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How Does Maitake Mushroom Boost The Immune System?

Jun 2, 2008
Medical practices treat the symptoms of disease. They do not prevent the illness itself. Alternative medicine offers a complement to the traditional methods. More and more physicians are realizing this and responding to it in their own practices.

It is becoming more common for physicians to enlist the aid of the natural world in treating their patients. Often, along with traditional medicine, doctors will suggest using a natural product in conjunction with a prescription. One such natural healer is the mushroom.

The Maitake and Other Mushrooms

Mushrooms come in many different varieties and species. They contain a large number of compounds that offer potent healing properties. One of the most useful species of healing mushrooms being recognized for its effectiveness is the maitake mushroom. This mushroom is being tested for its ability to enhance the production of infection-fighting cells in the human body.

Mushrooms are found in wooded areas all over the world and cultivated by both professionals and amateur collectors. If you wish to harvest your own mushrooms, it is vital to your health and safety that you research what each species looks like. Some mushrooms are poisonous to the point of being life-threatening.

These spongy fungal foods are used to make certain immune system enhancing extracts, either alone or in combination with other members of the healing mushroom family.

Mushrooms contain compounds known as alpha and beta glucans. These glucan phytonutrients are actually long-chain polysaccharide molecules. They consist of millions of glucose molecules that are chemically bound to each other.

The beta-glucan compound has been found to have great abilities to enhance the function of the human immune system. Lab studies are finding that the beta-glucans activate production of T-cells and NK (natural killer) cells. These are the cells that fight viral and bacterial infection and, in some cases, even cancer.

A healthy immune system is the only sure way for a human being to remain disease free. When the body's immune system is not in optimal shape, infections attacking the body are much more serious and can even be life threatening.

The Different Healing Mushrooms

There are many different mushrooms that are studied and used for their medicinal properties. Of the many species of mushrooms, the most common and most used by alternative medicinal healers are:

* Maitake. The maitake mushroom can be found growing on oak trees all over the world. The maitake mushroom is best known for its ability to stimulate the production of T-cells in the blood.

* Shitake. The shitake mushroom is the best known and most widely used as an immune system booster.

* Cordyceps. The extract from the cordyceps mushroom has proven to be effective in fighting various forms of bacteria. It is also known to increase physical stamina. The sports world took notice of the possible benefits of cordyceps mushrooms in 1993 when nine women who were taking cordyceps reportedly broke world records at the Chinese National Games.

* Reishi. This mushroom has been used by the Chinese for thousands of years as an immune system enhancer.

Safety and Effectiveness

A consumer warning states that consumers should be aware of false advertising of mushroom extracts. Many beta-glucan products on the market are not 100% pure. A large number of them only contain about 1% beta-glucan. It is wise to always speak with a trained and knowledgeable store employee before purchasing any product you are unfamiliar with. It is also important that you read the labels of any product you are considering purchasing.

Although not widely recognized yet, the maitake mushroom is fast becoming a leader in the mushroom world for its immune boosting properties. Physicians and consumers are becoming more open to and educated about the medicinal uses of mushrooms. They are in abundant supply all over the world and are waiting to be discovered.
About the Author
More information on maitake mushrooms is available at VitaNet , LLC Health Food Store. http://vitanetonline.com/
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