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Maitake the King of Mushrooms

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The Bridge Between the East and West

with Wisdom and Science 

MUSHROOMS - The Third Kingdom

  • Boost your immune system functioning

  •  Inhibit cancerous tumor growth

  • Activate youe body's immune system to fight off cancerous tumors

Mushrooms and other fungi have been called "the third kingdom." Being neither plant nor animal , they are a world unto themselves. Their genetic make-up is actually closer to that of humans and animals than to plants. We share approximately 30% of our DNA with mushrooms. While plants absorb carbon dioxide and liberate oxygen, mushrooms mimic human respiration by capturing oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. But unlike humans who need light and fresh food, mushrooms feed on moist, decaying, organic matter in deep shade.  In our forests, mushrooms, perform an essential ecological function of recycling leaves and dead plants. Mushrooms resemble plants in that they cannot move on their own and have cell walls.  Yet mushrooms are not really plants as we generally think of them.  Instead of containing cellulose in their cell walls, mushrooms contain chitin, a substance also found in the exoskeleton of shellfish.

Mushrooms are just one of the many kinds of fungi. There are one hundred thousand species within the broad category of fungi, of which the penicillin mold is one, and there are thirty-eight thousand species of mushrooms.  Approximately  50 species of mushrooms have demonstrated medicinal value, each with its own chemistry.

A 50 CENTURY ALLIANCE

Over thousands of years, mushrooms such as reishi, shiitake, maitake, and others have been used to maintain and improve health, preserve youth and increase longevity.  Reishi is among the top-ranked remedies in traditional Chinese Medicine TCM. Shiitake is also highly regarded and is said to boost "chi" or life energy.  In herbal medicine, maitake is used as a treatment for a variety of conditions and as a tonic to strengthen the body and improve overall health. Medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake, are regarded as the highest of tonics promoting overall well-being and vibrant health. Maitake is the only edible mushroom in the Monkey's Bench Family, which are well known immune enhancers, such as:

Inhibition of tumor growth - In 1987, a study was done comparing various medicinal mushrooms (including maitake, shiitake and agaricus) in their capacity to inhibit growth of sarcoma 180 tumors implanted into mice. The results indicated that the maitake mushroom was the most effective, inhibiting tumor growth by 86%.  Just as important, the inhibition occurred via oral administration of the mushroom as part of the daily food.

Anti-inflammatory Action - More recently, scientific research  suggests that fatty acid compounds in the maitake mushroom possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  In fact, the anti-inflammatory capabilities of these fatty acid compounds were comparable to those of blockbuster pharmaceuticals Vioxx and Celebrex. There has been some speculation recently that inhibition of inflammation inducing enzymes may be connected to reduced risk of certain types of cancer. So, the anti-inflammatory property of the maitake mushroom may be connected to its anticancer effect.

Beta-Glucans and Cellular Immunity - The main interest in the maitake mushroom has been for its ability to boost immune system functioning and inhibit cancerous tumor growth.  Many definitive studies done in the 1980's showed that the component of the maitake mushroom possessing the potent anti-tumor activity was a complex polysaccharide molecule called a beta-glucan bound to protein. The beta-glucan comprising the maitake D fraction molecule consists of repeating subunits of glucose with a 1,6 linkage in the main chain and a 1,3 linkage at the branching point.   

Beta-glucans are found in other foods such as oats, yeast, and other medicinal mushrooms.  However, the chemical structure of the maitake beta-glucan is unique due to its greater degree of molecular branching. 

Receptors for beta-glucans can be found on macrophages, the large white blood cells that comprise part of the first line of defense of the immune system.  When activated, macrophages engage in phagocytosis, the swallowing of microorganisms, pathogens, and tumor cells.  They also release cellular messengers called cytokines, including interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma that activate lymphocytes called helper T-cells and natural killer cells.  Natural killer cells patrol the body and attack cells that are cancerous before they grow into tumors.  T-helper cells, meanwhile, orchestrate the response of the cellular components of the body's immune system, including antibody-producing B-cells and cytotoxic T-cells.

Hence, maitake's beta-glucan is able to stimulate and activate the body's immune system to fight off cancerous tumors.  The specific name given to the beta-glucan of the maitake mushroom was D-FRACTIOIN, because it was obtained from the fourth step of a hot water extraction procedure from maitake mushroom powder.

What's New with Maitake Research?

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute  Confirms Effects of Maitake Extract

Immuno-Response of Maitake D -fraction

Experiments done with D-fraction on tumor-bearing mice showed the immune-activating and anti-tumor effect described in the preceding. Activity of Natural Killer NK cells and cytotoxic T TC cells was increased 1.5 to 3 times by either oral or injection of  D-fraction. Also seen was an increase in production of interleukin-1, which activate T cells, and superoxide anions that destroy tumor cells.

Although we generally think of polysaccharides or carbohydrates as providing energy to the body's cells, research reveals that many are involved in molecular recognition.  Specifically, cell-surface carbohydrates help to facilitate communication between cells.  Receptors for beta-glucans can be found on macrophages, the large white blood cells that comprise part of the first line of defense in the immune system.  When activated, macrophages engage in phagocytosis, the swallowing of microorganisms, pathogens, and tumor cells.  They also release cellular messengers called cytokines, including interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma, that activate lymphocytes called helper T-cells and natural killer cells.  Natural killer cells patrol the body and attack cells that are cancerous before they grow into tumors.  T-helper cells, meanwhile, orchestrate the response of the cellular components of the body's immune system, including antibody-producing B-cells and cytotoxic T-cells.

Hence, maitake's beta-glucan is able to stimulate and activate the body's immune system to fight off cancerous tumors.  The specific name given to the beta-glucan of the maitake mushroom was D-fraction because it was obtained from the 4th step of a hot water extraction procedure from maitake mushroom powder.

Anti-Cancer Activities of D-fraction

The impressive data on inhibition of tumor growth in mice reported previously led to the development of a proprietary beta-glucan product derived from the maitake mushroom, manufactured by Maitake Products, Inc. This product, called Grifron® Maitake D-Fraction, appeared on the American dietary supplements market in 1995.  Research studies conducted from the mid-1990's onward showed that D-fraction has three primary anticancer effects on small animals (mice):

D-fraction inhibits carcinogenisis

D-fraction inhibits metastasis

D-fraction acts synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs

How Does D-fraction Work?

Recently, an increasing number of studies have been done with human patients or with human cells in cell culture.  In one study, it was demonstrated in eight cancer patients that the activity of natural killer cells was elevated by a factor of 1.2 to 2.7 times after treatment with D-fraction. A second study with different types of advanced cancer, stages II, III, and IV.  All ten patients in this study experienced a significant rise in their natural killer cell activity after treatment with D-fraction. 

The most intriguing data on D-fraction and its mechanisms come from prostate cancer studies.  Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in elderly men in the United States and kills about 39,000 men annually. This study confirmed that Maitake D-Fraction® at concentrations starting at 480mg/ml can cause almost total apoptosis, which is programmed cell death of prostate cancer cells.  This is significant for several reasons:

1. Most chemotherapy agents currently used to treat cancer kill cells by necrosis.  This is a random process involving cell rupture and release of cytotoxic materials into the surrounding area, often affecting and damaging other healthy cells.  Apoptosis kills only those cells whose genetic program tells them to commit suicide without disturbing adjacent cells.

2. The prostate cancer cells undergoing apoptosis are hormone independent cells, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. This type of prostate cancer has proven very resistant to conventional chemotherapy agents. Most men with hormone-independent prostate cancer die from it within a few years. Thus, the success of D-fraction in cell culture opens the door to a new form of treatment of a disease that has proven very difficult to treat.  Further, the does of D-fraction needed to kill over 90% of prostate cancer cells in culture could be reduced to 60/mg/ml by combining it with vitamin C at concentration of 200 mg. Vitamin C and D-fraction work synergistically to bring about apoptosis (cancer cells commit suicide) since this concentration of vitamin C alone causes no appreciable apoptotic activity.

Another synergistic effect of D-fraction was found in a combination with the anti-cancer drug carmustine.  Carmustine has been used to treat brain cancer.  In one study, Carmustine redued prostate cancer cell viability by 50% at a does of 50 mg.  When combined with D-fraction (60 mg/mil) approximately 90% of the cancer cells were killed.  No other chemotherapy agent - alone or in combination with another drug - produced this result. 

Additional investigations showed that D-fraction can inhibit growth or actually kill other types of human cancer cells in culture:

Prostate >95% cell death in 24 hrs  D-fraction 480 mg/ml or 60 + Vit.C 200 mg.

Bladder >95% cell death in 24 hrs  D-fraction 1,060 or 265 + Vit. C 200 mg.

Brain >90% inhibition of cell growth in 72 hrs  D-Fraction > or = 265 mg/mil

Leukemia >90% cell death in 24 hrs D-fraction >530 mg/ml

The One and Only Maitake D-Fraction®

Maitake D-Fraction® for humans or PETFraction® for animals/pets, is the optimal immune boosting natural product.  Maitake D-Fraction ® has been used by thousands of health professionals in the United States and is now the most popular immune booster in the Japanese veterinary market as well. It is the product of choice for laboratory and clinical studies with FDA approval for an IND trial.

For health maintenance, take six drops three times daily of the professional strength product.  For therapeutic use, take one drop per kilogram of body weight per day, divided into three doses. For best results, use Maitake D-fraction® with Vitamin C 200 mg.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Medical Disclaimer: The information on this web site is for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a medical evaluation. If you feel that medical interventions are necessary, please check with your physician and www.fda.gov Dietary Supplements.