In addition to their nutritional value, mushrooms have medicinal qualities.
Food As Medicine
Medicinal mushrooms have been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia, but in the West we have only studied them for the last 30 years or so. Even in this short period of time, medicines have been patented that come directly from mushroom research.
Probably the most famous is PSK, an anti-cancer pharmaceutical derived from the turkey tail mushroom. It came about as a result of Japanese research on the Maitake mushroom conducted in the 1980s.
Mushrooms contain sugar-like molecules called ‘polysaccarides’ that stimulate immune system cells. As a result, the immune system is stimulated to kill malignant cells in the body. End result? Mushrooms are anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, and good for cardiovascular health.
What are mushrooms – animal, vegetable, or mineral? Mushrooms are fungi that have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. They are low in calories and fat, but rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.
Despite being readily available to all, some mushrooms are considered status symbols. These include black truffles, boletes, and chanterelles from Europe and the Matsutake from China and Japan. But don't just like mushrooms because of their celebrity status. You should like them because they're good for you.
Best Medicinal Mushrooms
Learn More About Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal Mushrooms and Cancer
There are numerous mushrooms that have medicinal properties, but let’s talk about three of the more popular ones:
Several published studies say that when Maitake mushrooms are used in conjunction with conventional cancer therapy, a lower dose of medication is needed. They have a natural stimulating effect on the immune system, lower blood pressure, and regulate blood glucose as well.
Lenitan is a phytonutrient that boosts the function of cancer cell killers. Since Shiitake mushrooms contain lenitan, some cancer specialists prescribe it to stop the spread of cancer. Studies from Japan show it lowers cholesterol as well.
Reishi mushrooms contain ganoderic acid which is a phytonutrient. As a result, it has a high level of antioxidant activity. It has been used to treat prostate cancer when used in combination with other herbs.
Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Research has also demonstrated the mushroom’s possible usefulness for HIV, bronchitis, allergies, cancer, inflammation, liver, and protection against radiation. Eating all three together will give you the cardiovascular and antioxidant benefits of three superfoods.
If you are thinking of incorporating mushrooms into your diet, that’s a great idea. It’s better to get nutrients from whole foods rather than supplements. Whole foods contain more than just vitamins and minerals. They have a host of nutrients that you need for good health, and in the case of mushrooms, medicinal benefits as well.