This page will be used to post information about serious research utilizing mushrooms and compounds derived from mushrooms in medical applications. We will post articles in an ongoing manner as information becomes public. If visitors have any verifiable information in this vein, please feel free to send it, along with references cited, to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to include it on this page.
shiitake! That-in short, unscientific terms-is the
reaction of researchers hunting for potential new medicines in
mushrooms. Tests in lab dishes indicate that fabulous fungi with
names like lion's mane and turkey tail harbor novel antiviral
and antibacterial compounds. Even the NIH is interested, funding
the screening of mushrooms for agents to fight SARS and West Nile
"It's completely irrational that we haven't looked here before," says Dr. Andrew Weil, the nation's leading proponent of integrative medicine. "The greatest success of the pharmaceutical industry in the 20th century-antibiotics-came from molds, which are closely related." No new drugs have emerged yet from the research. But use of supplements is, excuse us, mushrooming, with sales of general immune-boosters like maitake, shiitake, reishi and cordyceps up as much as 300 percent since last year. Better yet, says Weil, try a blend like Host Defense from New Chapter. With flu season at hand, it couldn't hurt.
According to an analysis of a large, national dataset containing 24-hours food intake information and health data for a large representative sample of the entire U. S. population (Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 20,050 adults), mushroom eaters have a better nutrient profile than do those who do not eat mushrooms. The analysis, conducted by Block Dietary Data Systems (Berkeley, CA) also discovered that mushroom eaters have greater intake levels of most vitamins and minerals and in some cases consume less alcohol, fat, and sodium. A greater percentage of mushroom eaters than non-mushroom eaters met the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) for the following 19 nutrients:
CALCIUM, COPPER, IRON MAGNESIUM, PHOSPHORUS, ZINC, FOLATE, NIACIN, RIBOFLAVIN, THIAMIN, VITAMINS A, B6, B12, C, AND E, ENERGY, CARBOHYDRATE, FIBER, PROTEIN.
Mushroom eaters also ate more daily servings of vegetables (5.4 servings) than those who did not eat mushrooms (3.4 servings) - which may help explain why mushroom eaters met the RDA/DRI for these nutrients, particularly those not plentiful in mushrooms. Mushroom eaters maintained a more healthy body weight than those who did not eat mushrooms and were more likely to describe their health as Very Good or Excellent and less likely to describe their health status as Fair or Poor compared to their non-mushroom eating counterparts.
This report includes additional information on characteristics of consumers. More women than men eat mushrooms, but men consume greater quantities when they do eat mushrooms. Cooked mushrooms served as a side dish was the preferred preparation method. The study included a simulation component in which mushrooms were substituted for foods higher in calories or substituted for foods higher in fat and cholesterol. Such substitutions on a regular basis could potentially result in weight loss or a reduction in the intake of dietary components associated with the risk of certain chronic diseases. If males substituted a 4-ounce grilled portabella mushroom for a 4-ounce popular fast food sandwich every time they ate that sandwich for one year, they would experience an annual calorie savings of 18,400 calories, or a potential weight loss of 5.3 pounds. Such a substitution could also result in a reduction of 2,725 grams of fat and 13,336 milligrams of cholesterol.
Analysis of population-based characteristics helps identify relationships between eating patterns and health factors, and does not establish causation between these factors. These analyses often stimulate additional research including clinical trials to help establish a more direct relationship between food intake and certain health factors. This study, undertaken at the recommendation of the April 200 industry-convened Roundtable, is one of the first projects completed under the Mushroom Council's Nutrition Research Program. The full report entitled Mushrooms: More than just another fungus is available from the Mushroom Council.
-Mushroom Council, 2003
Dr. Shiuan Chen, an epidemiologist at the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles, thinks they might. In December of 2001, Dr. Chen published his research on white mushrooms in the Journal of Nutrition. He writes, "Estrogen is a major factor in the development of breast cancer. In situ estrogen production by aromatase/estrogen synthetase in breast cancer plays a dominant role in tumor proliferation". Natural compounds found in vegetables can inhibit aromatase activity, according to Dr. Chen. White mushrooms, according to his research, did this particularly well. The results from this portion of Dr. Chen's research suggests that "diets high in mushrooms may modulate the aromatase activity and function in chemoprevention in post menopausal women by reducing the in situ production of estrogen."
-Mushroom Council Quarterly,Volume 1, Issue 5 April, 2002
Dr. Michael Kelner, a 1976 graduate of St. John's University (SJU) in Collegeville, Minnesota (located 1 mile from Forest Mushrooms), is currently pursuing anti-cancer drug research with fast-track approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. Kelner is a research pathologist and professor at the University of California, San Diego, one of the nation's top research institutions.
According to the December 2001 issue of St. John's, SJU's alumni magazine, Kelner his associate, Dr. Trevor McMorris, recently synthesized an anti-cancer agent called irofulven, which has shown great promise in clinical trials.
Irofulven is derived from a widely distributed wild mushroom called Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius). This mushroom is found in Eastern North America and in California. Because of its bright orange color and its trumpet-like shape, it is sometimes mistaken for the smaller and edible Gold Chanterelle mushroom. The Jack-O-Lantern is classified as poisonous, causing gastric upset for several days after ingestion. Its name derives from the intriguing property of emitting an eerie green glow from its gills when gathered fresh and taken into a dark room for observation.
Doctors Kelner and McMorris have synthesized irofulven, so the drug is not derived from actual mushrooms, but can be manufactured in the lab. Irofulven has so far proven effective treating pancreatic, ovarian, sarcoma and neuro-endocrine cancers without the often devastating side effects of typical chemotherapies. It is also showing promise with glioma (brain), hepatoma (liver), sarcoma (soft tissue/muscle), ovarian/uterine and prostrate cancers.
According to Dr. Kelner, "Irofulven is the first broad-spectrum anti-cancer agent without side effects. In the case of pancreatic cancer, it is the only chemotherapy that has ever worked to shrink tumors, with or without side effects."
Good luck to the researchers as their work progresses!
An article in Better Homes and Gardens: http://www.bhg.com/bhg/story.jhtml?storyid=/templatedata/bhg/story/data/easyhea