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Medicinal Mushrooms and Immune Balance: Ancient Concepts find Corollary in Modern Medicine

Medicinal mushrooms have been highly-valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over three thousand years for their adaptogenic properties that help to balance the “Yin and Yang” energies in our bodies. This ancient concept has a corollary in modern medicine where the immunodulating properties of medicinal mushrooms have been shown to balance the Th1 and Th2 responses of our adaptive immune system. In general Th1 responses are effective against intracellular pathogens (viruses and bacteria that are inside host cells) and Th2 responses are more effective against extracellular bacteria, parasites and toxins. Th1 and Th2 are balanced in a healthy immune system. Sometimes they may be out of balance, but that imbalance is short term and a protective mechanism of the body. In many cases, an infection is fought with both arms of the immune system. At other times predominantly one is needed to control an infection. A healthy immune system is both balanced and dynamic: it should be balanced between Th1 and Th2 activity, switching back and forth between the two as needed. This allows for a quick eradication of a threat and then a return to balance before responding to the next threat. The inability to respond adequately with a Th1 response can result in chronic infection and cancer; an overactive Th2 response can contribute to allergies, various syndromes and play a role in autoimmune disease. In the case of autoimmune diseases, the balance is lost, and either the Th1 or Th2 becomes dominant, resulting in our body attacking itself. As the immune system is over-stimulated, it finds itself in a self-perpetuating imbalance. This imbalance is known as Th1 – Th2 polarization. This causes a vicious cycle, increasing both the imbalance and the intensity of the attack. - SF

THE FIGHT AGAINST DISEASE: HEALTH IN THE BALANCE Th1 cell IFNIFN-γ ILIL-2

Th2 cell ILIL-4

TNFTNF-α

ILIL-13

Th1 cytokines Appropriate for 

 

Intracellular pathogens  Bacteria  Viruses Cancer Delayed-type hypersensitivity

ILIL-10

Th2 cytokines Appropriate for 

Extracellular Helminthic parasites (tapeworms, nematodes)

Development of antibody responses to neutralize circulating viruses and bacteria

Medicinal Mushrooms and Immune Balance  

Medicinal Mushrooms and Immune Balance: Ancient Concepts find Corollary in Modern Medicine