Integrative oncology

Integrative Oncology and Myco-Medicine

22 minutos

Integrative oncology and myco-medicine are evolving areas of medical study. 

Myco-medicine, which combines mushrooms with integrative medical practices, focuses on the natural, and proven healing abilities of mushrooms, as the key to supplementing pharmaceutical and other healthcare treatments. Myco-medicine exists in Asian countries for thousands of years. 

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The term “myco” refers to fungi, using fruiting spores, bodies, and tissues of medicinal fungi, alongside the bioactive compounds extracted from mushrooms. The bioactive compounds in mushrooms include triterpenoids, and polysaccharides. And substances like beta-glucans and phenols, sterols, proteins, and peptides as well. 

Medicinal fungi have the potential to improve immune system response and reduce metastatic potential. These substances are currently being thoroughly researched for the ability to reduce the development of cancer cells, and can improve the quality of life of these patients. 

Today, various kinds of anti-cancer drugs are already in development from the extracts of mushrooms like Grifola frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum, among others. 

Bringing Fungi into Integrative Oncology

Strategies for the use of myco-medicine in integrative oncology focuses on use of various kinds of mushrooms. Medical mushrooms are the species within the fungi ecosystem which contain compounds and substances capable of eliciting a medical response. 

The use of mushrooms in medical practice is not a new concept. In the eastern world, medical treatments frequently include the use of various healing mushrooms. Within the western landscape, we’re familiar with the use of fungi for the creation of antibiotics and antiviral medications. Mushrooms are at the heart of penicillin, for instance. 

Scientific studies have proven the potential of fungi compounds in the treatment of cancer, infections, chronic diseases, allergies, and various ailments. Medicinal mushrooms are suitable for immunomodulation, as well as the prevention of excessive inflammation. Various fungi components from myco-medicine can be defined as:

  • Hepatoprotective
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-hypercholesterolemic
  • Anti-parasitic
  • Anti-tumour

Perhaps the most compelling treatment option using medical mushrooms relates to their functionality within integrative oncology. The practice of integrative oncology involves using various natural and holistic treatments alongside conventional pharmaceutical methods for the treatment of cancer.

In integrative oncology, mushrooms are not just a superfood. They are also a powerhouse of anti-oxidation, immunomodulation and cell management. Which can strengthen the body’s response to cancer. 

Integrative oncology help cancer

Can Mushrooms Help Cancer? Myco-Medicine

With more than 50,000 species of mushrooms available worldwide, a great deal of study is necessary to discover the full potential of myco-medicine. Certain mushroom species are more effective than others at assisting with medical conditions. These mushrooms have extractable compounds capable of improving brain performance, reducing hormone imbalance, and more. 

Myco-medicine can even assist with the balancing and management of the gut microbiota. Experts believe microbiota is directly connected to the performance of the immune system and the overall health of the human body. Medicinal mushrooms contain over 150 bioactive compounds. These offer up to 126 medical functions, many of which are suitable for integrative oncology. 

Beta-glucans, for instance, are compounds within medical mushrooms that can support immunomodulation. These substances significantly improve the activity of the immune system. Thus, ensuring that the body can respond positively to the use of chemotherapy and other pharmaceutical treatments for cancer. 

Beta-glucans, unlike standard pharmaceutical drugs, are adaptogens. They are capable of adjusting their performance according to the specific needs of the body. This ensures that the myco-medicine solutions used in integrative oncology can adapt to suit various kinds of cancer. 

By improving immune system response on a higher level, the myco-medicine components of an integrative oncology approach can reduce the risk of opportunistic infections emerging during chemotherapy treatments. Myco-medicine can further assist with improving quality of life for oncological patients. And also of other people suffering from chronic disease. Myco-medical studies are increasingly justifying the use of mushrooms to enhance chemotherapy and radiotherapy outcomes. While reducing pain, nausea, and other side effects in patients. 

Myco-Medicine and the Immune Response

Myco-medicine treatments in integrative oncology are demonstrating they reduce the spread of cancer and prevent the recurrence of cancerous cells. Beta-glucans in mushrooms support the outcome of treatment. Around the world, myco-medicine has been approved as an anti-cancer solution. Turkey tail is one of the most referenced mushrooms suitable for cancer prevention and treatment support. It contains high levels of PSK (Polysaccharide-K).

PSK stimulates immune system performance and assists in killing cancer cells. After intensive study in Japan, the turkey tail mushroom extract has been approved as a prescription drug for cancer treatment in Japan, capable of significantly improving the survival rate of patients with certain cancerous growths.

Further study reveals:

  • A study in breast cancer patients treated previously with radiotherapy showed that the dried mycelia of the T-Versicolor mushroom could actively increase the number of lymphocytes.
  • Research into 100 patients with cancer of the ovaries, cervix and endometrium found that Agaricus Brasiliensis Murill could significantly increase the natural killer cells in the body.
  • Patients with stage II and III of colorectal cancer were found to see a significant improvement in cancer-killing cells using the PSK extract found in Coriolus mushrooms. This study also revealed a reduction in acid-supressing proteins, and reduction in the risk of recurrence.
  • In children with solid tumours and leukaemia aged between 2 and 18, G. Lucidum induced better overall response to treatment. 

Studies examining the impact of mushrooms and myco-medicine on immune response pathways and tumour reduction are overwhelmingly positive. The immune effects of myco-medicine are largely mediated through the stimulation of immune cells like natural killer cells, monocytes and dendric cells. This activity is empowered by the high presence of beta-glucans in mushrooms. 

Clinical trials into cancer patients find that G.lucidum and similar Myco-medicine products are well tolerated, leading to minimal side effects in patients, and even a reduction in chemotherapy side effects, thereby increasing quality of life. 

Integrative Oncology and Myco-Medicine for Various Cancers

There are numerous strains of mushroom currently showing promise for integrative oncology treatment, including Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Reishi, and Maitake. Each of these mushrooms has a unique composition that assists with certain problems. 

Some of most studied mushrooms for myco-medicine include:

Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)

Reishi mushrooms can assist patients in tolerating radiation and chemotherapy more easily. Oncological patients treated with this mushroom can see a significant increase in lymphocytes. Reishi also contains biologically active compounds against the oestrogen-mediated system for signally in tumour cells, reducing the potential growth of tumours for breast cancer patients. Reishi mushrooms are also effective for reducing inflammation and pain in patients going through treatment. Because Reishi mushrooms contain high levels of beta-glucans, they further support the immune response in breaking down cancer cells. Reishi can even reduce chemotherapy side effects and kidney damage. 

Grifola Frondosa (Maitake)

Maitake mushrooms enhance the immune response significantly with high doses of beta-glucans. This mushroom extract helps in integrative oncology with preventing secondary infections. The extract of this mushroom is also proven to deliver regression in cancer of up to 68.8% for patients with breast cancer. The Maitake mushroom also assists in protecting cells with antioxidant properties, and reducing inflammation factors from the COX-2 enzyme, commonly found in cancer physiology. 

Coriolus Versicolor (Coriolus)

Turkey tail mushroom, or Coriolus Versicolor is among the highest recommended myco-medicine choices for integrative oncology. This substance contains high amounts of the Polysaccharide-K compound, which significantly increases the survival rates of patients with various kinds of cancer, often by around 9%. Used in combination with chemotherapy, this treatment enhances survival rates, and is commonly used as a prescribed solution in Japan. 

Lentinula edodes (Shiitake)

Otherwise known as Letinula Edodes, Shiitake mushrooms contain the Active Hexose Correlated Compound, which has been deemed effective in reducing the adverse side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. This compound extract is particularly effective at improving the outcomes of treatment for patients with Ovarian and Peritoneal cancer. Lentinan, a further compound found within Shiitake mushroom also assists with breaking down cancer cells in tumours. 

Hericium erinaceus (Lions’ mane)

Lion’s mane mushroom reduces the growth of liver, gastric, and colon cancer cells in the body. The substance also improves the performance of the immune system on a significant level and reduces precancerous cell growth. Lion’s mane can further reduce inflammation in patients with chronic conditions and pain following chemotherapy. 

One significant area worth exploring with integrative oncology and myco-medicine, is the role that mushrooms play in the preservation and support of the microbiota. Research indicates that the microbiota of women with breast cancer generally differs from that of healthy women. This indicates there may be a connection between the bacteria of the gut and the response a woman can have to cancer therapy. One of the most prominent functions of gut microbiota is the further regulation of the steroid-hormone metabolism, such as oestrogen, which is important in the development of Breast Cancer, and the risk levels of these patients. 

Integrative-oncology-myco-medicine

Integrative Oncology and Quality of Life

Crucially, the results of study into myco-medicine and integrative oncology note that the use of mushrooms in cancer treatment are useful for more than just improved response to treatment. The use of medicinal mushrooms also improves the nutritional status of patients, improving their immune response, overall wellness, and ability to cope with a chronic illness. 

Studies into patients with cancer of the cervix, endometrium and ovary system found that the use of certain mushroom extracts could improve the quality of life for patients by reducing hair loss (alopecia), improving emotional stability, and reducing feelings of weakness. Mushroom extracts can further improve general appetite, while reducing abdominal pain and nausea. 

Study into the quality of life of patients with hormonal treatments have also been observed. 48 patients with breast cancer found that the spore dust of Ganoderma Lucidum could significantly improve feelings of wellbeing, and reduce fatigue, anxiety, and depression. 

Before treatment, myco-medicine can be effective for the prevention of cell growth and symptom management. During chemotherapy, integrative oncology with mushrooms reduces the toxicity associated with radio and chemotherapy treatments, therefore improving quality of life and side effect severity. The chaga mushroom, for instance, reduces oxidative stress, which helps to reduce the growth of cancer cells. However, it can also support the body in maintaining stronger levels of energy. 

The Reishi mushroom frequently recommended for integrative oncology is also suitable for reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, which are common side effects when dealing with a chronic condition. 

Choosing the Correct Adjuvant Treatment

Integrative oncology promises a unique solution to many cancer treatments issues. Through myco-medicine it is possible to improve the survival rates for patients with various strains of cancer, as well as enhancing wellbeing and quality of life at the same time. Professionals must seek high quality products to achieve their goals, 

High-quality extracts are necessary to achieve the highest bioavailability of cancer fighting compounds. Organic solutions with standardized bioactive molecules and no artificial additives are crucial. Quality integrative oncology treatments feature myco-medicine with:

  • Certifications: Myco-medicine treatments must be free from maltodextrins, heavy metals, artificial colourings, and toxic substances.
  • Standardised extracts: Highly concentrated ratios are essential to achieve the best levels of bioactive ingredients. 
  • Vegetable capsules: Clean and toxin-free capsules allow for better access to the compounds within. The capsule sealing system must also keep the mushroom constituents intact during the packaging process. 

The Future of Myco-medicine and Integrative Oncology

Myco-medicine is increasingly gaining a stronger position within the world of integrative oncology. As studies continue to develop, we are gaining better scientific insights into what’s possible with the correct molecules and compounds. Myco-medicine applied to integrative oncology is increasingly improving the wellbeing of patients with cancer diagnoses, while improving survival rates. 

We are currently contributing to a growing system of positive evidence highlighting the performance of certain bioactive molecules in medicinal mushrooms, while supporting the development of ecologically sustainable practices for medical research. Going forward, it seems increasingly likely that myco-medicine will be a crucial component of all integrative oncology strategies intended to improve patient quality of life and treatment outcomes. 

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Martin Auerswald is a Biochemist, molecular Biotechnologist and Mycotherapist. He has also gained experience in clinical research (University Hospital Erlangen). Martin reaches hundreds of thousands of people every month by developing new content through Germany's largest online health congress (Immunabwehr-Kongress) and his work as editor-in-chief in various online magazines.

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