Monday, July 13, 2009

CANCER AND MEDICAL MUSHROOMS

IF YOU HAVE CANCER, HAD CANCER, OR NOT –
THIS SHOULD INTEREST YOU!
Brummbaer 2008


Prologue

People, who are diagnosed with cancer, share two experiences.
In my case, the first experience manifested itself quite harmlessly, in the voice of the doctor, who said: “You might want to check this little bump on your neck.”
At this very moment time slowed down, the room became perfectly quiet, Robin and I looked into each others eyes, and we knew it was cancer; we just wouldn’t believe it until there was irrefutable proof.
The second experience is when they tell you what your survival chances are for the next five years. When I asked the surgeon – world renowned Dr. Castro, from the excellent UCLA – he inconspicuously closed his office door, and I had a feeling this wasn’t going to sound good.
“Had we found the primary tumor, I would say you’d have a 40% chance to survive the next five years, but since we didn’t find it, your statistical chances are about 20%”.
That didn’t sound promising, but consider: Twenty out of a hundred survive -- what you need to find out is how to become one of those twenty – because if you can understand your statistical chances, and are able to improve on those, the general statistics don’t count for you anymore – you will either be a 100% survivor, or a 100% dead! You need to become one of the twenty 100% survivors!
As Mark Twain said: "There are liars, damned liars and statisticians."

Then there is one more experience cancer patients share – except, not everybody will make it this far: One day your doctor will turn to you, look deep into your eyes, and say: “You know, it is almost five years without a recurrence… statistically it’s not very likely for the cancer to return…”
And he is happy -- he smiles, because my health gives his life meaning and purpose, and there is no question that without him I would not be here! And, as we playfully hifive each other, we both have a bit of a crazy glint in our eyes, like secret conspirators, who tricked cancer out of another victim.
At least for now!

No humor for the tumor!

Now, assuming you made up your mind how to deal with the cancer at hand. You have chosen a course of action, and from now on you will be subjected to good advice and a new guaranteed cancer-cure, each new day.
Some give good advice like: “Avoid stress!” – But nobody explains how to do that, when you live under the Damocles-sword of surgery: chemotherapy, radiation, and other painful and debilitating procedures, at times leading to amputation or death.
My method to deal with the unavoidable stress included a computer with internet access, and the effort to learn as much about my cancer as there was available – and there is a lot available on the internet – more than one can handle at times.

Many people try to deal with the stress by choosing the opposite, a dangerous solution: They try not to think of their cancer -- if possible, forget about it -- and leave the healing up to the doctors. It’s understandable why!

You’re also supposed to laugh a lot. It’s healthy!
So I looked for some cancer jokes. ”Anybody heard any good cancer jokes lately?” There are jokes about death and murder, cannibalism and necrophilia, there is gallows humor – I found nothing on cancer.
Cancer is a joke-free zone! No humor for the tumor!
A very unhealthy (excuse the pun) situation, I intend to change instantly!
Here is my cancer joke:
“The three good things about my cancer!
First: The cancer-therapies reduced me to my ideal weight!
Second: Washing and drying my hair took only two minutes!
Third: My cholesterol-level, mysteriously, was never lower than after chemo!
...if you can just ignore the rest…”

What really happened!

When January 2007, I detected a drop of blood in my urine, I did not know that I just had engaged in a lifelong contract with the medical industry, with the health insurance and several MDs. Painless blood in your urine usually means bladder cancer, and two weeks later the cystoscopy at my oncologist/urologist/surgeon left no doubt – I saw the little tumors with my own eyes. As long as the cancer doesn’t penetrate into the bladder-muscle it is called “superficial” and as such, is not going to kill you, at least, not right away. The modern miracle of the endoscopy allows for an early detection, unthinkable 100 years ago, which buys you time to fight back.
The doctor didn’t seem overtly alarmed and very matter of factly would say: “Now, this is the plan: In two weeks you have surgery – the tumors have to be removed and any other suspicious tissue, the surgery will be intravesical, which means, it all is done with a catheter inserted in your urethra and there will be no scars except the ones inside your bladder. Then, two weeks later, to prevent a recurrence, we will put you on a six week program of one weekly infusion with BCG – a tuberculosis vaccine – which will irritate your immune system to the point where it attacks any cancer that was either overlooked or grew recently.”
And so it was done!
This is the standard procedure in America for superficial bladder cancer and has the most promising statistics to prove it. (Mind you, they are doing this already for twenty years -- not much progress here!)
Patients who don’t respond to BCG are called BCG-refractory and will be treated with local chemo like Mitomycin C, or Gemcitabine, and other stuff with diminishing success.


Drilling for urine.

I had the bad luck to develop some complications like a urethral obstruction, which gave me the opportunity to learn how to catheterize myself. An interesting experience – per aspera ad astra – through pain to relief!!! It was like drilling for urine, but to get to it your body has to hurt itself – and I’m a wimp…
But the moment, just when it feels you have pushed the catheter as far up as your throat, the precious moment, when you strike urine, when you break through, when a happy sprinkle of yellow arches into the bathtub, as the pain and the pressure leave you – it was mind over matter, a victory of willpower and determination. A great empowering moment!!!
As I said at the time, “Something you don’t learn in art school”!
Still, the BCG-therapy had to be postponed for a week and we suspect that that was the reason why the first checkup, three months later, showed some improvement, but plenty of cancer left for a second resection. Two weeks after the surgery we started the BCG and a week later I was knocked out by the side-effects. My bladder shrunk to the size of a walnut, reckoning from the amounts of urine that I needed to evict every twenty minutes for the next four month. The next cystoscopy showed a scarred and inflamed bladder, but no cancer. The BCG had done the job. I was good, as far as the cancer was concerned, but, as my secondary opinion doctor phrased: “The biggest issue at present is that you are a bladder cripple. Hopefully things will improve.” Permanent painful urination and spontaneous stabbing pains in my urethra and prostate did not make me socially presentable. I was more or less immobile for those months.

Some facts:

Now, in the meantime, I had a lot of time to study bladder cancer and the various therapies!
The facts are: One third of bladder cancer patients have no recurrences after therapy.
The second third has multiple and aggressive recurrences, and after penetrating the bladder muscle, the metastases soon kill these patients.
The third group has also multiple recurrences, but repeated surgery, BCG maintenance-therapy to keep the cancer at bay – for a while. When it finally penetrates into the muscle the doctors suggest an artificial bladder, a neo-bladder, which they are very good at creating from one’s own intestines. They might even restore one’s lost sexual potency – nevertheless: it all too horrible to wallow.
But they keep fixing you, until you die from something else.
The reason for this predicament lies in the practically impenetrable walls of the bladder, which hide and protect cancer cells, even if your bladder is bursting with cancer-poisons.
That’s why bladder cancer almost always returns – therapies catch the cancer only after it surfaces from the inner layer of the bladder, the mucosa.
The bladder cancer patient is a catch for the medical industry! From now on to the end of your life you will be expensively checked every three month by cystoscopy and probably need (minor) surgery – the costs are staggering. Every year ca. 60 000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer in the US alone. And most of them become lifelong clients/customers/subscribers to the current program, with no cure in sight!

“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”(Peter Tosh)

A friend of mine, a Swiss MD, pointed me to a German urologist, Dr. Thiel, who claims to have a cure for bladder cancer. Now, I’m a great skeptic when it comes to cancer-cures. After fighting cancer for five years I’ve become an expert on the topic. In the field of cancer cures you find enough clowns to fill a three ring circus. Like Hulda Clark’s progressively promising book titles: "The Cure for All Diseases”, "The Cure for All Cancers", "The Cure and Prevention of All Cancers", "The Cure for All Advanced Cancers", and finally: "The Cure for HIV and AIDS". It is amazing! Or the Gershon-therapy with their raw potatoes and coffee-enemas – we were at the Gershon clinic in Tijuana – and it was a sad sight. As if Mexico’s poverty was crawling through the windows, they had only one payphone for the whole clinic and so on… (Mr. Gershon also died of cancer.)
If you are already annoyed by the countless flu-remedies one is permanently presented with, during a flu, you have no idea how tiring it is to hear about a new cancer cure every day -- usually combined with the threat of suffering and death, if you don’t submit yourself instantly -- garnished with the amateur-psychologists accusation that you probably don’t want to get better anyway. Talk about adding insult to injury! The automatic rejection one develops towards new treatments doesn’t make it easier to tell reasonable ideas from total nonsense.
The best would be if I could subscribe to one of the religious belief-systems and have Jesus save me, but then again -- the hospitals are full of dying people, who believe in Jesus! What are they doing wrong?
Cancer patients facing death or mutilation will understandably try anything to avoid pain and death, and are perfect targets for scams. They are also perfect targets for well intended, but useless cures. Cancer has so many unexplainable spontaneous remissions, that somebody, who ate a lot of oranges before his remission, might believe he found the “Orange-Cure” and will feed every cancer patient with oranges, having only the best of intentions. (BTW: Vitamin C did also not quite deliver what Linus Pauling wished for. He and his wife died of cancer.)

And then I found the cure!

A cure for bladder cancer? Well, I’m not an MD, nor a molecular biologist, but I’m very willing to learn, because my survival might depend on it. And as far as my understanding reaches: Dr. Thiel’s invention should work!
In summary: The “iontophoretic delivery” exposes the bladder to a weak electromagnetic field to allow an ionized substance to be pushed not only through the bladder-wall, but also into the cancer cells. “Iontophoretic delivery” is not Dr. Thiel’s invention, but a common and successfully used method to get medical substances to hard to reach places (Like with burn-victims). Dr. Thiel’s invention defines the substance that is iontophoretically delivered into the cancer cells. Once in there, the electric current allows Dr. Thiel’s substance to destroy the DNA of the cancer cell. It is important to mention that the substance selectively only kills cancer cells and has no noteworthy toxicity for normal cells. His substance is called “Iontoflavin®“and patented, but I think the patent runs out this year.
Now, why is this therapy not available? You can read up on it at Dr. Thiel’s own website:
http://www.iontophorese-tumortherapie.de/iontophorese.htm
It’s in German and English and the FAQs explain his legal hassle.
What is needed are clinical studies, Dr. Thiel has done what a single person can do. One would think that the generally poor prognosis for bladder-cancer would create a rush of studies, because, if it works – one or two treatments will delete all optional cancer cells from your bladder for good.

And then the cure was gone!

A cure!
Of course, it would also be really bad business for the current bladder-cancer-industry! Most urologists I bugged with Dr. Thiel’s cure, only acted dismissive: “If there was something to it, why aren’t we practicing it?” -- Which makes only sense, if you’re not practicing it, because you’re not practicing it!
I have not heard one single argument why it wouldn’t work or why it is not studied at all! The most optimistic was a doctor, who suggested I try India, “they are pretty open over there…” (Or maybe Tijuana…?)
I’m still optimistic, because Dr.Thiel’s method is also fairly cheap – the equipment costs nothing compared to what hospitals are used to spend on gadgets -- and somebody, sometime will realize that it may not be much of a business, compared to the big medical and pharma-companies, but a business it will be!

How to survive cancer without a cure.

I can’t afford access to every medical site, but PubMed alone, is already a lot of ground to cover. Google, of course, has everything, including every crackpot, who learned how to spell cancer.
I found three different approaches to decrease my chances for a bladder-cancer recurrence. All are based on double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies with control groups.

The first method doesn’t need much effort: The study says that the habitual intake of Lactobacillus casei reduces the risk of bladder cancer significantly. Lactobacillus casei is, just like lactobacillus acidophilus, a bacillus, which regulates your intestinal flora. The caveat: It seems to work for primary multiple tumors, and recurrent single tumors, but not for recurrent multiple tumors. Available in good health-stores or the internet.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez
PubMed: PMID: 12053032 / PMID: 7744150 / PMID: 1466089

The second way to keep bladder-cancer away is claimed by a study using relatively high doses of vitamins. It says: “Megadose vitamins A, B6, C and E plus zinc decrease bladder tumor recurrence in patients receiving BCG immunotherapy.” Then a bit of a downer: “Further research will be required to identify which ingredient(s) provide this protection.”
With a reduction of recurrences of ca. 50% you would think, they would know by now, which of the vitamins is actually doing the trick… Am I just incredibly naïve, because when I see an opportunity to improve the chances of cancer-patients, I expect the medical- or pharma-industry to jump to the occasion to help millions of people, who are dying under horrible circumstances. Even in war – the ambulances are not shot at!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez
PubMed: PMID: 8254816

Finally: the medical mushrooms!

The third method creates an even sadder picture of the current situation regarding bladder-cancer, and actually most other cancers, but it also gives a great incentive to investigate for the inflicted.
Several people, amongst them my Swiss MD, pointed my attention to medical mushrooms and I expected the usual helpful effects – antioxidant, immune-stimulating, cancer-killing, quality of life improving reports like the one’s you hear about grapefruit seeds, or liquid zeolites, or green tea… And indeed, there is more anecdotal evidence for the healing power of medical mushrooms than you will ever be able to read -- but there were also some real studies! Studies with control-groups and several other substances in comparison!
I found three studies comparing the Zhuling mushroom in it’s effectiveness for a bladder-cancer prophylaxis with BCG, Mitomycin C and others. The Zhuling mushroom was infinitesimally more effective than even BCG, which itself has the best results among all the other maintenance-therapies. One of the studies says: “The effect of Zhuling was similar to that intravesical BCG. Zhuling was cheaper and convenient in usage, and no side effects.”
These studies were conducted at the “General Hospital of Jian Unit of People's Liberation Army” in China between 1991 and 1999. The largest group studied, consisted of 313 people, which isn’t a huge group, but to be considered.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez
PubMed: PMID: 1935440 / PMID: 7842985 / PMID: 11829890

When I read about this mushroom that was equally potent as BCG, but without side-effects, again, I expected to find dozens of studies trying to find the principle behind this achievement, but there were none!!!
When I passed these studies to my second opinion MD, Dr. Quinn (USC/Norris Cancer Hospital) I got the following email:
“Mushrooms are also very interesting but the results you draw from on Pubmed have really only been examined in China, where patients with all forms of bladder cancer get a variety of mushrooms in addition to their usual therapy. In the West we like to understand why the mushroom might help to then design a trial to test. Generally if the data are compelling then we design trials independent of the pharma companies.”
This was of course not an answer to my question, but an arrogant poopooing of other scientists than westerners. Do I understand it correctly, that “In the West we like to understand why…” and then, why do I find in all the “Western” studies I read, one sentence over and over again: “However, its exact function remains unknown.” In Western medicine???
I don’t think we would have Aspirin, if “Western” medicine worked like Dr. Quinn postulates.
Besides, Dr. Quinn’s defense, about the independence from pharma companies, doesn’t even pass the giggle test!
The sad fact: There are no further studies – East or West – regarding the Zhuling mushroom, nor are there any randomized controlled trials, with placebos, control-groups, etc. The few Japanese studies on other cancer-fighting mushrooms (probably equally powerful) with control-groups were mostly done on mice or in vitro, and most studies seem not to be all that interested in helping the patient, but generally working towards the goal to find the one substance, within the many contained in a mushroom, that could be made into a pill and sold. One patent exists already for the Maitake D-Fraction®, which contains mainly beta-glucans and can be bought in health food-stores. In Japan, supposedly, this is the first medicine prescribed, when diagnosed with cancer.
In case I sound bitter with all these lost opportunities, and the perfect cruelty of the corporations, which are constructed, so nobody ever, has to be responsible for all the pain and suffering they cause, -- I myself prefer to be pissed off!
I want my cure!!!

And now for the good news!

When I went for my last cystoscopy, I expected, as a regular side-effect, to have a sore urethra and prostate for a couple of days. A pencil-thick tube, all the way up into your bladder, can irritate some very sensitive tissue, but it’s the un-bloodiest and shortest way to give you what you need -- a glimpse into your bladder.
As coincidence would have it – I started to drink Reishi tea for the first time that day.
The mushroom seemed to have an energizing effect, besides tasting pretty bitter. The effect was almost like a low grumble-coffee-high, but deep and solid under the surface, without the coffee-jitters – a completely different energy. Nevertheless, somehow related!
At the time I still had a scarred and inflamed bladder, with an urination-frequency of about 30 minutes, and frequent spontaneous stabbing pains in prostate and urethra.
As coincidences go: The same time I started the mushrooms, not only did I not have any unpleasant after-effects from the cystoscopy, but instead I started to feel better… every day…in every way... The stabbing pains never returned, my urination-frequency (great word!) started to normalize, and unexpectedly a layer of fatigue that, unknown to me, had bothered me since my head and neck cancer, suddenly disappeared too.
So naturally, I will try to keep the coincidences going, until we find irrefutable proof for one or the other outcome. Up to now, the mushrooms have worked – I cook a pot of Zhuling tea every three days and learned from the Chinese that you don’t measure edible mushrooms by milligrams, but with a spoon and an educated guess. You can also add a little miso and you have a tasty, nourishing soup.
And remember, just like other good medications – no known overdose, no side-effects!
My urologist/oncologist/surgeon was well aware of my sensitivity to BCG, and had reasonable doubts about a prophylactic BCG maintenance-therapy himself. After he saw the three studies demonstrating the Zhuling mushrooms’ effectiveness, he wholeheartedly supported my decision to try the mushrooms, rather than destroying my bladder further with BCG. I will not go into details how the medical mushrooms do their fabulous work, partially, because I don’t understand it, and also, because as mentioned before: “However, its exact function remains unknown.”
Now my wonderful doctors and I are waiting for the next cystoscopy and we all hope this works!

What does all this mean if you don’t have cancer?

Nothing! You can smoke your cigarettes and suck on your exhaust-pipe as much as you want – you know, some people are just lucky – for the rest of us mortals I suggest prophylactic mushrooms.
Medical mushrooms are usually sold either as fresh, edible mushrooms in better food-stores, by the pound – Shiitake, Maitake, etc., or dried, or powdered, through the internet and health food-stores. They appear to be very helpful for all kind of ailments – you might have to check the internet (Info below) to find out what type might benefit you.
If you have cancer, it is suggested to use the “hot-water-extracted” capsules, because the mushroom-extracts contain large amounts of the polysaccharides, which are the main suspects as cancer-killers and immune-boosters.
Or you might do what I did – I ordered a kilo of Zhuling and make the tea myself. (Making tea, simmering it for some hours, is the vulgar expression for the more elegant “water-extraction”)

In summary: Medical mushrooms are great to maintain one’s health.
Mushroom-extracts are very effective in preventing or fighting current cancers. Often enough mushroom-extracts are used as an adjunct to the regular cancer-therapies and obviously ameliorate the side-effects from radiation and chemo.
Even Western medicine acknowledges that!

Four companies, who sell mushrooms and seem trustworthy (You can only afford the best: Mushrooms grown under dubious conditions might be harmful!)

Fungi Perfecti http://www.fungi.com/index.html

Mushroom Science http://www.mushroomscience.com/

Alohamedicinals http://www.alohamedicinals.ca/index.html

Vitalpilze http://www.vitalpilze.de/gfh_de_1_53.html

And the above in English:

http://www.vitalpilze.de/Community+for+Medicinal+Mushrooms+Science_53.html

Additional info if you need to know:

http://www.vitalpilze.de/Diseases_5.html or: http://www.fungi.com/mycomeds/info.html

And from the Government Published Cancer Reference Book:
"Medicinal Mushrooms: Their Therapeutic Properties and Current Medical Usage with Special Emphasis on Cancer Treatments"
A free download at:
http://www.alohamedicinals.ca/research.htm

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