Mushroom Wisdom: Studying Their Health Benefits
By Donald Payne
January 2006 Hello again, dear readers. And welcome to 2006! Hooray I have lived long enough to see another year! In my younger years, because of many bad habits, poor eating, unhealthy lifestyle, plus a very low level of understanding, I had my doubts. But having been impressed enough with the relative health and calm peace of some friends I happened to meet, I began my personal journey of discovering the world of “natural foods,” “holistic healing,” and the millions of people who truly live and support a return to (as I call it) “The Natural School.” I call it a school because observance of natural law includes constant growth and change, and therefore we must always keep an open, discerning mind.
When we teach or become a practitioner of any art or science, we must never stop learning or our practice and knowledge will become stagnant. Thus, I am constantly reading, studying, and going to herbal, nutritional, and lifestyle seminars and classes. After all, I certainly do not wish to become stagnant. That which becomes stagnant becomes diseased. With that said, in the last article I told you of a seminar about mushrooms I attended last October at the National Nutritional Foods Association Conference for the Western Region. The speaker was Mark Kaylor, Ph.D., MH (master herbalist). His presentation was so impressive that I asked him, “Why are we not sharing this information with the medical community? With the oncologists?”
His reply was immediate.”They won’t let us in. They won’t schedule these scientific presentations to the medical community.” My response: Then we need to approach the Oncological Nurses Association or appeal to other organizations. There is simply too much science to ignore; there are too many placebo-controlled double-blind tests proving medicinal mushrooms’ efficacy at boosting immunity to fight diseases, including cancer. We must work harder to reach more people about these benefits. Too many people lose when we do not incorporate all proven, available, and safe modalities of healing. Back to the mushrooms.
Let me introduce you to the Maitake mushroom (pronounced my-TAH-kay). Science has confirmed many healing benefits of Maitake, long used in Japanese herbal medicine,. For example, studies show that a D-fraction compound found in Maitake activates T cells, B cells, macrophages, natural killer (NK) cells, and other vital components of cellular immunity. Much anticancer research favors Grifron Maitake D-Fraction, a concentrated extract product containing the protein-bound beta glucan, D-fraction. In one clinical trial, 165 patients with various advanced cancers received Maitake D-Fraction liquid extract, along with Maitake D-Fraction tablets, accompanied by chemotherapy. Tumor regression or significant improvements were observed among 11 out of 15 breast cancer patients, 12 out of 18 lung cancer patients, and seven out of 15 liver cancer patients.
When taken with chemotherapy, these response rates improved by 12-18 percent. This study demonstrates that Maitake D-Fraction has a synergistic effect with chemotherapy. In some cases, Maitake treatment alone was found almost as effective as combination therapy! Also, many severe side effects of chemotherapy (including nausea, hair loss, and pain) were ameliorated when Maitake D-Fraction supplementation was part of the treatment. At the forefront of cancer research is the study of apoptosis. Apoptosis is cell death programmed by a specific set of so-called suicide genes. Scientists have discovered that all cells, including cancer cells, have the potential to self-destruct. Maitake D-Fraction has apoptosis-inducing activity against cancer cells and has received FDA approval for an investigational new drug trial (IND) for just that reason. Maitake literally means “dancing mushroom,” which probably originated from a myth that people who found this precious mushroom with great health benefits had danced with joy. As our national medical communities become more familiar with mushrooms as medicine and use them, maybe we all can have reason to dance.
Based on my previous studies of medicinal mushrooms and this most recent seminar, I began to use Grifron Maitake Products’ Maitake D-Fraction liquid extract in my green tea in the evening for general immunity. It is quite tasty. Also, I could feel that my blood pressure seemed more under control, and after checking, I found that sure enough, my systole and diastole measurements both were about 10 percent lower than they had been. And I sleep better now because all of a sudden I don’t have to get up at night to urinate. Before I had to get up at least once or twice; now, zero. I love it. Extensive medicinal mushroom research has also been done on the Reishi mushroom, Shiitake mushroom, Cordyceps mushrooms, and several others. The company I use for these mushroom products is Eclectic Institute.
I love this company! Why? Let me tell you: Eclectic Institute was founded in 1982 by a naturopathic physician who had started his career as a registered pharmacist. His goal was to create a company that manufactured botanical products that were of the highest quality, clinically researched for efficacy, produced from ethically obtained raw materials, and manufactured with ecological sustainability in mind. Now remember that in 1982 this was revolutionary and in business, risky. (Another reason I love this company is that it did the right thing initially, not for profit but just because it was the right thing to do.) This commitment to the environment led Eclectic to develop “Organol.” At that time, it was the only certified grape alcohol used in botanical liquid extracts.
Eclectic created an organic grape alcohol because many of the grain alcohols in use had been heavily sprayed with millions of pounds of pesticides and herbicides that pollute our groundwater, kill whole species of birds and fish, and poison us. So for the Eclectic Institute, from an environmental perspective the heavily sprayed grain alcohol was much more expensive. The certified organic grape alcohol, although more costly to produce, was and is safer. Of course, many other natural food companies are now switching to certified organic.
I pray you all take advantage of the immunity-building properties of these wonderful products and incorporate “Mushroom Wisdom” into your New Year’s supplement regimen. Come and see me at S&S for more information and books on the value and efficacy of these great natural products. Blessings to all of you and your families in the New Year, Donald Payne This article should not be considered a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician before making any health decisions.