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Herbal Therapies Used by People Living With HIV: Mushrooms

Part of A Practical Guide to Herbal Therapies for People Living With HIV

2004

Mushrooms
Mushrooms are used medicinally in many cultures worldwide. They contain a variety of nutrients and vitamins, and many have medicinal effects. Three mushrooms grown in Asia - reishi, shiitake and maitake - may be of potential interest to people with HIV. All three are used in kampo, the traditional medical system of Japan. They are best known as immune modulators and may have antiviral properties. These mushrooms are also adaptogens, which are substances that help the body cope with illness and stress. Some people use them for their nutritional value.

Of the three mushrooms, shiitake is the most widely studied in the context of HIV, although some Chinese medicine practitioners and herbalists believe that maitake is the most powerful. Unfortunately, lentinan, a substance isolated from shiitake, has not shown clinical benefit in the management of HIV infection. Fresh mushrooms can be included in a regular diet if they're properly prepared; and dried mushrooms can be brewed to make tea. Capsules containing dried mushrooms (sometimes combined with other herbs, such as ginseng) are available. Mushrooms can occasionally cause stomach upset or diarrhea, particularly if taken on an empty stomach. People with allergies to any kind of mushroom should not take mushrooms in any form. Severe allergic reactions are possible and can be life-threatening.





  
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This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 

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