Immune System Booster

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A Fungus That Pumps Up Your Immune System?

It’s a fact that while strenuous exercise builds muscle tissue, it also puts stress on the immune system. To compensate for a weakened immune system, many bodybuilders take L-glutamine. But in addition, there are other factors that also threaten the immune health of people working out in a gym. One strength trainer, G.R., says, “In the gym environment, one has to be concerned about sweat, relaying germs from the eyes, nose, mouth, etc., and on equipment where germs can be easily transmitted to the next person.” People are aware of how germs spread, unfortunately, most people...DO NOT WASH THEIR HANDS OFTEN ENOUGH. WHICH IS THE KEY TO PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF HARMFUL GERMS.

In the gym, individuals are usually instructed to use towels and antibacterial wipes before and after using equipment. But as in other similar situations, some comply and others are not as conscientious,” says G.R. “As a Personal Fitness Trainer, I spend numerous hours in the gym. I know it is very important to eat right, sleep 7-8 hours a night, minimize stress factors, and take additional nutritional supplements to keep the immune system strong,” G.R. added.

Although it’s important to supplement, in the case of immune boosting, it’s even more important to take a supplement that specifically helps strengthen the immune system - the kind of help that comes from a very special plant (or actually a form of edible fungus).

One particular edible fungus that has become very popular due to its “immune-boosting” properties is the extract of Maitake mushroom. Some people swear by it. Others think it could be a coincidence that they haven’t gotten a cold during the time they’ve been taking supplemental maitake, which in some cases, has been over a year! So, they take it for extra insurance... just in case.

Read about maitake’s fascinating history and what scientists have discovered...

They Danced for Joy...and Long Life!

Before modern medicine, ancient Japanese relied on mushrooms to safeguard their health, specifically the Maitake (Grifola frondosa), or ‘dancing mushroom’ to safeguard their health. Folklore tells that when Japanese wandered upon a wild field of maitake they danced for joy, because they believed this mushroom held the secret of longevity and health. They used it as a healing remedy for coughs, colds and other ills. In fact, Maitake was such a prized possession, during the feudal era of Japan (1st century), it could be exchanged with the same weight of silver. The Maitake was, and still is, one of the most valued and expensive mushrooms.

What was it about the Maitake mushroom that gave it such remarkable health-protective powers? Is it mere folklore or did the Ancient Japanese indeed discover some sort of medicinal properties not by the ? Only modern science could unravel the mystery surrounding this mysterious “medical” mushroom.

Mystery Solved.

In the early 1980s, immunologist Hiroaki Nanba, PhD, senior professor of microbiochemistry at Kobe Pharmaceutical University (Kobe, Japan), took a deep interest in the medicinal powers of various mushrooms. After researching the immune-enhancing properties of a variety of mushrooms, he came to the conclusion that maitake extracts demonstrated more pronounced antitumor activity in animal tests than other mushroom extracts. But even more important was his identification of a component of maitake that was the most potent part of the mushroom called D fraction extract, a rich source of beta-glucans.

They Ate Bacteria!

This special beta-glucans fraction possesses a significant ability to stimulate white blood cells known as macrophages (literal translation "big eaters"). These specialized white blood cells phagocytize or engulf foreign particles such as bacteria, which is the key process by which we may escape contracting a nasty cold.

A Supercharged Maitake D fraction.

Nanba went even further to empower the D fraction’s amazing health-protective properties. - this extract's antitumor and immunopotentiating effects were increased by 30% when Dr. Nanba purified the D fraction. Dr. Nanba termed his discovery Maitake Gold (U.S. Patent #5,854,404). Laboratory tests at the University of Louisville confirmed MaitakeGold 404®’s phagocytosis activity.(1)

Recent Studies Prove Maitake’s Immune-Boosting Properties Researchers in China recently showed that when laboratory animals were treated with a mixture of maitake and other medicinal mushrooms, phagocytic activity was enhanced in specific immune cells. These results suggested that oral administration of the cultivated G. frondosa mixture may enhance host innate immunity against foreign pathogens without eliciting adverse inflammatory response.(2)

A 2007 study in Japan verified the immune modulating properties of maitake. Lab animals were fed maitake extract for 30 days. Results showed that the extract increased phagocyte particles and the activity of macrophages, confirming that the fraction could enhance the cell immune of the animals. (3)

Maitake Featured in Oprah Magazine!

Benefits from maitake generated such interest that the Oprah Magazine, founded by Oprah Winfrey, gave this fabulous fungus a big boost. Under the title, "The Next Big Thing? Maitake Mushrooms", an article appeared in the March 2005 issue extolling the virtues of the medicinal benefits of this mushroom. The article pointed out the health benefits of the two most important fractions of the maitake mushroom: Maitake D-fraction® stimulates immune cells to fight viruses and cancer.

Echinacea Vs. Maitake

Echinacea capsules must be taken the moment you notice you aren’t feeling well. Also, Echinacea is hard on the liver, so it’s recommended that people only take Echinacea for about a week and no more. In addition, Echinacea is a ragweed, so ironically, it could exacerbate hayfever or a ragweed allergy. ON THE OTHER HAND, there are no reports saying that taking maitake for an extended period of time can cause health problems. Another important feature of maitake is that it upregulates your immune system if it’s weak and downregulates it it’s too active. For people with normal immune activity,maitake gives it just enough of a boost to help you fight off offending pathogens.

And lastly, since you can take maitake every day, your immune system is protected every day. This is important because you never know when someone sitting next to you starts sneezing or coughing. So I'd put my money on maitake - not echinacea.

Maitake Improved Diabetes.

Cinical studies also show that maitake helps repair beta cells. Beta cells release insulin, which is the hormone that takes sugar out of the bloodstream to be used as energy in cells. One important animal study showed that after being treated with maitake, the level of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, cholesterol, and free fatty acid content in livers decreased. Treatment with MT-alpha-glucan (a constituent of maitake) improved pancreatic function, suggesting that maitake has an anti-diabetic effect (4)

Can Maitake Fight Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, “lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men (after prostate cancer) and women (after breast cancer). It accounts for about 15% of all new cancers. During 2008, there will be about 215,020 new cases of lung cancer.” So any substance that reduces the risk for lung cancer is certain welcome. In a landmark study conducted in Japan, researchers showed that D-Fraction inhibits lung tumor metastasis.(5)

Maitake: Your Best Friend.

It’s obvious that maitake has the potential to providing us with a wonderful host of benefits. But don’t forget that your immune system works best if you eat a healthy diet, get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, and engage in moderate exercise.

Article written by L. Hirsch, Health Science Editor for MDR Nutritionals.

(1). JANA, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2005.
(2) J Pharm Pharmacol. 2008 Feb;60(2):237-43.
(3) Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16 Suppl 1:258-60.
(4) J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Apr;59(4):575-82.
(5) Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Jun;31(6):1104-8.

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