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The Marriage of Cannabis and Mushrooms: Natural Nectar of the Gods

Modern humanity isn’t buying the rather indoctrinating attempts of traditional medicine anymore. Concepts like doctor-prescribed pharmaceutical drug equals harmless while nutra- or phytoceutical is New Age mumbo-jumbo have subsided. There are many drugs that have saved untold numbers of lives. There are also drugs that have addicted and killed large sums of humanity. Some doctors and pharmaceutical companies couldn’t care less, as long as profits can be raked in. Corporate dealers. Others care enough to open their minds to alternative options, recognizing that we just can’t continue down this path any longer.

The dawn of accepted cannabis medicine is among us, an ancient remedy no longer shunned. But our return to nature hasn’t ended there. Modern humanity is evolving to recognize that other plants have utility, such as medicinal and psychedelic mushrooms.

A US patent depicts a possible treatment for prostate disorders via use of selenium- and zinc-enriched cannabis biomass, and shitake and maitake mushrooms. The patent abstract reports that these multidimensional, phytoceutical products are “effective in treating prostate disorders by alleviating pain and voiding symptoms, decreasing inflammation and prostate size, reducing cellular proliferation in prostate tissue, and/or reducing [prostrate specific antigen] levels to within the normal range of 0-4.” The immune-enhancing molecules contained within the mushrooms are reported to be polysaccharides like alpha- and beta-glucans extracted from shitake and maitake mushrooms, respectively.

Another US patent discloses a method for cultivating mushrooms on live or dried Cannabis sativa substrates. Mushrooms are often grown from spores that are inserted into substrates, such as tree logs. This patented method uses a substate containing cannabis, such as a cannabidiol (CBD)-rich biomass. Maybe a hemp biomass-spiked bed of already sterilized hemp raffinate could be a viable medium for generating mushrooms, especially when coffee grounds and tea leaves are used.

Harmoniously, the inventors express “…a need remains not only to converge the worlds of medicinal mushrooms and cannabis, but to do so in a way that controlled amounts of CBD and THC, in the desired ratio, appear in medicinal mushrooms grown in association with a reliable source of both compounds.” By introducing specific amounts of C. sativa into the growth medium, the method permits a controlled, intended uptake of cannabinoids into the mushrooms.

Or so the patent reports. The marriage of mushrooms and cannabis, though, embodies a heavenly union, like pizza and beer, just much better for you in the long haul.

If you read us often, you’ve already embraced songs in the evolving setlist describing the medicinal capabilities of C. sativa, and its commune of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Elegantly bulging back onto the mainstage, the therapeutic attributes of mushrooms, psychedelic or not, are plentiful compared to cannabinoids.

Consider the natural Snoball™ little puffball known as lion’s mane.

Companies like Cannabotech and Mushroom Revival have designed formulations containing lion’s mane extract and cannabinoids. Lion’s mane has molecules called erinacines (a type of terpenoid) and hericenones that have demonstrated strong medicinal potential. Erinacines stimulate nerve growth factor [1], which can prevent neuronal death and has application in treating Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. The jury seems to be conflicted regarding whether hericenones have the same property. [2,3]

Aqueous extracts of lion’s mane mushrooms have gastroprotective properties. [4] A 400 mg/kg of body weight animal trial demonstrated similar efficacy to omeprazole (Prilosec®) for gastric ulcer size reduction and an increased capability for inhibiting their formation. The extract also had antioxidant properties. [4]

Chaga and turkey-tail mushrooms offer anti-cancer potential.

In vitro, chaga extract prevented liver [5] and colon [6] cancer cells from spreading. Turkey-tail extracts revealed efficacy against prostate [7] and glioma [8] (brain or spinal cord tumor) cancer cells. Much of the discussion around turkey-tail mushrooms regards polysaccharide “Krestin” or PSK, which, in addition to anticancer properties, has also shown antiviral capabilities against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). [9]

There are already multiple pharmaceuticals available that were derived from medicinal mushrooms. For example, the drug cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant used in conjunction with organ transplants to prevent rejection by the recipient, which was originally isolated from the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum by none other than Sandoz Laboratories. [10]

There’s also the class of drugs called statins, relevant to more than 1,000,000,000 people worldwide for lowering cholesterol and improving overall heart health. [11] Merck’s Lovastatin®, for example, was originally isolated from Aspergillus terreus.

These are just a sampling of the many mushrooms and their myriad of medicinal benefits. The exquisite marriage of mushrooms and cannabis provides a natural polypharmacy capable of powerful, yet still indescribable medical revelations.

References

  1. Ma, B. et al. “Hericenones and Erinacines: Stimulators of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) Biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus.” Mycology, vol. 1, no. 2, 2010, pp. 92-98. [journal impact factor = N/A; timed cited = 37 (SemanticScholar)]
  2. Kawagishi, H. et al. “Hericenones C, D and E, Stimulators of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-Synthesis, from the Mushroom Hericium erinaceum.” Tetrahedron Letters, vol. 32, no. 35, 1991, pp. 4561-4564. [journal impact factor = 2.259; timed cited = 53 (SemanticScholar)]
  3. Mori K. et al. “Nerve Growth Factor-Inducing Activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 Human Astrocytoma Cells.” Biol Pharm Bull., vol. 9, 2008, pp. 1727–1732. [journal impact factor = 1.540; timed cited = 59 (SemanticScholar)]
  4. Wong, J. et al. “Gastroprotective Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract against Ethanol-Induced Ulcer in Rats.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, 2013, Article ID 492976, 9 pages. [journal impact factor = 2.064; timed cited = 29 (SemanticScholar)]
  5. Youn, M. et al. “Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) Induces G0/G1 Arrest and Apoptosis in Human Hepatoma HepG2 Cells.” World J Gastroenterol, vol. 14, no. 4, 2008, pp. 511-517. [journal impact factor = 3.411; timed cited = 35 (SemanticScholar)]
  6. Lee, S. et al. “Antitumor Activity of Water Extract of a Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, Against HT‐29 Human Colon Cancer Cells.” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 23, no. 12, 2009, pp. 1784-1789. [journal impact factor = 3.766; timed cited = 25 (SemanticScholar)]
  7. Hsieh T.C. and Wu J.M. “Cell Growth and Gene Modulatory Activities of Yunzhi (Windsor Wunxi) from Mushroom Trametes versicolor in Androgen-Dependent and Androgen-Insensitive Human Prostate Cancer Cells.” Int J Oncol, vol. 18, 2001, pp. 81–88. [journal impact factor = 3.571; timed cited = 39 (SemanticScholar)]
  8. Mao X. et al. “Evaluation of Polysaccharopeptide Effects Against C6 Glioma in Combination with Radiation.” Oncology, vol. 61, 2001, pp. 243–253. [journal impact factor = 2.278; timed cited = 25 (ResearchGate)]
  9. Tochikura T. et al. “A Biological Response Modifier, PSK, Inhibits Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection In Vitro.” Biochem Biophys Res Commun, vol. 148, 1987, pp. 726–733. [journal impact factor = 2.705; timed cited = 34 (ResearchGate)]
  10. Borel, J., Kis, Z., and Beveridge, T. “The History of the Discovery and Development of Cyclosporine (Sandimmune®).” The Search for Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Birkhäuser Boston, 1995, pp. 27-63. [journal impact factor = N/A; timed cited = 16 (Springer Link)]
  11. Ioannidis J. “More than a Billion People Taking Statins? Potential Implications of the New Cardiovascular Guidelines.” Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 311, 2014, pp. 463-464. [journal impact factor = 51.273; timed cited = 118 (SemanticScholar)]

Image Credit: Field & Forest Products, Wikimedia Commons (Björn S, CC-SA-2.0), Wikimedia Commons (Leslie Seaton from Seattle, WA, USA / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), , iNaturalist (Richard Tehan, CC BY-NC-SA) , Wikimedia Commons (Medmyco at English Wikipedia / CC0)

About the author

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

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