• Products prevent hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, others
• Why consuming imported herbal supplements is dangerous, by Iwu
Coffee and green tea have been blended with the mushroom, Ganoderma, to optimize their help benefits and prevent chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, hepatitis, and arthritis.
Also, pharmacognocists have raised alarm on the inherent risks in taking herbal products or dietary supplement manufactured outside the shores of the country.
Commonly known as reishi mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum is a purple-brown fungus with a long, thin stalk, spores that are brown in color and a shiny cap shaped like a fan. The mushroom grows on decaying logs and tree stumps. While Ganoderma lucidum is indigenous to North America, Japan and China, it is produced in a number of other Asian countries.
Phytochemical analysis showed it has one active ingredient, polysaccharides, which contain beta glucan. Beta glucan is known for its ability to enhance the immune system – in fact it is one of the strongest immune system supplements there is. Another ingredient in ganoderma is triterpenes. The type found in ganoderma is a ganoderic acid that has been proven in studies to ease the symptoms of allergies by stopping the release of histamines. It also can improve the body’s use of oxygen and help the liver function better.
Until now, Ganoderma mushroom is used in various systems of traditional medicine for the treatment of a plethora of diseases.
Systematic pharmacological and clinical studies suggest that Ganoderma is useful in the treatment of coronary heart diseases, arteriosclerosis, hepatitis, arthritis, nephritis, bronchitis, asthma, hypertension, cancer and gastric ulcer. The most important pharmacologically active constituents of Ganoderma lucidum are triterpenoids and polysaccharides.
Triterpenoids have been reported to posses hepato-protective, anti-hypertensive, hypocholesterolemic and anti-histaminic effects, anti-tumour and anti-engiogenic activity, effects on platelet aggregation and complement inhibition.
Polysaccharides, especially b-Dglucans, have been known to possess anti-tumor effects through immunomodulation and antiangiogenesis. In addition, polysaccharides have a protective effect against free radicals and reduce cell damage caused by mutagens.
A professor of pharmacognosy and Chief Executive Office (CEO)/Founder of the Bioresources Development Group (BDG), Maurice Iwu, at the formal unveiling of unique formulation of Intercedd Health Products (IHP) Ganoderma Coffee and Ganoderma Green Tea, at Nature’s Emporium, Awolowo Road, Lagos, told journalists: “The physiological benefits of coffee and green tea are well-known and include stimulant and antioxidant effects. What IHP has achieved in these two products is to develop synergistic formulations that maintain the integrity of the biologically active triterpenoids and polysaccharides of Ganoderma with high quality coffee and green tea.
“Ganoderma coffee is brewed using coffee beans that are infused with a Ganoderma lucidum. Its caffeine content, at 9 milligrams per cup, is lower than the traditional coffee, which normally contains 150 to 200 milligrams of caffeine in a similarly sized serving. Ganoderma coffee is not only tasty, but research on cells and animals suggests it also possesses several other health benefits such as treating insomnia and fatigue.”
A study published in April 30, 2007, edition of the International Journal of Oncology demonstrated the potential use of combined green tea and Ganoderma lucidum extracts for the suppression of growth and invasiveness of metastatic breast cancers.
The study titled “Combined effect of green tea and Ganoderma lucidum on invasive behavior of breast cancer cells” noted: “Epidemiological studies have suggested that consumption of green tea may decrease the risk of a variety of cancers. In addition, mushroom Ganoderma lucidum has been used for the promotion of health, longevity and treatment of cancer in traditional Chinese medicine.
“In the present study we show that extract from green tea (GTE) increased the anticancer effect of G. lucidum extract (GLE) on cell proliferation (anchorage-dependent growth) as well as colony formation (anchorage-independent growth) of breast cancer cells…”
IHP is a member of BDG, a full-spectrum biosciences organization engaged in the cultivation, processing, research and development of natural products as dietary supplements, functional foods and herbal medicinal products. It has six related entities: Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION), International Center of Ethnomedicine and Drug Development (InterCEDD) Laboratories, InterCEDD Health Products (IHP), Biotrade Global Agency Limited and Nature’s Emporium.
What are the health benefits of these products? The pharmacognocist explained: “The health benefits as I said is that most people know why they take tea and coffee. But instead of taking just tea and coffee, what we now have is that we have added Ganoderma and it helps to modulate a lot of disease state. Taking Ganoderma can prevent a lot of cardiovascular diseases. It is chemo preventive that is it will prevent your cells from being attacked by ordinary normal environmental mutants, things that can affect your health.” Are you trying to say we should go back to traditional medicine? Iwu said: “You are talking about going back as if it is something in the past. I don’t want you to look at traditional medicine from historic point of view. It is current; it is also dynamic. We have been able to also go beyond folklore. We have developed bitter leaf and scent leaf into teas and show it is the same used in cooking.
“The whole idea is that we want to be able to take traditional medicine and take it as a cultural way of treatment instead of just something as historic. We have been able to put a lot of science into traditional medicine. The other one there is Zobo (sorrel) Instead of just having the normal Zobo that people hawk around, we now have the one that we have prepared, which is standardized, precise molecular formula and we know what it contains; that is the one we are marketing. Traditional medicine is not static, so also is modern medicine. It has to improve with time and we have shown that we have improved our formulations with time.”
How does it help to lower blood pressure? The pharmacognocist explained: “The use of Ganoderma green tea over time will help you to lower blood pressure but the difference is that it is not a drug. So you don’t expect it to work like medicine, it is something that you have to take over time and become a habit. It will now prevent diseases by working at cellular level. It prevents the body deterioration that will lead to the high blood pressure in the first place. If you are having high blood pressure you should see your doctor.
“But if you don’t want it to develop in the first place you can start taking Ganoderma green tea. There is accumulation of oxidative stress in people who are above 30 years and you can prevent that by taking this product. Oxidative stress and inflammation triggers of so many diseases, so you now see a situation in traditional medicine where a particular plant is said to cure so many diseases. It is not curing them, all it is doing is going to the roots of those diseases and being able to block them.”
Considering the high cost, why should Nigerians go for Ganoderma coffee and tea? Iwu said: “Why it still on the high side is because of the high cost of production. It is easier to have fertilized plants grown in your backyard and you don’t mind the pollution and environmental contaminants. It will be cheaper. But the process that goes on with an organic farm is really a lot of work. For example in our farm we do not even use generator because we don’t want any pollution from diesel. We don’t even allow anybody to drive into it.
“So to maintain that high ethical standard comes with a price; then the extraction facilities and so on. You need to see our facilities. You will be impressed, when you are paying you know what you are paying for. We don’t come cheaper. There is a difference. If you want to buy a Mercedes you know it cost higher that a Volkswagen. We see ourselves as top class producers of dietary supplements and that is where we want to remain.”
What added benefit will the blend bring considering the fact that coffee has its own issues? The pharmacognocist further explained: “Because of the antioxidant effect of Ganoderma, if there are any side effects you would have got from taking coffee, you will not feel it. If you like you can actually see that you don’t feel the same way when you take Ganoderma coffee with when you take just coffee. You should graduate to taking Garnoderma coffee. If you take green tea, instead of just taking green tea add to it the tremendous benefit of Ganoderma by taking Ganoderma green tea as a mixture.”
Iwu said there is an inherent risk in taking any supplement that is made outside Nigeria. He explained: “You don’t know what are the additives, you don’t know how they were prepared, you don’t know how they were transported here. You cannot guarantee quality of the products. Most of the products that come from abroad come with sleek packaging and so on but packaging is not everything. But you don’t know how much of heavy metals they contain, you don’t know whether they have been grown under pesticide conditions and so.
“But what we are presenting is that we have our own farms for most of the things we grow. Things we don’t grow we give specifications on how we want them cultivated and that is what is happening. For us we have 20 years plus experience in research. We have written books on the subject, have published over 200 research papers on the subject and it is a cumulative efforts of every other person that we are presenting.”
Iwu added: “We are not the first to have Ganoderma and coffee as a product but we are the first to have them under this high level, high quality standard. The optimum quality that anybody can boast of is what we have. We have been able to tell our colleagues the level of the triterpenes, polysaccharides we have here and the ratio, the mix is something you need a specific and specialized method to prepare to have the optimal benefit.
“Let me give you example, somebody can have a mushroom and grind it and put in a capsule or tea. But somebody can also extract the mushroom and remix it, it is an extra job; it is that extra job we have taken and that is what we have specified in our products and that is why we are unveiling a unique formulation, a unique product that is based on high standards.
“Anybody buying supplements that are made overseas are taking a very high risk.” The pharmacognocist added: “You will notice that in all our products we disclose the full list of the ingredients used in their formulation in order to allow others to verify the scientific basis of our formulations. In the technical Dozier on our products, which we provide to physicians and scientists we include citation of peer-reviewed relevant scientific literature to support the selection of the ingredients we used and the scientific knowledge that inform our indication of use. What we do not disclose however is our proprietary technical know-how and deep knowledge of natural products chemistry and pharmacology, as well as the ‘technical crafting and blending’ of the ingredients needed to produce the exceptionally high quality our range of teas, capsules and liquid preparations.”
Meanwhile, the United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) conducted a case study on BDCP for its pioneering efforts to mainstream African traditional medicine into modern health-care and economy in its publication on BDCP entitled “Traditional Medicine as a Tonic for Development”.