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Sept 12, 2012 by JOHN SUMMERLY
Mushroom Compound Exhibits Immune-Boosting Anti-Cancer Properties

The study -- published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine -- reveals that the compound polysaccharo-peptide (PSP) found in the Coriolus versicolor mushroom has anti-cancer and immune boosting properties.

The Coriolus versicolor mushroom, commonly known as the Yunzhi mushroom, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. Many studies haves suggested that compound PSP has immune-boosting properties, though as yet, although theorized, there is much more evidence needed to definitively prove a strong anti-cancer effect.

Mushrooms have been used for at least 5000 years for nutritional and medicinal purposes. Anti-viral and anti-cancer effects have been demonstrated in more than 50 species through animal and in vitro studies. Six components of these mushrooms have been investigated for their activity in human cancers: the lentinan component of shiitake, schizophyllan, active hexose correlated compound (AHCC), maitake D-fraction and two components of Coriolus versicolor.

Coriolus versicolor is an extremely common polypore mushroom which can be found throughout the world. Versicolor means 'of several colours' and it is true that this mushroom is found in a wide variety of different colours as depicted in the image above. It is also recognized as a medicinal mushroom in Chinese medicine under the name yun zhi.

Polysaccharide-K (PSK), is a protein-bound polysaccharide isolated from Trametes versicolor, which is used as an immune system boosting agent in the treatment of cancer in some European countries as well as China and Japan. In Japan, PSK is approved as an adjuvant for cancer therapy and is covered by government health insurance.

PSK displays anticancer activity from preliminary laboratory assessments in vitro, in vivo and in human clinical trials. Preliminary research has shown that the PSK might reduce mutagen-induced, radiation-induced, and spontaneously-induced development of experimental cancer cell preparations.

PSK has shown to be beneficial as an adjuvant in the treatment of gastric, esophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancers. Preliminary human clinical trials indicate PSK might reduce cancer recurrence when used as an adjuvant and other basic research has demonstrated the mushroom can inhibit certain human cancer cell lines in vitro. Further in vitro studies have shown that a nutraceutical blend (MC-S) of PSK, lentinan and other fungal extracts might also inhibit cancer cell proliferation under laboratory conditions.

In 1989, two investigators at the U. S. National Cancer Institute (Jong and Donovick) published a review of antitumor and antiviral substances from fungi including Coriolus versicolor. This review noted seven studies and two U. S. patents issued for polysaccharides extracted from Coriolus versicolor. One extract was a polysaccharide-protein (proteoglycan) known as polysaccharide Kurcha (PSK or Krestin), and it had been found to be effective in the treatment of Ehrlich carcinoma and sarcoma 180 tumors in mice. Furthermore, PSK had not exhibited any of the cytotoxicity or other side effects commonly seen with conventional anticancer treatment.

PSK also seems to work in multiple steps of the malignant process by inhibiting adhesion, invasion, motility, and metastatic growth of tumor cells in animal models of cancer. Adhesion and invasion are inhibited by suppression of cell matrix-degrading enzyme production by malignant cells. Motility of malignant cells and subsequent attachment to blood vessels are inhibited by suppression of tumor-cell induced platelet aggregation and anti-angiogenic factors. PSK has also induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) in lymphoma, leukemia and pancreatic cells.

Led by, Dorothy Cimino Brown from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers said the new findings offer hope that the compound may one day offer cancer patients -- human and canine alike -- a viable new ally in the battle against cancer.

"There have been a series of studies looking at groups of people with cancer," Cimino Brown said. "The issue with those studies is that they weren't necessarily measuring what most people would think is the most clinically important result, which is, do people taking PSP live longer?"

Based on the ultimate endpoints of how quickly the tumors progressed and how long dogs suffering from a natural form of cancer survived when given the supplement, the research team suggests that PSP supplementation may be effective in fighting the tumors.

"We were shocked," Cimino Brown said. "Prior to this, the longest reported median survival time of dogs with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen that underwent no further treatment was 86 days. We had dogs that lived beyond a year with nothing other than this mushroom as treatment."

Dog study

To address this critical question, Cimino Brown and her team began research in dogs suffering from naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma (an aggressive, invasive cancer that arises from the blood cells and typically affects the spleen.)

The team explained that 15 diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma were split into three groups of five, with each group receiving a different dose -- 25, 50 or 100 mg/kg/day -- of a formulation of PSP that has been tested for consistency and good manufacturing processes (I'm-Yunity).

Dog owners were instructed to give their dogs the supplements daily.

Each month, the owners brought their dogs to for follow-up visits. There, the researchers took blood samples and conducted ultrasounds to determine the extent that tumors developed or grew and spread in the dogs' bodies. The results of the researchers' trial suggest that the PSP supplement was effectively fighting the tumors.

There were not statistically significant differences in survival between the three dosage groups, though the median survival time was highest in the 100 mg group, at 199 days, eclipsing the previously reported median survival time.

The results were so surprising, in fact, that the researchers asked Penn Vet pathologists to recheck the dogs' tissue biopsies to make sure that the dogs really had the disease.

Cimino Brown said the team is now getting ready to pursue further trials of the PSP supplement in dogs with hemangiosarcoma to confirm and refine their results.

"Because it increases natural killer [NK] cell activity, I think of using Coriolus versicolor mainly when I'm confronted with a patient suffering from cancer or a viral infection," says Kenneth A. Bock, MD, medical director of two wholistic medical clinics, one located in Rhinebeck, New York and the other in Albany, New York. "This mushroom is one of the main medicinal compounds I use to boost a diminished blood reading which records NK activity. PSK does produce a marked improvement in NK cell function and number, something I monitor by testing. If the blood reading is low, my patient takes greater amounts of PSK capsules. And, although it's an expensive and sophisticated assay, I repeat my NK cell testing inside of a month or two. In a number of patients, I've seen some nice blood test improvements.

A Patient's Experience with Liver Cancer Reduction

A 64 year-old electrical engineer in Tyler, Texas. Allen Greenstaff had been doctoring with liver cancer for six years. In the beginning stages of his malignancy, he took chemotherapy which eventually proved to do no good. And the oncologist offered him absolutely nothing more as treatment, not even personal care to accomplish a better quality of life for himself - no improved diet, nutrients, exercise, meditation - just nothing at all.

"That doctor was the most negative man I ever met," said Mr. Greenstaff. "After the chemo failed, he threw up his hands, shrugged his shoulders, wished me good luck, and said there was nothing else he could do. And surgery couldn't be performed either, because the consulting surgeon saw that the tumor was wrapped around my vena cava blood vessel."

The patient replied to his oncologist, "I totally reject what you are telling me. I do not accept that nothing can be done to affect the outcome of this disease." When the doctor said, "Well, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to cancer. I'm a scientist," Allen Greenstaff shot back, "Yes, but you're not God!"

Even with being abandoned by his oncologist, today the patient is healthy once again after utilizing alternative methods of healing, most especially by his self-administration of oral Coriolus versicolor. Mr. Greenstaff's tumor, which had been situated on the left lobe of the liver, was sized at 10 cm by 7 cm and by the longitudinal measurement of 9 cm. Now, after he has been taking capsules of PSK, the tumor has shrunk to 6 cm by 4 cm by 3 cm (longitudinally). The patient had learned about Coriolus versicolor from his contacting Medline on the internet. By digging into the world wide web, he has saved himself. Remarkably, the volume of Mr. Greenstaff's liver cancer has reduced to less than 10% of its original size, from 630 cm down to 60 cm. And his carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) cancer marker has improved dramatically as well, dropping from 296 to 97.9.

Today, after two years, Mr. Greenstaff still swallows those usual, brownish colored mushroom capsules, which he intends to take the rest of his life. He is well-versed in the efficacy of Coriolus versicolor, since the man has read nearly 400 studies about PSK that he printed out from the internet.


John Summerly is nutritionist, herbologist, and homeopathic practitioner. He is a leader in the natural health community and consults athletes, executives and most of all parents of children on the benefits of complementary therapies for health and prevention.

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