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.
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
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The 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.
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
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.
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 (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach). It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!
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 .
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. 
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 (Lyciumbarbarum) – unlike some herbs, this one has good research ,  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. The brands I love are Young Living’s NingXia Red (you can get that from me) and Freelife GoChi. Both taste amazing and are super easy to take and work the best for boosting immunity.
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 .
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.
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 transferring 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. You can get them from me. Contact me for more information.
It’s always a good idea to let your physician know exactly what you are taking in order to avoid any possible drug interactions.
 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
 Immunomodulatory Effects of a Standardized Lycium Barbarum Fruit Juice in Chinese Older Healthy Human Subjects — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857084
 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
 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
Make sure the product you purchase has at least 10% to 12% polysaccharides
Try to take only certified organic mushroom supplements – particularly if you have active cancer in your body
Take a natural vitamin C supplement with your mushrooms to improve absorption
Some are finding it helpful to take the mushroom supplement for a month, stop for a few days, then begin again
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.
My favorite supplements come from Host Defense, Paul Stamets’ own company – so you know, being the well-known mushroom guru that he is, they are organically grown, the right way. I particularly like “My Community“, a blend of 18 medicinal mushrooms, and my other favorite is “Stamets 7“, a blend of 7 mushrooms. They are both awesome for boosting immunity and helping to keep cancer away. I switch off between them, especially in the winter.
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
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.
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About Marnie Clark
Hi I'm Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor, and breast cancer coach. I have 20+ years of experience in natural medicine. In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.
I've been healthy and recurrence-free since 2004 and in 2012 I became a Breast Cancer Coach because I became aware of the fact that whilst there is now a wealth of information on the Internet, much of it is confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just wrong!
Why should you work with me? Because:
(1) You don't want to go through this journey alone, feeling unempowered, frightened or just plain
clueless about what to do to help yourself.
(2) You will have someone working tirelessly on your behalf, putting together a healing plan for
you so you don’t have to lose your precious energy researching what food you should eat,
what supplements you should take, and what other things you can do that will give you the
best chances for survival. Instead you can spend that time resting, meditating, healing.
(3) You will learn what questions to ask your doctor (and have someone to turn to for the
questions they can't or won't answer).
(4) You will be armed with the tools and strategies you will need to get through the therapies you
choose so you can make your body hostile terrain for cancer.
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.