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Polysaccharide Definition

Polysaccharide Definition. Polysaccharides are polymer carbohydrates made up of many monosaccharides or disaccharides. In other words, polysaccharides are complex sugar molecules made up of many blocks of simple sugar. The sugars are held together by the glycosidic bonds. A glycosidic bond is a covalent bond that joins a carbohydrate molecule to another group that may either may not be a carbohydrate. Their features may vary from their building blocks ie the monosaccharides. When all the monosaccharides in a polysaccharide are the same type, the polysaccharide is named a homopolysaccharideor or homoglycan, but when more than one type of monosaccharide is present they are called heteropolysaccharides either heteroglycans. (The ‘poly’ refers to many, meaning that polysaccharides can have any number of individual sacchardies, from three to ten thousand, contained within its chain)

The number of mushrooms on Earth is  calculated at 140,000, but just 10 percent are known. Usually thought to only support normal bowel function and blood glucose and lipid levels, certain polysaccharides have attracted growing scientific interest for their ability  to exert pronounced effects on immune system function, cancers and inflammation. In especially  for health, they represent an unlimited source of polysaccharides with antitumor and immunostimulatory effects. variety, basidiomycetes mushrooms contain biologically active polysaccharides in fruit bodies, cultured mycelium, culture broth.

Mushroom polysaccharides prevent oncogenesis, show direct antitumor effect against different allogeneic and syngeneic tumors, and avoid tumor metastasis. Polysaccharides in fungi do not attack cancer cells directly, however produce their antitumor activity by activating different immune responses in the host. The anti-tumor activity of polysaccharides requires an intact T-cell component; their effectiveness is mediated through a thymus-dependent immune mechanism.

Natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages are between the wide array of immune system cells that patrol the body seeking abnormities and other difficulties. When a trouble has been identified, a cellular defense team in the form of messenger molecules is summoned to initiate the proper immune response. This cellular defense system is enhanced when enough levels of polysaccharides are taken.

Various researches indicated that some particular polysaccharides, (those from the cell wall of yeast or those that are present in various plants), can activate the immune system starting from the intestine, even when no intruders are present.  Reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms possess beta-1,3-D-glucan, a type of polysaccharide that stimulates the immune cells.

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum)

Most medical mushrooms contain polysaccharides called beta-glucans that increase  DNA and RNA in the bone marrow where immune cells, like lymphocytes, are made. The polysaccharide stimulates macrophage activity to produce TNF-a (tumor-necrosis factor), together with cancer killing interleukins.

A number of polysaccharides present in Ganoderma Lucidum, (beta glucans), have showed  immunostimulating and antitumor properties. This medicinal mushroom can enhance plasma antioxidant capacity and improves immune response in advance-stage cancer patients. Extracts of Ganoderma have showed the capability to stimulate macrophages and to alter the levels of interleukin and TNF. Ganoderma Lucidum (reishi) inhibits proliferation of human lung cancer cells by blocking AP-1 and NF-kB  activation, notes a research reported  in the journal Interactive Cancer Therapies.

Ganoderma Lucidum polysaccharides increase DNA and RNA in the bone marrow where immune cells like this as lymphocytes are made. Researchers inject it into mice for 1 week and then monitored the changes in RNA and DNA in the bone marrow. Increases were approximately 50 percent. Protein in bone marrow also increased by as much as 28 percent. IgG constitutes a important class of antibodies in human serum that act to enhance phagocytosis and neutralize toxins. Ganoderma Lucidum polysaccharides also augments the responsiveness of antibodies, especially IgG, by expanding the “memory” of T-cells.

Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

A polysaccharide extract from maitake demonstrated immunomodulatory activities in preclinical trials and hence the potential for clinical use. Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and the maitake D-fraction prepared from them contain a type of polysaccharide, called beta glucan. Most of the studies on maitake D-fraction has been done in Japan using an injectable form of the extract. Grifola frondosa is thought to exert its effects through its ability to activate various effector cells, such as macrophages, T cells and NK cells, as well as superoxide anions and interleukin-1. A 1997 study reported in the “Annals of the New York Academy of Science” found that Maitake D-fraction was able to increase the immune system and inhibit the spread of tumors in mice implanted with breast cancer.

In clinical studies, Grifola frondosa has been found to increase the activity of 3 very important elements of the immune system (macrophages, T-cells, NK-cells ) by among 140% and 200%. A forty-five year old a female with estrogen-responsive breast cancer underwent surgery in 1992 to remove the tumor, which measured 1.8 cm. She received slight chemotherapy with  ADM and 5-FU until Feb 1994. However the cancer recurred in April 1994, the tumor size measuring 0.9 cm. She refused surgery and instead started to take  five grams of maitake powder and 100 mg of Maitake D-fraction every day for 6 months.

Coriolus Versicolor

Coriolus versicolor is a mushroom of the Basidiomycetes class. Contains PSK (polysaccharide-K) and PSP (polysaccharide peptide), which may be able to fight tumor growth as well as boost the immune system. In the 1980s, the Japanese authorities approved  the use of PSK (polysaccharide-K) for treating some types of cancer. Clinical trials has consistently showed the capability of C. versicolor to double and even triple survival rates for patients receiving radiation and chemotherapy.

Agaricus Blazei Murill

Agaricus blazei Murill is an edible, medicinal mushroom of Brazilian origin. In 1960, a Japanese grower and researcher named Takatoshi Furumoto discovered it and sent it to Japan in 1965 for study. The polysaccharides and antiangiogenic compounds present in Agaricus blazei Murill (ABM) are thought to be responsible for its antitumor effects. In addition to the beta 1-3 glucan found in most other medicinal mushrooms, the Agaricus also contains a unique beta 1-6 glucan.

The antitumor activity of Agaricus extracts have been attributed to the induction of apoptosis of cancer cells and the activation of natural killer cells. Cellular and animal model studies have shown that agaricus mushroom may also stimulate immune cells to enhance the production of cytokines. At the “Medical Department of Tokyo University“, mice with cancerous tumors were fed with ABM. The cancerous tumors were eliminated in 90 percent of the mice. Also for those mice fed with the agaricus as a preventative agent, injected with the strong cancer-causing Sarcoma 180, 99 percent of them demonstrated no tumor growth.

Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC®)

The patented AHCC®  (Active Hexose Correlated Compound), is a polysaccharide-rich mushroom-based ingredient derived from the mycelia of select basidiocymetes. Has been improved in Japan for use in treatment of cancer.Due to a special  manufacturing process, AHCC has a low molecular weight. The small size of AHCC molecules translates to increased absorption and increased efficacy compared to  reishi, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms.

Active Hexose Correlated Compound, is unmatched in that while most mushrooms contain primarily betaglucans, AHCC is many rich in alpha-glucans, a different  species of polysaccharide with very potent immunomodulating properties. Proven effects of AHCC; 1-Boost the production of cytokines. 2-Increasing the activity of Natural killer (NK) cells by as much as 300-800%. 3-Increasing the number of T cells by as much as 200%. 4-Increasing the number of dendritic cells.

Astragalus Membranaceus

Astragalus polysaccharides, extracted from the root of Astragalus membranaceus, have extensive pharmacological and powerful immunomodulatory properties. Has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. While there are multiple species of astragalus, most astragalus supplements contain Astragalus membranaceus.

Experiments in animal-based has shown that astragalus membranaceus seemingly works by stimulating different factors of the immune system, including enhancing phagocytic activity of monocytes and macrophages, increasing interferon production and NK (natural killer) cell activity, enhancing T-cell activity, and potentiating other antiviral mechanisms. Clinical  trials show astragalus membranaceus infusion  very effectual at improving and restoring T-cell functioning,  improving bone marrow activity, and augmenting interferon response. Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that astragalus extract boosted the cell-destroying ability, or cytotoxicity, of the conventional immune system drug interleukin-2  by helping cells of the immune system.  In a study done with 115 patients on chemotherapy, over 80% showed higher white blood cell counts when taking Astragalus.

Fermented Noni Juice (Morinda Citrifolia)

Noni is the general name for Morinda citrifolia, a small evergreen tree found in Polynesia. The fruitjuice of noni contains a polysaccharide-rich substance with antitumor activity in the Lewis lung peritoneal carcinomatosis model. Noni possesses antitumor activity by stimulating immune factors like Tumor Necrosis Factor, NK cells (Natural killer cells) etc. to attack the tumor. Researchers at the “Department of Pharmacology in the University of Hawaii“, demonstrated conclusively that the high polysaccharide content of Morinda citrifolia inhibits tumours in mice. An immunomodulatory polysaccharide-rich substance (Noni-ppt) from the fruit juice of noni has been found to possess preventive and medicinal effect against the immunomodulator sensitive sarcoma 180 tumour system.

Goji Berry

Goji is a bright orange-red berry that comes from a shrub that’s native to China. Researchers discovered unparalleled polysaccahrides in goji berries that have not been discovered in any other herb source to date. Goji berries contain the polysaccharides called LBP1, LBP2, LBP3, and LBP4. In animal-based experiments, goji berry has been shown to improve the immune system by increasing the lymphocyte transformation rate and by improving the phagocytosis function of macrophages. In addition increases the activity of natural killer cells, T lymphocytes and cytotoxic cells. One clinical trial of elderly participants demonstrated that in 67 percent of cases, goji  taken daily for 3 weeks led to a three-fold increase in lymphocyte T-cell transformation and doubled the activity of white cell interleukin-2.


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