Medicinal Mushrooms – 5 Popular Types & How They Can Benefit Your Body
In traditional Eastern medicine, mushrooms are the drug of choice and hailed for their medicinal powers.
Three thousand years ago, the Chinese would place moldy soybean curd on skin infections as a healing agent. Other cultures would place warm earth (which contained certain molds and fungus) on injuries as first aid measures. Our ancient ancestors understood that different molds and fungus were beneficial to our health, now it is our time to relearn those natural medicines.
Due to the fact that there are over 220 anti-tumor and 42 anti-viral agents that have been isolated from fungi, studies on mushrooms and their effect on the human body have been ongoing since the 1960’s. There’s over 150 species of medicinal mushrooms found to inhibit the growth of different kinds of tumors, especially cancers from the stomach, esophagus, and lungs, but there are certain mushrooms that seem to stand out, as far as cancer fighting abilities go.
Because mushrooms are high in antioxidants, essential minerals, anti viral and antibiotic properties, these tasty fungi have been used to treat illnesses and diseases such as (but not limited to), allergies, arthritis, heart disease, relieve menopausal symptoms and most notably, cancer. All of these mushrooms have high amounts of proteins present in them. These proteins are better sources for the body compared to meat proteins due to their impact on our bodies, specifically our nervous systems. Over time, these health enhancing properties synergize and build up in the body and improve health.
Some of the health fighting properties that create these health improvements include:
– Selenium, a mineral source found in mushrooms works with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize free radicals that have been known to cause cellular damage.
– Potassium is another essential mineral source found in mushrooms. Doctors have suggested that a diet high in potassium could help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
– Copper is a mineral source that aids in creating red blood cells. This mineral works along with iron (also found in mushrooms).
– The proteins in mushrooms are considered superior to meat and vegetable proteins due to their concentrated amounts of amino acids and ease of digestion.
– Polysaccharides enhance the immune system, treat cancer, inhibit symptoms of HIV and other viral and bacterial infections.
– Betulinic acid counters viral and tumor compounds within the body.
– Triterpenes lower cholesterol, improves circulation, detoxifies the liver, treats hepatitis, bronchitis, asthma and coughs.
– Germanium is a free radical scavenger that assists in purifying the blood, normalizes blood pressure and prevents tumors.
How to Prepare Mushrooms For Medicinal Use
Preparing these mushrooms and even preserving them is not difficult in the least. In fact, multiple medicinal sources suggest that teas or infusions made of mushrooms are the best way to treat a person medicinally. The hot water breaks the polysaccharides out of the indigestible cell walls so that it’s immune properties are released and made available. However, many mushrooms can be dehydrated and stored much like the food we dehydrate. When shiitake mushrooms are cooked or dehydrated their nutritional properties improve.
5 Popular Types of Medicinal Mushrooms
Button mushrooms – contain an impressive amount of copper, which helps to create red blood cells. According to sources at LiveStrong, copper provides the body with protection from free radicals, helps the body absorb iron, and assists the body in the formation of bone and the clotting of blood. One cup of cooked button mushrooms supplies the body with 16% of the daily value of iron, important for blood and energy, and 12% of the daily percentage of Vitamin C.”
Although this type of mushroom does not contain the beneficial polysaccharides, button mushrooms are loaded with aromatase inhibitors, a natural occurring cancer fighting agent that is specifically helpful in fighting breast cancer. Women who do a regimen of taking button mushrooms and drinking green tea can reduce their risk of breast cancer significantly. According to a study conducted in China, women who ate 10 grams of button mushrooms were two thirds less likely to develop breast cancer. Button mushrooms also have anti viral and anti bacterial agents present in them as well.
The Chaga mushroom – has been isolated for it’s cancer fighting abilities. This type of fungus grows mainly on birch trees, but can occasionally be found on ironwood, elm, alder and beech trees. This mushroom is actually a fungal parasite that draws its nutrients out of living trees, rather than from the ground. The chaga musroom has a charred looking appearance that grows around the wound areas of the above stated trees. According to sources, the chaga mushroom has one of the highest amounts of antioxidants that an be consumed. Chaga mushrooms treat ailments and disorders such as an immuno stimulant, used as an anti-inflammatory, treating stomach diseases, intestinal worms, liver and heart ailments, cancers such as breast, liver, uterine and gastric, hypertension, diabetes, anti-tumor activity, and reduces symptoms of HIV/AIDS.
Cordyceps – are used to strengthen the body and mind at a fundamental level. This mushroom is also called the Chinese Caterpillar Fungus because it grows in the larva of the ghost moth. It has been used to medicinally treat humans and animals with different types of cancers and health issues including lymphoma, and acts as an immuno stimulant, and possesses antioxidant properties. In addition, cordyceps have a dilating effect on bronchials and act as a cough suppressant, thus minimizing the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory disorders while making breathing easier. Due to the increase in blood flow this mushroom creates, it would make an ideal dietary supplement to increase endurance levels. Many endurance runners make a tea to increase their energy levels while training. Research is currently going on to see if this mushrooms has an effect on those with diabetes and liver related problems.
Reishi mushrooms – are known in Eastern medicine as the Immortal Mushroom and the Resurrection plant. For over 4,000 years this mushroom has been used for it’s health benefits, longevity, resistance from diseases, energy and memory enhancements. Reishi has been known to treat a variety of medicinal problems including treatments for cancer, hepatitis,prevents the death of lymphatic cells, lowers blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis and increases daily energy levels.
Shiitake mushrooms – are the most researched of all the mushrooms. It can be used both medicinally and for culinary purposes. Medicinally speaking, shiitake mushrooms have antihistamine properties that can assist in allergy related discomfort. This mushroom type also assists in treating high blood pressure, has cancer fighting agents (particularly for those that suffer from stomach cancers), anti-tumor agents. anti fungal and 42 different anti-viral agents. Shiitake also has eight different types of amino acids (in better proportions than milk, eggs and soybeans) and is a good source of Vitamin A, B, B12, D and niacin. Readers may also be particularly interested in this mushroom type used as an antibiotic. (Source) Shiitake mushrooms have been used for high cholesterol, diseases of the liver (such as hepatitis B and cirrhosis), general immune support, and diabetes (for high cholesterol).
This article is for informational purposes only. If a person is considering using mushrooms as a medicinal source, contact a doctor for further advice. Additionally, women who are pregnant should talk to their doctors before taking an alternative medicine source. Some mushrooms are poisonous. If you cannot identify them, do not take the chance in eating them.