MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

A press-release from a company based in Germany recently caught my attention. I here present only the most relevant sections from this document:

Natural remedies like medicinal mushrooms also called vitality mushrooms haven proven helpful in prevention and as a support in the therapy, of diabetes type 2. This could be shown by long-time observational studies in naturopathy, for example by MykoTroph – Institute for Medicinal Mushrooms. Medicinal mushroom Coprinus has regenerating effects on the pancreas; it also helps the sensitization of the receptors responsible for the absorption of insulin and claims to have a blood sugar lowering effect.

Medicinal mushroom Maitake has positive effects on the fat metabolism and the sensitivity of insulin receptors. Diabetes type 2 is often linked to circulation problems, vascular diseases and hypertension. Therefore, regular monitoring of the blood pressure, blood lipids, triglycerides and body weight is highly important. The intake of Maitake can help ‒ even in a preliminary stage ‒ to get a grip on these determining factors.

Within the scope of a holistic therapy of diabetes type 2 with metabolic syndrome, the combined intake of medicinal mushrooms and Nopal juice (prickly pear) can be very reasonable. Nopal juice has a lowering effect on the glycemic index of ingested food. The consequence is a slower release of carbohydrates in the intestines and is therefore favorable for a healthy level of blood sugar…

Medicinal mushrooms are available as mushroom powder capsules. According to observational studies of MykoTroph – Institute for Medicinal Mushrooms, especially mushroom powder derived from the whole mushroom has proven effective. Only if the mushroom powder is derived from the whole mushroom, the powder will contain all of the effective ingredients of medicinal mushrooms. It should also be taken care that the mushrooms are from certified organic production. For further information, please visit us on http://www.mykotroph.com
a Japanese study participants comprised 726 Japanese T2DM outpatients free of history of CVD. Life styles were analyzed using self-reported questionnaires. The relationship between dietary patterns, identified by factor analysis, and potential risk factors for CVD was investigated by linear and logistic regression analyses….The “Seaweeds, Vegetables, Soy products and Mushrooms” pattern, characterized by high consumption of seaweeds, soy products and mushrooms, was associated with lower use of diabetes medication and healthier lifestyles.

END OF QUOTE

These are claims that could be relevant to millions of diabetic patients worldwide – but are they true?

The study cited above did indeed show an association; but an association is not necessarily a causal relationship! So what evidence is there fore a causal relationship between mushroom-consumption and diabetes? The answer is: frustratingly little.

A Cochrane review concluded that “evidence from a small number of randomised controlled trials does not support the use of G lucidum [Ganoderma lucidum (also known as lingzhi or reishi)] for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Future research into the efficacy of G lucidum should be placebo-controlled and adhere to clinical trial reporting standards.”

The authors of another Cochrane review concluded that “our review did not find sufficient evidence to justify the use of G. lucidum as a first-line treatment for cancer. It remains uncertain whether G. lucidum helps prolong long-term cancer survival. However, G. lucidum could be administered as an alternative adjunct to conventional treatment in consideration of its potential of enhancing tumour response and stimulating host immunity. G. lucidum was generally well tolerated by most participants with only a scattered number of minor adverse events. No major toxicity was observed across the studies. Although there were few reports of harmful effect of G. lucidum, the use of its extract should be judicious, especially after thorough consideration of cost-benefit and patient preference. Future studies should put emphasis on the improvement in methodological quality and further clinical research on the effect of G. lucidum on cancer long-term survival are needed. An update to this review will be performed every two years.”

A further study determined whether a supplement of Agaricus blazei Murill extract improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. It was designed as a clinical randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Diabetic patients were randomly assigned to either receiving supplement of Agaricus blazei Murill (ABM) extract or placebo (cellulose) 1500 mg daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the subjects who received supplement of ABM extract (n = 29) showed significantly lower HOMA-IR index than the control group (n = 31). The plasma adiponectin concentration increased by 20% in the ABM group after 12 weeks of treatment, but decreased 20% among those taking the placebo. The authors concluded that “ABM extract improves insulin resistance among subjects with type 2 diabetes. The increase in adiponectin concentration after taking AMB extract for 12 weeks might be the mechanism that brings the beneficial effect. Studies with longer periods of follow-up should be conducted in the future.”

On the basis of all this evidence, it seems fair to conclude that mushrooms have little or no effect on diabetes.

And what about the above press-release?

Diabetes is a serious condition that can be well-controlled with diet, exercise and drugs. Many diabetics are nevertheless fed up with taking drugs throughout their entire life and would only be too happy to exchange them for ‘something natural’. Therefore patients might try mushrooms or other natural ‘cures’, if they are promoted in this way. However, this decision could prove fatal (examples of such tragedies abound).

In view of these considerations, I find such promotion irresponsible, unethical and outright dangerous.

13 Responses to Mushrooms for the management of diabetes?

  • This is exciting news, although I had thought that these people already .claimed that eggs cured diabetes.
    Whatever.
    If researchers could now demonstrate that sausages can, as Noel Edmonds might say, ‘ tackle’ cancer, then we’re nearly half way to proving that a full English breakfast is able to wipe out many of the World’ s major illnesses.

    • “… then we’re nearly half way to proving that a full English breakfast is able to wipe out many of the World’ s major illnesses.”

      Very true. I think the Scottish full breakfast is more than capable of eradicating — slowly but surely — *all* known illnesses:

      In Scotland, the full breakfast, as with others, contains eggs, back bacon, link sausage, buttered toast, baked beans, and tea or coffee. Distinctively Scottish elements include Scottish style black pudding, Lorne sausage, and tattie scones. It commonly also includes fried or grilled tomato and/or mushrooms and occasionally haggis, white pudding, fruit pudding or oatcakes.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_breakfast#Scotland.2C_UK

  • I can’t really disagree with Edzard’s conclusions in this post. False promotion of drugs and “natural remidies” should be policed with great prejudice. I doubt, however, that there are more people harmed by such unsupported claims of efficacy of homeopathic remedies than by such spurious, profit-driven activities within “modern medicine.”

    Take Paxil, when prescribed for children, for example. It would seem that “modern medicine” itself is guilty of research misconduct…..and its ramifications often are dire.

    A major reanalysis just published in The BMJ of tens of thousands of pages of original trial documents from GlaxoSmithKline’s infamous Study 329, has concluded that the antidepressant paroxetine is neither safe nor effective in adolescents with depression.1 This conclusion, drawn by independent researchers, is in direct contrast to that of the trial’s original journal publication in 2001, which had proclaimed paroxetine “generally well tolerated and effective.”2 The new paper, published under the restoring invisible and abandoned trials (RIAT) initiative,3 has reignited calls for retraction of the original study, putting additional pressure on academic and professional institutions to publicly address the many allegations of wrongdoing.

    Troubled from the start
    Few studies have sustained as much criticism as Study 329, a placebo controlled, randomized trial of paroxetine and imipramine carried out by SmithKline Beecham (which became GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2000). In 2002, a US Food and Drug Administration officer who formally reviewed the trial reported that “on balance, this trial should be considered as a failed trial, in that neither active treatment group showed superiority over placebo by a statistically significant margin. Yet this same year, according to the New York State Attorney General’s office, which sued GSK, over two million prescriptions were written for children and adolescents in the United States, all off-label, after a marketing campaign that characterized Study 329 as demonstrating “REMARKABLE Efficacy and Safety.”

    The disparity between what the manufacturer and study authors claim the trial found and what other parties say the data show was an important element in the US Department of Justice’s criminal charges against GSK. Imagine that….a drug company(pillar of “modern medicine”) failed to disclose pertinent research findings and instead allowed and encouraged physicians to prescribe the “no benefit”(for children) drug to millions of their patients. Paxil has been associated with hundreds, if not thousands, of serious side effects, even death.

    I am dubious that there have been more deaths due to misconduct within homeopathy than there have been within “modern medicine.”

  • It’s high time that those making millions of dollars by promoting mushrooms for health put their money where their mushrooms are. That was essentially the message of an article in the April issue of the journal Fungal Diversity, titled “Are Mushrooms Medicinal?”

    A quick search in PubMed revealed that studies on maitake (Grifola frondosa) and its constituents for antidiabetic activity date from 1994. There are many laboratory animal and in vitro studies, but, for some reason, no human studies.

  • This study does not prove efficacy of mushrooms; as a prospective cohort study, it was never meant to do so. At this time, it would be wrong to imply that mushrooms confer any appreciative benefit for the conditions discussed, although they should be studied further given the optimistic association of mushroom use and improved lab markers.

    Are mushroom “therapies” only prescribed by alt-med providers or do consumers simply buy and use them volitionally? If the former is the norm and patients are encouraged to forego traditional medical management, such would be dangerous. If the latter is the norm, I would like to see a study quantifying its use/effectiveness in conjunction with traditional management.

    • I refer you to the press-release; read it again and don’t write non-sense.

      • Hmmmm…..essentially I agreed with the main points in your post, Edzard, yet you referred to my comments as “non-sense.” Please clarify exactly what was “non-sense” in my post. Also, my query as to how mushroom therapies are dispensed outside the US is still on the table….unanswered. Would you kindly answer it sans your typically insulting blather?

          • Surprise….another non-answer from Edzard. Unless he’s slamming or poking fun at non-medical research, he has little to write about in this blog. It must be easier for him to enjoy a circle-jerk of laughs with his drones about paramedical disciplines than it is to confront the recurring corruption(noted in above post) of the presumably superior medical research funded by big pharma.

            Fallacy of amphiboly as committed by Edzard: diabetics fed up with drugs + they prefer something “natural” = such belief could prove fatal. There are so many flaws in his “reasoning” that it would be too time-consuming to note them all. Yet Edzard failed to answer my question regarding clarification of how mushrooms are used ex-America, and he notably failed to discuss how many diabetics, many of whom check their glu levels daily(if not several times per day), would likely discard ALL of their MD advice and discontinue their meds in exchange for the sole use of a natural substance. I doubt many would do so, thus Edzard’s stated concerns represent lots of sarcastic “show” without much “go.”

            Surely Edzard’s often chimerical positions on virtually all things non-medical supervene his subjective life experiences in which the myriad negatives within “modern medicine” are purposely subducted to an arbitrary theme of “non-med is bad and med is good.” His views would be taken more seriously by non-drones if he would communicate them in a less snarky manner. Perhaps the purpose of his blog is for self-pleasure?

            Be well

  • I guess this very informative post puts to rest the rumours of mushrooms curing Diabetes. Thanks for sharing this.

  • I just found out, it turns out mushrooms can overcome diabetes. This is a remarkable invention!

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