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Parasite mushroom puts the brakes on cancer

Parasitic mushroom could stop cancer cold
Researchers are looking into a promising cancer treatment derived from a bizarre source—a parasitic mushroom that grows on caterpillars. Odd, yes, but it could be the newest weapon in the natural fight against cancer.

It may kill its insect host by slowly replacing the bug’s tissues with its own, but this bizarre mushroom could very well save human lives.

Stretching high above its insect host, the parasitic mushroom cordyceps holds a valuable secret. A secret so powerful that mushroom hunters in Tibet can earn up to $900 an ounce for the mushroom.

If you’re a close follower of the Olympics, cordyceps might be familiar to you. In 1993, three Chinese runners were tested for anabolic steroids after breaking five world records. The tests came back negative—the three women weren’t taking any illegal drugs. Their coach had asked them to take cordyceps to boost their performance.

Pretty impressive already, isn’t it? But the secret of cordyceps could be even more valuable.

Cordyceps could, in fact, be the next big weapon against our most feared disease—cancer. And researchers are figuring out exactly how it works.

A team at the University of Nottingham have found that cordyceptin, prepared from a cultivated form cordyceps, has two effects on cancer cells. At a low dose, it inhibits division of cells, and at high doses it stops cells from sticking together, which also freezes growth.

The researchers have found that both effects are due to the mushroom’s interference with how cells make proteins.

When cordyceptin was first extracted from wild mushrooms and researched, it was found promising, but the substance degraded too quickly in the body to have any effect. When given with a second drug, the effects last longer, but the side effects of the second drug end up limiting the promise of cordyceps.

Researchers are continuing to look into what types of cancer cordyceps might be most powerful against, and of course what drugs they can combine it with (what, did you think Big Pharma wouldn’t notice the next possible cancer miracle?).

The current research is set to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. And you can bet we’ll be keeping a close eye on this miracle mushroom at Nutrition & Healing.

“New Insights Into Mushroom-Derived Drug Promising For Cancer Treatment,” Medical News Today (