Mushrooms: Mushrooms are part of
the fungus family. They contain compounds known as alpha and beta
glucans. Beta-glucans have been found in laboratory studies to
activate the production of immune cells including the T-cells and
natural killer (NK) cells which can fight against bacterial and viral
infection and even cancer. There are many different varieties of
mushroom. The following four varieties appear to be most effective in
boosting the immune system:
Reishi: The Reishi mushroom can
increase the production of interleukin1 and 2, resulting in
inhibition of tumor growth. Studies show that Reishi can have a
number of other positive effects on the body such as analgesic,
anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-viral (through its interferon
production), lowers blood pressure. It also acts as a cardiotonic by
lowering serum and increasing the production of interleukin 1 and 2,
which results in inhibition of tumor cholesterol, expectorant,
anti-tissue, liver protecting and detoxifying, protection against
ionizing radiation, antibacterial, and anti-HIV activity.
R., et al. Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) Standards of Analysis,
Quality Control, and Therapeutics. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. p.
9. Sept. 2000).
consists of the dried fungus cordyceps sinensis growing on the larva
of the caterpillar. It is commonly used in China for the
replenishment of body health. One of the known pharmacological
effects is its anti-oxidation activity.
Cordyceps is also known as an immune system stimulant, but more
research is needed to quantify its immunological effect.
Shiitake: Shiitake has been
revered as a health and immunity booster in Asia for over 6,000
years. Recent studies have traced the benefits of this mushroom to a
compound known as lentinan. Lentinan, which is technically classified
as a polysaccharide and referred to as a branched beta-glucan,
appears to power up the immune system, boosting itís ability to
fight infection and disease.
(Jong SC, Birmingham JM. Medicinal and
therapeutic value of the shiitake mushroom. Adv Appl Microbiol
1993;39:153-84, PMID: 18220).
Maitake: Maitake seems to be one
of the most extensively researched herbs and a number of research
papers have been published by various institutes and universities.
The health benefits demonstrated by Maitake include immune system
support, normal blood pressure support, normal blood sugar metabolism
and normal cholesterol support. Maitake mushrooms contain a fraction
that stimulates macrophages, the white blood sells that are central
to a powerful immune system.
F, Yan J, Baran JT, Allendorf DJ, Hansen RD, et al. Mechanism by
which orally administered beta-1,3-glucans enhance the tumoricidal
activity of antitumor monoclonal antibodies in murine tumor models. J
Immunol. 2004: Jul 15;173(2):797-806).
In addition to mushrooms, eat plenty of
whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as lean meat and
fresh fish, which provide protein and micronutrients while being
relatively low in saturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in
freshwater fish like salmon and mackerel), complex carbohydrates,
yogurt, and seaweed are believed to increase the activity of T cells
and their escort cells, and to increase the production of antibodies
and fighting cells.