Hepatitis (meaning an inflammation of the liver) is caused by several different viruses. Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated water and food and is excreted in the stools. Hepatitis B is acquired from transfusions or other blood products. It can be transmitted through minute cuts or abrasions or by such simple acts as kissing, tooth brushing, ear piercing, tattooing, having dental work or during sexual contact. It can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby. Hepatitis C, formerly called non-A, non-B hepatitis, is primarily spread through infected blood. It causes cirrhosis in 50 percent of cases.
Thus, taking care to insure a strong immune system, reducing high risk behavior, getting regular check-ups, and using a clinically validated daily liver care supplement are all important facets of a total liver health program.
In hepatitis, the liver often becomes tender and enlarged, and the patient usually exhibits symptoms including fever, weakness, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and aversion to food, which can result in marked weight loss. The virus may be present in the bloodstream, intestines, feces, saliva, and in other bodily secretions.
Hepatitis is common in the United States but even more so in developing nations, and some forms of it can be extremely infectious. Most people recover from viral forms of the disease without treatment, but some die and others may develop a chronic, disabling illness.
Drs. Williams and Di Luzio initially undertook studies on the anti-viral potential of beta-1,3-glucan when they investigated viral hepatitis. The doctors observed that when beta-1,3-glucan was administered prior to, as well as after viral infection, maximum survival was achieved.
In contrast to the profound liver damage found in the control mice, beta-1,3-glucan- treated mice exhibited very little liver pathology. Normalization of liver enzyme and cell markers was observed in the treatment group indicating a return to healthful liver function.
Of greater significance was the observation that mice infected with viral hepatitis showed major impairment of macrophage function, but pretreatment with beta-1,3-glucan resulted in active macrophage function. These studies suggest that maintenance of activated macrophages results in a heightened immune state, increased survival and inhibited liver damage.
“Thus, glucan is capable of increasing survival, inhibiting hepatic necrosis, and maintaining an activated state of phagocytic activity in mice challenged with MHV-A59. Macrophage stimulants may have a significant role in the modification of virally induced hepatic lesions.”
In light of this research, maitake mushroom, like other similar beta-glucans, should be considered a potent adjunctive therapy in the treatment of infectious liver disorders.
Recent studies at Institute of Health and Environmental Medicine, Tianjin, China, have confirmed the above. The research team investigated the inhibitory effect of Maitake D-fraction on hepatitis B virus (HBV), and found that Maitake D-fraction, in combination with human interferon (IFN), synergistically inhibited HBV replication.
This was emphasized earlier in a presentation by researchers at the International Symposium on Production and Products of Lentinus Mushroom, Qingyuan, Zhejiang, China, November 1-3, 1994. In their pilot study on hepatitis B patients, researchers from Zhejiang Medical University and the Edible Fungi Research Institute of Qingyuan, Zhejiang Province, China, teamed with doctors at the People’s Hospital of Qingyuan. They compared maitake with routine treatment. Thirty-two patients with longstanding hepatitis B were given either routine treatment or capsules containing maitake. Kenneth Jones summarized their findings:
“The researchers reported several promising outcomes: a comparatively higher recovery rate in alanine transferase levels in the maitakepolysaccharide group (72.7 percent) than in the control group (56.6 percent); a significantly higher rate of HbeAg seroconversion from positive to negative compared to the control group; and no side effects in the polysaccharide group.”