Can Mushrooms Help Prevent Cancer?

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, and the risk of developing this disease increases significantly as we age.

This is why we need to stop being complacent and take our health into our own hands.

While I am not advocating that you “fire” your doctor, I am asking you to do your own research and find natural remedies that can help make you healthy.

Maitake Mushrooms

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, maitake mushrooms have “demonstrated anticancer effects in laboratory studies”.

Maitake are a type of mushroom that has been used in medicine for many years in Japan; in fact maitake is Japanese for “dancing mushroom”. Maitake mushrooms are commonly found in Japan, as well as China, Europe, and Northeastern U.S. and Canada.

Not only are maitake mushrooms edible and tasty, but they also contain polysaccharides.

Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates made up of small sugar molecules that stabilize blood sugar and affect free radicals. The job of some polysaccharides is to stimulate the immune system by increasing production of t-cells. T-cells are like little soldiers to help your body fight foreign invaders (like cancer cells).

Beta-glucans are also found in maitake mushrooms, which are known cancer fighters.

Multiple lab tests have shown that maitake mushrooms slow the growth of cancer cells in humans, while stimulating the immune system.

A study published by Towsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, took 165 cancer patients and administered MDF (Maitake D-Fraction). The MDF was shown to be effective against leukemia, as well as stomach and bone cancers.

Another case study found the following: 

A 41-year-old female with Stage 3 intraductal carcinoma (breast cancer) had tumors that measured 2.4 cm and 0.7 cm in diameter. In September 1996, she underwent surgery to have the tumors removed, and she began taking 10 mg of tamoxifen (TAM) and 100 mg 5-FU until December 1996. As of June 1997, the cancer metastasized, and a 1.3 cm tumor was found in a lung.

She was then administered 125 mg MD-fraction and 4 grams whole maitake tablets daily for 20 months. In March 1999, it was confirmed that the lung tumor had disappeared. While taking maitake, IL-2 production and CD4+ cells (a type of white blood cell that is important in fighting infections) increased by 1.5 and 1.3 times, respectively. As of early 2002, the tumor had not reappeared.

Adding to their health benefits, maitake mushrooms are also beneficial in fighting diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

If you’re looking to take a maitake mushroom supplement, look for an extract of the D or MD fraction or with powdered capsules of the whole mushroom. It’s recommended that you take 1 to 3 grams per day, up to 7 for those fighting disease. But of course, you should always check with a health practitioner before taking.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake is a type of mushroom that you are likely to find on the menu of your favorite restaurant.

Should you order them? YES! Shiitake mushrooms are great way to enrich your diet because they contain a significant amount of protein, potassium in their stems.

And like other mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms have numerous health benefits thanks to two of their compounds: polysaccharides and lentinan.

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “lentinan was shown to be effective in extending survival in patients with stomach, colorectal, pancreatic, and liver cancers.”

Lentinan has also been found to increase cancer survival rates, as well as help heal chromosome damage.

And like in maitake mushrooms, polysaccharides are responsible for increasing the production of t-cells, which boost your immune system and fight foreign invaders (like cancer cells).

Other reasons to add shiitake mushrooms to your diet:

  • They contain antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties
  • They can help control your blood sugar
  • They are known to reduce inflammation
  • They contain 8 essential amino acids
  • The amount of vitamin D they contain helps regulate and support your immune system

In fact, just by adding a few servings per week can have a beneficial effect on your immune system.

Two important studies of shiitake mushrooms that I’d like to highlight:

The great thing about shiitake mushrooms is that they can be found virtually everywhere. Enjoy them dried, cooked, raw, or as a supplement.

Reishi Mushrooms

Whether or not you enjoy eating mushrooms, you cannot deny their health benefits. Reishi mushrooms are no exception.

Here are just a few health benefits of reishi mushrooms:

  • Promotes good sleep
  • Improves neurological health
  • Contains antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antioxidant properties
  • Boosts immune system
  • Protects healthy cells
  • Relieves side effects of chemotherapy
  • Targets and kills cancer cells

If you’re asking, how is this possible Leann? I will tell you!

Reishi mushrooms have been used for thousands of years. In China, people eat them (or take them in supplement form) for mental clarity. They are also known to increase life expectancy.

Now we’re finding that because of the antioxidant properties, reishi mushrooms strengthen your body’s defenses against autoimmune conditions, heart disease, allergies, and even cancer!

They have been linked to the increase of “natural killer cells”, which remove cancer cells from the body. Reishi mushrooms contain polysaccharides and triterpenoids. Polysaccharides (also found in sweet potatoes and beets) are made up of beta-glucans, which are known to stop the growth of cancer cells. Triterpenoids protect healthy cells and stop cell mutation.

Lab tests show that triterpenes have stopped cancerous tumors from spreading.

Reishi mushrooms are edible, but you can also take them in capsule or powder form. Be sure to look for ones that are certified pure from Asian countries.

Want some recommendations? Here are some of my favorite mushroom products from Amazon that I love from this immune support to this mushroom extract powder that I put in my smoothies, and this mushroom coffee that I love in the morning. 

Leann Forst, MBA, CHC, CEOC — Holistic Health Practitioner

Leann is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Certified Essential Oils Coach, holding a Master’s degree from Drake University and a Bachelor of Science from Upper Iowa University. Leann is accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. And she is an award winning author of 2 books How to Get Your Kids to Beg for Veggies and 100 Ways to Lose Weight”.

Born and raised as an Iowa farm girl, she moved to Texas in 1998 where she lives with her husband and 2 kids.

As a wife of a brain cancer survivor, Leann has a special interest in anti-cancer nutrition and detoxification. She works with individuals and groups, and speaks regularly at hospitals, schools and organizations to teach people how to attain optimal health by getting to the root cause of chronic and inflammatory conditions, while using healing modalities such as essential oils. Click here to get Leann’s free report, “37 Cancer Facts You Should Know…But Probably Don’t

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

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