Medicinal Mushrooms Proven to Help Fight Influenza

mushrooms and the flu

Photo by Werner Witte

A steady stream of research has confirmed that medicinal mushrooms have antiviral properties, and some research has suggested medicinal mushrooms can inhibit the flu.

2012 laboratory research from Japan’s Aureo Science established that an extract from the mushroom fungus Aureobasidium pullulans significantly inhibits influenza.

The researchers found that the active constituents were the beta-D-glucans and the beta-glycosides of the extract. These have been determined in other research to significantly stimulate the immune system, also giving many mushrooms the reputation of being able to help fight cancer.

In this Japanese study, the researchers tested the mushroom extract against the highly contagious and virulent H1N1 influenza strain A (Puerto Rico/8/34). The researchers found that the extract significantly inhibited the influenza.

The researchers concluded that: “These findings suggest the increased expression of virus sensors is effective for the prevention of influenza by the inhibition of viral replication with the administration of AP-CF [the A. pullulans mushroom extract]”.

Another study last year, this from Russia’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector, tested 11 mushroom species that grow in the Altai Mountains of Russia against two different strains of type A influenza: The H5N1 virus type A (chicken/Kurgan/05/2005) and the H3N2 type A human virus (Aichi/2/68).

The research found that seven of the eleven species of mushrooms provided antiviral activity against these influenza strains. They were Trametes versicolor (also called Turkey Tail), Daedaleopsis confragosa (also called Blushing Bracket and Rauhe Tramete), Datronia mollis (also called Mazegill), Ischnoderma benzoinum (also called Benzoin Bracket), Trametes gibbosa (also called the Lumpy Bracket), Laricifomes officinalis (also called the Agarikon), and Lenzites betulina (also called the Birch Mazegill).

Many of these mushrooms are also indigenous to North America, including Turkey Tails, Mazegills, Agarikons and Birch Mazegills.

In 2010, researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases found that mycelial extracts from medicinal mushrooms worked so well against influenza that they developed an influenza vaccine adjuvant using the mushroom extracts.

In laboratory studies, they found that a mycelial mushroom extract from the Phellinus linteus mushroom (also called Meshimakobu in Japan and Sang Huang in China) significantly stimulated the body’s HA-specific IgA and IgG antibody responses, and boosted cytokines specific to fighting influenza.

The researchers concluded: “The use of extracts of mycelia derived from edible mushrooms is proposed as a new safe and effective mucosal adjuvant for use for nasal vaccination against influenza virus infection.”

In 2011, researchers from China’s Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that extracts of Ganoderma lucidum (also called Reishi), Cordyceps militaris, Kuehneromyces mutabilis (also called Woodtuft), Inonotus hispidus (also called Hairy Bracket) and Rhodocollybia maculata (also called Spotted Toughshank) inhibited influenza in mice studies. The researchers commented that the mushrooms “may provide prophylactic protection against influenza infection via stimulation of host innate immune response.”

Researchers from Japan’s Sugitani Department of Oriental Medicine studied an extract from the Grifola frondosa mushroom (also called Maitake) on the Influenza A virus on canine kidney cells.

The researchers found that the Maitake extract significantly inhibited the virus from replicating, and stimulated the production of antiviral cytokines such as TNF-alpha.

A number of other studies have confirmed the antiviral effects of various medicinal mushrooms.

Learn more ways to build immunity naturally.


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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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