Keeping the flu at bay with medicinal mushrooms

Now that flu season is around the corner, here's an excerpt from an article on the benefits of medicinal mushrooms in flu defense...

Mushrooms – Medicinal Mushrooms for Flu Defense

By Cathy Wong, Guide, Updated October 01, 2009
In traditional Chinese medicine, medicinal mushrooms - such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi - are used to boost immunity and fend off colds and flu. Found to possess virus-fighting, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, medicinal mushrooms also contain compounds (called polysaccharides) that may help stimulate the immune system.

Flu Prevention

Although medicinal mushrooms have yet to be extensively researched as a means of flu prevention, several studies suggest that certain mushrooms may offer flu-fighting benefits.

1) Maitake
In a 2008 study, scientists found that treating cells with extracts of maitake mushrooms (also known as Grifola frondosa) helped promote the production of proteins responsible for activating the immune system in response to infection. This effect could help slow the growth of the flu virus, according to the study's authors.

2) Cordyceps

Polysaccharides derived from cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) may help protect against the flu by moderating the function of macrophages (a type of white blood cell that kills microorganisms and stimulates other immune cells into action), according to a 2007 study on mice.

3) Gypsy Mushroom

Findings from a study published in 1999 demonstrate that extracts of the gypsy mushroom (Rozites caperata) may help fight the flu virus.

More Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

Preliminary evidence indicates that medicinal mushrooms may provide health benefits beyond fighting the flu. In a 2004 study, for instance, participants taking a reishi-based powder had an "acute increase" in their antioxidant capacity. And in a study published in 2001, researchers found that maitake extract improved symptoms in rats with diabetes.

Article courtesy of Cathy Wong at Alternative Medicine.

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