By Dr. Mercola
Mushrooms contain incredibly effective all-natural immune boosters. Long-chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta-glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms' beneficial effect on your immune system.
In one study, for example, eating one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms daily for 28 days was found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.1
Now new research has also revealed that a shiitake mushroom extract may help to eliminate infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a finding that makes perfect sense, since a strong immune system is typically all that is needed to clear up an HPV infection.
Shiitake Mushroom Extract May Eliminate HPV Infection
The new study, which was presented at the 11th International Conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology, involved a shiitake mushroom extract known as active hexose correlated compound, or AHCC. It's often sold as a nutritional supplement for boosting immune function.
Ten women with HPV were given the mushroom extract. Three of the women took the extract daily for three months and eliminated the virus completely. They remained clear of HPV even one month later. Two other women taking the extract had declining levels of HPV, so they are continuing to take the substance for up to six months.2
The five remaining women, meanwhile, were assigned to take the extract for less than three months, which proved not long enough to clear the infection. The researchers are hopeful that all of the women will respond after six months of treatment. The study's lead investigator, Judith Smith, PharmD, told Medscape Medical News:
"Now we know that we need to give it at least 6 months to realize the full effect… This study confirms our preclinical findings, that it can eradicate HPV… We would also like to investigate at some point if AHCC can actually prevent infection, or prevent re-infection… We'd like to see if it can help build up the immune system to the point of resisting infection with HPV."
Interestingly, Dr. Smith has had inquiries from people asking if the mushroom extract might work to clear up genital warts caused by HPV as well. Since the extract has no side effects, she suggested they could go ahead and try it.
At least several people have confirmed so far that their lesions cleared up and have not returned.3 In addition to immune-boosting effects, shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate antiviral (including HIV, hepatitis, and the "common cold") activity, which explains why they may be a near-perfect natural treatment for HPV.
Mushrooms May Also Fight Cancer
The beauty of natural substances like mushrooms is that they typically offer multiple benefits. Shiitake mushroom extract, for instance, is known to have anti-tumor benefits as well. As Dr. Smith noted:4
"I had originally looked into AHCC for its anti-tumor benefits… Then as I learned more about its activity against various virus strains, I connected the dots to my cervical cancer research and HPV and thought of the big picture…
…a nutritional supplement to treat HPV infections would be an incredible, safe option and could easily be used to treat infections before they turn into cancer."
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) contain lentinan, the polysaccharide for which it was named. Lentinan has been isolated and used to treat stomach and other cancers due to its antitumor properties.
One of the more remarkable scientific studies demonstrating shiitake's antitumor effect was a Japanese animal study,5 where mice suffering from sarcoma were given shiitake extract. Six of 10 mice had complete tumor regression and with slightly higher concentrations, all 10 mice showed complete tumor regression. In addition:
- The compound lentinan in shitake mushrooms has been found to increase the survival rate of cancer patients6
- Extracts from maitake mushrooms, when combined with vitamin C, were shown to reduce the growth of bladder cancer cells by 90 percent, as well as kill them7
- In Japan the top two forms of alternative medicine used by cancer patients are a mushroom called Agaricus subrufescens and shiitake mushroom extract8
- Ganoderic acid in Reishi mushrooms may be useful in treating lung cancer9
4 Fascinating Facts About Mushrooms
Mushrooms are not only capable of bolstering immune function and potentially fighting cancer. Aside from being rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and minerals, mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants.
They contain polyphenols and selenium, which are common in the plant world, as well as antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a "master antioxidant." Here are four more facts about mushrooms that might surprise you:10
1. They Have Natural Umami Flavor
Umami is the natural flavor of glutamic acid, which, in your body is often found as glutamate; eating umami-rich foods may increase post-meal satiety, helping you eat less throughout the day and ultimately lose weight.
Shiitake mushrooms are particularly rich in umami flavor (this is why they're often used in place of meat in sandwiches), so try adding them to soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, and practically anything else.
2. They May Help You Lose Weight
Mushrooms are hearty and satisfying, yet low in calories in high in nutrition. Mushrooms can easily "bulk up" your meals without causing weight gain. One study found, in fact, that substituting red meat with white button mushrooms can help enhance weight loss.11
3. They're a Good Source of B Vitamins
Mushrooms provide valuable nutrients than many are deficient in, including B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. One dietary analysis found that mushroom consumption was associated with better diet quality and improved nutrition.12
4. Healthy Cholesterol Balance
The beta-glucans in mushrooms plays a role in fat metabolism and may help support healthy cholesterol levels. Shiitake also contains eritadenine, which has strong cholesterol-lowering properties.13
Boosting Your Immune System Is One of the Best Ways to Eliminate HPV
Getting back to HPV, it's likely that the shiitake extract helped to boost the participants' immune systems enough to help clear the HPV. It should be noted that in more than 90 percent of cases, your immune system can clear up an HPV infection within two years on its own.
But in the case of the featured study, the researchers specifically looked for persistent infections that did not appear likely to clear on their own. Even in those cases, most of the time HPV persistence was neutralized by the immune-boosting and anti-viral effects of the mushroom extract.
You can certainly try mushroom extract, or simply eating more organically grown mushrooms, to boost your own immune system, but it's also important to engage in immune-boosting habits, like eating the foods described in my nutrition plan, exercising and optimizing your vitamin D levels.
One of the simplest steps you can take is to eliminate your consumption of sugar and most non-vegetable carbohydrates. The over-abundance of many processed foods in the typical Western diet simultaneously enhance inflammation while muting your immune system's ability to respond to and ultimately control infections.
Eliminating processed foods from your diet might seem overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. Start slowly with this "bite-sized" step: swap out one of your processed-food meals (or even a snack) with homemade fermented foods. You can try a kefir smoothie (blend kefir with frozen berries and, if you like, a couple of organic raw eggs) or a serving of fermented veggies or kimchi. You can find step-by-step instructions to make your own fermented vegetables at home here. Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented veggies, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health, including that of your immune system.
Do You Know the Risks of the HPV Vaccine?
By Sept. 14, 2014, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil had generated more than 33,000 adverse reaction reports to the US government, including 158 deaths.14 This is probably a gross underestimate, because, although a federal law was passed in 1986 (the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) mandated that doctors and other vaccine providers report serious health problems or deaths that occur after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), there are no legal penalties for not reporting. It is estimated that less than 10 percent, perhaps less than 1 percent, of all serious vaccine adverse events that occur in the US are ever reported to VAERS.
Health problems associated with the Gardasil vaccine include immune-mediated inflammatory neurodegenerative disorders, suggesting that something is causing the immune system to overreact in a detrimental way—sometimes fatally. The truth is that a growing body of medical literature is showing the HPV vaccine is linked to nervous and immune system disorders in some young women and girls. In one recent case study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine,15 researchers described the case of a 14-year-old girl who developed postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) with chronic fatigue two months following Gardasil vaccination.
POTS is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions in your body such as your heart rate, balance, digestion, bladder control, and sleep. While rare, incidence of POTS appears to be increasing and emerging evidence suggests it may be an autoimmune disorder, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. In the case study, POTS fulfilled the criteria for a condition known as autoimmune/auto-inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA), highlighting the underlying mechanisms of how vaccines, and particularly their adjuvants (such as aluminum), may be triggering disease.
A second study, published in the European Journal of Neurology,16 described six patients who developed POTS from six days to two months following HPV vaccination. Please be aware that there is very little evidence that the very real risks of HPV vaccination are outweighed by the purported benefits. In 2012, a systematic review of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine by researchers at University of British Columbia showed that the vaccine's effectiveness is not only overstated (through the use of selective reporting or "cherry picking" data) but also unproven.17
Routine Pap Smears Help to Prevent Cervical Cancer
Gardasil is now recommended by public health officials as a routine vaccination for young girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 and also for boys between the ages of 11 and 21, who are advised to get it for partial protection against genital warts and cancers of the penis and rectum to reduce transmission of HPV, thereby preventing cervical cancer deaths (which is highly questionable) and cancers reported to be associated with chronic HPV infection. However, this is all highly questionable when you consider the fact that HPV infections in most people do not persist and lead to cancer and, instead, clear up on their own within two years.
There's no treatment necessary and often no adverse health effects in 90 percent or more of HPV infections that people experience because most HPV infections do NOT become chronic and associated with cancer! Likewise, cervical cancer accounts for less than ONE percent of all cancer deaths in the US, while anal cancer claims the lives of approximately 300 Americans each year. So, HPV vaccine is certainly not aimed at any major public health threat, no matter which way you look at it. If you are a parent, it is important to educate your pre-teens and teenagers so they know that the risks of getting or transmitting HPV infection can be greatly reduced by choosing abstinence or use of condoms.
Furthermore, even for those who do get HPV vaccinations, there are still recommendations for girls and women to have pap screens every few years to detect any cervical changes that may indicate pre-cancerous lesions because there is little guarantee that either Gardasil or Cervarix (another HPV vaccine) will prevent chronic HPV infection or cervical and other cancers. Routine pap smear testing is a far more rational, less expensive, and less dangerous strategy for cervical cancer prevention, as it can identify chronic HPV infection and may provide greater protection against development of cervical cancer than blind faith in and reliance on HPV vaccinations.
Cervical cancer cases have dropped more than 70 percent in the US since pap screening became a routine part of women's health care in the 1960s, as it can detect pre-cancerous cervical lesions early so they can be effectively removed and treated. Risk factors that increase your chances of developing chronic HPV infection include:
- Co-infection with herpes, chlamydia, or HIV
- Having multiple sex partners
- Compromised immunity
- Long term use of hormonal contraceptives
Most of these are modifiable risk factors. Also, as mentioned previously, you can help boost your immune system health to help reduce your risk of contracting infections and developing complications by following my sensible nutrition plan.
Your Right to Informed Consent Is Under Attack
I cannot stress enough how critical it is to get involved and stand up for your fundamental human right to exercise informed consent to medical risk-taking and your legal right to obtain non-medical vaccine exemptions. This does not mean you have to opt out of all vaccinations if you decide that you want to get HPV vaccine or one or more other vaccines. The point is that everyone should have the right to evaluate the potential benefits and real risks of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, and opt out of getting any vaccine or drug they decide is unnecessary or not in the best interest of their health or their child's health.
While it seems "old-fashioned," the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and legally obtain vaccine exemptions is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community. Vaccine use recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choices can have the greatest impact.
Signing up for the National Vaccine Information Center's free online Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org not only gives you immediate, easy access to your state legislators so you can become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community, but when state and national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips to make sure your voice is heard. So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Contact Your Elected Officials
Write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. Call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don't let them forget you! It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state. These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what's really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the "real life" experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.
Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know
If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story. I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story.
Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it. We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We should be treating people like human beings instead of guinea pigs.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at www.NVIC.org:
- NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
- If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
- Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors, employers, or school officials for making independent vaccine choices.
Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One Who Will Listen and Care
If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination. However, there is hope.
At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines. So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for you or your child.