Mushrooms – A Valuable Food, Increase Oxygen Efficiency and Resistance
Medicinal Mushrooms – Learn About Mushrooms and Their Health Promoting Benefits
Thanks to advancements in refrigeration and transportation as well as new cultivation techniques, no matter
where you live in the continental United States, mushrooms are likely to be “popping up” along with the
traditional fall offerings of apples, pumpkins and squash.
And where there is one mushroom, there are often many others. This is true of the fungi habitat as well as in the
produce section. Like new kids on the block, the new additions in the produce aisle – which come in all shapes, sizes
and textures making them even more curious to look at – often deserve a second glance.
Valuable Health Food
In North America we are just now discovering what other cultures have known for years – mushrooms are a valuable
healthy food. They are very low in calories and high in vegetable proteins. Other beneficial nutrients includ zinc, iron, chitin, vitamins and minerals along with dietary fiber.
And, although their use as food is obvious, their contribution as medicine is perhaps even more important.
Mushrooms have been used in Traditional
Chinese Medicine for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. In fact, it is estimated that in China more than 200 species of mushrooms are believed to
have medicinal properties with 25 percent of them thought to have Anti-Tumor capability.
What Makes Mushrooms Special?
All mushrooms have cleansing properties. They are one of the few rich organic sources of the substance known as Germanium. This important nutrient actually helps increase oxygen efficiency in the body. It also helps balance the exposure to environmental pollutants and build resistance to various diseases. Germanium can also help the body neutralize toxic residues.
Mushrooms contain compounds called Polysaccharides are compounds found in mushrooms which gives them two very important properties that fight against tumors and stimulate the immune system. They are generally rich in Amino
Acids, specifically lysine and tryptophan, as well as nicotinic acid, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and Vitamins
B, C and K. In addition, medicinal mushrooms contain other important compounds known as terpenes and steroids. Some of the body’s response two these compounds helps with promoting anti-tumor activity.
Mushrooms’ legendary effects on promoting good health and increasing the body’s adaptive abilities have been supported
by a number of recent studies. Many studies have revealed they are beneficial to the immunity system. In fact, it
has been said that with mushroom supplements we have a “24 hour Nautilus for our immune system.”
Shiitake, reishi and maitake are three varieties of medicinal mushrooms that are worth discovering, and are most beneficial.
The Shiitake Mushroom
The Shiitake is
the most popular edible mushroom in Japan. The Asians have used it for thousands of years as a tonic and stimulant
to increase vitality, prevent cerebral hemorrhage strokes, as well as improve circulation.
Currently, scientists in the west are studying the shiitake mushroom by extracting lentinan a substance found in this type of mushroom. Research by the scientific community is curious about the anti-tumor, Cholesterol, and
blood pressure lowering properties. In Japan, a highly purified form of this substance has been approved and is being used to fight cancer and help with chemotherapy. Partly because evidence has shown lentinan as helpful in reducing chromosomal damage that is caused by pharmaceutical anti-cancer drugs.
Eritadenine is also found in the shiitake mushroom. This compound is believed to be responsible for reducing blood
levels of cholesterol and fats by promoting their excretion.
Another healthy compound in the shiitake mushroom is lentinula edodes mycelium (LEM). LEM is thought to be helpful
in not only treating and preventing cancer, but also Heart
infectious diseases and also Hepatitis.
However, despite all of its attributes, it should be noted that shiitake might produce a few side effects including
diarrhea and skin rashes. Also individuals taking blood thinners should consult a health practitioner before using
shiitake because it has anti-clotting properties.
The Reishi Mushroom
become one of the most prized Chinese herbs. It is full of medicinal compounds and is said to promote a healthy heart
and prostate. Reishi is also believed to be a powerful anti-cancer agent. It is used in Chinese medicine for its
immunogenic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It demonstrates its anti-tumor and immuno modulating
activity by increasing bodily resistance against the growth of tumors. It can act also as a metabolic regulator.
Reishi is currently gaining the attention of Western medical practitioners because it has been shown to help treat
coronary heart disease, hypertension, Arthritis and
It is also one of eight herbs combined in a specialized formula known as PC SPES, which has shown success in suppressing
the symptoms of Prostate
Cancer. It is also believed that reishi can induce the production of chemotherapy agents such as Interferon –
a protein that is produced inside cells to fight viral infection – and Interleukin-1 & 2. Thus further reinforcing
its reputation for enhancing immunity function and killing tumor cells, according to recent studies at the Education
Center for Prostate Cancer Patients in Jericho, N.Y.
Natural health practitioners in the West are also beginning to use reishi for its Sleep-Promoting effects.
Compounds called triterpenes are thought to be responsible for producing a calming effect on the nervous system.
Other traditional benefits of reishi that have been confirmed by modern scientific research include inhibition of
allergic reactions and relief from Chronic
The Maitake Mushroom
Mushrooms are well respected in Japan and have been used for hundreds of years to support and strengthen the body and improve overall health. The National Cancer Institute in the US is actively studying the Maitake’s active ingredients. Research now shows that the substances in this mushroom do stimulate immunity and inhibit the growth of tumors.
Maitake mushroom are also beneficial for patients of the AIDS
virus. Diabetics have also seen improvement with lower blood sugar levels. Other benefits show the reduction in high blood pressure levels, shrinkage of brain tumors, and support in fighting prostate cancer.
As an adaptogen Maitake aids the physical body in managing emotional and physical stress.
Active ingredients in maitake are polysaccharides; in particular a beta-glucan that is unique called D-Fraction. This substance helps protect the body as it supports the immune cells in fighting cancer. It is also possible that maitake can support
chemo drugs by making them more effective thus reducing dosages of these medications.
There are also other preliminary research projects focusing on maitake’s help with HIV and AIDS.
While some mushroom extracts need to be injected to actually show anti-tumor activity, maitake D-Fraction is effective
orally. It, along with other medicinal mushrooms, can also be obtained as a supplement.
For those who have not acquired a taste for mushrooms, yet want the medicinal benefits of mushrooms, consider supplements.
Much like an apple a day, a mushroom a day is a good rule of thumb – or in the case of supplements, one or two capsules
or three ounces of tincture is usually adequate for general health maintenance. Be sure to check with your healthcare
provider if in doubt.
Shiitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms have all been found to exert remarkable healing properties. And although
they may be among the new additions to the produce aisle for culinary consideration, they will no doubt gain a prominent
position in Western civilization for many years to come as we continue to learn more about Medicinal
Specific Varieties of Medicinal Mushrooms
Read a special report on benefits of mushroom nutrition and watch a fantastic video on Six Ways Mushroom Can Save the World.