Best Mushroom for Lyme Disease

January, 13 2024 | by SILVANA JAKUPOVIC, ND

Understanding Lyme Disease and Its Impact

Lyme Disease (LD) results from an infection transmitted by ticks from the genus Borrelia, usually acquired through a tick bite [1]. It is the most common tick-borne illness in the northern hemisphere, resulting in a multi-system illness; LD can affect the skin, nervous system, joints, and heart [1].

 

What is the Connection Between Lyme Disease and Autoimmunity?
What are the Chaga Benefits for Lyme Disease?
What are the Turkey Tail Benefits for Lyme Disease?
What are the Lion's Mane Benefits for Lyme Disease?
What are the Reishi Benefits for Lyme Disease?

 

The Connection Between Lyme Disease and Autoimmune Response

Antigenic mimicry is one proposed mechanism of autoimmune disease (AD) [1]. This term describes how our immune cells do not distinguish environmental antigens (any substance that causes our immune system to produce antibodies against it) from our self-proteins in genetically predisposed individuals. Thus, we develop cross-reactive antibodies against the pathogenic antigen and our cells. This process results in the body attempting to “fight off” our cells and causes AD.

It is proposed that Borrelia can induce these same actions and result in the development of AD, which is why LD is treated as such under most alternative medicine methods [1]. While it isn’t officially classified as one, it may trigger an autoimmune response, and its symptoms may mimic autoimmune disease. 

Initially, LD is likely to present with a rash, known as erythema migrans, before developing fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint stiffness [2]. If it continues to progress, it can cause irregular heartbeats, numbness, and weakness, even pain or vision loss in the eye due to its effects on the nervous system [2].

Lyme Disease Natural Remedies

In complementary and alternative forms of medicine, the treatment of LD focuses on preventing the binding of the tick to the skin, reducing bacterial load by enhancing natural killer (NK) cell activity and phagocytosis, down-regulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibiting the fibrinolytic system, and repairing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) [1]. Successful implementation of the above mechanisms can eliminate Borrelia from the tissue and the cross-reactive antibodies from the blood [1]. 

Medicinal Mushrooms for Lyme Disease

Medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat and prevent disease. There are many types of mushrooms, and most are rich in nutrients and bioactive compounds that offer various health benefits, especially for the immune system. In mainstream media, mushrooms are most often praised for boosting the immune system and their ability to activate immune cells. Although every medicinal mushroom may play a role in treating Lyme Disease, let’s discuss a few key ones.

Immune-Boosting Mushrooms for Lyme

Beta-glucans are highly bioactive compounds of medicinal mushrooms that have illustrated metabolic and immunomodulating properties [3]. The beta-glucans present in mushrooms differ from other sources as they are structurally unique and recognized by receptors located on the surface of immune cells; thus, certain medicinal mushrooms have greater bioactivity and specific immunomodulatory properties that other sources of beta-glucans do not [3]. Due to this, functional mushrooms have been labelled as natural biological response modifiers (BRMs) because they can alter immune responses in the body [3]. 

Macrophages are specialized cells in our bodies involved in detecting and destroying bacteria and other harmful organisms. Macrophages carry specific receptors for beta-glucans, such as dectin-1 and TLR-2 [3]. Dectin-1 activation stimulates processes that lead to the death and elimination of pathogenic microorganisms that may invade the body [3]. As is needed for the treatment of LD, beta-glucans can activate cytokines key to immune function, inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and produce anti-inflammatory effects on the body [3]. 

Chaga Mushrooms for Lyme Disease

Chaga is A mushroom specifically observed to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Chaga decreases the expression of TNF-alpha, which is a pro-inflammatory cytokine [4]. TNF-alpha mediates inflammation and can stimulate an inflammatory cascade in the body. 

It has beneficial actions when inflammation or infection is acute and is essential in increasing resistance to infection and preventing cancer development. However, in some cases, such as chronic inflammation seen in Lyme Disease, it is not beneficial to the body as it will continue to encourage an inflammatory state. Thus, Chaga’s ability to decrease the expression of this factor lends to its anti-inflammatory activities.

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Turkey Tail for Lyme Disease

The polysaccharide protein complexes PSP and PSK in the Turkey Tail mushroom contain large amounts of beta-glucans. These beta-glucans have been scientifically shown to induce the production of nitric oxide (NO) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in macrophages treated with Turkey Tail, which allows them to phagocytize and kill bacteria [5] efficiently. As we mentioned previously, enhancing phagocytosis is one of the key factors to focus on in treating LD.

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Lion’s Mane for Lyme Disease

With consideration that neurological manifestations commonly occur in severe cases of Lyme Disease, the use of a neurotrophic and neuroprotective compound may be essential in treatment. A constituent, isohericerinol A,extracted from the fruiting body of Lion’s Mane mushroom, was found to strongly increase nerve growth factor (NGF) production, a neurotrophic factor that is involved in the growth, development, and survival of neurons, our body’s specialized information messengers [6]. 

Lion’s Mane may also improve the healing time of nerve injuries, which may be seen in LD. One study compared the efficacy of B12 to an extract of Lion’s Mane in their abilities to heal peripheral nerve injuries and found that the group treated with Lion’s Mane exhibited signs of normal functioning earlier than the negative control group [7]. Its ability to assist in healing was due to its role in increasing the speed of the cascade of events that lead to nerve regeneration [7].

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Reishi Mushroom for Lyme Disease

Lastly, the medicinal mushroom Reishi, can activate NK cells [8]. NK cells are a part of our innate immune system and work by limiting the spread and subsequent tissue damage of infectious and cancer cells. Lyme Disease can result in changes in our body’s immune defence, such as decreased levels of NK cells, which is why the disease may spread into distal tissue and produce a multi-system and organ disease [1]. Re-establishment of essential immune system cells may assist in preventing the progression and spread of this infection.

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The Power of Mushrooms in Lyme Treatment

Lyme Disease is a highly complex condition that can often become chronic and affect the quality of life in those affected. Although research continues on this topic, it confounds medical professionals. Alternative and complementary treatment methods are increasingly popular and proving more effective in many cases than conventional medicine alone [1]. 

We hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

 

References:

[1] Vojdani A, Hebroni F, Raphael Y, Erde J, Raxlen B. Novel Diagnosis of Lyme Disease: Potential for CAM Intervention. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Sep;6(3):283-95. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nem138. Epub 2007 Oct 15. PMID: 18955246; PMCID: PMC2722197.

[2] Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, November 18). Lyme disease. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651 

[3] Mirończuk-Chodakowska I, Kujawowicz K, Witkowska AM. Beta-Glucans from Fungi: Biological and Health-Promoting Potential in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 6;13(11):3960. doi: 10.3390/nu13113960. PMID: 34836215; PMCID: PMC8623785.

 

[4] Choi SY, Hur SJ, An CS, Jeon YH, Jeoung YJ, Bak JP, Lim BO. Anti-inflammatory effects of Inonotus obliquus in colitis induced by dextran sodium sulfate. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2010;2010:943516. doi: 10.1155/2010/943516. Epub 2010 Mar 10. PMID: 20300439; PMCID: PMC2840610.

[5] Shao-Hua Shi, Wen-Tao Yang, Ke-Yan Huang, Yan-Long Jiang, Gui-Lian Yang, Chun-Feng Wang, Yu Li. β-glucans from Coriolus versicolor protect mice against S. typhimurium challenge by activation of macrophages.International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, Volume 86, 2016, Pages 352-361. ISSN 0141-8130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2016.01.058.

[6] Ryu SH, Hong SM, Khan Z, Lee SK, Vishwanath M, Turk A, Yeon SW, Jo YH, Lee DH, Lee JK, Hwang BY, Jung JK, Kim SY, Lee MK. Neurotrophic isoindolinones from the fruiting bodies of Hericium erinaceus. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2021 Jan 1;31:127714. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127714. Epub 2020 Nov 25. PMID: 33246107.

 

[7] Wong KH, Naidu M, David RP, Bakar R, Sabaratnam V. Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012;14(5):427-46. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v14.i5.10. PMID: 23510212.

[8] Chang CJ, Chen YY, Lu CC, Lin CS, Martel J, Tsai SH, Ko YF, Huang TT, Ojcius DM, Young JD, Lai HC. Ganoderma lucidum stimulates NK cell cytotoxicity by inducing NKG2D/NCR activation and secretion of perforin and granulysin. Innate Immun. 2014 Apr;20(3):301-11. doi: 10.1177/1753425913491789. Epub 2013 Jun 26. PMID: 23803412.

 

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