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Botanical Agents

Mushrooms (medicinal): Maitake (Grifola frondosa) , Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) Shiitake (Lentinus ed

12 years, 8 months ago

1854  0
Posted on Dec 30, 2005, 8 p.m. By Bill Freeman

There are more than 100,000 varieties of mushroom on earth, some 700 of which are edible. In laboratory tests (mostly in Japan and China), about 50 species have been confirmed to have some medicinal properties. Mushrooms are available in a variety of forms, including whole, dried, powdered, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and tea.

There are more than 100,000 varieties of mushroom on earth, some 700 of which are edible. In laboratory tests (mostly in Japan and China), about 50 species have been confirmed to have some medicinal properties. Mushrooms are available in a variety of forms, including whole, dried, powdered, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and tea. Most edible mushrooms are rich in  vitamins, minerals, fiber, and amino acids.

Maitake: Known in Japan as the "dancing mushroom," the maitake mushroom is called the "hen of the woods" by American mushroom hunters.

Reishi: Reishi has been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for fatigue, asthma, insomnia, and cough for more than 2,000 years.

Shiitake: The shiitake (lentinus edodes) mushroom has been revered in Asia for centuries, both as a food and as a medicine. Its most studied active ingredient is the polysaccharide lentinan.

ROLE FOR ANTI-AGING:

Maitake: An extract from maitake mushrooms called D fraction is marketed in the U.S. and Japan as a dietary supplement. D fraction has been shown to stimulate the production of immune cells and increases their effectiveness. As well as protecting healthy cells from cancer, D fraction helps prevent the spread of cancer (metastasis) and slows the growth of tumors. Unlike other mushroom extracts, D fraction is effective not only by injection but orally as well. Two other factions, X and ES, have been used to lessen the side effects of chemotherapy. As an HIV/AIDS treatment, maitake may help prevent the destruction of T-cells. In animal studies, maitake extracts have lowered blood pressure and glucose levels. Maitake mushrooms, fresh or preserved, taste good and can be used in a variety of food preparations. Maitake tea, juice, powder, and granules are available. A liquid extract of maitake D-fraction is available to health professionals. Reishi: Reishi mushrooms contain several constituents, including sterols, coumarin, mannitol, polysaccharides, and triterpenoids called ganoderic acids. Ganoderic acids lower blood pressure, lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, and reduce the ‘stickiness’ of platelets - all of which help to lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Animal studies and some preliminary human studies have suggested that reishi extracts may be beneficial for the treatment of diabetes and cancer.

Shiitake: Shiitake extract can be used to boost the immune system, protect the body from cancer (and even shrink existing tumors), lower blood cholesterol levels,  reduce blood pressure and combat viruses and bacteria. Shiitake contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and a number of polysaccharides, which are linked to countering cancer, primarily by promoting immune function rather than attacking cancer cells directly. Following the discovery that cancer patients given lentinan have increased survival times and a more positive prognosis, the Japanese have recently begun prescribing the polysaccharide as an adjunct to chemotherapy. Other research also indicates shiitake extracts may assist in the treatment of AIDS.

THERAPEUTIC DAILY AMOUNT:

Maitake: 3-7 grams per day of the supplement is recommended. Reishi: 1.5-9 grams per day of the crude dried mushroom, 1-1.5 grams per day in powdered form. Shiitake: products vary in potency; follow dosage directions on labels.

MAXIMUM SAFE LEVEL: Not established

SIDE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICATIONS:

Maitake: no reported side effects. Reishi: continuous use of reishi over 3-6 months may produce dizziness, dry mouth and throat, nose bleeds, and abdominal upset, however these side effects are quite rare. Reishi is not recommended for individuals taking anticoagulant drugs. Shiitake: safe and non-toxic, even in very large doses.

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