Arizona Advanced Medicine Clinic

Activation of Innate Immunity to Reduce Lung Metastases in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer continues to be a leading cause of cancer death in women. The cancer kills, not because it invades the breast, but because it invades the whole body, particularly the bone and the brain. We diagnose it with increasing frequency, and treatments are disfiguring and, frankly, pretty brutal, removing one of the major attributes of our femininity, the breast.

The paper[1] whose title is the title of this article discusses the value of a particular mushroom, CordycepsCordyceps sinensis, which has been used in China for thousands of years as a treatment for multiple conditions involving the immune system, including tumors.

Why should a lowly mushroom be beneficial to our health?

The health of most forests depends upon the presence, abundance and variety of their interconnecting roots (called mycorrhiza), i.e. the number and variety of mushrooms growing in the forest and the interplay among their interconnections. Mushrooms help plants to fix nitrogen from the air and the soil, so that their leaves may grow.

Did you ever ask yourself whether these mushrooms might serve a similar function in us? After all, our guts contain a large number of fungi – which we tend to lump together under the name “candida”. We blame these mushrooms for a variety of symptoms – leaky gut, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle and joint pains…

What if the mushrooms were found to be beneficial all along? What if they just overgrow because we overfeed them? Or feed them food they cannot use, such as monosodium glutamate, aspartame, red dye #40. Did you ever think that perhaps their invasion into our body’s function occurs because they are looking to clean up their environment, the way they do in the forest?

Shiitake mushroomsMushrooms produce a network of roots called the “mycelium” which is essential for their survival. The mycelium is packed with vitamins and nutrients, helps to condition the soil in which it grows, helps choose beneficial bacteria to break down nutrients and produce other nutrients which we cannot produce ourselves.

In human terms, the mushrooms and their mycelia have been shown to be prebiotics for our gut, encouraging the growth of helpful bacteria like acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, as well as supporting our immune systems.

The mycelium also destroys environmental toxins. If it grows in a soil which contains a multitude of toxic chemicals, the mycelium does indeed take up those toxins, cleaning up the soil. But you probably don’t want to eat mushrooms grown in that toxic environment.

For medicinal purposes, mushrooms have been shown to activate Toll-like receptors, a very Lion's mane fungusimportant part of the innate immune system which is also involved in recognition of cancerous cells, and preventing their growth.[2]

Get your mushrooms – both food and medicinal – grown organically, so that you may get the benefit of their ability to clean up your toxic environment, and enjoy the taste and nutrients at the same time.[3]

And if you are taking them for medicinal purposes, make sure that they are grown organically. You might be surprised at how much mercury and other toxic contaminants may be present in those inexpensive supplements. Ask for a chemical analysis of the end product before you buy it.


[1] Jordan JL, Nowak A, Lee TDG. Activation of innate immunity to reduce lung metastases in breast cancer. Cancer Immunol Immunother DOI 10.1007/s00262-009-0800-x.

[2] Kasai H, He LM, Ito M et al. IL-12 Production Induced by Agaricus blazei Fraction H (ABH) Involves Toll-like Receptor (TLR). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):259-267.

[3] One excellent source of organic medicinal mushrooms is Desert Forest Nutritionals, whose mushrooms are grown organically in the Brazilian Rainforest.

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