Bastyr Receives NIH Funding to Study Mushroom Extracts to Treat Cancer
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has awarded Bastyr University a three-year, $792,000 grant to study the effects of certain species of mushrooms in strengthening the body’s immune response to breast and prostate cancers.
Research will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, and will focus on a type of mushroom called the “turkey tail,” which is commonly prescribed by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine.
“ By joining forces with Bastyr University, we will be able to combine our background in scientific research with their knowledge of naturopathic medicine,” said Dr. Joel Slaton, an assistant professor of urologic surgery at the University of Minnesota and principal investigator for the grant.
The project includes two basic science studies and a clinical trial. Laboratory and animal studies will explore the mechanisms by which turkey tail mushroom extracts interact with immune response pathways that defend against the formation of tumor cells.
In the clinical trial, the extract will be given to women in conjunction with traditional breast cancer treatments. Data from the trial will be used to design future clinical trials to test whether the extract can improve immune function in breast cancer patients after completing conventional treatment.
While the clinical trial involves breast cancer, the results may have implications for prostate cancer patients as well.
“We’re excited the NIH has provided us with this opportunity,” said Dr. Cynthia Wenner, who will serve as principal investigator for Bastyr’s portion of the research.
“Medicinal mushroom therapy is not accepted as part of traditional cancer treatment in the United States, since no studies here have been conducted to assess safety and efficacy in people with specific cancers.”
Mushrooms are often used in China, Japan and Korea (probably other Asian countries). In both countries there as been extensive scientific research into their health benefits. Approximately 50 mushrooms have demonstrated some anti-cancer effects. The top four cancer fighters are: Reishi-(Ganoderman lucidum), Maitake-(Gifola frondosa), Shitake-(Lentinus edodes) and PSK-(Coriolus versicolor). Zhu ling-(Polyporus umbrellatus) is also regarded well. It contains B-Glucan which has shown antitumor, immune enhancing properties. Mushrooms work as diuretics and liver protectors to some degree. Some studies in China have inicated that Zhu ling may help the immune system after chemotherapy.
Most mushrooms supply niacin, Vit.C, B2, D2, potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber and amino acids.
An extract of Shitake mushrooms-leninan is approved in Japan for treatment of stomach cancer. Maitake is currently being tested in a U.S. clinical trial. It has shown such effects as stimulating the immune system, reducing high blood pressure and stopping growth of tumors (in animals). See Ann's Bio-Ann's Protocol for information on my use of Maitake to reduce a chest wall tumor.
NOTE: The mushrooms are available as capsules at most health food stores. Some local markets carry Shitake and sometimes Maitake. Dried mushrooms are okay to use as well.
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