Virus & immunity: scientist points to mushroom extract

A top Japanese scientist has pointed to a powerful immune-boosting extract of the shiitake mushroom, called AHCC, to help defend against infectious diseases.

Dr Kohei Homma, a Japanese biochemist and expert in nutritional medicine who visited South Africa last year, said AHCC — a standardized extract of cultured shiitake mushroom mycelia — had been shown in studies to activate cellular immune function to help defend against bacterial and viral infectious diseases such as the West Nile virus, the influenza virus, the hepatitis virus, and the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Homma said AHCC’s efficacy had not been tested against the coronavirus — which recently recorded a dramatic spike in deaths and infections — but studies had shown its powerful impact on immunity.

“…Although AHCC efficacy is not specifically evaluated for [the] coronavirus, AHCC is expected to be effective in [the] prevention and clearance of various infectious pathogens, by modulating and optimizing host immune functions,” he said.

Homma said AHCC’s efficacy had been supported by more than 30 human clinical studies and over 120  research papers.

Meanwhile, recent reports indicate a surge in infections and deaths from the coronavirus, now named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Chinese health officials had by Monday put the number of confirmed cases at over 70 500 and deaths at almost 1 800.

The SA government has said there are no reported local cases but is on high alert. It said it had set up dedicated centres to isolate and treat suspected cases and was screening all ports of entry.

The WHO, which has declared the virus a global health emergency, has advised the public to frequently wash their hands, cover the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, avoid close contact with anyone with a fever or cough, seek early medical help if a fever or cough arises, avoid direct contact with live animals or markets in affected areas and avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products.


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