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August 02, 2021
Dipl.-Biol. Dorothee Ogroske et al.
What is meant by autoimmune diseases?
In an autoimmune disease, the body’s own tissues or organs are attacked and damaged by excessive immune reactions. Scientists distinguish between two groups. So-called “systemic autoimmune diseases” affect many different organs. These include, for example, diseases such as rheumatism, lupus erythematosus or scleroderma.
In contrast, a “localized autoimmune disease” involves a single tissue or organ, although the consequences may be expressed throughout the body. Examples include type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the chronic inflammatory bowel diseases ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or autoimmune hepatitis.
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Treatment with medicinal and vital mushrooms
Many study results have so far shown the positive effect of medicinal mushrooms on autoimmune processes. Due to their valuable mix of effective ingredients, they can influence different causes of autoimmune diseases. Beta-glucans, which are particularly important for the immune system, are among the most powerful immune modulators that nature has to offer. Through their influence, immune imbalances can be balanced and regulated.
Agaricus blazei murrill (ABM)
The highest concentration of beta-glucans was found in Agaricus blazei murrill (ABM). Therefore, this fungus occupies a special place in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Advantageous is its use in combination with other fungi, depending on the disease. Its protection of the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas makes it particularly suitable for use in type 1 diabetes.
Another significant mushroom in the therapy of autoimmune diseases is Reishi. It is characterized by its content of various triterpenes, whose anti-inflammatory effects have been widely demonstrated in studies. Chronic inflammatory processes lead to tissue destruction and impairment of organ functions. An example of this is Hashimoto’s type thyroiditis. The Reishi is particularly suitable for their therapy. Rich in triterpenes are especially the fruiting body and spores of this fungus.
This means for the selection of a mushroom product that in addition to the fruiting body must also contain the spores. This is the only way to achieve a good anti-inflammatory effect. Together with other mushrooms, reishi lowers the oxidative stress prevalent in inflammation. Among other things, the enzymes contained in the mushrooms give them this effectiveness. However, their activity is only preserved if the mushrooms are gently dried. Reishi is also particularly known for its detoxifying properties.
Environmental pollutants and drugs are among the known triggers of autoimmune processes. Reishi especially strengthens the liver and helps in the elimination of toxins through the liver and intestines. Medicinal mushrooms are also known quite generally for their detoxifying effect. They stimulate our excretory organs (for example, liver, kidney and lymph) and rid the body of burdens.
Cordyceps is characterized by a pronounced detoxifying effect via the kidneys. In this process, cordyceps exerts a protective effect on the kidney. It protects the glomeruli – the functional units of the kidney – from oxidative stress caused by environmental toxins and autoimmune processes. Its mood-lifting effect should also be emphasized. It balances hormones, increases vital energy and helps better stress management.
Another mushroom that is used for autoimmune diseases is Hericium. It has a particularly healing effect on the stomach and intestinal mucosa and is recommended for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Regeneration of the intestinal mucosa is generally a very important factor in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. A permeable intestinal mucosa (leaky gut) increases the risk of misdirected immune mechanisms. The vital mushroom Hericium regenerates the mucous membrane and restores its barrier function. Together with Pleurotus, it can sustainably improve the intestinal environment. Mushrooms are characterized by their so-called prebiotic effect, which means that they favor the microbiota in the intestine in growth.
Studies have also shown that Hericium stimulates the formation of myelin sheaths in nerves. These properties can be of great benefit in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. It also develops a relaxing effect as a result.
In rheumatic autoimmune diseases, shiitake is valued for its positive influence on the joints. Depending on which autoimmune disease is involved, or which organs are affected, other fungi can also be used for mycotherapeutic treatment.
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