Can Medicinal Mushrooms Protect the Liver?
An increasing chorus of research is finding that some edible and medicinal mushrooms can help the liver heal and protect the liver against many of the toxins that are now bombarding our livers.
When the liver is damaged by toxins such as alcohol, pharmaceuticals, preservatives, pesticides and other toxins, liver cells begin to produce enzymes such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in an attempt to heal and remove the toxins. As liver cells become more damaged, fibrosis can occur, which can progress to a complete shutting down of the liver.
A number of studies have shown that extracts from a number of medicinal and edible mushrooms reduce the levels of these enzymes in liver damage situations, and help bring about a healthier liver.
According to the research some of the more productive medicinal mushrooms in terms of reducing liver damage include:
- Lentinula edodes (also known as Shiitake)
- Agaricus blazei
- Ganoderma lucidum (also known as Reishi)
- Ganoderma tsugae (Tsugae Reishi)
- Pleurotus cornucopiae (Oysters)
- Panus giganteus
- and a number of others.
In a study last year, for example, Panus giganteus – also called Pteropus giganteus with a common English name of Indian Flying Fox, part of many Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian recipes – was found to reduce AST and ALT levels at similar rates as a standardized extract of Silymarin (Milk Thistle’s active liver constituent). In this study, the mushroom was tested against liver injury caused by the drug thioacetamide.
In another study– this from Japan’s Osaka University – found that two different fractions of Shiitake mushrooms (hot-water extraction and ethanol extraction) not only decreased AST and ALT levels, but also inhibited the formation of collagen fibrils – which produce liver fibrosis.
Liver fibrosis is quite common amongst those with a long history of drinking alcohol or taking pharmaceutical drugs.
The fact that many edible and medicinal mushrooms can not only reduce liver enzymes but also keep the liver from fibrosis lends once again to the conclusion that nature provides the best means for healing in the long run.
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