The Power of the Mushroom
- Written by Louise Stevens
I recently attended a seminar on ‘medicinal mushrooms’, not the psychoactive ones I hasten to add, although all mushrooms have amazing healing qualities including the common button ones! They all contain the active ingredients of beta-glucans and polysaccharides but in varying degrees, and then possess different compounds that can be useful for managing different conditions.
Due to the nature of their environment and how they grow, mushrooms have developed good anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help our bodies heal. The common myth that eating mushrooms will in some way facilitate the growth of candida or other fungal conditions is unsupported by clinician experience or research evidence. Not only are mushrooms very low in the sugars that may help promote candidates growth but they also strengthen the body’s immune response to all fungi and in many cases contain compounds with direct anti-fungal activity.
Due to their properties, one of the main effects that mushrooms have is regulating the immune system. Reishi, revered by the emperors and said to promote longevity, can be useful in controlling symptoms of hayfever. Reishi combined with cordyceps can be helpful for adrenal exhaustion. Coriolus can be used by ME sufferers as it helps to reduce the inflammatory response and boost the immune system at the same time. Lions Mane has been shown to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (something that could help with MS).
There is also a multitude of research into the anti-cancer properties of mushrooms too. In fact there is a combination of mushrooms called PS7 that helps support the immune system during chemotherapy, which enables the chemo to be more effective and stabilise blood counts which are often severely impaired during such treatments.
A fascinating day all round…. So my advice to everyone is eat more mushrooms, cooked is essential and if you can get hold of enoki, shiitake, Maitake, oyster or other unusual ones then find a place for them in your recipes 3x a week. Oh and drink green tea. There is growing evidence linking increased mushroom consumption and regular intake of green tea provides even greater levels of protection against cancer.