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Mushrooms Can Cure HIV, Say Russian Scientists

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Oct 2, 2013
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The Chaga mushroom
The Chaga mushroom  (Source:Tomas Čekanavičius / Wikipedia)

A treatment for HIV may be found in Siberian mushrooms that have been used in Russia since the 16th century as a folk remedy, according to a group of Russian scientists.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the scientists from the Vector research institute in southwestern Siberia say they have identified three types of mushroom found in that region that can be developed into antiviral medicines, the institute said in a statement on its website.

"Strains of these mushrooms demonstrated low toxicity and a strong antiviral effect" against influenza, smallpox and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the statement reads.

Tests showed the most effective to be the Chaga mushroom, which grows on birch trees. It is available in North America as a supplement, and is mentioned as an anticancer drug in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s play "Cancer Ward."

On its website, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York said that "no clinical trials have been conducted to assess Chaga’s safety and efficacy for disease prevention or for the treatment of cancer."

But in fact, a study done at the Institute of Agricultural Medicine in Lublin, Poland, demonstrated its anti-cancer properties, according to MedicinalMushroomInfo.com. The researchers reportedly tested the most common and deadliest cancers -- lung and colon cancer, and found that Chaga mushroom decreased the proliferation of cancerous tumor cells and did not produce any toxicity on the non-cancerous cells. Russian scientists said they intend to use the mushrooms to produce medicines.

"It’s a promising line of development," said the Vector institute (formerly a Soviet biological weapons facility that stored deadly viruses) said in a statement.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/

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