The Antiviral Properties of Medicinal Mushrooms

The Antiviral Properties of Medicinal Mushrooms

ImmuneStart is one of the most potent immune-supporting supplements on the market today. It contains the traditional Chinese herb astragalus, along with six of the world’s most researched mushrooms. ImmuneStart is commonly recommended for broad spectrum immune support, cold and flu prevention, and support during, or following, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

The mushrooms found in ImmuneStart are in the form of pharmaceutical quality, concentrated extracts of their mycelium, extracellular compounds, fruiting bodies, and spores. It takes over 250 pounds of mushrooms to create one pound of this mushroom extract.

Each recommended dose (4 capsules) contains over 560 mg of soluble beta-glucans, and polysaccharides. The beta-glucans and polysaccharides found in medicinal mushrooms stimulate the production of immune cells, which guard our bodies’ cells against foreign invaders, and protect us from aberrant and abnormal cell growth.

The mushroom extract found in ImmuneStart is a proprietary blend, grown and produced in America, from the immune-active hetero-polysaccharides concentrated, and purified, from six Certified Organic mushroom species: Cordyceps sinensis, Agaricus blazei, Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi, and Turkey Tail.

Mushrooms are so effective at pulling toxins out of soil that they are being used to clean up sites contaminated with heavy metals, and radiation. As a result, when buying medicinal mushrooms we need to be sure that they were grown in pristine conditions: organic sources ensure that this is so.

Medicinal Mushrooms

The vast majority of research on medicinal mushrooms concerns their ability to stimulate and modulate the immune system. And so, ImmuneStart is commonly recommended for supporting immune function, and helping us to prevent bacteria and viruses from gaining a foothold in our bodies. However, given that these current newsletters are looking at protecting us from viruses, I did a quick scan of Pubmed to see if the mushrooms used in ImmuneStart also had antiviral properties, and each of the mushrooms in question had some reference to antiviral activity.

Below is a quick overview of these studies, followed by two done specifically on the patented mushroom mix incorporated into ImmuneStartImmuneAssist ™


“Mice were intranasally infected with 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 virus. Body weight changes and survival rate were measured daily post-infection…We also found that Cordyceps extract had an anti-influenza effect that was associated with stable body weight and reduced mortality. The antiviral effect of Cordyceps extract on influenza infection was mediated presumably by increased IL-12 expression and greater number of NK cells.”

“Cordyceps sinensis is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine that has been used for centuries in Asia as a tonic to soothe the lung for the treatment of respiratory diseases. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of C. sinensis on airway remodeling in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)…C. sinensis treatment significantly ameliorated airway wall thickening, involving collagen deposition, airway wall fibrosis, smooth muscle hypertrophy and epithelial hyperplasia in model rats with COPD. Additionally, C. sinensis administration in rats with COPD reduced inflammatory cell accumulation and decreased inflammatory cytokine production.”  (Study)

Agaricus blazei

“This review aims to summarize and evaluate the past decade findings related to nutritional and therapeutic uses of A. blazei, with especial emphasis on the most recent discoveries regarding its chemical composition and clinical investigations. At least the following bioactivities can be considered as being supported by experimental evidence: antioxidant activity (in aging or disease), immunomodulation and cell signaling, anti-inflammatory activity, antiparasitic actions, antimicrobial activity, anticancer effects and tumor growth inhibiting effects, antimutagenic activity, hepatoprotection against chemical or viral infection and antidiabetic activity.”


Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

We investigated the inhibitory effect of…the extracts from the fruit bodies of Grifola frondosa (ME) or its ultra filtration-based fractions (MFs), on the growth of influenza A/Aichi/2/68 virus in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells…These findings suggest that ME and MFs (especially MF-2) might induce the production of certain factors, including TNF-alpha, which are responsible for the inhibition of viral growth in vitro.”



“Lentinula edodes, known as shiitake, has been utilized as food, as well as, in popular medicine, moreover, compounds isolated from its mycelium and fruiting body have shown several therapeutic properties. The aim of this study was to determine the antiviral activity of aqueous (AqE) and ethanol (EtOHE) extracts and polysaccharide (LeP) from Lentinula edodes in the replication of poliovirus type 1 (PV-1) and bovine herpes virus type 1 (BoHV-1)…The results allowed us to conclude that AqE, EtOHE and LeP act on the initial processes of the replication of both strains of virus.”  (Study)


The basidiocarp, mycelia and spores of Ganoderma lucidum contain approximately 400 different bioactive compounds… which have been reported to have a number of pharmacological effects including immunomodulation, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, chemo-preventive, antitumor, chemo and radio protective, sleep promoting, antibacterial, antiviral (including anti-HIV), hypolipidemic, anti-fibrotic, hepatoprotective, anti-diabetic, anti-androgenic, anti-angiogenic, anti-herpetic, antioxidative and radical-scavenging, anti-aging, hypoglycemic, estrogenic activity and anti-ulcer properties. Ganoderma lucidum has now become recognized as an alternative adjuvant in the treatment of leukemia, carcinoma, hepatitis and diabetes.”   (Study)

Turkey Tail (Coriolus versicolor)

“Coriolus versicolor (CV) is a common mushroom with antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and immunomodulatory properties.”   (Study)

Coriolus versicolor (CV) is a medicinal mushroom widely prescribed for the prophylaxis and treatment of cancer and infection in China. In recent years, it has been extensively demonstrated both preclinically and clinically that aqueous extracts obtained from CV display a wide array of biological activities, including stimulatory effects on different immune cells and inhibition of cancer growth.”   (Study)

Immune Assist ™

“Immune Assist (IA) is produced from extract of six species of medical mushrooms: Agaricus blazei – Cordyceps sinensis – Grifola frondosa – Ganoderma lucidum – Coriolus versicolor – Lentinula edodes. The genoprotective potential of IA was evaluated for the first time. Significant antigenotoxic effects were detected in human peripheral blood cells against H2O2 induced DNA damage, in the pretreatment and in the posttreatment…Our results suggest that IA displayed antigenotoxic and antioxidant properties.”   (Study)

“In this study the effect of Immune Assist, which is a naturally derived immune-modulating and antiviral agent, on CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts was evaluated in 8 HIV-infected patients at the Sunyani Regional Hospital (Ghana)…The study revealed that Immune Assist, used as a sole therapeutic agent without additional ARV drugs, significantly increased CD4+ T-lymphocyte populations in all of the patients. In one patient, the CD4+ T-lymphocyte count went from 4 at the baseline, to 170 cells in 60 days, representing an increase of more than 4000%.”


Using ImmuneStart

Recommendations: 4 capsules per day provides excellent broad spectrum immune protection. For serious immune conditions, or extra immune support when undergoing excess stress, increase dosage to 8 capsules per day.

As we have observed in this newsletter, and a previous one on Astragalus, the ingredients in ImmuneStart help us to maintain a “terrain” that makes it difficult for viruses to gain access to our body.

However, while both the Astragalus and the medicinal mushroom mix (Immune Assist ™) clearly have antiviral properties, and are suitable for use during viral infection, there is one important factor to be aware of. According to the principles of Chinese medicine, Astragalus use should be discontinued if one has a fever. Thus, those experiencing fever should discontinue using ImmuneStart until the fever has passed.

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