Maitake Mushroom Reduces Intestinal Inflammation

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Excessive intestinal inflammation is a troubling health problem because it induces irritable bowel, reduces natural immune defenses, creates a GI tract environment more prone to hostile flora imbalance, contributes to indigestion and food allergy, and opens the door for the “leaky gut” wherein GI tract toxins enter the general circulation.  A study with maitake mushroom1 (Grifola frondosa) demonstrates potent GI tract anti-inflammatory effects leading the authors to conclude that maitake mushroom is a “valuable medicinal food for IBD [irritable bowel disease] treatment, and thus may be used as an alternative medicine for IBD.

The researchers used a combination of cell and animal experiments to demonstrate the anti-inflammatory properties of maitake.  They first showed that maitake blocked the adhesion of colon cancer cells by reducing a primary inflammatory signal known as TNFa.  Exposure to inflammation-producing LPS (lipopolysaccharide) is common during GI tract imbalance as this toxin is produced by gut bacteria.  The researchers again showed that maitake reduced TNFa production when due to LPS exposure.  This prevented the typical production of free radicals as well as modulating the underlying inflammatory gene signal, NF-kappaB.

In an animal model of irritable bowel disease the researchers showed that maitake significantly inhibited the expected weight loss, colon ulceration, free radical damage and tissue TNF-alpha activation. 

Maitake and its active component, beta glucan, are well-documented immune support nutrients.  This study shows precisely how maitake helps promote a healthier GI tract – an important first line of defense during the cold and flu season.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Maitake Mushroom and Irritable Bowel Disease  Exp Mol Med.  Lee JS, Park SY, Thapa D, Choi MK, Chung IM, Park YJ, Yong CS, Choi HG, Kim JA.

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