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March 2008 Ageless herbal newsletter

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Medical mushrooms - use of Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi mushrooms

Most of the time we only think of mushrooms as some delectable vegetable to add to our diet to create a wonderful meal, and do not spare the thought that a variety of mushrooms have been used for centuries in Asia as popular remedies to prevent or treat different diseases. A large number of extracts made from medicinal mushrooms are used for the treatment of various diseases.

medical mushrooms reishi shiitake maitake

The most popular mushrooms used in China, Korea and Japan, for their medicinal properties, are Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Lentinus edodes (Shiitake), Grifola frondosa (Maitake), Hericium erinaceum (Yamabushitake) as well as Inonotus obliquus (Chaga).

They are rich in vitamins, fiber, and amino acids and low in fat, cholesterol and calories, but most importantly they contain a large selection of biologically active polysaccharides with immuno-stimulatory properties, which shows promise for their anti-cancer effects.

Apart from this, other bioactive substances, including triterpenes, proteins, lipids, cerebrosides and phenols, have been identified and characterized in these medicinal mushrooms and may in the future play a much larger part in our battle for better health.

Although some of the research must still be subjected to even more studies to determine the full scope of the health benefits, it is safe to say that the inclusion of medicinal mushrooms may improve our general health, and specifically that of the immune system, and for that reason we produce a product called “Tri-Mushroom Blend” which includes three of the ancient medicinal mushrooms – these being Maitake, Shiitake and Maitake.


It can be classified as an adaptogen – a herb that helps the body adapt to stress and fight infections. Maitake has shown to significantly boost the immune system and fight the formation of tumors. Furthermore, it has liver-protecting properties and can lower both blood pressure and blood-glucose levels.


It has good properties in preventing high blood pressure as well as heart disease, controlling cholesterol levels and boosting the immune system, and is also useful in fighting cancers. The lentinan contained in the mushroom is the active ingredient most researched and praised for its disease fighting capabilities.


It is a tonic, sedative herb that is expectorant, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, controls coughing, while relieving pain and stimulating the immune system. It improves heart and liver function and has anti-allergy, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

Health benefits of mushrooms maitake shiitake reishi medical mushrooms fighting cancer hiv aids stops cancer fighting t-cells immune system boost

From the onset, let us please be clear about one thing – we are not trying to propose or suggest that mushrooms can be the cure for cancer or a cure for HIV/AIDS, yet would like to point out that certain mushrooms, like maitake, shiitake and reishi have yielded good results when taken by cancer and HIV patients.


Studies are under way in which the effectiveness of maitake mushrooms will be measured for the treatment of advanced breast and prostate cancer.

The cancer-fighting compound found in maitake mushrooms is called “maitake D-fraction” which has shown promise in breast and colorectal cancer, as well as liver, lung and stomach cancer and leukemia.

In laboratory tests, maitake have increased the activity of three types of immune cellsmacrophage, natural killer cells (NK), as well as T-cells. The increases were 140, 186 and 160 percent and in studies with mice it reduced tumor formation by 86 percent.

In a Chinese study, maitake also showed a reduction in recurrent bladder cancer after surgery when combined with standard chemotherapy drugs. It also inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells and prevented the spread of the cells to the liver.

Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, which Japanese scientists proved to have immune stimulating properties, which, although it does not kill the cancer cells directly, activates the immune system’s lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) and natural killer cells (NK) to deal with cancer cells and keep inflammation at bay.

They further found that shiitake’s lentinans promote the formation of immune system chemicals – such as interleukin and TNF (tumor necrosis factor), which helps prevent the spread of cancer.

Reishi mushrooms have also shown promise as they stimulate the production of interleukin-2 and also contain ganoderic acids, which are active against liver cancer. As a matter of fact, it is also good to use them in mild cases of cirrhosis of the liver and to help prevent alcohol-induced fatty liver.

HIV treatment

Maitake mushrooms were found to further stimulate and enhance the action of the “T cells” in the body, which is of use to HIV patients, and have also shown in “in vitro” studies to kill off the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). It has also been used to treat Kaposi’s sarcoma – a form of cancer that primarily affects people with AIDS.

Although this mushroom shows tremendous potential to a host of health problems, it must be seen and used as complementary and supportive therapy, and should not replace existing standard treatment.

Multiple sclerosis (MS

Although some tests have shown that maitake can increase the production of interferon, patients with multiple sclerosis should not take therapeutic amounts without medical advice, as maitake mushrooms also stimulate the formation of gamma-interferon, which promotes the destruction of nerve tissue.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Nutritionally, maitake supports the body by increasing the absorption of micronutrients, especially copper (and then by implication, zinc), in the intestine.

Shiitake mushrooms have been found to help with both chronic fatigue syndrome as well as Lyme’s disease, as they stimulate the NK cells.

High cholesterol

Bad cholesterol (LDL) levels can be lowered when shiitake mushrooms are taken, as tests on the active principle – eritadenine – indicated that the LDL accumulated in the liver and was converted to HDL – or good cholesterol.

In animal studies, reishi has shown to lower LDL levels in the blood as well.


Reishi mushrooms are helpful in fighting infections as they stimulate the maturation of macrophage cells, which can engulf and neutralize bacteria, which is particularly helpful in preventing secondary infections and chronic bronchitis.


Using reishi mushrooms can help to reduce stress and to diminish emotional outbursts during long periods of stress and helps to ease tension.


Reishi stimulates the maturation of macrophages (immune cells), which help digest infectious bacteria, and assists with chronic bronchitis, while also helping with asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and insomnia – and while helping to prevent “fatty liver” also assists the liver and helps with cirrhosis due to alcohol abuse.

Conclusion maitake shiitake reishi medical mushrooms fighting cancer hiv aids stops cancer fighting t-cells immune system boost

From the above it seems as if mushrooms have a definite role to play in helping us maintain good health, and although a lot of research is still needed to validate some of these initial claims, it would be worth watching the role that medicinal mushrooms will play in the future.

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Skin care

  • Healing cream
    • To assist in wound healing while soothing skin complaints – such as eczema and psoriasis, acne and piles and moisturizing and protecting the skin. This product has shown its effectiveness over a wide range of problems and judging from sales over more than a decade – it is the trusted healing cream to help with all mishaps, allergic reactions, irritated, burning, itchy and uncomfortable skin conditions.
  • Face wash
    • This face wash will properly clean your face and remove all impurities and environmental pollutants, without drying the skin. It contains eight herbal extracts to help promote a clear, vital and healthy complexion and a younger looking skin.
  • Moisturizing day cream
    • This day cream is formulated to help fight the signs of aging on various fronts. It helps to reduce free radical damage which, if left unchecked, leads to premature aging. The herbal extracts help to promote cell rejuvenation and regeneration and provide moisture and hydration to the skin.
  • Nourishing night cream
    • This nourishing night cream penetrates the skin extremely well and does not make the skin feel oily. It contains a host of herbal extracts to help in the fight against premature aging and has added vitamin E as well. Apart from the moisturizing effect and the anti-aging properties it also softens and smoothes the skin.
  • Eye gel
    • An effective refreshing eye gel to help reduce puffiness and dark rings around the eyes, while fighting wrinkles and lines. This is a very clever combination of herbal extracts and the base formula has its roots in a clinically proven formula.
  • Mud face mask
    • With this skin treatment product we combined a special selection of herbs in a base of thermal mud with oligoelements. This recommended weekly treatment will boost circulation to the skin, help to fight wrinkles and lines, improve firmness while at the same time improving suppleness and elasticity of the skin.


Hair care

  • Shampoo with rosemary extract + 7 other herbals
    • Our shampoo is in a class of its own – and granted – it is far more expensive than cheap supermarket shampoos, but no other shampoo has the active ingredients we have in our shampoo. The rosemary will boost the health of the hair and scalp, while the other seven herbal extracts will help strengthen the hair and make it shine, increase the volume and make it manageable.
  • Rosemary hair treatment conditioner
    • We have found that this hair conditioner should really be used as a conditioning treatment. This then removes the need to condition the hair every time you wash – and can be used once a month. It is a superb hair tonic and helps in the control of sebum secretion of the scalp. Although not formulated for dandruff – the ingredients will assist with this as well, while supporting the health of the scalp.


Specialized herbal gels and lotions

  • Hand and body lotion
    • When formulating this hand and body lotion we created a rich nourishing, protecting and reviving lotion, which will not leave the skin oily or tacky, but will create a well moisturized, hydrated and supple skin. After applying this lotion it will quickly be absorbed by the skin, leaving it silky soft, smooth and well moisturized.
  • Stretch mark gel
    • Although nothing can remove already formed stretch marks (only surgery can do that) – thousands of satisfied clients confirm that this gel improves the appearance of old stretch marks. The gel will help in PREVENTING stretch marks (a 92% success rate) and is used with great success by expectant mothers and body builders who may form marks when bulking-up. The formula of this gel is based on clinical studies done in France, to which we added other herbal extracts.
  • Cellulite gel
    • Fighting cellulite is easy with this herbal cellulite gel. It contains a patented extract of Bayberry (Myriceline) and nine other plant extracts and essential oils. The gel will help to get rid of cellulite (which has been clinically proven) and will also help to prevent cellulite from forming. So now it is easy to get your soft body contours back again.


Herbal supplements

  • Apple cider vinegar (liquid) with Centella asiatica
    • The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are combined with the therapeutic properties of Centella asiatica. This old folk remedy is still used with great effect by thousands of people daily.
  • Digest capsules
    • If your digestive system is under-par and you struggle with constipation or you simply need to boost the health of your digestive system then this capsule is for you. Fenugreek is a general digestive tonic and psyllium is a magical bulking agent that will help proper bowel movements, without using a laxative.
  • Detox capsules
    • Our modern day lifestyle exposes us to many unwanted additive and our diet also places stress on the body. To help the body get rid of toxins and waste materials naturally we combined fennel, basil, celery and parsley to help the body remove these toxins. It peps-up your metabolism and helps the bladder, kidneys and liver to do their work more effectively.
  • Urinary and bladder health capsules
    • Using an all natural approach, our capsules will help the discomfort and burning urine sensation of urinary tract infection and help clear up foul smelling urine. We combined cranberry, dandelion, uva ursi and vitamin C in a single capsule to effectively fight bladder infections and to stop the burning sensation when urinating.
  • Tri- Mushroom blend capsules
    • If you need an immune system boost then have a look at our combination of maitake, reishi and shiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms have showed to be a great help in boosting the immune system – and form a good nutritional supplement support for HIV/Aids patients and people receiving chemotherapy. Any person with even a slightly compromised immune system may benefit from this supplement.
  • Olive leaf extract capsules
    • This natural detoxifier helps with a variety of ailments and people with chronic fatigue syndrome, infections, glandular fever (Epstein Barr), and even candida and herpes have found it of value. Olive leaf extract helps to fight bacteria, viruses, retroviruses, and protozoa and yeast strains. Apart from fighting all of these problems it also helps to improve kidney function and fights free radicals.
  • Sexual supplement (previously known as Vuka Nkuzi)
    • Men normally don’t admit when they have a declining libido although it is a most common problem. We combine in this supplement seven different natural ingredients to boost sexual health – without any side effects often experienced with such medication. After more than a decade, and thousands of regular Vuka Nkuzi clients we still offer this well priced supplement to boost the libido.


Other products

  • Jojoba oil
    • This liquid golden ester not only moisturizes and penetrates the skin but also helps to fight wrinkles and lines while promoting a clear and unblemished skin. Jojoba does not clog the pores but helps to restore skin elasticity and smoothness. It will leave the skin supple and velvety soft without any oiliness and can be used neat on the skin.
  • Almond oil
    • This light and deeply moisturizing oil has a softening effect on the skin and can be used on the face and body. Almond oil has excellent emollient properties and helps to balance water and moisture loss in the skin. It can be used neat on the skin and also makes an excellent massage base.

Herbal information

Herbal encyclopedia

Different uses of medicinal herbs

Explanation of the therapeutic properties of herbs

List of ailments and herbs that may be useful

Information on individual herbs

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