Autoimmune diseases are diseases where the body’s own defensive mechanism destroys healthy cells. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). If the immune system doesn’t fix the mistake, the attack could spread to the heart, lungs, and other vital organs. The mechanisms that cause the deregulation of the immune response are not yet fully understood. Heavy metal toxicity, leaky gut syndrome, and infectious bacteria and parasites can put a lot of stress on the body’s immune system, which can disrupt normal immune system function.
Research is being conducted to determine how these factors cause the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues. We discuss natural therapies that can help regulate the immune system’s aggressive behavior without suppressing or altering its necessary defenses. These therapies can help the immune system function properly without overreacting or causing autoimmune diseases.
THE FUNCTIONAL IMMUNE RESPONSE
constantly surveys the body for foreign (“non-self”) substances, such as cancerous cells, bacteria, viruses, parasites, foreign proteins and chemical insults. During a normal immune response, leukotrienes and prostaglandins dilate blood vessels so that immune components can quickly travel to the area that needs protection. Increased blood flow causes swelling, redness, and heat. Another wave of pro-inflammatory compounds, chemotactic factors (also known as cytokines), activate the white blood cells to begin attacking damaged cells and pathogens. As pathogens are destroyed, their cell walls and internal components leak out, triggering still another phase of immune defense.
AUTOIMMUNE DE-REGULATORS – WHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM RUNS AMOK
In autoimmune diseases, the immune system continues attacking even though there is no foreign invader. The specific sequence of events that leads the immune system to turn against the body still needs to be determined. There are several possible explanations for why the immune system might become deregulated, including Nuclear factor kappa beta (NFkB) regulators, pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, auto-antibodies, and defective suppressor T cells.
Inflammatory agents cause the immune system to be constantly active. The immune system starts by raising its defenses against foreign substances. If you have inflammation for a long time, your immune system will start attacking your own body, and you will get an autoimmune disease. Herbs that reduce inflammation may help to reduce the body’s autoimmune response. Herbs that have traditionally been used for a certain purpose have also been investigated scientifically to determine how they work.
Some of the herbs that can be used to help improve sleep quality include hops, artemisia, sarsaparilla, reishi mushroom, ashwagandha, nettle, Rehmannia, and Chinese skullcap. Other important herbs that may be effective in reducing inflammation and an overactive autoimmune response include Boswellia serrata, Green Tea, Ginger, Turmeric, White Willow, Stephania, and Chinese Thunder God Vine.
This article discusses Reishi Mushroom specifically.
What is Reshi Mushroom
The reishi mushroom is sometimes called the “mushroom of immortality.” It is a member of the Polyporaceae family and is often found growing in a shelf-like form on decaying trees. It is said that this herb has the ability to regulate the immune system, has a calming effect, relieves pain, and strengthens the blood. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the blood is responsible for nourishing the body, keeping the tissues moist, and keeping the mind stable. If the blood is not healthy, it cannot provide the nutrients the body needs, which manifests in fatigue, paleness, dry skin, anxiety, and mental restlessness. The symptoms are treated by making the blood more nutrient-rich.
While some illnesses demand a stronger immune response, others necessitate a weaker one. Reishi mushrooms can help to regulate the immune system, depending on the situation. The Reishi mushroom contains a high amount of polysaccharides, proteins that modulate the immune system, and steroidal saponin glycosides, which have an effect on the adrenal-hypothalamic-pituitary axis feedback loop that controls inflammation. An amphoteric protein that is isolated from Ganoderma, which is called Ling Zhi-8, has been shown to cause white blood cells to multiply, and it also reduces TNF-alpha and the formation of antibodies in autoimmune diseases. In another study, it was shown that Ganoderma had significant effects on modulating the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-18 after 24 weeks. This can help patients who have RA by affecting the immune system.
How Reishi Fights Immunosenescence
Reishi mushrooms attack and reverse immunosenescence through the combined effects of three compounds:
First, a group of long-chain carbohydrates called polysaccharides. Secondly, a unique protein named LZ-8, and third, a small group of steroid-like molecules called triterpenes.
The three Reishi components work together to help your body respond better to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections while also controlling chronic inflammation.
Among its broad-spectrum immune-boosting effects are the following:
- Reishi promotes the specialization of dendritic cells and macrophages. These cells are essential in allowing you to react to new threats, to vaccines, and, of course, cancer cells.
- Reishi’s effects on dendritic cells have been proven to boost the response to the tetanus vaccine. The mushroom’s proteins are also under investigation as “adjuvants” to emerging cancer DNA vaccines and other immune-based cancer treatments.
- Reishi polysaccharide triggers the growth and development of bone marrow, where most immune cells are born. Following bone marrow eradication by chemotherapy, Reishi increased the production of both red and white blood cells.
- Reishi increases the numbers and functions of virtually all cell lines in the immune system, such as natural killer cells, antibody-producing B cells, and the T cells responsible for rapid response to a new or “remembered” antigen.
On the other side of the immunosenescence coin, Reishi’s various components work to suppress cytokines that cause inflammation during chronic inflammation, as seen, for example, in rheumatoid arthritis, while maintaining normal acute inflammatory responses. Under conditions of chronic inflammation, Reishi reduces inflammatory promoters.
There is evidence from clinical studies that Reishi can help to ease both asthma and allergic reactions. In laboratory studies, Reishi extracts are showing promise in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Reishi Promotes Immune System’s Anti-Cancer Surveillance
Reishi’s ability to improve the function of the immune system could help to prevent and treat cancer. Cancers typically find ways to avoid being discovered by the immune system while at the same time getting help from chronic inflammation.
Reishi mushroom boosts the immune system’s ability to identify cancer cells and reduces the inflammation that leads to cancer, making it an ideal tool for defeating cancer. A small study was done with Reishi and its potential effectiveness. An example of this potential effect can be seen in the case report.
The man was 47 years old and had a large B-cell lymphoma in his stomach. He had a biopsy in response to his complaint of abdominal pain. He had his stomach removed eleven days later in an attempt to cure himself.
The pathologist didn’t find any cancer in the stomach after the surgery. Instead of cancer, there was now a dense layer of healthy T-lymphocytes. These cells are activated and seek out cancer cells to destroy them.
After the doctors discovered an entirely unexpected finding, they asked the man about supplements. The man then told the doctors that he had taken large doses of Reishi for the five days following his diagnosis. The surgeons and pathologists believed that the Reishi had motivated the patient’s T-cells to take action, which resulted in the cancer being destroyed and replaced.
A single case report of a dramatic outcome is not enough evidence to say that a drug is effective. However, the outcome is consistent with the predicted effects of the drug.
Reishi Defends Against Infection
Reishi mushrooms are effective in fighting off both bacterial and viral infections due to their immune-stimulating effects.53 Both polysaccharide and triterpene components of the mushrooms contribute to this activity.
Reishi extracts can prevent the growth of several types of bacteria, especially those that cause urinary and digestive tract infections. They can also make standard antibiotics more effective in treating bacterial infections. In most cases, scientists found that Reishi had an additive effect when combined with four different antibiotics. The combination of Reishi and cefazolin had a greater effect than either Reishi or cefazolin alone.
The Reishi mushroom is most effective in the prevention and treatment of viral diseases. Reishi mushrooms have been shown to the growth of influenza, HIV, hepatitis B, and many other viruses in laboratory cell cultures.
Research has shown that Reishi extracts are especially effective against viruses in the herpes virus family. This includes the viruses that cause chickenpox and shingles, as well as the Epstein-Barr virus, which is a viral cause of certain lymphomas.
Reishi supplementation significantly reduces the duration of symptoms for people with oral or genital herpes and for people with shingles (a condition that often results from childhood chickenpox infection).
Reishi Mushrooms Extend Life Span
An international team of researchers has found that the Reishi mushroom could help to improve aging. The group started by looking into the qualities of the Reishi mushroom and the components that have the most impact.
The researchers found that Reishi enhances the cellular immune system, promotes the production of protective antibodies, and decreases the body’s load of inflammatory cytokines. This means that Reishi can help improve the immune system in older animals. If this effect combats most of the diseases that cause premature death, it would extend life.
Scientists have been interested for some time in the fact that Reishi promotes longevity. The researchers initiated a 3-year study to determine the effects of Reishi extract on healthy middle-aged laboratory mice. The mice were given either regular mouse feed or a feed mixed with Reishi mushroom extract in different doses.
After 88 weeks, which is a little more than halfway through the study, it was already apparent that Reishi has powerful effects. The Reishi-supplemented group proved to live much longer.
As the study went on, it became increasingly clear that the group receiving the experimental medication was living longer. In both groups, 10% of the mice were still alive after a certain amount of time had passed. However, the group of mice that were given the supplement went on to live 148 days, while the other group did not survive as long. This means that, on average, the intervention added 16 years to the life span of the participants. A mouse study found that 175 mg/kg of a substance extended the life span and reduced the risk of death. For an average 75 kg (165 pound) human, this would be the equivalent of 1,050 mg.
This study showed how fighting immunosenescence can increase life span significantly.
Other Benefits of Immune System Boosting By Reishi
Although there is not enough space in a single article to fully explore all of Reishi’s additional features, they are still worth mentioning. Look forward in the future to learning more details about at least these three areas in which Reishi’s reversal of immunosenescence plays a major role:
- Reishi is a promising candidate for management of allergic, asthmatic, and autoimmune disease symptoms through its ability to suppress an inappropriately vigorous immune response.
- Reishi promotes neuroprotection through a variety of mechanisms, including suppression of chronic inflammation and antioxidant functions.
- Reishi extracts battle the epidemic of “diabesity,” the conjoined effects of excessive body fat and elevated glucose; extracts lower blood sugar and limit excess fat storage while normalizing lipid profiles.
The weakening of your immune system as you age causes the aging process to speed up.
The loss of our immune function as we age leaves us vulnerable to both diseases and chronic inflammation.
The Reishi mushroom contains three different types of molecules that help fight immunosenescence, which is the natural decline in the function of the immune system that occurs as we age. These molecules help restore the body’s ability to respond appropriately to infection and to resolve inflammation.
The Reishi mushroom can help to restore the immune balance that you had when you were younger, which can help to slow the aging process. If animal studies on the impact of Reishi on aging are accurate, humans could see life extensions of 7-16 years.
Reishi has the potential to improve your immunity and help you live a longer life.