Healthy Outlook – JUNE 2017 – Medicinal Mushrooms
Edible. Inedible. Incredible!
There are over 10,000 species of mushrooms. About 50% are inedible, by this I mean either too tough to chew or just plain indigestible. Approximately 25% are edible and 4% are incredible. Edible meaning they are digestible but tasteless. The incredible ones have a fantastic flavor. Then there are about 20% that will make you sick and 1% that can kill you.
Mushrooms have been scientifically proved to having anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which assist the body in fending off diseases like Polio, Hepititis B HIV, Influenza HSV-1 a dHSV-2 as well as the small pox virus. There is entirely too much information to cover in one newsletter. Therefore, I will focus on a small handful of mushrooms with medicinal qualities.
Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) is a visually striking polypore with a hard woody texture and a shiny, varnished appearance. It primarily grows on oaks, plum trees and other hardwoods, and has a 2-20 cm semi-circular or kidney shaped cap, variously colored white, yellow, blue, red, purple or black. Ganoderma species are found worldwide, through the Chinese and Japanese species have been studied the most extensively for their therapeutic value.
BENEFITS – Studies have shown that the Reishi’s polysaccharides cause a significant increase in “natural killer” cells, which destroy cancer cells, shrink tumors, and slow the spread of existing cancers. The Reishi also imparts antioxidants which fight the free radicals that can in time lead to cancer.
The Reishi also contains compounds called triterpenes. These are released by alcohol extraction and act through our hormones to reduce stress, decrease depression symptoms, improve the sense of well-being, and increase both the quantity and quality of sleep.
In addition, Reishi is known to improve skin disorders and soothe digestive problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome.
Also known as Hen of the Woods and Sheep’s Head, these lack the real charm of Maitake, which is Japanese for “dancing mushroom”. It allegedly got this name in ancient times when a group of hungry nuns happened upon some Maitakes and they celebrated with joyous dance. Maitakes have a delicate taste and texture, making them easy to add to dishes or enjoy by themselves.
BENEFITS – They boast the anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties of other medicinal mushrooms. They also contain a compound called D-Fraction. Researchers who gave cancer patients D-Fraction supplements found that it suppressed both tumor growth and spread. The effect of Maitakes on tumors stems from their stimulation of the body’s production of “natural killer” cells, T-cells, and particular white blood cells called macrophages that envelop and destroy cancer cells.
Coriolus versicolor also known as Trametes versicolor or Turkey Tails. As its name implies, it is often multi-colored, with contrasting concentric bands, variously appearing in shades of white, gray, brown, black, blue or even red. It has a thin velvety fruiting body, usually 2-7 cm wide, fans out into wavy rosettes.
BENEFTS – The most interesting compound in Turkey Tail is called polysaccharide-K, or PSK for short. In the 1970s, Japanese researcher isolated PSK and by the end of that decade it was a prescription drug used as adjuvant therapy for cancer, complimenting traditional cancer treatment. In numerous polysaccharide-K improved the survival rates of patients with gastric and colorectal cancers, and also showed promise in fighting leukemia and some lung cancers. Additionally, a large National Institutes of Health study looked at women with breast cancer who took Turkey tail supplements while undergoing radiation therapy while the radiation is meant to kill cancer cells, it also suppresses the immune system. However the patients taking Turkey Tail had significantly better rebound of their immune systems, which helped keep the from getting sick from opportunistic infections, but also gave their bodies back the tools to continue fighting any remaining cancer.
Found in the shrub lands above 10,000 feet on the Tibetan Plateau. Legend says that it was discovered some 1500 years ago by herders when their yaks grazed on the mushrooms and became inexplicably energized and playful. The spores infect caterpillars, growing inside them. Eventually, the host is killed, and colorful stem-like structures sprout from the caterpillars’ heads. While this sounds off-putting to many people, the good news is that Cordyceps are commercially available that are cultivated without any insect involvement. They have a mild flavor and as a result can be included in a variety of dishes.
BENEFITS – Cordyceps slightly increase testosterone and estrogen. Known for boosting metabolism and stamina and speeding recovery by increasing ATP, the carrier for chemical energy and improves how the body uses oxygen. Additionally Cordyceps have been shown to improve lung function, lessening symptoms of respiratory ailments.
While the Shiitake is native to eastern Asia, it’s widely available because of easy cultivation. It boasts numerous and varied health benefits and is a culinary delight for foodies.
BENEFITS – High in B vitamins and they serve as a food source of vitamin D. They aid in weight loss, support cardiovascular health, fight cancer cells, improve energy levels and brain function, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.
S I I T A K E N U T R I T I O N F A C T S
100 grams contain:
|34 calories||.5 g fat||6.8 g carbohydrates|
|2.5 g fiber||2.2 g protein||2.4 g sugar|
|4 ml g niacin (19% DV)||1.5 mg pantothenic acid (15% DV)||.2 mg vitamin B6 (15% DV)|
|18 IU vitamin D (4% DV)||.2 mg manganese (12% DV)||112 mg phosphorus (11% DV)|
|5.7 mcg selenium (8% DV)||.1 mg copper (7% DV)||1 mg zinc (7% DV)|
|304 mg potassium (6% DV)||20 mg magnesium (5% DV)||.4 mg iron (2% DV)|
Sources: Fantastic Fungi, Paul Stamets medicinalmushrooms.net, WebMD, Dr. Axe