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Mushroom Extract Health Benefits

 
 
 
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Mushroom Extract Health Benefits

Mushroom Extract Health Benefits

Mushroom extract health benefits are great for overall health, including their ability to help fight cancer. Asian mushrooms in particular have been used for their medicinal powers by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years.

Asian mushrooms come in dozens of varieties, and some of the ones most recognized in the United States include shiitake, maitake, reishi, oyster, and cordyceps. Although you can benefit from eating Asian mushrooms, supplements that contain mushroom extracts also provide healing components.

Anticancer Properties of Mushrooms

One of those components is ergosterol peroxide, which researchers found to be effective against human prostate cancer cells. (Russo 2010) Specifically, they found that ergosterol peroxide inhibited cancer cell growth and triggered cell suicide (apoptosis), which prompted the researchers to say their findings “confirm the use of mushrooms as origin of compounds to be used as novel therapeutic agents for prostate cancer treatment.”

Cancer Research UK, the leading funder of cancer research in the United Kingdom, reports that medicinal mushrooms have the ability to restrict tumor spread (metastasis) and antitumor activity. Research shows that shiitake and cordyceps, for example, contain several active compounds that have anticancer activity and can enhance the immune system rather than attack cancer cells directly. These compounds are used to help support immune function in cancer patients during chemotherapy and radiation and can prolong survival times in some types of cancer. (Cancer Research UK)

Extracts from another Asian fungus, reishi mushrooms, are used to stimulate the immune system in cancer patients. The active substances in reishi mushrooms have both antitumor and immune stimulating properties. (Mao 1999)

A mushroom compound called polysaccharopeptide (PSP), which can be extracted from the turkey tail mushroom, demonstrated an ability to target prostate cancer stem cells and suppress the formation of prostate tumors in a mouse study. According to the senior research fellow Dr. Patrick Ling at Queensland University of Technology, “In the past, other inhibitors tested in research trials have been shown to be up to 70 percent effective, but we’re seeing 100 percent of this tumour prevented from developing with PSP.”  While conventional therapies are effective in targeting certain cancer cells, PSP was shown to focus on cancer stem cells, which initiate cancer and cause its progression. Ling noted, however, that although turkey tail mushrooms possess health benefits, individuals cannot reap the same benefits found in his research from eating the mushrooms. (Ling 2011)

A review article in the journal Clinical and Experimental Metastasis recently identified and reported on the specific mechanisms responsible for reishi mushroom extract’s ability to suppress cancer invasion and metastasis. The authors noted that more in vitro and in vivo tests as well as clinical trials are necessary to better understand these effects. (Weng 2010)

Shiitake, maitake, oyster and reishi mushrooms also contain a powerful antioxidant called L-ergothioneine. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported that ergothioneine has a role in protecting cells from damage from toxins and other substances that could result in the development of cancer. (Paul 2009)

Mushrooms and BPH

Reishi also seem to have another benefit. In the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers reported that extracts of reishi may be useful for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy. (Fujita 2005) In the study, the mushroom extract significantly inhibited hormone-driven growth of the prostate in lab animals.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study using reishi mushroom extract, 88 men who had lower urinary tract symptoms, characteristic of BPH, were assigned to take either 6 mg of mushroom extract or placebo daily for 12 weeks. Men in the treatment group had a significant improvement in the International Prostate Symptom Score and variables of uroflowmetry. (Nogushi 2008)

In a recent study published in Chemistry and Biodiversity, treatment with reishi extract significantly inhibited the testosterone-induced growth of the prostate in rats. This finding indicated that reishi mushroom extract health benefits may be helpful in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostate cancer. (Liu 2009)

AHCC: A Promising Natural Therapy for Prostate Cancer

What is AHCC?

AHCC, short for active hexose correlated compound, is a hybridized extract of medicinal mushrooms — specifically the mycelia (or underground portion) of shiitake mushrooms.  The subject of 30 PubMed-listed published studies confirming its immuno-modulating capabilities, AHCC is used in over 700 clinics worldwide. Unlike conventional cancer treatments, AHCC has a strong safety profile, with no side effects. This is not surprising, as mushroom mycelia have been consumed as food since antiquity and have a long tradition of medicinal use in Japan.

AHCC is unique in that while most mushrooms contain primarily betaglucans, AHCC is very rich in alpha-glucans, a different type of polysaccharide with very potent immunomodulating properties.   Due to a patented manufacturing process, AHCC has a low molecular weight (under 5,000 daltons, as compared to 200,000 daltons for most medical mushrooms).  The small size of AHCC molecules translates to increased absorption and increased efficacy compared to traditional shiitake, maitake, and reishi extracts.

AHCC and Immune Function

The job of the immune system is to protect the body from foreign organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and cancer cells. Therefore, cancer is ultimately a failure of the immune system. AHCC enhances immune function by increasing numbers of several key types of cells and molecules.

  • Cytokines are messengers that allow the immune system to organize a response to an infection or another threat to the body, such as cancer. A study in healthy elderly people demonstrated that AHCC increases the production of cytokines, such as INF-γ and TNF-α.
  • Natural killer (NK) cells are white blood cells that serve as the body’s first line of defense. They recognize and destroy infected or cancerous cells by injecting material into them that causes them to swell and explode. Human studies have shown that AHCC can increase the activity of NK cells by 200-300 percent. Specifically, AHCC makes NK cells more effective by increasing their ability to bind to tumor cells.
  • Macrophages engulf and destroy bacteria. AHCC has been demonstrated to increase populations of these cells by up to 100 percent.
  • Dendritic cells are white blood cells that present foreign substances to B and T cells, which then destroy them. AHCC significantly increases numbers of dendritic cells.

AHCC and Cancer Treatment

AHCC has been used worldwide to treat many kinds of cancer. Although there have not been numerous large-scale randomized controlled trials yet conducted, many human studies have pointed its efficacy in treating cancer.

  • A cohort trial of liver cancer patients who had undergone hepatectomy (partial removal of the liver) found that among patients who received AHCC, only 39 out of 113 suffered a recurrence of their cancer (34.5 percent), while 72 out 109 patients in the control group did (66 percent) — nearly twice as many.  Moreover, survival rates in the AHCC group were significantly better than those in the control group.
  • AHCC also helps patients with gastric and colon cancers. When used in combination with chemotherapy, AHCC improved five-year survival rates of early-stage gastric cancer patients and late-stage colon cancer patients.
  • Another clinical study of late-stage liver cancer patients found that subjects who took AHCC survived for an average of 3.5 months, while those in the control group survived just 1.5 months. In fact, after 3.5 months, the entire control group had passed away, while 61.5 percent of the AHCC group was still alive.

AHCC and Quality of Life

AHCC has no side effects and can even help ameliorate the side effects of cancer treatments. Using both physical and mental criteria after three months of AHCC treatment, researchers found that the quality of life of liver cancer patients was significantly improved. Another study found AHCC helped ease the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy for patients with late-stage head and neck cancers.  The subjects had better appetites, felt stronger, and reported less nausea and vomiting when they took AHCC. Their white blood cell counts also improved and they suffered less constipation.

AHCC and Prostate Cancer

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein secreted by the prostate that is found in the blood of healthy men. However, elevated or rising PSA levels can signal prostate cancer.

Some clinical evidence indicates that AHCC lowers PSA levels while other research has shown that AHCC stabilizes PSA but without causing a reduction.  Even in the case of the latter findings, the ability to stabilize PSA levels with a very safe natural compound provides a significant benefit for the patient.

A study of 11 advanced cancer patients (three with prostate cancer) found that the PSA levels of the prostate cancer patients began dropping significantly after 1-2 months of treatment and had fallen to normal levels by 4 months.

Published case reports have come to similar conclusions. One such report described the case of a prostate cancer patient whose cancer had metastasized to his bones and who had not responded to androgen deprivation therapy. On treatment with AHCC, his PSA levels dropped from 69.3 ng/ml to just 1.5 ng/ml. His bone cancer became stable and his pain and ability to walk were improved.

One human clinical trial found that 39 of 62 prostate cancer patients treated with AHCC for six months either had stable or falling PSA levels. Moreover, when the data was further analyzed, it was found that older patients and those whose cancer had metastasized had the most stable PSA levels, although the trend was not statistically significant.

Another study of 74 patients showed that while AHCC did not lower PSA levels, the patients’ PSA levels remained stable. This was an interesting finding, considering that PSA levels would be expected to rise in the normal progression of the disease. Therefore, AHCC may be a good treatment option for late-stage prostate cancer patients.

While large-scale, randomized double-blind studies are needed to reach decisive conclusions, the evidence thus far indicates that AHCC is a safe, natural compound with no known side effects that holds promise in the treatment of prostate cancer by helping reduce or stabilize PSA levels while improving patients’ quality of life.

How to Take Mushroom Extract

Mushroom extract supplements are available as liquid extract, tablets, and capsules and can be purchased either as individual mushroom supplements or those containing a combination of two or more mushroom varieties. Consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider to determine the best mushroom supplement and dose for your needs.

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References

Cancer Research UK. Medicinal mushrooms and cancer. Accessed June 17, 2010. 

Fujita R et al. Anti-androgenic activities of Ganoderma lucidum. J Ethnopharmacol 2005 Oct 31; 102(1): 107-12.

Ling P. Mushroom compound suppresses prostate tumours. Queensland University of Technology news release.

Liu J et al. Anti-androgen effects of extracts and compounds from Ganoderma lucidum. Chem Biodivers 2009 Feb; 6(2): 231-43

Mao T et al. Two mushrooms, Grifola frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum, can stimulate cytokine gene expression and proliferation in human T lymphocytes. Int J Immunother 1999; 15(1): 13-22.

Noguchi M et al. Randomized clinical trial of an ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidumin men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Asian J Androl 2008 Sep; 10(5): 777-85

Russo A et al. Pro-apoptotic activity of ergosterol peroxide and (22E)-ergosta-7,22-dien-5alpha-hydroxy-3,6-dione in human prostate cancer cells. Chem Biol Interact 2010 Mar 30; 184(3): 352-58.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prostate Cancer Statistics. Sept. 29, 2011.

Pescatore, Fred and Ritz, Barry. AHCC: A powerful aid in fighting viruses and infections. Total Health. 2008; 30(2):30-1.

Yin Z, et al. Determining the frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells producing INF-γ and TNF-α in healthy elderly people using flow cytometry before and after active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) intake. Unpublished study.

Ghoneum M. NK-Immunomodulation by active hemicelluloses compound: (AHCC) in 17 cancer patients.Adjuvant Nutrition in Cancer Treatment Symposium, Tulsa OK. Nov. 6-7, 1992.

Ghoneum M, et al. Immunomodulatory and anticancer effects of active hemicelluloses compound (AHCC).International Journal of  Immunothearapy. 1995; XI(1):23-8.

Kenner, Dan. AHCC: Active Hexose Correlated Compound. Pleasant Grove, Utah: Woodland Publishing, 2001.

Terakawa N, et al. Immunological effect of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) in healthy volunteers: A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition and Cancer. 2008; 60(5):643-51.

Matsui K, et al. Improved prognosis of postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients when treated with functional foods: a prospective cohort study. Journal of Hepatology. 2002; 37:78-86.

Kawaguchi Y. Improved survival of patients with gastric cancer or colon cancer when treated with active hexose correlated compound (AHCC): Effect of AHCC on digestive system cancer. Natural Medicine Journal. 2009; 1(1):1-6.

Cowawintaweewat S, et al. Prognostic improvement of patients with advanced liver cancer after active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) treatment. Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology. 2006; 24(1):33-45.

Cowawintaweewat S, et al. Prognostic improvement of patients with advanced liver cancer after active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) treatment. Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology. 2006; 24(1):33-45.

Parida DK, Wakame K, Nomura T. The use of active hexose correlated compound in the treatment of head and neck cancer patients. North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical
Sciences, India. Unpublished study on Mushroom extract health benefits.

Ghoneum M, et al. Immunomodulatory and anticancer effects of Active Hemicellolose Compound (AHCC).International Journal of Immunotherapy. 1995; XI(1):23-8.

Turner J, Chaudhary U. Dramatic prostate-specific antigen response with activated hemicellulose compount in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Anti-Cancer Drugs. 2009; 20(3):215-6.

deVere White R, et al. Effects of a mushroom mycelium extract in the treatment of prostate cancer. Urology. 2002; 60:640-4.

Sumiyoshi Y, et al. Dietary administration of mushroom mycelium extracts in patients with early stage prostate cancers managed expectantly: a phase II study. Mushrooms extract health benefits Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2010; 40(10):967-72. Mushroom extract health benefits

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Created: September 18, 2010
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Site last updated 01 November, 2014

  
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