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.
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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.
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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
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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:
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”!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) – a potent antioxidant, oyster mushrooms also have antibacterial and immune boosting abilities.
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