While it has long mean known that certain mushrooms possess powerful properties to boost our immunity, little is known on exactly how and why this is the case in the mainstream. Mushrooms have long formed a part of the Japanese and Chinese diet and now scientists are exploring the potential of its abilities to be an effective treatment for Covid-19.

The University of California San Diego School of Medicine and UCLA in collaboration with La Jolla Institute for Immunology are conducting a novel study is assessing whether medicinal mushrooms and Chinese herbs provide therapeutic benefit in treating acute COVID-19 infection by using the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

According to MACH-19 principal investigator Gordon Saxe, MD, PhD, director of research at the Centers for Integrative Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine, the mushrooms were chosen because of their long history of use and recent evidence of immune-enhancing and anti-viral effects. In a preclinical study published in the March 2019 issue of Mycology, agarikon was found to inhibit viruses including influenza A(H1N1), influenza A(H5N1) and herpes. Saxe said he believes medicinal mushrooms inhibit the viruses’ replication, a theory he plans to test against SARS-CoV-2 in a Phase II trial.

It is hoped that if such treatments are effective, it would reduce the need for hospitalisation and ease the pressure on hospitals and medical personnel.

Saxe has said that “mushrooms have the advantage that they co-evolved with us….So bacteria, viruses and other fungi prey on mushrooms just like they prey on humans. And mushrooms have developed exquisite defenses against those pests, and we believe they can confer those to us when we eat them.”

Further, Saxe believes that mushrooms have an added benefit over vaccines because not only do they increase the number of antibodies, they also enhance T-cell immunity against virally infected cells. Because mushrooms bind to receptors on human immune cells, they can modulate our immunity — boosting it in some ways and calming it down in others. And this property of mushrooms may also reduce vaccine-related side effects.

Natural therapeutics have been used for centuries to treat infectious diseases. Herbs helped Chinese doctors manage 300 recorded epidemics, while the Greek pharmacologist Pedanius Dioscorides prescribed agarikon to treat pulmonary infections 2,300 years ago.

Though Western medicine still regards much of integrative medicine as lacking empirical, evidence-based proof, some of its ideas are gaining wider acceptance, such as acupuncture to treat pain and the herbal extract artemisinin to treat malaria and so on.

These tests are scheduled to complete in June 2022 and if success can be demonstrated, it may open up interest in looking at other botanical formulas and approaches,”

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This article is not a replacement for qualified medical advice.

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