At TEDMED, TEDTalks favorite Paul Stamets gave an emotional talk about new medical uses for mushrooms — including a variety that, he says, helped treat his mother’s cancer. Stamets spoke about powerful medical uses for mushrooms and their extracts, from anti-tuberculosis effects (Agarikon) to Cordyceps, a treasure trove of potential medicines, such as cyclosporine, which prevents organ rejection in transplant patients, and the recently FDA-approved drug Gilenya, from Novartis, for treating multiple sclerosis (MS).
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Maitake is a mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. Like other medicinal mushrooms, maitake contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan. In laboratory and human studies, maitake extract was able to stimulate various cells and factors in the immune system. Studies in animals show that it slows the growth of certain tumors and lowers blood sugar levels. More studies are being conducted to determine if maitake has the same effects in humans.