Mushroom-Based Supplements Billings MT
By Lisa Marshall
They’ve been used for at least 2,000 years in Asia, for such varied purposes as helping Tibetan monks quiet their minds, allowing asthmatics to breathe easier, and supporting liver repair in people with hepatitis. Yet the healing properties of mushrooms have, for the most part, gone unnoticed by Western medical practitioners—until recently.
Since the 1994 publication of a groundbreaking report linking turkey tail (Trameles versicolor) mushrooms to a marked reduction in recurrence rates among stomach cancer patients, mushroom supplements have become a staple on the shelves at natural products stores, and researchers with universities, pharmaceutical companies, and even the federal government have been flocking to study them for their seemingly endless array of medicinal properties.
Some, like maitake (Grifola frondosa) and turkey tail, are best known for battling cancer. Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is a legendary performance enhancer both in the bedroom and on the track. Reishi (Ganodema lucidum) is an ancient tonic that purportedly quiets the nerves and boosts longevity. With dozens of studies in the works and new products hitting the shelves regularly, many predict a new generation of mushroom medicines is just beginning.
“As we are moving on and really digging deep into the biochemistry of medicinal mushrooms, we are seeing they have a lot of interesting effects—not just immune effects,” says Leanna Standish, a naturopathic doctor and one of the lead investigators for a federally funded study of turkey tail mushrooms in cancer treatment at Bastyr University north of Seattle. “They are going to be very important medicines.”
By far the best-documented use of mushroom-based supplements is in cancer treatment. Hundreds of animal and laboratory studies using maitake, turkey tail, shitake, and cordyceps mushrooms have all shown that their high concentrations of simple sugars, called beta-glucans, can boost the body’s immune defenses and possibly slow tumor growth.
For years, Standish has given over-the-counter turkey tail supplements to breast cancer patients at her Seattle clinic for three months post-surgery. She has consistently seen an increase in the activity of her patients’ natural killer cells (which seek and destroy both cancer cells and virally infected cells), and she believes that translates to fewer side effects from treatment and to increased time in remission. Using $2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, she and fellow researchers from the University of Minnesota are now putting that theory to the test. “When all is said and done, what we hope to find out is whether turkey tail actually can improve the disease-free survival of women with breast cancer,” says Standish.
Bettejane Tileston, a fiery 65-year-old retiree from Solana Beach, California, is also a believer. But for her, the maitake mushroom, not turkey tail, has made the difference.
Determined to protect he...
Copyright 1999-2009 Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living/Alternative Medicine/InnoVisi...