Mushroom Part 4: Coriolus the Immune Champion - BodyMind Institute

Mushroom Part 4: Coriolus the Immune Champion

By Dr. Terry Willard | Blog

Dec 11

Average Reading Time: 3 minutes and 30 seconds

I have used this mushroom almost every day for over 10 years. Why? It is the best of the immune champions I have found over the years. Let’s face it, a Clinical Herbalist has an occupational hazard of ‘catching’ colds, flus and other contagious diseases, with clients often coughing in our face, day after day. We work with a lot of sick people and therefore we have to keep our immune system ‘tuned up’ as a preventative measure. Coriolus has been the best champion in this area. I say this with some level of trepidation, for purely personal reasons.

One of my other hats is as an organic herb farmer and for several years my major crop was Echinacea. We could successfully grow it organically in our area (foothills of the Rocky Mountains), creating abundance. I had a ready market for it, employing it extensively for immune issues among others uses. By the early 2000s I realized that many of the mushroom models, Coriolus being the best, worked better than Echinacea for immune function.

Of course I could not grow Coriolus in my area, thus the trepidation. It would be nice to grow the champions. I know that is silly, but it feels great to see your champion grow. It gives me a deeper appreciation and understanding of them. It does grow wild in many part of Canada though. I have found the largest amounts on the West coast, and even found it growing in Vancouver itself. It loves the rain forests, not the dry foothills. It gives me yet another reason for visiting my kids on the West Coast

In China, where it has been used for thousands of years, Coriolus is known as “Yun zhi”, or “cloud mushroom”. In Japan it is called “Kawaratake”, or “mushroom by the river”. In traditional herbalism, hot water teas of Coriolus are used. The Ming dynasty edition of the Materia Medica (1500s CE) states that it is “beneficial to one’s spirit and vital energy ". . . If Yun zhi is taken for a long time, it will make one vigorous and live long.” It was this popularity as a “folk remedy” that first got the attention of modern researchers.[1]

Coriolus’ traditional functions

  •  Invigorate the Spleen and eliminate dampness. Recently used for hepatitis, hepatocirrhosis, nephritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
  • Relieve cough and dyspnea.

The modern Chinese application is Anti-carcinogenic for leukemia, lymphoma, early stage of liver cancer, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, breast and cervix.

I like to use it as a Super Food, adding it to blender drinks, teas, sauces, and soups, or sprinkled on food. In our household we add it to many things, as its taste is both agreeable and not that strong. I also us it in encapsulated form because I travel a lot, and find this more convenient. It is great for all those plane flights I take. Flying in a hermetically-sealed chamber, breathing other people’s body fluids . . . oh yummy! You can see why I take extra doses every time I fly.

I personally use Coriolus for many purposes, including as an immuno-prophylactic. There have been many multi-institutional controlled studies that have shown it is beneficial to prevent colds, flus and the contraction of various viruses from H1N1 to avian flu and even hepatitis.

Medical Research

  • Approved in 1980 by the Japanese equivalent to the FDA for concurrent use with chemotherapy, it is covered by all health care plans in Japan.[2] Shown to increase survival time of cancer patients.[3] In large studies it has also been shown to be useful in stomach cancer, colorectal cancer,[4] small cell carcinoma,[5] and non-small cell lung carcinoma.[6] Coriolus enhances activity of chemotherapeutic drugs.[7],[8] It is now being used in Europe and by US cancer doctors, “having great promise for chemoprevention due to multiple effects on the malignant process and reducing side effects of oral dosage.”[9-12] 
  • The March, 2008 BMC Cancer reports Coriolus as having anticancer activity with positive results in the treatment of gastr ic, esophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancers.[13] 
  • Antiviral including HIV, HPV, hepatitis and many other viruses [14] 
  • Immunomodulating and anti‑tumor properties of the hot water extracted polysaccharides  
  • Researchers at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York tested several botanicals for their immune enhancing activity described in September, 2008 Vaccine. [15] They found Coriolus to display consistent and significant immune enhancement activity superior to all other compounds tested. The superiority of Coriolus to yeast beta-glucan, maitake, turmeric, Echinacea, and preparation H-48 from Honso USA, was described as surprising. 
  • Private and government, multi‑institutional clinical studies with clinical evidence demonstrating significant immune benefits from daily use. [16-23]

How Does It Work?

This mushroom and its isolates are some of the most studied of all medicinal mushrooms with literally many hundreds of studies completed on it. Most of the research has been done on its isolates, in particular the glucan-protein complex of Polysaccharide-K (Kresin, PSK) and polysaccharopeptide (PSP) that are used in cancer therapy to counteract the immune depressing action of common chemotherapy.

Even though we can find a lot of research on the isolates, I like to use it a bit closer to its traditional way, as a hot water extract or concentrate.

PSK has been shown to enhance activity of chemotherapeutic drugs doxorubin and etoposide. [24,25] US cancer doctors have seen both PSK and whole mushroom extracts to have promise for chemoprevention due to multiple effects on the malignant process and reducing side effects of oral dosage. [26] These studies, published in the Lancet, found the results to be significant. [27,28,29] The sales for these unique all‑natural compounds have reached several hundred million dollars a year in Japan and China, making them the most widely used products in those countries by people facing serious immune challenges. [30]

There has been great interest in Coriolus’ ability to work as an antiviral on HIV, HPV, hepatitis and many other viruses. [31, 32]

Pharmacological properties in animals and humans have been extensively evaluated. PSK has a human metabolic half‑life of 18 hours with the primary route of excretion being through the lungs. It requires very little dependence upon renal or hepatic elimination, and in fact has shown benefit in the treatment of hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis. JHS is currently working with the National College of Naturopathic Medicine to develop and fund an independent study of PSK’s influence on chronic hepatitis C. [33]

Dosage: 

  • Encapsulated extract: 2 – 4 capsules, 2 – 3 times daily
  • Powdered Super Food: ½ – 1 teaspoon, 2 – 4 times daily
  • Hep-mushroom: 2 – 3 capsules, 2 – 3 times daily

Article by Dr. Terry Willard, Faculty Member here at the BodyMind Institute
Blog Website: www.drterrywillard.com
Wild Rose College of Natural Healing Website: www.wrc.net

Notes

  1. Tsukagoshi S., Hashimoto Y., Fujii G., Kobayashi H., Nomoto K. and Orita K. Krestin (PSK). Cancer Treat. Rev. 11:131‑155 (1984).
  2. American Cancer Society (2008). “Coriolus Versicolor
  3. Kobayashi H, Matsunaga K, Oguchi Y (1995). “Antimetastatic effects of PSK (Krestin), a protein-bound polysaccharide obtained from basidiomycetes: an overview”. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 4 (3): 275–81. PMID
  4. Oba K, Teramukai S, Kobayashi M, Matsui T, Kodera Y, Sakamoto J (June 2007). “Efficacy of adjuvant immunochemotherapy with polysaccharide K for patients with curative resections of gastric cancer”. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy 56 (6): 905–11.
  5. Kobayashi H, Matsunaga K, Oguchi Y (1995). “Antimetastatic effects of PSK (Krestin), a protein-bound polysaccharide obtained from basidiomycetes: an overview”. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 4 (3): 275–81
  6. Hayakawa K, Mitsuhashi N, Saito Y (1997). “Effect of Krestin as adjuvant treatment following radical radiotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer patients”. Cancer Detection and Prevention 21 (1): 71–7.
  7. Wan JM, Sit WH, Louie JC (March 2008). “Polysaccharopeptide enhances the anticancer activity of doxorubicin and etoposide on human breast cancer cells ZR-75-30”. International Journal of Oncology 32 (3): 689–99.
  8. Hui KP, Sit WH, Wan JM (July 2005). “Induction of S phase cell arrest and caspase activation by polysaccharide peptide isolated from Coriolus versicolor enhanced the cell cycle dependent activity and apoptotic cell death of doxorubicin and etoposide, but not cytarabine in HL-60 cells”. Oncology Reports 14 (1): 145–55.
  9. Coriolus versicolor”. Complementary and alternative therapies for cancer patients. University of California.
  10.  Nakazato, H., et al. (1994). Efficacy of Immunochemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Gastric Cancer. Lancet 343, 1122‑1126.
  11. Hayakawa, K., et al. (1993). Effect of Krestin (PSK) as Adjuvant Treatment on the Prognosis after Radical Radiotherapy in Patients with Non‑Small Cell Lung Cancer. Anticancer Research 13, 1815‑1820.
  12. Ilino, Y., et al. (1995). Immunochemotherapies vs. Chemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Operable Breast Cancer. Anticancer Research 15, 2907‑2912
  13. Eva Jiménez-Medina, Enrique Berruguilla, Irene Romero, Ignacio Algarra, et al; The immunomodulator PSK induces in vitro cytotoxic activity in tumour cell lines via arrest of cell cycle and induction of apoptosis; BMC Cancer 2008, 8:78: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/8/78
  14. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Nov, 2006
  15. Govind Ragupathi, K. Simon Yeung, Ping-Chung Leung, Mavis Lee, Clara Bik San Lau, et al; Evaluation of widely consumed botanicals as immunological adjuvants; VaccineVolume 26Issue 37, 2 September 2008, Pages 4860-4865
  16. Torisu M., Hayashi Y., Ishimitsu T., Fujimura T., Iwasaki K., Katano M., Yamamoto H., Kimura Y., Takesue M., Kondo M., and Nomoto K. Significant prolongation of disease‑free period gained by oral polysaccharide K (PSK) administration after curative surgical operation of colon cancer. Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy, 31:261‑268 (1990).
  17. Hayakawa K., Mitsuhashi N., Saito Y., Takahashi M., Katano S., Shiojima K., Furuta M., and Niibe H. Effect of Krestin (PSK) as adjuvant treatment on the prognosis after radical radiotherapy in patients with non‑small cell lung cancer. Anticancer Research, 13:1815‑1820 (1993).
  18. Ilino Y., Yokoe T., Maemura M., Horiguchi J., Takei H., Ohwada S., and Morishita Y. Immunochemotherapies versus chemotherapy as adjuvant treatment after curative resection of operable breast cancer. Anticancer Research 15:2907‑2912 (1995)
  19. Nagao T., Komatsuda M.., Yamauchi K.., Nozaki H.., Watanabe K.., Arimori S. Chemoimmunotherapy with Krestin (Coriolus)in Acute Leukemia. Tokai J Exp Med., Vol. 6. No. 2, pp.141‑146, 1981
  20. Nakazato H., Koike A., Saji S. et al. Efficacy of immunochemotherapy as adjuvant treatment after curative resection of gastric cancer. Lancet, 343‑1122‑1126 (1994).
  21. Hu, Y., et al . Pharamacological Studies of the Effects of PSP on Analgetic Action and Appetite Improvenent. PSP International Symposium, 125‑131 (1993).
  22. Yang, M., et al .The Anti‑tumorous Function and Clinical Significance of Yun Zhi Essence. PSP International Symposium, 221‑223 (1993).
  23. Yang, Q., et al .The Comparative Analysis of the Extracts of the Mycelia and the Fruitbodies of Yun Zhi (Coriolus versicolor). PSP International Symposium, 41‑55 (1993).
  24. Wan JM, Sit WH, Louie JC (March 2008). “Polysaccharopeptide enhances the anticancer activity of doxorubicin and etoposide on human breast cancer cells ZR-75-30”. International Journal of Oncology 32 (3): 689–99.
  25. Hui KP, Sit WH, Wan JM (July 2005). “Induction of S phase cell arrest and caspase activation by polysaccharide peptide isolated from Coriolus versicolor enhanced the cell cycle dependent activity and apoptotic cell death of doxorubicin and etoposide, but not cytarabine in HL-60 cells”. Oncology Reports 14 (1): 145–55.
  26. Coriolus versicolor”. Complementary and alternative therapies for cancer patients. University of California.
  27. Nakazato, H., et al. (1994). Efficacy of Immunochemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Gastric Cancer. Lancet 343, 1122‑1126.
  28. Hayakawa, K., et al. (1993). Effect of Krestin (PSK) as Adjuvant Treatment on the Prognosis after Radical Radiotherapy in Patients with Non‑Small Cell Lung Cancer. Anticancer Research 13, 1815‑1820.
  29. Ilino, Y., et al. (1995). Immunochemotherapies vs. Chemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Operable Breast Cancer. Anticancer Research 15, 2907‑2912
  30. Stamets P., Wu Yao C. Mycomedicinals, MycoMedia Publications (1998)
  31.  Collins RANg TB; Polysaccharopeptide from Coriolus versicolor has potential for use against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection; Life Sci. 1997;60(25):PL383-7.
  32. Couto JS; Evaluation of Coriolus versicolor supplementation in LSIL HPV patients
  33. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Nov, 2006
  34. Ikusawa, M., et al. (1988). Fate and Distribution of an Antitumor Protein‑Bound Polysaccharide PSK (KRESTIN). International Journal of Immunopharmacology 10(4), 415‑423.

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About the Author

For over forty years, Terry Willard, Cl.H., Ph.D., has studied the medicinal properties of plants. He is recognized as one of North America’s leading Clinical Herbalists. He appears regularly in the print and electronic media as an exponent of responsible herbal use. He is the past-president of the Canadian Association of Herbal Practitioners, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and in the Canadian Health Food Association’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Willard is the author of twelve books on the subject of Herbs including the pivotal Wild Rose Herbal Series – a series of three textbooks written to educate herbalists. Two of his books, Mind-Body Harmony and Dr. Willard Flower Essence: Emotional Alchemy and Spiritual Evolution, have been particularly popular with the general public.

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