Dr. Lisa A. Price, ND

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Medicinal Mushrooms and Other Tales of Fungi

www.drlisapricend.comxavihuxupd6uid3dnequvki9kptevycf.jpg

As the song goes, I wasn't looking, but somehow they found me. It's a tale of how my professional career has seemingly revolved around, been influenced by and now inspired by mushrooms.

 

In the mid '80's I entered an undergraduate school to study environmental microbiology and biochemistry. It was a forestry school, though I was not studying forestry, I had to meet certain forestry remnant requirements like ento

 

mology and dendrology to graduate. This also included a four week long intensive study on an island in the Adirondacks studying mycology (fungi;mushrooms).

 

My intent was to be one of those scientists who helped to support a clean planet. My Master of Science focus was on finding a bacterium that degraded lignin -- that brown stuff that mostly left as a tree or stump decays. It is the hardest portion to convert back to soil, and also hardest to handle by paper manufacturing companies which spend thousands of dollars on solvents. Those solvents and the lignin waste that result are toxic waste. We were looking for a biological way to do the same thing. I found a couple of bacterium in the process, but none were as effective or efficient as fungi for doing the job.

 

Directly after I finished my MS work I landed in a laboratory studying a very important fungi in the paper and pulp industry. This would be my life for approximately two years.

 

In 2005, I was awarded an National Institute of Health Research fellowship where we studied the effects of a natural product on the immune systems of healthy patients and those burdened by breast cancer. The natural product: mushrooms! Not any mushrooms but medicinal mushrooms all used for centuries by peoples of Asia, and many not in the form of fleshy mushrooms that we are familiar with.

 

Ethnobotanists and researchers really got serious about looking at the mushrooms mechanism of actions (i.e. the way they work) when they noticed that people in rural areas were using the mushrooms to treat themselves for various ailments. The health affects were curious enough that they documented how they were used and for what folk traditions they were used for, packed them up and took them into basic science laboratories.

 

Over the course of 45 to 50 years scientists primarily in Japan, but throughout the world discovered that certain mushrooms like Reishi, Turkey tail, Maitake and Shiitake have elements called polysaccharides in them. Polysaccharides is just another name for 'many sugars'. These are not the same kind of sugar as refined white sugar, its way more complex. It has a protein core and then many sugars branching out appearing like a test tube brush.

 

What the scientists found, which includes myself, is that these polysaccharides attach to certain receptors on immune cells (Natural Killer, CD8, macrophage and T helper 1) and make them more aggressive.

 

This is particularly important for cancer patients. Solid tumors create a microenvironment around themselves that causes these cells, once they are in the vicinity, to become 'sleepy' and less effective at locating pre cancerous and cancerous cells and ridding the body of them. What research has shown is that when these polysaccharides attach to the receptors, even within the microenvironment of the solid tumors, the immune cell are more effective at doing their jobs. As a result of research done by scientists, the Japanese pharmaceutical companies manufacture a purified version of the polysaccharide called PSK which is administered during chemotherapy to help with immunity.

 

In terms of colds, flu and viruses the same has been found to be the case, so these mushrooms are often used during cold and flu season too.

 

The research of medicinal mushrooms continues to this day at several respected scientific institutions. For more information on research published you should head over to PubMed and type in the keyword: medicinal mushrooms.

 

Wild mushrooms contain a variable amount of polysaccharides. Those containing the least are button mushrooms. As mentioned Shiitake, and Maitake contain a good amount, and a variety called Lion's Mane contains a good source and is used for by some for conditions involving neurological conditions.

 

Every fall and spring I enjoy forging for mushrooms and preparing them. Take a look at the recipe section of my blog and you will find a recipe or two there. I'll post one of my favorites from my book 'Cooking through Cancer Treatment to Recovery' -- Wild Mushroom Pate with Walnuts.

  • 268

Metabolic Syndrome: Are you at Risk?

A blog or two ago I wrote about the scientific connection between metabolic syndrome and increased risk for developing some forms of cancer, and increased chance of remission. Controlling metabolic syndrome is of particular importance to BRCA postive and Lynch syndrome identified carriers who are looking for ways to prevent cancer, and those cancer survivors looking to increase remission rates.

 

Ever the optimist I wanted to address how we can reverse and/or prevent the syndrome. Let's take a closer look at what it is.

 

Metabolic syndrome looks a lot like pre-diabetes with elevations in blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c values. However, even before these numbers begin to be abnormal, there are other  signs that this condition id developing.

 

Signs that one may be developing metabolic syndrome include:

 

- Increased waist line/girth (most often the greatest weight gain is along the waist)

- Increased blood pressure

- Increased blood sugar levels

- History of yo-yo dieting

-High levels of stress

- Pro-inflammatory states

 

The causes often include internal and external stress, disordered eating patterns, weight gain, inactivity, as well as depression or general disharmony.

 

So what can we do about these? I advise to start by taking a couple of weeks to exam life patterns and determine where small changes can be made.

 

Many people successfully adding a daily walk to their routines, as well as some limited dietary change like adding more fiber (simply adding a daily fruit or even a bean dish a couple times a week), or slowly decreasing the amount of simple carbohydrate one eats.

 

Interestingly enough one of the hardest issues to get a grip on what makes us happy/harmonious and what stands in the way of that happening. Its a great question to take your time with, and one worth considering. After all being stressed and unhappy can lead to suppression of the vitally important immune system.

  • 196
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Medicinal Mushrooms and Other Tales of Fungi

www.drlisapricend.comxavihuxupd6uid3dnequvki9kptevycf.jpg

As the song goes, I wasn't looking, but somehow they found me. It's a tale of how my professional career has seemingly revolved around, been influenced by and now inspired by mushrooms.

 

In the mid '80's I entered an undergraduate school to study environmental microbiology and biochemistry. It was a forestry school, though I was not studying forestry, I had to meet certain forestry remnant requirements like ento

 

mology and dendrology to graduate. This also included a four week long intensive study on an island in the Adirondacks studying mycology (fungi;mushrooms).

 

My intent was to be one of those scientists who helped to support a clean planet. My Master of Science focus was on finding a bacterium that degraded lignin -- that brown stuff that mostly left as a tree or stump decays. It is the hardest portion to convert back to soil, and also hardest to handle by paper manufacturing companies which spend thousands of dollars on solvents. Those solvents and the lignin waste that result are toxic waste. We were looking for a biological way to do the same thing. I found a couple of bacterium in the process, but none were as effective or efficient as fungi for doing the job.

 

Directly after I finished my MS work I landed in a laboratory studying a very important fungi in the paper and pulp industry. This would be my life for approximately two years.

 

In 2005, I was awarded an National Institute of Health Research fellowship where we studied the effects of a natural product on the immune systems of healthy patients and those burdened by breast cancer. The natural product: mushrooms! Not any mushrooms but medicinal mushrooms all used for centuries by peoples of Asia, and many not in the form of fleshy mushrooms that we are familiar with.

 

Ethnobotanists and researchers really got serious about looking at the mushrooms mechanism of actions (i.e. the way they work) when they noticed that people in rural areas were using the mushrooms to treat themselves for various ailments. The health affects were curious enough that they documented how they were used and for what folk traditions they were used for, packed them up and took them into basic science laboratories.

 

Over the course of 45 to 50 years scientists primarily in Japan, but throughout the world discovered that certain mushrooms like Reishi, Turkey tail, Maitake and Shiitake have elements called polysaccharides in them. Polysaccharides is just another name for 'many sugars'. These are not the same kind of sugar as refined white sugar, its way more complex. It has a protein core and then many sugars branching out appearing like a test tube brush.

 

What the scientists found, which includes myself, is that these polysaccharides attach to certain receptors on immune cells (Natural Killer, CD8, macrophage and T helper 1) and make them more aggressive.

 

This is particularly important for cancer patients. Solid tumors create a microenvironment around themselves that causes these cells, once they are in the vicinity, to become 'sleepy' and less effective at locating pre cancerous and cancerous cells and ridding the body of them. What research has shown is that when these polysaccharides attach to the receptors, even within the microenvironment of the solid tumors, the immune cell are more effective at doing their jobs. As a result of research done by scientists, the Japanese pharmaceutical companies manufacture a purified version of the polysaccharide called PSK which is administered during chemotherapy to help with immunity.

 

In terms of colds, flu and viruses the same has been found to be the case, so these mushrooms are often used during cold and flu season too.

 

The research of medicinal mushrooms continues to this day at several respected scientific institutions. For more information on research published you should head over to PubMed and type in the keyword: medicinal mushrooms.

 

Wild mushrooms contain a variable amount of polysaccharides. Those containing the least are button mushrooms. As mentioned Shiitake, and Maitake contain a good amount, and a variety called Lion's Mane contains a good source and is used for by some for conditions involving neurological conditions.

 

Every fall and spring I enjoy forging for mushrooms and preparing them. Take a look at the recipe section of my blog and you will find a recipe or two there. I'll post one of my favorites from my book 'Cooking through Cancer Treatment to Recovery' -- Wild Mushroom Pate with Walnuts.

  • 268

Metabolic Syndrome: Are you at Risk?

A blog or two ago I wrote about the scientific connection between metabolic syndrome and increased risk for developing some forms of cancer, and increased chance of remission. Controlling metabolic syndrome is of particular importance to BRCA postive and Lynch syndrome identified carriers who are looking for ways to prevent cancer, and those cancer survivors looking to increase remission rates.

 

Ever the optimist I wanted to address how we can reverse and/or prevent the syndrome. Let's take a closer look at what it is.

 

Metabolic syndrome looks a lot like pre-diabetes with elevations in blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c values. However, even before these numbers begin to be abnormal, there are other  signs that this condition id developing.

 

Signs that one may be developing metabolic syndrome include:

 

- Increased waist line/girth (most often the greatest weight gain is along the waist)

- Increased blood pressure

- Increased blood sugar levels

- History of yo-yo dieting

-High levels of stress

- Pro-inflammatory states

 

The causes often include internal and external stress, disordered eating patterns, weight gain, inactivity, as well as depression or general disharmony.

 

So what can we do about these? I advise to start by taking a couple of weeks to exam life patterns and determine where small changes can be made.

 

Many people successfully adding a daily walk to their routines, as well as some limited dietary change like adding more fiber (simply adding a daily fruit or even a bean dish a couple times a week), or slowly decreasing the amount of simple carbohydrate one eats.

 

Interestingly enough one of the hardest issues to get a grip on what makes us happy/harmonious and what stands in the way of that happening. Its a great question to take your time with, and one worth considering. After all being stressed and unhappy can lead to suppression of the vitally important immune system.

  • 196