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Mushrooms are good for the Immune System
January 26, 2007 06:12 PM
Medicinal Mushrooms Grown on Purple Kculli Corn Yield Life Changing Results
Even though we treat them like vegetables, mushrooms aren’t really plants. They’re fungi and fungi grow much differently than fruits and vegetables. Most food plants, like strawberries, broccoli, and red bell peppers make chlorophyll from sunlight to gain the nutrients they need to grow. Mushrooms don’t make chlorophyll; to get the nutrients they need to grow, mushrooms release enzymes into the forest floor or flora they’re living on to break down the organic matter into a form the mushroom can absorb.
Because most mushrooms that we eat or use today are raised as crops, or cultivated, they are grown on a variety of substrates. Similar to the commercial potting soils you can buy at nurseries and garden stores, mushroom substrates vary widely in quality and the kinds of nutrients within. Mushrooms are really unique in that they can grow on almost anything, such as sawdust, shredded newspaper, and straw.
However, mushrooms are only as nutritious as the substrate they were grown on-even those unique varieties called medicinal mushrooms. While the simple button mushrooms found on pizza are most often eaten for their woodsy taste and texture, the use of medicinal mushrooms is much more complex. These mushrooms are valued because they contain numerous compounds that have been extensively studies by researchers for their ability to activate cells of the immune system.
Researchers have recently discovered that when medicinal mushrooms are grown on a Purple Kculli (pronounced ka-coo-lee) Corn substrate, the resulting mushrooms are jam-packed with powerful and potent disease-fighting compounds. Beautiful Purple Kculli Corn has long been used by the people of the Peruvian Andes as a tasty vegetable, natural food color, and powerful functional food-keeping them healthy and free of disease.
In this issue of Ask the Medicine Hunter, we’re going to talk about four powerful medicinal mushrooms that, when grown on Purple Kculli Corn, have even more potent compounds to prevent and treat cancer and other serious health problems.
Q. How exactly do medicinal mushrooms prevent and treat cancer?
A. Medicinal mushrooms are very complex. They contain numerous compounds that have been extensively studied for their ability to activate cells of the immune system. Some of the most amazing immune boosting compounds in medicinal mushrooms are beta-glucans 1-3, beta glucans 1-6, arabinogalactins, and arabinoxylans – compounds that work “hand-in-hand” with certain cells of the immune system. But to get abundant amounts of these compounds, medicinal mushrooms must be grown on substrates with high levels of nutrients. And the most nutrient dense substrate of all comes from Purple Kculli Corn.
Q. Why is Purple Kculli Corn extract good for growing medicinal mushrooms?
A. You’ve probably heard that brightly colored fruits and vegetables (like beets, broccoli, and blueberries), have more antioxidant power than paler fruits and vegetables (like iceberg lettuce, onions, and garlic). In fact, the deeper the color, the better. And there is no deeper color in nature than the deep purple of Purple Kculli Corn grown in the lush coastal plains of Peru. The kernels from Purple Kculli Corn are not only naturally beautiful, the pigment itself is extremely healthy and have been used by the people of the Peruvian Andes for centuries as both food and food coloring.
Once harvested, the Purple Kculli Corn is naturally processed into an antioxidant-rich extract. When certain medicinal mushrooms are grown on Purple Kculli Corn extract, the Purple Kculli Corn becomes a super-substrate, producing medicinal mushrooms with incredible amounts of the immune-boosting compounds. And when Purple Kculli Corn extract is added to medicinal mushroom formulas the antioxidant power increases, too.
Q. How do the medicinal mushroom compounds fight disease?
A. When bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens are present in the body, white blood cells, or leukocytes, swing into action. Leukocytes work together to defend the body against infections, like colds or the flu, as well as diseases that start within us, like cancer. These disease fighting cells are the backbone of the body’s defense system. And each type of cell works in different ways.
The macrophage, a name that means “big eater,” is a first-strike leukocyte that protects us from disease by, quit literally, devouring invading pathogens. Natural Killer (NK) cells act like sentries – constantly prowling for cancer cells, killing them quickly when they’re discovered. B-cells are the immune system’s military intelligence, seeking out targets and communicating their coordinates, while T-cells are the foot soldiers, destroying the invaders that the intelligence system has identified.
Scientists have long known that medicinal mushrooms help make white blood cells more deadly. But until recently, they weren’t sure how. Research has now shown that macrophages and NK cells have receptor sites specifically for beta-glucans 1-3 and beta-glucans 1-6. When the beta-glucans bind to the macrophages and NK cells, they make the lymphocytes stronger and more lethal. By increasing the lymphocytes’ strength, beta-glucans help them churn out more of the specialized chemical messengers, too.
Arabinogalactins and arabinoxylans, powerful polysaccharides found in medicinal mushrooms, are potent stimulators of the immune system. These compounds increase the activity of interleukins, interferons, and a tumor necrosis factor, all key components in a healthy immune system. When medicinal mushroom extracts with high amounts of Arabinogalactins and arabinoxylans are taken, diseases are dramatically reduced.
Researchers found that complex polysaccharides in four varieties of medicinal mushrooms – Agaricus blazei (Agaricus), Grifola frondosa (Maitake), Coriolus versicolor (Coriolus or Turkey Tail), and Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) – are serious cancer fighters. The chart below explains how:
Mushroom Health Benefit
Agaricus (Agaricus Blazei)
Agaricus not only contains the greatest number of medicinal compounds, it also contains a powerful anti-tumor polysaccharide that all other medicinal mushrooms are lacking. Recently, 100 women who were receiving carboplatin, a chemotherapy drug used to treat ovarian cancer, volunteered for an important study. Half of the women were given an extract of Agaricus mushrooms, while the other half were given a placebo or dummy pill. The researchers discovered that NK cell activity was significantly higher in the Agaricus group. The women in this group were also less nauseated, fatigued, and wear than the women taking the placebo, an important consideration for people with cancer.
Maitake (Grifola Frondosa)
Maitake is one of the most researched of all medicinal mushrooms. In one clinical study, the effect of Maitake mushroom compounds were studied in ten patients with cancer who were not currently taking any chemotherapeutic drugs. The researchers found that the Maitake not only significantly stimulated NK cell activity, it also repressed the cancer’s growth, and stopped the tumors’ ability to metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body. And in another clinical study, 165 patients with various types of advanced cancer were given Maitake mushroom compounds alone or with chemotherapy. Cancer regression or significant symptom improvement was observed in 58% of liver cancer patients, 69% of breast cancer patients, and 62% of lung cancer patients. Plus, when Maitake was taken in addition to chemotherapy, the immune cell activities were enhanced 1.2 to 1.4 times, compared with chemotherapy alone.
Versicolor compounds show great promise as cancer immunotherapy agents in all cancer stages. In one clinical trial, 34 patients with advanced terminal lung cancer were given Coriolus versicolor polysaccharides or a placebo (dummy pill) for 28 days. While the group getting the Versicolor felt less fatigued and sick, very important considerations at the end-of-life, there were no changes in the placebo group.
Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)
Reishi mushrooms are too tough to eat, but they’ve been used medicinally for centuries and have been extensively researched. In a safety study to determine Reishi’s effect on blood thinning mechanisms, healthy volunteers received 1.5 gm Reishi or placebo daily for 4 weeks. There were no significant changes in either group and all blood clotting measurements remained within the normal range, demonstrating its safety. In a recent clinical study, researchers determined that Reishi increased the number of cancer killing white blood cells and made them more deadly to cancer cells.
Not only do Agaricus, Maitake, Coriolus, and Reishi have incredible amounts of immune boosting polysaccharides, when they are grown on Purple Kculli Corn, they also have a much higher ORAC value than mushrooms grown on other substrates.
Q. What are ORAC values?
A. ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a measurement of the antioxidant power in fruits and vegetables. The higher the power, or ORAC value, the stronger the antioxidant is against free radicals. While free radicals are made by breathing oxygen and digesting food, and are simply the consequences of being alive, the older we get the more free radicals we make. And the more free radicals we make the more destructive they can be. Free radicals will rip membranes, wreck cells, cripple mitochondria, and ruin DNA. As this damage accumulates, even more free radicals are made. And if not stopped or slowed, this might lead to heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, and cancer.
Q. How does Purple Kculli Corn increase the ORAC value of medicinal mushrooms?
A. All brightly colored fruits and vegetables have very high ORAC values; and the higher the ORAC value – the greater the antioxidant power. Not only can we measure the ORAC values of fruits and vegetables, we can also measure the ORAC values of mushroom substrate extracts. Purple Kculli Corn extract has an ORAC value of 1789 (measured in umolesTE/gram). Now, remember that mushrooms are fungi, not fruits and vegetables, and they gain most of their nutrients from the ground (or substrate) they are grown on. When mushrooms are cultivated or “farmed” on substrates with a high ORAC value, they will absorb compounds from the substrate giving them a higher ORAC value, too. So growing mushrooms on antioxidant rich, high ORAC value, Purple Kculli Corn yields medicinal mushrooms with high ORAC values as well.
Q. Some mushroom supplements have more than four medicinal mushrooms. Wouldn’t a mushroom supplement with seven mushrooms or more have a higher ORAC value than a supplement with only four?
A. Well, more is not always better – especially when it comes to medicinal mushrooms. Some supplements have a “kitchen sink” selection of mushrooms. The makers of these supplements hope that by adding modest amounts of many mushrooms, they will end up with a product that just might have some health benefits.
Clearly, it’s not how many or how exotic the mushrooms are in a medicinal mushroom supplement, it’s the substrate that mushrooms are grown on that makes the difference.
Q. How can I make sure the medicinal mushroom supplement I buy contains natural and organic mushrooms grown on Purple Kculli Corn substrate?
A. Become a label reader! Medicinal mushroom formulas have a statement showing accreditation from a certifying agency, such as the American Food Safety Institute, International; California Organic Farmer Association, Minnesota; or Crop Improvement Association, on the label, and have met certain criteria. They must be grown without chemicals or pesticides. The growers must be certified as organic mushroom produces by an accredited third party. And the growers must keep a record of their production and handling practices.
Of the nearly 38,000 varieties of mushrooms, Agaricus blazei, Grifola frondosa, Coriolus versicolor, and Ganoderma lucidum have impressive medicinal properties. With a little help from Purple Kculli Corn, these mushrooms can provide even more potent and powerful cancer preventing properties for superior mushroom supplements.