maitake protects liver tissue from hepatitis caused by environmental toxins such as carbon tetrachloride and paracematol. These compounds go through a two-step process in the liver in which they are first activated into toxic forms and then deactivated into harmless forms. Since Maitake helps the liver handle chemical poisons in both steps, it protects this organ against a broad range of potential toxins. Finally, Maitake provides nutritional support by enhancing the colon’s ability to absorb micronutrients, especially copper and zinc.

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is the most revered herbal substance in Asia, ranking as the elite substance for the attainment of radiant health, longevity and spiritual attainment. It ranks in Asia with Ginseng, Deer Antler, Rhodiola, and Cordyceps as a pre-eminent tool in the attainment of radiant health.  It has maintained that position for at least 3000 years, and its reputation and value are only increasing.  Numerous legends provide a rich and extensive record of Reishi in Asian society.

Reishi has traditionally been used as (and recent studies confirm the benefits) an anti-aging herb, and has been used for many diseases and disorders as well. It has long been a favorite tonic by the Chinese Royal family and virtually anyone who could obtain it. Reishi was particularly revered by the followers of the Taoist tradition as the “Elixir of Immortality”. Taoists have continuously claimed that Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength. They have used it to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind and spirit so that the adept could attain both a long and healthy life and “spiritual immortality” (enlightenment). Due to its rarity in the past, the common people could rarely obtain a Reishi mushroom, and it was popularly revered as a greater treasure than any jewel.

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Reishi is said to be capable of building body resistance, and to be powerfully detoxifying to the cells and tissues. Reishi is slightly sedative on an immediate basis but builds energy over time; it is universally believed in Asia to prolong life and enhance intelligence and wisdom. Since Reishi has been known to have many functions, it has been the subject of a great deal of research in recent years. It is absolutely safe for everyone and is completely non-toxic.

Use in cancer patients centers around Reishi as a profound immune modulator. It has been found to significantly improve the balance of the immune system whether the immune system is deficient or excessive. Many chemical constituents play a role in Reishi’s immune modulating capacity.  The polysaccharide components in particular seem to play an important role in attacking cancerous cells, while simultaneously strengthening the body’s overall immune functions. The polysaccharides appear to help the body attack microbial invaders such as viruses, bacteria and yeast.

Another group of chemicals found in Reishi known as the ganoderic acids help fight auto-immune diseases by inhibiting histamine release, improving oxygen utilization and improving liver functions. Ganoderic acids are also potent antioxidant free-radical scavengers.