Category Archives: Medicinal Mushrooms

A Natural Aromatase Inhibitor – the Common White Button Mushroom

Image Source: Freedigitalphotos.net / SOMMAI

Image Source: Freedigitalphotos.net / SOMMAI

A Natural Aromatase Inhibitor – the Common White Button Mushroom

I am always on the outlook for natural aromatase inhibitors, because of the fact that most of us can’t stand the hormone blocking drugs we are almost all prescribed after a diagnosis of hormone-driven breast cancer.  When I came across this interesting bit of research I knew I had to share it with you.

If you aren’t familiar with the lingo, the aromatase enzyme is responsible for a key step in the biosynthesis of estrogen, and the aromatase inhibiting (AI) drugs block that activity, the thinking being that less estrogen circulating in the body adds less fuel to the tumor.

The problem is, however, that these drugs all have fairly serious side effects, or at the very least can create so much havoc in your body that you feel utterly miserable.  I discuss some of those side effects in my article Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs.

Lately I have been noting that women newly diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer are being told by their oncologists that less than 5% of women taking the AI drugs will have these side effects, but in my experience it’s a MUCH HIGHER percentage.  I believe the drug companies are minimizing the data, but that’s a whole other story.

The Common White Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)

It seems that the common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is involved with the suppression of the aromatase enzyme.  In a 2006 study done by Dr Shiuan Chen at the City of Hope in Duarte, California, researchers concluded that white button mushrooms effectively suppressed aromatase activity and estrogen biosynthesis in estrogen receptor-positive/aromatase-positive MCF-7aro breast cancer cells isolated from hamster ovaries. 1  Other mushrooms including shiitake, portabello and crimini also had an anti-aromatase effect when tested but Dr Chen’s efforts have mainly focused on the white button mushrooms as they are the most commonly available and easy to obtain.

I also located an older study from 2001 that indicated diets high in white button mushroom may “modulate the aromatase activity and function in chemoprevention in postmenopausal women by reducing the in situ production of estrogen.” 2

What Is An Effective Dose?

Far from conclusive, but the best study I have been able to locate so far is a 2011 study 3 to determine the optimal dose to effectively reduce aromatase and circulating estrogen.  The study followed 24 postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer at least five years previously, all of whom were free of recurrences, and had completed all breast cancer treatment (including any aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen) at least three months prior to enrolling in the trial.  The women were treated with 5, 8, 10, or 13 grams of white button mushroom extract per day for 12 weeks.  The researchers reported that white button mushroom extract up to 13g per day was found to be well tolerated, with no adverse side effects.  They were unable, however, to significantly reduce estrogen levels from baseline during the 12 week trial period.  Subtle reductions in aromatase activity were noted, but nothing like the 50% reduction the researchers had hoped for.

Was a 50% reduction too much to hope for?  Is a 50% reduction in aromatase activity even necessary?  Hard to say. This research begs for more research to be done.

Perhaps the anti-aromatase and anti-breast cancer effects are cumulative, and maybe they are partially reliant upon other foods – some sort of synergy happening there.  Other studies have indicated that eating mushrooms is associated with a reduced risk of cancer 4, 5. which I believe is a strong enough reason to be taking them.  I recommend them on my page Diet and Cancer.

I just know that I will take my chances with the white button mushrooms rather than the hormone blocking meds, together with a few other natural compounds like ground flaxseed, Belle Vie ® and grapeseed extract.  These things, along with quite a few other diet and lifestyle changes have been working for 11 years for me so far!  Contact me if you’d like more information about any of these.

References:
1.  Anti-aromatase activity of phytochemicals in white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) –   http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/24/12026.long

2.  White button mushroom phytochemicals inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer cell proliferation – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11739882

3.  A dose-finding clinical trial of mushroom powder in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors for secondary breast cancer prevention – http://meetinglibrary.asco.org/content/83362-102

4.  White button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) exhibits antiproliferative and proapoptotic properties and inhibits prostate tumor growth in athymic mice –  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19005974

5.  Macrophage immunomodulating and antitumor activities of polysaccharides isolated from Agaricus bisporus white button mushrooms — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22217303

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms Studied for Cancer Patients

Turkey Tail Mushrooms Studied For Cancer Patients

http://MarnieClark.com/turkey-tail-mushrooms-studied-for-cancer-patientsThe prestigious naturopathic university in Washington state, Bastyr, in collaboration with the University of Washington and others, was approved to conduct a study on turkey tail mushrooms (trametes versicolor) to discover whether they can help cancer patients boost their immune systems during chemotherapy.

Trametes Versicolor, A Much Studied Mushroom

Trametes versicolor, along with many other medicinal mushrooms, are a rich source of immunoceuticals, nutrients that have immune boosting properties.  The polysaccharides extracted from certain mushroom species have been some of the most thoroughly studied natural products in both preclinical and clinical studies.

The turkey tail mushroom has been used for centuries to treat illness in various parts of the world, primarily Asia.  Numerous research studies have also been carried out in Asia. 

So why are they doing more studies on it?  It appears that there are plenty of studies, over 146, in fact, according to a study abstract titled Trametes Versicolor Mushroom Immune Therapy In Breast Cancer.

It would appear that it has been proven that turkey tail mushrooms are a potent immunity stimulating substance!

Well, here’s the deal.  The FDA-approved study being carried out by Bastyr is for patients with advanced prostate cancer to ascertain whether turkey tail mushrooms can assist with immunity when combined with conventional chemotherapy.  They not only want to measure the immune boosting function of the mushrooms, but also to see if there are any interactions with chemotherapy drugs.

Study participants were recruited at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the plan was to have some of the patients take oral doses of a Japanese turkey tail extract along with docetaxel chemotherapy, while others would only receive a placebo and chemotherapy.  The researchers would then determine safety, measure the levels and activity of natural killer (NK) cells and other immune cells, which typically plummet after chemotherapy, leaving the body vulnerable to disease and opportunistic infections.

The ultimate goal, according to the Bastyr press release dated  November 30, 2012, is to develop a cancer therapy that does not have the debilitating side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

No Answer Yet

So I thought I would check on this and see what happened.  I am waiting for a reply from Bastyr University and we might know nothing until after the first of the year.  I promise to update you when I’ve heard from them. 

Mushroom Expert’s Mother Is Cured From Breast Cancer

In the meantime, here is a great article dated June 5, 2012 from Paul Stamets, a mycologist and author of six books on medicinal mushrooms, writing for the Huffington Post: Turkey Tail Mushrooms Help Immune System Fight Cancer

Mr Stamets’ own mother used a combo of chemotherapy drugs along with turkey tail mushrooms to blast a 5.5 cm tumor that had spread to other parts of her body.  She was considered by her oncologist to be Stage IV with 3 months to live.  She took 8 turkey tail mushroom supplements each day, along with Taxol and Herceptin, and is now in complete remission.  Here’s a moving YouTube video where he talks about it.

Building a strong immune system is vitally important when fighting breast cancer.  If you’d like to know the best way to go about it, see my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-book on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

Powerful Natural Boosters For The Immune System

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / lemonade

Powerful Natural Boosters For The Immune System

If you are struggling to overcome breast cancer, it is important to understand the role of a strong immune system. It is vital that you know that there  are many powerful natural boosters for the immune system and that they enhance healing and help to stimulate the body’s natural healing defenses, making them perfect for use just prior to surgery, post-surgery and/or when you are going through chemotherapy and/or radiation.

The Importance Of A Strong Immune System

Once you are through with your treatments, building a strong immune system becomes even more important, to keep recurrences away.  Your immune system is your first line of defense against not only pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, but cancer cells.  If your immune system is under-reacting to an internal threat, cancer is often the result.

My Favorites To Build A Strong Immune System

Here’s my list of favorite supplements to build a strong immune system.  Please don’t use everything listed below all at the same time.  Always consult a health professional before embarking upon any regimen to get personalized recommendations for dosages and which of the following is best for you.

  • American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – a tonic herb, it can boost energy levels and decrease recovery time post-surgery.
  • Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) – has been studied recently for its immune stimulating effects, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits.  There’s a good article on it on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website [1].
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – an Ayurvedic herb useful for strengthening the immune system, it also combats the effects of stress, reduces anxiety and depression, and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)used for centuries by the Chinese, astragalus is a potent enhancer of the immune system.
  • Curcumin – a yellow pigment derived from the root spice turmeric, a powerful antioxidant. We have loads of research on its anti-cancer activity, and it decreases the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. [2]
  • Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) – boosts the immune system by increasing production of white blood cells which help fight disease.
  • Essential oils – vast quantities of research now exist proving beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly how essential oils can be used to enhance immunity. Nearly every single essential oil contains  phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that have research-backed anti-cancer and immune-stimulating properties. This is a vast subject, so if you’d like to know more about how to use essential oils – and which ones help the most, just subscribe to my newsletters. I share loads of great information in my free newsletters.
  • Glyconutrients – plant based and organic, these supply all eight of the simple sugars our cells require for proper communication, thus assisting with brain function, immune function, etc. When the cells are communicating better, everything starts working more optimally. What I like about them is that they help to create healthy stem cells. See my article Breast Cancer Stem Cells – Stopping Them In Their Tracks.
  • Goji or Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) – unlike some herbs, this one has good research [3], [4] which indicates its usefulness for increasing immunological responses.  Best taken in a juice as it tends to preserve the polysaccharide content that dried fruit does not contain. This is a great brand. The other brands I love are Young Living’s NingXia Red (you can get that from me) and Freelife GoChi. Of the 3, the NingXia Red and the GoChi taste the best and seem to work the best.
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) – a natural antibiotic, goldenseal contains the phytochemical berberine. It’s wonderful for helping to prevent and fight infections, it is a potent anti-inflammatory, helps boost white blood cells, and one 2010 study found that berberine inhibited the growth of two different types of breast cancer cells better than the chemo drug doxorubicine [5].
  • Green tea (Camellia sinensis) – contains potent antioxidant compounds that neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to the immune system. In addition, green tea stimulates the liver to secrete interferon, an immune compound that helps fight infection. To bolster immune function, drink 3 or more cups of organic green tea daily.
  • Medicinal mushrooms – amazing support for the immune system, see my article Medicinal Mushrooms – Fungi That Fight Cancer Cells for more information.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) – protects the liver from a toxic build-up of the drugs, chemicals and anesthetics used in surgery.  Milk thistle helps to relieve the constipation associated with surgery.
  • Pau d’arco (Tabebuia impetiginosa)- a South American herb that stimulates the immune system, helps to detoxify and speed up the healing process post-surgery, a natural antibacterial.
  • 4Life Transfer Factors – specially formulated to help immune cells identify health threats and speed up the immune response to those threats. Transfer factors work by transfering immune memory and knowledge from one entity to another, a rather different approach to immune system support. I’ve taken these myself, have recommended them for hundreds of others and  everyone loves them. This is the particular product I took.

It’s always a good idea to let your physician know exactly what you are taking in order to avoid any possible drug interactions.

References:

[1] https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/andrographis

[2] Curcumin Induces Cell Death and Restores Tamoxifen Sensitivity in the Antiestrogen-resistant Breast Cancer Cell Lines MCF-7/LCC2 and MCF-7/LCC9 — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23299550

[3] Immunomodulatory Effects of a Standardized Lycium Barbarum Fruit Juice in Chinese Older Healthy Human Subjects — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857084

[4] Lycium Barbarum Inhibits Growth of Estrogen Receptor Positive Human Breast Cancer Cells By Favorably Altering Estradiol Metabolism – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19373615

[5] The Alkaloid Berberine Inhibits the Growth of Anoikis-resistant MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cell Lines by Inducing Cell Cycle Arrest – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19800775

http://www.theherbcompanion.com

http://www.herbs.org/herbnews/category/herbs/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.  You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem and please be sure to consult your health care professional when making decisions about your health.

Health Benefits of Ganoderma Lucidum – Medicinal Mushrooms

Health Benefits of Ganoderma Lucidum Medicinal Mushrooms
Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum)

Continuing my series on medicinal mushrooms, today I’d like to introduce you to the Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum).  It’s quite an amazing looking mushroom.

For thousands of years, mushrooms have been used in Japan and China for their medicinal benefits. The Reishi mushroom is prized above all other varieties. Once reserved exclusively for members of the royal family, Reishi is often referred to as “the King of Mushrooms” in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Today, modern medical science is affirming the health benefits that Eastern cultures have known and enjoyed for generations.

Reishi’s Potential for Beneficial Impacts on Cancer Treatments

Reishi is used for a wide range of health conditions.  An overall Qi (energy) enhancer, Reishi is said to sharpen the mind and promote longevity.  Extensive research done on Reishi is proving that it has an abundance of positive benefits. Recently, several Japanese studies have confirmed that Reishi can be responsible for arresting metastatic cancer, and The Japanese Cancer Society has found Reishi to be effective against sarcomas, according to Terry Willard, internationally renowned clinical herbalist.

In clinical studies at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Raymond Chang reported that applications of Ganoderma should be considered for:

  • Chemoprophylaxis of cancer in individuals at high risk for developing cancer;
  • Adjuvant use in the prevention of metastasis or recurrence of cancer;
  • Palliation of cancer related cachexia;
  • Adjunctive use with concurrent chemotherapy to reduce side-effects, maintain leukocyte counts and allow a more optimal dosing of chemo or radio therapeutics.

So what is it that makes Reishi the most potent herb on the market today?  The active ingredients responsible for its healing, rejuvenating and beneficial implications are the polysaccharides, which are expressed at their highest power in the mushroom’s spores.

A study conducted by S. Zhao, G. Ye, et al found that Reishi has proven to be successful in the treatment of ovarian cancer.  In addition, Terry Willard writes that Reishi has the ability to stop the proliferation of many cancer cell lines in vitro, including:

  • Lymphocytic leukemia
  • Lung carcinoma
  • Hepatoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Cervix uteri tumor
  • Bladder cancer

Reishi is found to be effective in cancer when used as a supplement.  It helps reduce side effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, reduces pain, prolongs survival and minimizes metastasis, while improving overall quality of life and preventing occurrence or recurrence.  Reishi alone is not a cure-all for cancer but has been shown to be beneficial in most cases of malignancy, according to Chang’s research.

I have found a company here in the United States named True Reishi. I do not receive any benefits from recommending their product, I just wanted to share with you that this company offers the first 100% pure Reishi spore oil product cultivated from mushrooms grown on self-managed farmlands in China.  Because they own the farmlands, that provides a controlled environment that allows the company to grow the Reishi mushrooms in a way that upholds their strict standards.   Even the water used to feed these plants is carried through a pipe from a pristine mountaintop to ensure purity from the source.  The company has spent years cultivating the mushrooms and researching the best production methods to enhance their product’s healing benefits.

For more information on medicinal mushrooms, see my recent articles  Medicinal Mushrooms: Fungi That Fight Cancer Cells and  The Benefit Of Mushrooms and 6 Tips For Taking.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

The Benefit Of Mushrooms and 6 Tips For Taking

benefit of mushrooms1

Image source: stock.xchng and 13dede

There is quite a buzz in the cancer community about the benefit of mushrooms for cancer patients.  See my recent post Medicinal Mushrooms: Fungi That Fight Cancer Cells. Today I will share even more information on this topic, so read on, thrivers!

The Benefit of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are pretty fantastic for healing.  In addition to their culinary delights, many common mushrooms are a good source of protein, antioxidants, fiber, B vitamins (I believe they’re one of the only vegetarian sources of B12, though it is minimal) and also vitamin D, a vitamin that is known to be lacking in many breast cancer patients.

Research on mushrooms show that they have antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits with potent immune bolstering benefits.

The Magic Part of the Mushroom

The most potent and beneficial part of the mushroom is the mycelium – the part on the underside of the mushroom cap that you can see in the photo.  The mycelium contains the “magic” ingredients that confer so many health benefits.

The Chinese have been using mushrooms to support their health for thousands of years and you might not be aware of it but some widely used drugs in Western medicine are derived from mushrooms, penicillin being the most popular.

One Passionate Man and His Research

According to Paul Stamets, DSc, one of the world’s leading mycologists and author of “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World” there are about 150,000 species of mushrooms and that about 5% have “interesting nutritional or medicinal properties”.

Stamets was involved in the study “Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor in Women With Breast Cancer” and is on the advisory committee of the trial’s second phase.  Trametes versicolor (also known as turkey tail) improved the immune systems of breast cancer patients after chemotherapy and radiation.

Now that’s the kind of research I like to see – NOT involving synthetic drugs!

The best thing I wanted to share was that Paul Stamets’ own mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and given three months to live.  She took turkey tail mushrooms and is still with us, three years later, with no detectable tumors.  He speaks about her experience in this YouTube video and shares the dosage that she took. It must be stated that she was also taking the cancer drug Herceptin along with the mushroooms, but she is still alive and well and with us today. Inspiring!

6 Great Tips For Taking Mushroom Supplements For Healing

  1. Make sure the product you purchase has at least 10% to 12% polysaccharides
  2. Try to take only certified organic mushroom supplements – particularly if you have active cancer in your body
  3. See my post on which mushrooms have the most research to back them up
  4. Take a natural vitamin C supplement with your mushrooms to improve absorption
  5. Some are finding it helpful to take the mushroom supplement for a month, stop for a few days, then begin again
  6. According to the Phase 1 clinical trial mentioned above, up to 9 grams per day of Trametes versicolor was a safe and tolerable dose in women with breast cancer – that’s 9,000 mg!  Experiment with that for yourself though – start with a lesser dosage and work up to 9,000 mg to see how well you tolerate it.

Source article: Medicinal Mushroom Magic by Corinne Garcia, Energy Times Magazine, October 2012

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.

Researchers Discover Mushrooms Could Be Potent Natural Aromatase Inhibitors

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and salsachica
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and salsachica

Studies at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, California, suggest that fresh white mushrooms contain substances that could make them potent natural aromatase inhibitors.

I have been investigating natural aromatase inhibitors for several years because controlling the enzyme aromatase helps to decrease estrogen levels and this is important because the bulk of breast tumors are reliant upon estrogen to fuel their growth.

On June 6, 2012, I wrote an article titled Aromatase Inhibitors – Natural vs Toxic and listed the problems with the pharmaceutical variety of various aromatase inhibitors, as well as introducing quite a few natural ones that don’t produce the side effects that so many are struggling with.

Last week I was watching a PBS program titled “Dr Joel Fuhrman’s Immunity Solution”.  Dr Fuhrman is an American board-certified family physician who specializes in nutrition-based treatments for obesity and chronic disease and his presentation included a discussion of particular nutrients that exhibited anti-cancer benefits, so of course I took notes!

One thing he mentioned – and it was the first time I’d heard it – was that mushrooms are natural aromatase inhibitors.  So I went online to discover where the research originated and found the City of Hope research.

The Parameters of the Study

“Postmenopausal breast cancer survivors who were cancer free after completion of their treatments were enrolled in the trial.  Groups received a 12-week course of white button mushroom extract at 5, 8, 10 or 13 gram doses.  Because aromatase inhibition leads to a decrease in estrogen levels, a specific estrogen called estradiol was monitored and response was defined as a greater than 50 percent decrease in free estradiol levels in the blood circulation. Mushroom extract was well tolerated at all doses. However, no dose could be identified that met response criteria. In spite of this, a measurement of aromatase activity developed by Dr. Chen suggested some modest transient aromatase inhibition that lasted longest at the highest dose level (6 hours), suggesting that weak aromatase inhibition by mushrooms is achievable in patients, but that likely much higher amounts would be needed to achieve a clinically significant result.

That didn’t sound too hopeful, so I read a bit deeper and discovered that over the course of the 12 week study, while the researchers were able to observe phytochemical activity of the mushroom extract, it wasn’t at high enough concentrations to significantly reduce estrogen levels in patients.  They admitted that future studies should focus on more highly concentrated preparations of mushroom extract and perhaps change their focus to watching tissue levels of estrogens rather than circulating estrogen levels.

The unknown factors are dosage and whether we should take the mushrooms via extract in a vitamin form or by eating them fresh.  I have sent an email to the researchers at City of Hope and if I get a response, I will let you know!

Obviously further research needs to be done (and it may be underway right now) but I believe that since mushrooms are yummy anyway, they should be included in our daily diet, particularly because mushrooms have two other anti-cancer activities:

(1) they have antigen binding lectins which inhibit the growth of cancer cells; and

(2) they are angiogenesis inhibitors – tumors rely on the formation of new blood vessels to keep them growing and mushroom extracts have been shown to inhibit this growth.

Read my other articles on natural aromatase inhibitors.

Reference:

http://www.cityofhope.org/about/publications/news/Pages/city-of-hope-researchers-demonstrate-anti-cancer-effect-of-mushrooms-in-studies-at-2011-asco-annual-meeting.aspx

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Aromatase Inhibitors: Natural vs Toxic

 

aromatase inhibitors natural vs toxic
Photo of passionflower courtesy of stock.xchng and rdcock

Aromatase Inhibitors: Natural vs Toxic

I wanted to follow up my post of May 1, 2012 – The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment – with more information for you.

In that blog post, I’ve already described what aromatase inhibitors are, how they work, why doctors prescribe them and how the women that take them feel about them, so I won’t be covering those topics here. I want to present information on the differences between synthetic and natural aromatase inhibitors (let’s call them AIs for the sake of brevity).

Synthetic Aromatase Inhibitors

The main problem with synthetically produced AIs is the fact that they have unpleasant side effects.  One of the most prescribed, Arimidex, has a list of side effects that includes hot flashes, nausea, weakness or fatigue, headaches, arthritis, general pain, joint pain, sore throat, bone pain, back pain, cough, difficulty breathing, osteoporosis, vomiting, broken bones, insomnia, swelling or water retention in the arms or legs, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, high cholesterol, infections, weight gain, breast pain, dizziness, urinary tract infections, and loss of appetite.

Some of these side effects such as bone pain and arthritis may not go away even when use of the drug is discontinued.  Not particularly pleasant, by any means.  But then (I hear you saying) neither is BREAST CANCER!  Stay with me here.

Drugs are foreign substances that do not occur in nature.  Your liver must detoxify them and that places a strain on it.  Livers that are stressed from prolonged drug use can become enlarged and even cancerous.  Because drugs are foreign substances they don’t work synergistically with your body and your immune system mounts a defense against them.  Since the drug is taken daily, your immune system is continuously overworked and not available to do the job for which it was intended, which is keeping your body healthy and well.

Eventually the immune system is able to render these drugs ineffective.  Women who have relied on AIs to keep them safe from a recurrence of breast cancer are then left unprotected and uneducated as to what to do to protect themselves.

A research study done at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto compared AIs to Tamoxifen in post-menopausal women.   More than 30,000 breast cancer patients were involved in multiple trials to obtain their data. It was found that longer use of AIs led to more bone fractures and heart disease, while prolonged use of Tamoxifen resulted in higher rates of cancer of the womb and blood clots.  Although AIs were found to prevent breast cancer recurrence, they were not found to prolong life.

There is still one more problem regarding AIs.  They take the focus off the real issue which is why a breast cancer developed in the first place.  Since cancer is an obvious wake up call that something is radically wrong in the body, this something needs to be addressed!

AIs may keep breast cancer away for awhile, but how about the rest of the body?  If the conditions that promoted the breast cancer have not been addressed, there is danger of cancer to other organs and tissues as well as chance for other degenerative disease to get started because this is a body that has already exhibited a willingness to promote disease.

8 Natural Aromatase Inhibitors

These are the things found in nature – the things with which we were provided by nature for our pharmacy.  They don’t come with a myriad of side effects.  Most natural therapists agree: natural AIs are the only good choice for preventing breast cancer.

They work as effectively as drugs with none of those aforementioned side effects!  According to research conducted at the University of Munster in Germany, when women who have estrogen imbalances consume foods rich in natural AIs, breast cancer never gets the opportunity to begin.  Eating an unhealthy diet of processed and refined foods high in unhealthy fats, simple sugars, artificial sweeteners and other food chemicals will have the opposite effect.

      1. Quercetin – a powerful flavonoid easily obtainable from apples, cabbage, onions and garlic.
      2. Apigenin – another powerful flavonoid, found in ample supply in celery, parsley, artichokes, basil, and chamomile.
      3. Naringenin – a flavonoid with potent antioxidant benefits, you can get it in all citrus fruits.  However, be warned that you shouldn’t eat too much grapefruit or grapefruit juice because it has an inhibitory effect on cytochrome P450, an enzyme which is involved in breaking down and metabolizing sex hormones and preventing their excess accumulation in the body, so inhibiting it is not something you’d want to do.
      4. Oleuropein – a flavonoid that comes from the olive tree, found in abundance in olive leaves and oil.
      5. Vitamin D3 – the latest research indicates that vitamin D3 interferes with aromatase – see this article for the best way to obtain vitamin D3
      6. Mushroomscheck out my article on how mushrooms are being used as aromatase inhibitors.
      7. Keep your weight in check – The aromatase enzyme resides in fat cells. This is why being overweight is linked with breast and other hormone sensitive cancers. With fewer fat cells in the body, less unbalanced estrogen is produced.
      8. Prevent estrogen dominance – Natural therapists recommend getting your hormone levels checked and limit your exposure to xenoestrogens (see a list of them by clicking here).

Sources:
Website:http://www.annieappleseedproject.org/arindom.html
Book: “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer” by John R Lee, MD
Research paper: B Ebert et al, Phytochemicals Induce Breast Cancer Resistance Protein in Caco-2 Cells and Enhance Transport of Benzo [a] Pyrene-3 Sulfate, Toxicology Science, April, 2007.
Research paper: Pelissero C, Lenczowski MJ, Chinzi D, Davail-Cuisset B, Sumpter JP, Fostier Effects of flavonoids on aromatase activity, an in vitro study.  J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1996 Feb;57(3-4):215-23.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Medicinal Mushrooms: Fungi That Fight Cancer Cells

medicinal mushrooms
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and Rybson

Medicinal mushrooms are nothing new – the Chinese have been using them for thousands of years.  Recent research indicates that (among other things) these funky fungi have the ability to kill cancer cells.

There was a very interesting article earlier this year in the Huffington Post and it reminded me of my own experience with a natural supplement given to me by my Australian naturopath.  I was given some freeze-dried granules that contained some of the mushrooms listed below to boost my immune system and white blood cell count prior to undergoing 6 months of chemotherapy.  I took it the entire time of my chemotherapy regime and I truly believed it helped me a lot.  My white blood cell counts were usually within acceptable ranges so that I was able to continue with the chemo treatments.

Unfortunately, the product is not available here in the U.S. (I checked) but go to any health food store and you will find any number of supplements based on these amazing fungi. Don’t be afraid to eat them fresh too – put them in soups, stews, salads!

Here Are The 7 Best Medicinal Mushrooms:

  1. Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma tsugae) – Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors have long used this variety as a tonic, it improves vitality, strength and stamina and prolongs life. It is important in cancer treatment because it enhances immune response, alleviates chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and kidney damage, and protects cellular DNA by raising antioxidant capacity.  Its name means “supernatural mushroom”!
  2. Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) – this mushroom is found in many Asian cuisines. It is considered both a delicacy and a medicinal mushroom. Shiitake is widely used in alternative and complementary treatment of cancer in Japan due to its immune-enhancing functions. Lentinan, a compound found in Shiitake, is used as an intravenous anti-cancer drug with anti-tumor properties. Clinical studies have associated lentinan with a higher survival rate, higher quality of life and lower recurrence of cancer.
  3. Coriolus Versicolor (also known as Trametes versicolor and Polyporus versicolor, or Turkey Tail) – found in many parts of the world, it is one of the most studied medicinal mushrooms.  It  has been used in Chinese Medicine as a tonic for centuries.  Studies indicate that it improves survival rates and acts as an immune modulator with immune stimulating and anti-tumor properties. Some studies show that it can enhance the effects of chemotherapy and reduce the side effects of radiation treatments.
  4. Cordyceps Sinensis (also known as Ophiocordyceps sinensis or Chinese Caterpillar fungus) – this little delight acts as an immune stimulant by increasing T-Cells and Natural Killer Cells (useful for both cancer and AIDS patients).  It also prolongs the life of white blood cells, important for healing infections. It has anti-tumor effects and also protects the kidneys from the side effects of chemotherapy.  It is one of the most widely used tonics in anti-cancer formulas in Chinese Medicine.
  5. Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa) – another immune stimulator, it is widely used in Japanese cooking. Studies have shown that it is a powerful immune stimulant.  Maitake also protects cells with its antioxidant properties and decreases the inflammatory factor COX2 enzyme which is common in cancer physiology. Studies have also shown that Maitake has potential anti-metastatic properties inhibiting the proliferation and spread of cancer.
  6. Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) – used as a medicinal mushroom in Russian and Eastern European traditional medicine. Chaga has been studied as a potential anti-cancer agent, it contains betulin, a precursor to betulinic acid, which has been shown to inhibit cancer-promoting enzymes. It also promotes apoptosis, or the natural progression of programmed cell death.
  7. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) – a potent antioxidant, oyster mushrooms also have antibacterial and immune boosting abilities.

For more information on some specific tips on taking medicinal mushrooms, see my newer article.

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