Edible mushrooms keep the immune system in check in arthritis patients | Animal study
According to fundamental research, edible mushrooms such as the well-known white belly button mushroom stimulate the immune system. According to epidemiological studies, mushrooms reduce the risk of cancer and infections by activating the immune system. At the same time, edible mushrooms seem to prevent the immune system from mistakenly targeting the body itself. This means that mushrooms also soothe autoimmune conditions such as arthritis.
In 2011, researchers from Oklahoma State University published an animal study in the Journal of Nutrition in which they injected mice with collagen [CII] and LPS, a polysaccharide that drives inflammation. This treatment causes mice to develop an allergy to their own collagen, causing their immune system to mistakenly attack the cartilage in joints. Researchers use this model to study rheumatoid arthritis.
Mice in a control group were fed standard food. Mice in 2 experimental groups were fed food to which freeze-dried mushrooms [WBM] or shiitake [SM] had been added.
If the mice had been adult humans, they would have consumed about 40-45 grams of powder daily. This would amount to approximately 600 grams of fresh mushrooms. That's an impractical amount, but okay.
In all test animals, the researchers saw symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the weeks after the injections of collagen and LPS. The researchers scored the severity of the athritis based on an examination of the mice's paws. 3–4 = mild; 5–6 = moderate, 7 or higher = severe.
The mice that consumed edible mushrooms performed significantly better than the mice in the control group. About 60 percent of the mice that did not eat mushrooms had severe arthritis. In the mice that ingested mushrooms, this was about 25 percent.
After administration of the injections, the concentration of the inflammatory protein TNF-alpha increased in the blood of the mice. If the mice had been given mushrooms, the concentration of TNF-alpha actually dropped.
"Although our observations provide a rationale for the use of white button mushrooms as a functional food for the prevention and/or adjuvant treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, whether or not the health benefits of white button mushrooms translate to clinical rheumatoid arthritis remains to be determined", the researchers write.
J Nutr. 2011 Jan;141(1):131-6.
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