Medicinal Mushrooms Prove to Fight Influenza
A steady stream of research has confirmed that medicinal mushrooms have antiviral properties. A number of these studies have shown that many medicinal mushrooms can indeed inhibit the influenza virus. In other words, many mushrooms fight the flu.
Agaricus brasiliensis inhibits influenza virus
In a 2017 study, researchers from Japan’s Azabu University tested the Agaricus brasiliensis against the PB8 strain of influenza A. This is an H1N1 virus. The researchers found that an extract of this mushroom significantly inhibited the influenza strain in a dose-dependent manner.
Dose-dependency means there is a direct association between the mushroom and the inhibition of the flu. The researchers also found the mushroom extract somehow blocked the virus after it invaded cells.
The researchers concluded: “These results demonstrated that it is expected that AE can effectively prevent the spread of the influenza virus.”
Confirming this, a 2016 review of research from Russia’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector studied the antiviral activity of Agaricomycetes mushrooms, which includes Agaricus brasiliensis. The researchers did confirm the ability of wild mushrooms of this family of mushrooms to inhibit the influenza virus.
Oyster mushroom mycelia produces anti-flu substance
In a 2015 study, researchers from Japan’s Shinshu University found that oyster mushroom mycelia accumulate a substance called shikimic acid. Shikimic acid is a material used to produce the anti-flu drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir). (Mycelia are the underground rooting system of mushrooms.) The researchers concluded that this natural substance gives oyster mushrooms the ability to fight the influenza virus.
Aureobasidium mushroom fights 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 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]”.
Seven other mushrooms inhibit influenza
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.
The researchers found that the antiviral mushrooms 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)
- 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.”
Several other mushrooms halt flu
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.
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Kojima M, Kimura N, Miura R. Regulation of primary metabolic pathways in oyster mushroom mycelia induced by blue light stimulation: accumulation of shikimic acid. Sci Rep. 2015 Feb 27;5:8630. doi: 10.1038/srep08630.
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Muramatsu D, Iwai A, Aoki S, Uchiyama H, Kawata K, Nakayama Y, Nikawa Y, Kusano K, Okabe M, Miyazaki T. β-Glucan derived from Aureobasidium pullulans is effective for the prevention of influenza in mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41399.
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Suzuki F, Suzuki C, Shimomura E, Maeda H, Fujii T, Ishida N. Antiviral and interferon-inducing activities of a new peptidomannan, KS-2, extracted from culture mycelia of Lentinus edodes. J Antibiot (Tokyo). 1979 Dec;32(12):1336-45.
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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and a 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 our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available 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.”