The world has been coping with the new Corona Virus or COVID-19 since 2019. It has definitively turned the whole world upside down with over 12 million cases worldwide and over 3 million just in the United States alone. Researchers are trying to figure out a way to control the virus and doctors the best way to treat it and save as many lives as possible. The more they study, the more questions come up.
Our defense system or innate immune system is our first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other infections that invade our bodies. As we get older, especially after the age of 65… our immune system begins to weaken and inflammation and infections are a big part of it. Exposure to toxins, bad diet, stress, and other factors can also contribute to a weakened immune system at any age.
Why do some people barely get sick while others are so severely affected that they die?
The answer lies in the severe and out of control immune reaction where instead of attacking the virus the immune system attacks it’s own cells causing extensive tissue damage. This is especially a concern for people with an existing autoimmune condition.
So What is a Cytokine Storm?
To fight off infections and inflammation the body produces pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines that are supposed to attack and eliminate viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. When these cytokines get out of control and attack the body instead it is called a cytokine storm.
In COVID-19 patients this cytokine storm seems to be more severe and the cause of many complications and deaths. The Covid-19 Virus is very effective in multiplying itself more at a faster pace once it infects a cell and quickly spreads to other cells.
- When a cell becomes infected it sends out a help signal to the immune system and dies.
- If too many cells become infected a lot of them start dying causing issue damage.
- This virus attacks mostly the lungs and when enough tissue is affected liquid builds up leading to pneumonia or even ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) with a 40% mortality rate.
What can doctors do?
The medical community has been working alongside researchers on finding a way to prevent or stop the cytokine storm. They are testing and using various available pharmaceutical drugs that are supposed to control the cytokine storm reaction. These drugs are currently given to people with Rheumatoid Arthritis;
- Actemra, which blocks the cytokine IL-6;
- Cost of Actemra is thousands of dollars per dose @ $6300 with an annual cost estimated from $8,000 to $18,400;
- Auranofin is another drug used for pain by RA patients when other options have not been effective. Cost is $1577 for 60 capsules
So how does it relate to Cytokine Storm?
A recent European study shows:
- After 12 days, Agaricus blazei Murrill Mushroom extract helped reduce cytokine IL-6 levels down to 44%; and it also helped reduce the excessive release of cytokines or cytokine storm.
- In both cases, this is the desired result which is critical for reducing the death rate.
For over 60 years, there is an increasing interest in the medicinal use of mushrooms extracts especially Agaricus blazei Murrill due to the wide-ranging activities including anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and immunomodulating capabilities.
The ABM mushroom is very nutrient-dense and is the strongest of all medicinal mushrooms. One of the reasons is that it has the highest levels of Ergocalciferol, also known as vitamin D2 and Beta-D-Glucans which are different and more complex than Beta-Glucans from Oats. For Beta-D-Glucan to be more efficient it needs other nutrients like Vitamin D2 as by itself it is not effective.
In conclusion, β-glucans derived from medicinal mushrooms extracts have the potential to alleviate the more severe complications, such as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and other complications caused by an immune overreaction as is experienced by COVID-19 patients.