Medicinal Mushrooms: The New Power Food - NL-018
Mushrooms can appear in various sizes, shapes and colours, but they thrive in warm, damp soil with decomposing organic matter. They are considered nature's recyclers since they decompose what has died in order to help create new life. Due to a lack of chlorophyll, they are not able to photosynthesise, so they must obtain their nutrients from the ground. The type of mushrooms that can grow in an area depends on the habitat. Spores, not seeds, help them germinate and the roots of mushrooms are referred to as mycelium.
Agreement among experts regarding the number of fungi globally is hard to come by, but of them, only around 120,000 have been documented. It is believed that only a small fraction of just 2% of fungi are toxic, with a number of them having medicinal attributes. Although the majority of mushrooms are edible, only a minority of them are eaten due to their hard texture, unpleasant odor, or bad taste.On the other hand, roughly 20 species are known to be delicious.
For thousands of years, cultures all around the globe, particularly in Eastern countries, have drawn on mushrooms for various purposes, ranging from life-prolonging tonics to spiritual ceremonies. Certain mushrooms have been especially utilized in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine because of their acknowledged healing properties.
The oldest authoritative Chinese compendium of healing components is the Shennong Bencao Jing, containing 365 ingredients, some of which are mushroom varieties that have been utilized medicinally. Of special reverence is the renowned Ganoderma lucidum mushroom (Chinese: lingzhi, Japanese: reishi). To date, research has revealed beneficial attributes in more than 850 mushroom species.
Kampo, a form of traditional Japanese medicine, has been around since the 5th century and bears a close resemblance to traditional Chinese Medicine, only modified to fit Japanese culture. Medicinal mushrooms are widely prescribed in Japan, particularly for cancer patients, as part of "integrative oncology".
Whereas China has been the preeminent country for employing mushrooms for their healthful properties, the Ayurvedic approach from India has tended to be more restrained. It is thought that the lack of analysis and financial backing for the usage of mushrooms has caused a void in the data to affirm their effectiveness.
What Are Medicinal Mushrooms
In recent times, mushrooms have gained prominence for their health-promoting benefits and have been labeled as a "power food".
Fungi are packed with essential vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fibre. Mostly, they consist of water, carbs, and proteins. Certain types of mushrooms offer special qualities which can help your body's metabolism and defence mechanisms.
Detoxification of the body is aided by mushrooms, as they work to scavenge free radicals.
A major study has highlighted the importance of beta-glucan, a polysaccharide found in medicinal mushrooms' cell walls. Although other polysaccharides play a critical role in the metabolic conversion of sugars, glucose, beta-glucan is responsible for over 90% of the metabolic cost.
Research has indicated that beta-glucan can assist in reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system by energizing killer T-cells. Such cells oversee a range of adaptive immunity processes, including reactions to intracellular pathogens, allergens, as well as tumours.
Eastern clinical studies have extensively investigated the effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms, and have established the health benefits of a number of them. However, each mushroom brings its own set of advantages to the table.
Popular Medicinal Mushrooms
For more than two millennia, Ganoderma lucidum, also known as (Ling Zhi) Reishi, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help battle obesity and inflammation.
Hericium Erinaceus, or Lion's Mane, can help to boost mental clarity, as well as provide antioxidants and bolster the immune system. It has the potential to slow down the development of dementia, and is thought to have anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects. Additionally, it can aid in recovering from neurological traumas.
Chaga (Inonotus Obliquus) has been shown as effective in combating free radicals, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Mice-based studies have demonstrated its potential to help with diabetes, certain tumours, and heart diseases.
This mushroom, Lentinula Edodes, otherwise known as Shiitake, has been part of the human diet since 1000 A.D. and is especially beneficial for the heart. Studies on mice have demonstrated its ability to reduce LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, it has been found to contain substances which inhibit cholesterol absorption and production in the liver.
Trametes Versicolor, commonly known as Turkey Tail, includes a polysaccharide-k element that can invigorate the immune system.
The mushroom Grifola Frondose, also known as Maitake, is widely used in Japanese Kampo medicine and has been observed to reach up to 50 kilograms in weight. A few clinical trials suggest that this mushroom may have the ability to reduce hypertension, improve cholesterol levels, and decrease blood sugar.
Flammulina Velutipes, or Enokitake, is sought after for its flavour, its presence during the colder months when other mushrooms are scarce, and for having possible medicinal advantages that could aid with ailments ranging from tumours to dementia and stomach ulcers.
Dong chong xia cao, otherwise known as Cordyceps Sinensis, is a type of parasitic fungus found on the larvae of insects. This mushroom is widely used in Chinese Medicine, and is often taken to treat chronic kidney disease. Additionally, many individuals consume it to improve their endurance.
Whole Food or Supplement
Shiitake, enokitake, lions mane and maitake mushrooms can be cooked as a meal, but reishi and turkey tail cannot be eaten due to their tough and bitter taste. Instead, these mushrooms are best enjoyed as tea, soup, powders or tinctures.
A research project conducted in Japan found that when Vitamin C is consumed alongside reishi, the body can benefit more. The Japanese government officially recognizes reishi as an effective treatment for cancer. This mushroom is believed to activate leukocytes as well as phagocytosis, and can also increase the amount of T-cells in the bloodstream, which are useful for fighting disease.