Mushrooms, fungi: Those words do not usually raise the attention. But it should, because many mushrooms have significant nutraceutical properties.  This curious sounding word means this nutrient has some medicinal properties.  Is there an ambivalent attitude about mushrooms because of the abhorrence of molds and other nasty fungi by the general  public? Or  because any mushroom brings the justifiable fear of mistakenly eating a the wrong mushroom, a poisonous one? Can’t blame people for being cautious…

Like the infamous Amanita phalloides below: The Amanita’s toxin alpha-Amanitin or α-amanitin is a cyclic peptide of eight amino acids. It is possibly the most deadly of all the amatoxins, toxins (Wikipedia)

 

Amanita phalloides

 

Acknowledgement: All mushroom photos in this post come from Wikipedia Commons

 

Nothing that a little education cannot cure…

For most everybody, it is much safer to obtain the mushrooms as farm raised. As usual, there will be controversies about the potency and Green credentials of farm raised versus wild caught [sounds like fish doesn’t it?; keep in mind mushrooms are not considered plants]. But the risk is too great.

Mushroom have been used for centuries, or rather millenia for medicinal purposes [1,2]: Research has indicated mushrooms have possible cardiovascular, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective (liver), and glycemic (diabetes) activities. (Wikipedia)

The list of mushrooms below is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to draw your attention to this corner of nutrition.

Some are even beautiful…

Maitake

 

Mataike

Benefits: anti-cancer, anti-viral, and immune system enhancing effects. May also help control both high blood pressure and blood sugar levels.[4]

Shitake:

 

Shitake

 

Benefits: anti-viral and anti-cancer [3], anti-cholesterol [4]. It is also one of the most readily available in US supermarkets.

 

Reishi:

 

Reishi

 

The Reishi is not usually appreciated  for cooking, can but taken dry as a tea, or in supplemental capsules.

Benefits: Improve immune function and inhibit the growth of some malignant tumors. Significant anti-inflammatory effects, reduces allergic responsiveness, and protects the liver. [4]

Chanterelle:

 

Chanterelle

 

Benefits: The blue chanterelle variety has been shown to have cognitive benefits, helping warding of Alzheimer’s. Chanterelles exposed to UV can produce substantial amounts of vitamin D2 [3]

Shimeji:

 

Shimeji

 

Benefits: Anti-Tumor, help against diabetes, asthma and certain allergies by enhancing the immune system and boosting its healing capabilities [4]

 

Oyster mushroom:

 

Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster)

This mushroom’s cousin, the Indian oyster, grows in the Pacific north-west.

Benefits: Studies have shown that oyster mushrooms could help cholesterol issues because they  contain up to 2.8% lovastatin on a dry weight basis. [3]

 

If you want to go the capsule supplement route, go to Aloha Medicinals:  USDA organic and Kosher.

Sources:

[1] The Health Manna ;

[2] MediNewsDigest ; “Glucosamine as an Multiple Sclerosis treatment?”

[3] Wikipedia ; Medicinal mushrooms

[4] Dr Weil; “are mushrooms good for your health?”

 

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