What does that make you think of?
Psychedelic mushrooms? Smoking mushrooms? Culinary mushrooms? Gateway drugs? Poison?
Mushrooms can be many and all of these. But, I want to discuss the amazing medicinal value of mushrooms. Not the “medicinal” that has been abused and misused for political and/or marketing purposes. I am talking about mushrooms that have powerful healing effects—effects supported in the scientific literature.
The medicinal benefits of mushrooms has been known for a long time. Medicinal mushrooms played a pivotal role in ancient cultures quest to battle disease. Ancient China and Egypt were the first cultures documented to recognize the healing benefits of mushrooms thousands of years ago.
Many fear mushrooms. They fear mushrooms because they don’t know mushrooms. Fear often originates from the unknown. There may be mushrooms to fear, just not these mushrooms.
What are mushrooms? Mushrooms are not a fruit or a vegetable in the classic sense of the words. Mushrooms are actually a fungi. The word fungi can be confusing here as many carry a negative experience with fungi—see candida or yeast infection. However, not all fungi are mushrooms. For those fungi that produce mushrooms, the mushroom is actually acting as a fruit.
There are many varieties of medicinal mushrooms. I want to highlight 4 medicinal mushrooms with the strongest and most extensive scientific literature support and their health benefits. The majority of the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms are in the battle against cancer. These health promoting mushrooms include turkey tails, lions mane, shiitake, and reishi.
Turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor), also known as Coriolis or cloud mushroom, benefits include:
- stimulates immune system
- anti-cancer effects
- adjuvant therapy in cancer
- increased cancer survival
- Improved quality of life in cancer patients
- programmed cell death of cancer cells
- counteracts immunosuppression of chemotherapy
- useful in up to 97% of cancers
Turkey tail mushrooms have been shown to be useful in the fight against lymphomas, leukemias, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, nasopharynx cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and melanoma just to name a few.
Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), also known as the hedgehog mushroom, health benefits include:
- improved cognition in those with mild cognitive impairment
- improved memory
- alleviate depression and anxiety
- reduce elevated cholesterol
- reduce blood sugars
- reduce inflammation
- strengthen the immune system
- anti-tumor effects
- induce neuro regeneration
Shiitake mushroom (Lentinul edodes), also known as sawtooth oak mushroom, black forest mushroom, black mushroom, golden oak mushroom, or oakwood mushroom, health benefits include:
- anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
- great source of vitamins and minerals
- cancer prevention
- modulates the immune system
- reduces cholesterol
- protects against cardiovascular disease
- great source of antioxidants
- liver protection
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as Ling Zhi, is the most exotic in appearance of the 4 medicinal mushrooms. The health benefits of the reishi mushroom include:
- reduction in inflammation
- cancer prevention
- anti-tumor activity
- stimulates anti-cancer immune activity
- improved quality of life in patients with cancer
- suppress tumor cell proliferation
- has antioxidant activity
- anti-viral activity
- anti-bacterial activity
- lowers blood sugar levels
- decreases HgbA1c
- provides liver protection
- improved healing from gastric ulcers
Studies clearly show the medicinal benefits of these 4 mushrooms. In vitro, animal , and human studies abound to support the medicinal value of mushrooms—especially in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Are the studies definitive? Of course not. They rarely are—even in traditional therapies.
Fortunately for those of us that live in east Tennessee, we have several local resources available to learn more about these medicinal mushrooms? Everything Mushrooms has been a mushroom staple in Knoxville, TN and can be found summers at the Market Square Farmer’s Market. Just a little trip east is Brewer’s Mushrooms in Dandridge, TN. More than just selling mushrooms, Hugh relays his passions for mushrooms through the numerous education workshops, classes, and numerous events—including mushrooms hunts.
The scientific proof of medicinal mushrooms is prevalent, access through local resources is easy, the taste is good and now it just takes a decision to incorporate medicinal mushrooms into you and your families daily life. Healthy living is a process. A process that begins with saying yes.
Would you like more information? Get in touch with us today!