IntroductionInancient times, when there were no medicines, herbs were used to treat alldiseases and ailments known then. One of the most important herbs used by Egyptians and Asians wasMushrooms. 100 of different species of mushroom have been used treatments. Withthe introduction of antibiotics and other drugs in the 1800s the use ofmushroom decreased but now through research and studies,it has been proven that mushroom has many beneficial effects and uses (https://www.ncbi.
nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1193547/).A few health benefits of mushrooms include;a dense source of vitamins and minerals, as ananti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and antimicrobial agent as a natural anantiaging product and as a cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure loweringproduct (https://www.ncbi.nlm.
nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258329/).One of the most important uses ofMushroom is in the treatment of one of the deadliest diseases known to man,which is one of the leading cause of deaths worldwide; Cancer.Mechanism of Anti CancerousEffectJapanese studies show thatmushroom reduces the overall risk of developing a particular type ofcancer. It also boosts the immune system of the body to help fight against thecancerous cell growth. It increases the lytic (cell destruction) activity ofthe body by activating the Macrophages and increasingthe production of the B lymphocytes and the T lymphocytes (body Immune cells).Other than activating the immune system, they also function by modifying theenzyme activity at nuclear and cytoplasmic levels (https://www.ncbi.
Some mushrooms have known to inhibit theDNA replication process in the cancerous cells leading to a marked reduction inthe size of the tumor. In clinical trials, they have shown to increase thesurvival duration of the patients and have reduced the side effects of Radiotherapyand Chemotherapy, such as a reduction in nauseaand hair loss. They have also shown a protective effect in preventing the occurrence of certain types of cancers in thepopulation through mechanisms that remainlargely unknown at present.Mushrooms and theirassociated Cancers Thereare hundreds of different class of mushrooms with anti-cancerous properties. Some of the most common mushroom and thetype of cancers they effect are mentioned below.
Maitake(Grifola Frondosa): Maitake contains active ingredients ‘Grifolan andd-fraction’, which activates the macrophage system in the body thus, increasingthe body immunity. Studies have shown that d-fraction especially increase the therapeutic effects of Chemotherapeuticagents e.g. 5 Fluorouracil (5FU) and decrease their side effects, such asnausea and hair loss, up to 95% in the clinical trials. It also hasanti-metastatic properties, thus reducing the spread of tumor cells.
It hasbeen to be most effective against Leukemia, Gastric (stomach) carcinoma andOsteosarcoma (bone cancer). According to a research at New York Medical Center, Grifola Frondosa (Maitake) has reducedthe size of Bladder and Prostate carcinoma up to 75% and to disappear incertain cases (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/).Shitake (Lentinula edodes):Lentinan, which is an active ingredient present in Shitake, has shown to reducethe size of tumors by more than 80%. Another active ingredient SLNT has shownan inhibition in the proliferation of colon carcinoma by direct antitumoreffect due to an increase in cellular apoptosis (programmed cell death) throughTNF (Tissue Necrotic Factor) pathway (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/).Clinical trials conducted primarily in Japan has shown an increase in thequality of life and survival in the Gastric (Stomach), Hepatic (Liver) andPancreatic carcinoma.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidium):It is also known as the ‘mushroom of immortality’. Due to its anti-cancerous properties, it has been used inAsia for centuries. It is effective alone as well as an adjuvant with anti-cancerous drugs (Chemotherapy).
Its activeingredient is ganoderic acid, which showstumor-suppressing properties byincreasing the programmed cell death (apoptosis) through extrinsic andintrinsic pathways, causing a reduction in the sizeof colon carcinoma. In adjuvant to vitamin C, it stimulates the macrophages andT cell activity leading to tumor regression in avariety of cancer such as Brain, Lung, andBreast Tumors (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/).
It also decreasesthe progression of Prostate carcinoma by constricting its blood vessels andreducing its blood supply. Coriolusversicolor (Trametes versicolor):It has shown to an increase in the number of T lymphocyte cells, and anincreased activity of macrophages. It has shown an increase in the cancersurvival rates and enhances the effect ofchemotherapeutic drugs and a decrease in the side effects of radiotherapy. Ithas shown to be effective for prostate cancer adjacent to the chemotherapy. Ithas also shown potential to effective in the treatmentof Breast cancer, gastric cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/).CordycepsSinensis: It acts as an immune stimulant, and act byincreasing cancer-destroying cells, Tcells, and Natural Killer Cells. It hasshown anti-tumor properties for a variety of cancers including Gastric cancer,Lung cancer, leukemia and Lymphoma and has been widely used in Chinese medicinefor this purpose. It has shown protective effects towards kidneys fromchemotherapeutic drugs. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.
nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339609/)Chaga Mushroom and its Anti Cancerous PropertiesChagaMushrooms, also known as Inonotus obliquus, is one of the most commonly used mushrooms for its properties in Asia and hasbeen for centuries. It belongs to familyHymenochaetaceae of Basidiomycetes mushrooms. It grows on the trunk of Birchtree. In several regions of Siberia where drinking Chaga in form of tea is verycommon, it has been seen that prevalence of cancer is very rare in that area along with an increase in lifespan.Throughout Asia, it is known as ‘King ofHerbs’ and has been for centuries.Itconsists of a wide variety of therapeutic effects owing to its number of activeingredients such as mushroom polysaccharides (beta glucans), Betulin; an activeingredient in Betulinic acid and phytochemicals such as Phytosterols,lanosterols, and notorious.
Beta glucans, which are mushroom carbohydrates, boostsbody metabolism, increase energy levels and increases brain, Kidney and Liverfunction. Phytochemicals and phenols preventthe growth of microbes by activating body’s defense mechanisms. Other importantbenefits include anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant properties.
Due presence of melanin as one of the ingredient, it has shown to haveanti-aging properties by enhancing hair, eyes, and skin.Ofall the medical mushrooms, it has the highest antioxidant capabilities due tothe presence of superoxide dismutase(SOD). In models, it has shown to increase lipid metabolism leading to adecrease in cholesterol levels (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625788/).
It has also been found to inhibit viruses, Hepatitis C virus and HumanImmunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It has also shown effectiveness in the treatment of diabetes (https://www.ncbi.
nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5437617/),stroke, endocrinal (hormonal) and Cardiac(heart) diseases.
Other than its disease relating properties, it is also a richsource vitamins and minerals. Chaga as a whole enhances the effects oftherapeutic drugs or medicines and decreases the drugs associated side effects.Themost important active ingredient of Chaga is betulinic acid, it consists of active ingredient Betulin which isknown for its anti-cancerous properties. Itproduces its anti-cancerous propertiesthrough inducing cell apoptosis through the destruction of mitochondria of thecancerous cells without harming the normal tissue of the human body (https://www.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5141589/).The effect of Betulin is PH-specific,i.
e. it only affects the cells which have a low PH (acidic), which occurs in most ofthe cancerous cells thus sparing the normal body tissues and cells. It hasshown a marked reduction in cancerous cell proliferation (growth) and theharmful effects of tumors leading to a direct growth suppression of tumorgrowth and spread. Despite its anti-cancerouseffects, the majority of its mechanism isstill largely unknown. It down-regulatesthe metabolic pathways leading to formation and growth of cancers especially associated with inflammation. Thecancers it is most effective against are melanoma (skin cancer), Brain, Ovarianand head, and neck. It has shown a markedreduction in colon and colorectal carcinoma by increasing the tumor-suppressing genes. Injection of pureChaga extracts in the mice has shown a direct reduction in the size of thetumors with a dose of 20mg/kg/day within a duration of 10 days (https://www.
Associated with that it has shown a decrease in the side effects and enhancingthe benefits of chemotherapeutic drugs. It not only improve the survival of a cancer patient but also prevents the occurrence of cancer. Chagawas traditionally grated into a powder form and was then brewed in tea orcoffee, but now its active ingredients are extracted and are taken in pure formin a quantity of three tablespoons per day.
The maximum beneficial effectsappear after a continuous use of 8 to 12 weeks. There are no known potentialside effects and appears safe for use. Conclusion Thereare a hundred of species of the mushroom present which has the potential tocure or treat cancer but very little research has been done to show theireffectiveness. Only very short and small studies have been done and noneincluding the randomized control trials or long-term cohort studies. Thebenefits of mushrooms have remained largely unknown and are most of them arestill unknown due to very few proper researches done. In itself, no mushroomextracts or teas can cure cancer, as due to lack of research we do not know theexact quantity and dose required but they have been shown to be effective as anadjuvant to chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy.
To use mushroom productseffectively we should always consult a licensed Practitioner so that they mayguide us to the specific mushroom product and its most effective intake methodsmost suitable for the condition we need it for. We also need to consult thepractitioner in case of other prescribed drugs such as anti glycemic(antidiabetic) or antihypotensive (blood pressure lowering) drugs. This shouldbe discussed since most of the medical mushrooms has other anti-cancerousbenefits such as their antidiabetic and anti-hypotensive benefits leading to apotentially harmful decrease in blood glucose and blood pressure levels,therefore to prevent these potentially harmful effects the physician will alterthe dose of the drugs for them to show their maximum efficacy.