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    Host Defense Information

    September is National Mushroom Month & National Honey Month

    September is National Mushroom Month & National Honey Month
    Happy National Mushroom Month & National Honey Month from Host Defense®! With these two celebrations in full swing throughout September, it’s the perfect time to highlight the synergistic relationship between two of our favorite things: mushrooms and bees. 

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    How We Grow Mushroom Mycelium

    How We Grow Mushroom Mycelium

    At Fungi Perfecti®, we follow the science. And years of both internal and third-party testing has shown that mushroom mycelium is highly immunologically active. That’s why we use mushroom mycelium in ALL Host Defense® supplements - because it works!*

    In order to grow mushroom mycelium, we use sustainably harvested mushroom cultures to inoculate and ferment an organic brown rice substrate. The fermentation process produces unique novel compounds that have been studied and shown to provide significant and complementary immune support properties.*

    Much like when growing mushroom fruitbodies, growing mushroom mycelium requires a different length of incubation for each different mushroom species. It takes anywhere from two weeks to two months to grow mushroom mycelium. At Host Defense®, we grow 17 different species. It’s important to know the specific incubation timeline for each mushroom species in order to reach peak efficacy.

    While the timeline to grow mushroom mycelium for each beneficial mushroom species is different, the process for each is the same. Check out the process below!

    The Science of Mushroom Anatomy: Mycelium & the Fruitbody

    The Science of Mushroom Anatomy: Mycelium & the Fruitbody

    Host Defense® Talks with the Expert – Jerry Angelini talks about why we use beneficial mushroom mycelium and fermented substrate in ALL of our supplements.

    Jerry Angelini is Head of Science Education at Fungi Perfecti® and Host Defense®. He has a Masters of Science and Rehabilitation Medicine degree from Boston University, and has been trained in Western Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. With more than 30 years of experience, Jerry is an invaluable source of knowledge and an important part of our team. We sat down with Jerry to discuss how beneficial mushroom mycelium and the fermented substrate used to grow it play a vital role in the Host Defense® product line.

    The mushroom supplement industry has grown significantly in the last few years. That is in large part because research shows mushrooms to be an effective source of immune support, with different species providing additional support for various body systems. With this category growth has come a lot of misleading rhetoric surrounding the debate on which part of the mushroom is most beneficial. Many companies that just use mushroom fruitbodies in their supplements would have consumers believe that the fruitbody is the only part of the mushroom that offers health-supporting benefits. Some have gone so far as to develop a marketing strategy solely around the idea that mushroom mycelium and the substrate used to grow it, are nothing more than “filler”, claiming that mushroom mycelium and its fermented substrate “offer no health-supporting benefit”. While it is true that mushroom fruitbodies contain immune-supporting beta glucans – which is one of the reasons we include them in some of our formulations –  fruitbody-only products are quite different than Host Defense® products containing mushroom mycelium and cannot be compared for a number of reasons.

    First, there are no published studies addressing direct immune activity in humans that compare fruitbody extract products against Host Defense® mushroom mycelium-based supplements. Host Defense® products have been found to be strongly immunologically active in ex-vivo human blood studies and in human clinical trials. Therefore, the most important factor for choosing Host Defense® is that our mushrooms have been independently proven to strongly engage and balance immune system activity.*  

    Second, Host Defense® uses the mycelium, the fermented substrate, and the fermented metabolites all together. This provides a far greater range of metabolically active compounds than what can be found in mushroom fruitbodies alone. Recent research has shown that in Host Defense® products, the mushroom mycelium and the fermented substrate are both immunologically active and offer a complementary array of health-supporting compounds.* The mycelium robustly engages NK cells, NK T cells, Monocytes, B cells and T lymphocytes. Note that the immune cells associated with allergic reactivity like mast cells and eosinophils are NOT engaged. The fermented rice engages the immune systems’ checks and balances to keep it from overreacting, thereby maintaining our immune response within the “Goldilocks Zone” (not too little, not too much, but just right!). Host Defense® mushroom mycelium-based supplements help support a strong yet balanced immune system.*

    Third, while part of the activity is due to beta-glucan content, there is a range of polysaccharides and other compounds found within Host Defense® products which are also responsible for immune activation and immune modulation. Singling out beta-glucans as the only active compound neglects to take into account the complex chemistry of a whole mushroom product. The beta-glucan rhetoric is about isolation of a single type molecule. Use of mushroom mycelium captures a more extensive range of beneficial compounds. At Host Defense®, we have all of our products verified for identity, purity, composition, and strength by independent labs that use internationally recognized and validated testing methods.

    Fourth, Host Defense® is dedicated to furthering the research on mushroom mycelium and fruitbodies. In December, we collaborated with NIS, Inc., a third-party lab based in Oregon, to publish an open-access, peer-reviewed research article in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine about the immune benefits of mushroom mycelium and fermented substrate. And just this year we published a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Inflammation Research about the efficacy of the Host Defense® MyCommunity, a 17-mushroom species blend that is shown to actively engage the immune system. These are just a few of the many areas that Host Defense® is invested in and committed to researching mycological solutions for human health and educating people about the health-supporting benefits of mushrooms and mushroom mycelium. As part of our foundational value system, Host Defense® is dedicated to furthering research on mushrooms and finding new and innovative mycological ways to support human and planetary health.

    At Host Defense®, we follow the science. And years of industry-based research, along with both internal and third-party testing, tells us that mycelium-based mushroom supplements offer potent immunological support. In addition, research also confirms that the fermented substrate used to grow Host Defense® mycelium is also immunologically active. That’s why we use mushroom mycelium in ALL of our products – because it works!*

     

     

    *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

    Elderberry Plus Syrup: Elderberries and Mushroom Mycelium

    Elderberry Plus Syrup: Elderberries and Mushroom Mycelium

    Host Defense® Talks with the Expert – How Elderberry Plus supports an engaged and balanced immune system.*

    Jerry Angelini is Head of Science Education at Fungi Perfecti® and Host Defense®. He has a Masters of Science and Rehabilitation Medicine degree from Boston University, and has been trained in Western Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. With more than 30 years of experience, Jerry is an invaluable source of knowledge and an important part of our team. We sat down with Jerry to discuss how beneficial mushroom mycelium and the fermented substrate used to grow it play a vital role in the Host Defense® product line.

    Elderberry has been under the microscope lately. Some people have shared concerns about the potential for activating the immune response in an abnormally aggressive manner currently being referred to as a cytokine storm (1). When we dive deeply into both the ethnobotanical use of elderberry as well as the research into how it functions, we will find that elderberry is a safe, modulatory immune support for otherwise healthy individuals (2 - 5, 7). Elderberry is also an excellent source of specialized compounds called polyphenols which give elderberries their deep purple color. The polyphenols as well as other compounds in elderberry juice may support other aspects of health and wellness such as cardiovascular function, blood sugar already within the normal range, and antioxidant activity (4, 5).

    The big concern most people have when considering immune support is making sure it doesn’t make things worse. The immune system is designed to go into action when tissue has been injured or when it recognizes other types of threats. The mechanics of the immune response include a set of stages:

    1. Immune cells identify a problem.
    2. Immune cells send signals to increase other immune cell activity, called “recruitment”.
    3. Immune cells destroy a threat and clean up damaged tissue.
    4. Immune cells signal that the problem has been contained and the immune system can stand down to a watchful waiting phase. 

    The cytokine storm is when recruitment signals (known as pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines) cascade into an avalanche.  They allow our white blood cells to move around more easily, hone in on problematic locations, and impact things like swelling and temperature regulation. In unusual circumstances referred to as a cytokine storm, the feedback mechanism hard wired in the immune response can become faulty. This can be due to a situation where infection coupled with tissue destruction is so significant that the cytokines and chemokines try to increase repair mechanisms, however, they make things worse. The uncontrolled swelling, fever and secondary tissue damage can be life threatening and even fatal (1).

    Some of the most trusted nutritional supplements support immune functioning by modulating immune activity instead of stimulating immune activity. Immune modulation is a complex process that requires a number of different compounds found in one or more substances.  These multiple compounds allow our immune cells to be recruited to mount an effective response. Modulatory compounds simultaneously support the final stages of the immune response. The immune system is able to then clear up tissue damage. It can also reduce cytokine and chemokine signaling thereby allowing the immune system to return to watchful waiting. Elderberry juice has a number of different compounds that both support immune engagement and modulate the immune response to balance immune activity (2-5).  

    When reading research on the impact that a particular substance may have, there are a number of factors that we will want to take into consideration. One factor is the substance itself: is the tested substance the same substance we may be considering? When looking at the research on elderberry, there are a number of different preparations that have been studied. One is the elderberry juice concentrate. A second is the elderberry extract. A third is the elderberry flower. It is important to recognize that elderberry extract is different than elderberry juice concentrate. Elderberry flower functions very differently than the berry juice or the extract and cannot be considered the same as the berry. When we review the research on the juice concentrate and the extract we can see that there is some overlap with some distinct differences in activity (3 - 5). In the research that looks at mechanism of action, not human clinical outcomes, elderberry extract appears to engage the immune response (3). In a very small sample of people, there was an increase of the cytokines that signal the immune system to recruit other immune cells and work harder.  These recruitment cytokines are inflammatory and help the immune system work harder. These cytokines also initiate the self-regulating processes of the immune response, because the immune system is wired to maintain homeostasis. The presence of these engaging cytokines automatically initiates the clean up process.  

    The research on elderberry juice shows a wider set of mechanisms associated with its activity. The juice concentrate, similar to the extract, appears to increase immune activity (6). At the same time, elderberry juice concentrate has an expanded action when freeze-dried, concentrated, rehydrated, and then subjected to a laboratory process similar to the human digestive and intestinal absorptive process. The elderberry juice concentrate had a very powerful modulatory impact on immune cells (4). The elderberry juice concentrate appeared to trigger the immune cells to decrease engagement signaling and return to a state of watchful waiting. This potential overall support of engagement and then return to watchful waiting is most notably observed in how people feel. In a randomized, double-blind study that tracked how people feel, elderberry juice reduced the discomforts associated with a strongly engaged immune response by an average of four days earlier than those who received the placebo. The participants also reported needing significantly less symptoms-supportive, over the counter products to manage the discomforts. When our immune systems are strongly engaged by the cytokines that make it work hard, they create strong feelings of discomfort. When the immune system modulates those cytokines and moves into a state of watchful waiting, the body returns to a more balanced state of physical sensations. 

    When we complete a thorough review of the literature and take into consideration the extended historical use of particular substances, we can form a more complete and hopefully accurate perspective. The traditional use and research on elderberry indicate that it may be supportive of a balanced immune response. The extract and the juice concentrate both appear to increase the immune system’s ability to function strongly. Furthermore, the research on the juice concentrate expands upon the engagement activity by also supporting modulation, the ability of the immune system to decrease its excitatory state and return to a state of watchful waiting. These findings along with centuries of continuous use in Northern Europe indicate that elderberry is a safe immune supportive and immune balancing substance.


    *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

    **If you or a loved one has a compromised immune response or autoimmune condition please work with a qualified integrative health care practitioner before using any substance that impacts the immune response.


    References:

    1. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2012 Mar; 76(1): 16–32.
    Into the Eye of the Cytokine Storm

    Jennifer R. Tisoncik, Marcus J. Korth, Cameron P. Simmons, Jeremy Farrar, Thomas R. Martin, and Michael G. Katze

     

    1. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.

    Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections

    Z Zakay-Rones, E Thom, T Wollan, J Wadstein

     

    1. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2001 Apr-Jun;12(2):290-6.

    The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines.

    Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I.

     

    1. Journal of Functional Foods; Volume 19, Part A, December 2015, Pages 649-660

    Anti-inflammatory effects of gastrointestinal digested Sambucus nigraL. fruit extract analysed in co-cultured intestinal epithelial cells and lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophages

    Anna Olejnik, Katarzyna Kowalska, Mariola Olkowicz, Joanna Rychlik, Wojciech Juzwa, Kamila Myszka, Radosław Dembczyński, Wojciech Białas

     

    1. Journal of Functional Foods; Volume 18, Part B, October 2015, Pages 941-958

    Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review

    Andrzej Sidor, Anna Gramza-Michałowska

     

    1. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem., 76 (9), 1633–1638, 2012

    Anti-Influenza Virus Effects of Elderberry Juice and Its Fractions

    Emiko KINOSHITA, Kyoko HAYASHI, Hiroshi KATAYAMA, Toshimitsu HAYASHI, and Akio OBATA

     

    1. Experimental Pathology and Health Sciences 2016;8 (2): 59-66

    Sambucus nigra – a promising natural source for human health

    Sara Cunha, Diana Meireles, Jorge Machado