(NaturalNews) The world's greatest healing systems have long revered the medicinal power of edible mushrooms. In ancient Chinese and Indian medicine, for instance, mushrooms were often prescribed to individuals suffering from a wide range of conditions ranging from fatigue to serious degenerative diseases. In Europe, mushrooms were beloved for their significant healing properties, which were often attributed to their dense concentrations of essential nutrients.
As drug-based medicine continued to soar in popularity in the 20th century, however, many cultures began to forget about the healing plants that had safeguarded their ancestors' health for centuries. This is unfortunate, since ongoing research continues to show that some mushrooms really are disease-fighting powerhouses. The three mushrooms listed below are proven to be especially effective at treating certain conditions.
Turkey tail: cancer
Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) is a bracket fungi whose beautiful colors and patterns resemble the tail feathers of a turkey. It grows worldwide, and -- being a beneficial decomposer of dead wood -- often forms in huge colonies on the wounds of living and dead trees.
Turkey tail is best-known for its cancer-fighting properties. One study published in ISRN Oncology in 2012, for instance, found that taking up to 9 grams of turkey tail extract per day could improve the immune status of patients with breast cancer. (1) Another study, published one year later in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, discovered that turkey tail -- when combined with reishi, another popular disease-fighting mushroom -- could induce apoptosis in leukemia cells. (2)
Lion's mane: cognitive dysfunction
Lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a globular-shaped fungus that is easily identified by its cascading teeth-like spines, from which white spores emerge. In fact, the mushroom is also called the "pom-pom blanc" since it resembles the white poms-poms used by cheerleaders.
Lion's mane's positive effects on brain function are well-recorded. For example, a study published in Biomedical Research in August 2010 found that subjects who took a lion's mane supplement for four weeks demonstrated reduced depression and anxiety compared to the placebo group. (3) A review published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology in March 2014 also listed lion's mane as one of the mushrooms that can prevent age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. (4)
Chaga: metabolic disorders
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a hard and woody fungus that thrives in the coldest parts of Europe, especially Russia. Despite looking like a cracked piece of charcoal, chaga is a mushroom of considerable medicinal value, and it enjoys a long and rich association with European folklore.
While extremely versatile as a disease fighter, chaga seems to specialize in treating metabolic disorders such as diabetes due to its high concentrations of secondary metabolites (intermediates and products of metabolism). One study published in Phytotherapy Research in February 2014, for instance, found that a melanin complex of chaga "exerts antihyperglycemic and beneficial lipid-metabolic effects, making it a candidate for promising antidiabetic agent." (5) Research featured in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in June 2008 also showed that chaga could lower glucose levels and prevent the oxidative degradation of lipids in diabetic mice. (6)
1. Psilocybe (aka pans and cubes) - This mushroom has been used effectively and safely in study after study for treating cluster headaches, and combined with psychotherapy- 3 sessions have been shown to effectively treat addiction - namely smoking and alcohol cessation (with an unheard of 80% success rate). It has been postulated by Terrance Mckenna that this mushroom may help explain the evolution of the rapidly expanding human brain, the history of Christmas, and the advent of human language, along with increases in eating more meat (protein) and fruit (phytonutrients) in the ancient human diet. Some have reported effects in consciousness expansion, telepathy, seeing one's life flash before their eyes, allowing for revisiting old traumas, working through issues, and achieving a new level of mental clarity.
John Hopkin's University has shown the effective ingredient to be immensely helpful for near- death anxiety for terminally -ill patients.
2. Lion's Mane- is the top mushroom for the brain and nervous system. Mycologist Paul Stamets says, 'Unlike any other food substance known, the mushroom has been studied to be extremely effective at encouraging and inducing Nerve Growth Factor in the brain.' Lion's Mane is the perfect superfood for those who have experienced seizures because of this ability to elicit nerve regeneration. It can be extremely helpful for those with epilepsy or who have experienced Gran-mal seizures, both of which are thought to cause nerve cell injury in the brain and affect cognitive function. Lions mane, like other medicinal mushrooms, contains high amounts of antioxidants, beta-glucan and polysaccharides that are made available when the mushroom is heated or prepared as a hot water extract. These health components are powerful immuno-modulators that support deep immune health. The specific active ingredients in the mushroom, including beta-glucoxylan as well as four other polysaccharides and polypeptides, are responsible for significantly enhancing the immune system and currently being research for their effects at decreasing tumor growth. Lion's mane is a potent catalyst for brain tissue regeneration and helps to improve memory and cognitive functions.
In studies conducted in Japan, by Dr. Hirokazu Kawagishi, it was discovered that the mushroom stimulates the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). This is the primary protein nutrient responsible for enhancing and repairing neurological disorders.
3. Turkey Tail- Its main effects are to strengthen the immune system, particularly by enhancing the workings of one of the most critical cells, known as T helper cells. T helper cells tell all the other cells in the immune system what to do and to what degree, and when to stop. In cancer, the runaway cells often secrete compounds known as cytokines that give false signals to immune cells to stop working. This further enhances the ability of the cancer to survive. An unfortunate side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is that they further damage the immune system, in part by inadvertently killing T helper cells. Turkey tail mushroom has been the subject of a large number of controlled clinical trials in Asia showing that it can help rebuild the immune system in people with a wide range of cancers. The benefit is quite powerful, for it has been demonstrated again and again that turkey tail, taken together with mainstream cancer therapies, significantly lengthens lifespan by as much as double. Turkey tail is not a magic cure for cancer, but it can definitely extend life. Turkey tail may also improve quality of life by reducing susceptibility to infections and other negative effects of having a suppressed immune system. More research is needed to quantify these effects, but they should not be overlooked, as living well is just as important as living.
Because of its positive effects on the immune system, it's possible that turkey tail mushroom could prevent cancer or help other conditions in which immune suppression is a major problem, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Research has yet to be done to investigate turkey tail's potential promise.
4. Cordyceps- Today, cordyceps is used in China specifically for the treatment of fatigue, cough, impotence, and anemia. It is listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for asthma and impotence and seminal emissions with aching of loins and knees. One of the newest on the long list of cordyceps benefits is that of an immune modulator. While certain compounds in cordyceps significantly boost immunity, there are others that appear to modulate the immune system so that the body doesn't attack healthy tissue. This could be a huge breakthrough in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Cordyceps is truly a miracle fungus. Cordyceps is known as an anti-asthmatic and anti-cancer agent which helps smooth muscle relaxation. It is used to stimulate the endocrine system, as an antibacterial agent, and to aid patients suffering from chronic renal failure.
In clinical studies, cordyceps sinensis has been shown to have positive effects on hepatic diseases, high cholesterol, and various aging disorders including sexual dysfunction and loss of vitality. One particular study among men with sexual dysfunction showed an improvement in 67% in the group taking cultured cordyceps, and 31% in the group taking wild cordyceps. These trials in human volunteers were supported by animal studies in which rats treated with cordyceps sinensis showed lower levels of cholesterol and plasma tryglycerides. Another effect was increased spermatogenesis (sperm production) in mice and rabbits.
Another study was conducted on volunteers with high cholesterol and high tryglycerides. After a period of 2 months, the cordyceps group showed a decrease in cholesterol of 17.5% and a decrease in tryglycerides of 9.9%. No side effects were reported.
Another study involving 87 patients with arrhythmia showed impressive results. An improvement of 87% was observed with a dose of cordyceps 3 times per day. 3 Cases of lung carcinoma were also treated over a period of 3 months with excellent results. Also, 18 cases of chronic nephritis showed significant signs of improvement after treatment with cultured cordyceps sinensis, as well as patients with chronic kidney disease.
In a human study involving 51 patients with chronic renal (kidney) failure, the administration of 3g-5g per day of cordyceps sinensis to 28 of the patients improved immune and renal function. No serious cordyceps side effects have ever been reported.
In a study involving 33 chronic hepatitis B patients, <em> cordyceps sinensis was reported to improve liver function, and adjust protein metabolism. In 45 patients treated for cirrhosis, the group treated with cordyceps sinensis showed increased NK cell activity, and improved liver function.
5. Agarikon- Agarikon is not only a strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, its extracts have also demonstrated antiviral properties. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attack, our team submitted more than 500 samples of diverse mushroom extracts to the BioShield BioDefense program, administered cooperatively by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. After many panels of tests, the species that stood out was Agarikon. Of the 11 strains of Agarikon from North America that were tested, a few showed exceptionally strong activity against viruses including pox (cowpox), swine (H1N1) and bird (H5N1) flu, and herpes (HSV1, HSV2) viruses. In several sets of tests, dilutions of our natural ethanol extracts against flu viruses exceeded the potency of the positive drug control ribavirin against flu viruses by a factor of 10 or more. Most recently, a team of Russian researchers has confirmed the strong antiviral activity of Agarikon against H5N1 flu virus and found that Agarikon is comparatively non-toxic to human cells.
Agarikon contains antiviral molecules new to science. Researchers for pharmaceutical companies may have missed its potent antiviral properties. Our analyses show that the mycelial cultures of this mushroom are most active but that the fruitbodies, the natural form of the mushroom, are not. The fact that Agarikon is active against both viruses and bacteria suggests that it can provide a natural bioshield against potential infection and disease transmission.
-And a relative of Agarikon worth mentioning is Agaricus blazei: Research has shown that the richness in the Agaricus Blazei Mushroom makes it capable of curbing stress-physical and mental; slow down the advancement of osteoporosis; heal gastric ulcers; as it stimulates the immunity of the body and lowers cholesterol. The mushroom is able to curtail the cytopathic impact of the Western Equine Encephalitis Virus because of its antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties.
The animal and cellular research that has been done over the years shows an ability of the Agaricus Blazei Mushroom to stimulate the body's immune system so that it can fight disease. Effects of the medicinal mushroom Agaricusblazei Murill on immunity, infection and cancer do confirm this observation. Further research confirms the ability of the Agaricus Blazei mushroom to lower blood cholesterol, inhibit the negative effects of pathogens and also deter angiogenesis. Other animal and clinical research indicates that the mushroom can lower blood sugar and control insulin. A lot of animal and cellular research has been done on Agaricus Blazei to see its effect on cancer cells. For colorectal and Gynaecological cancers, clinical results were positive. This means there were signs of improvement in quality of life. In cases of Sarcoma, Ovarian cancer, Lung cancer, Leukaemia, Hepatocarcinoma, Stomach cancer and prostate cancer, metastasis was inhibited.
6. Chaga- Wild chaga was found to be the most powerful adaptogen of all adaptogens tested. Since the 1950s the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), in conjunction with approximately 1,200 prominent scientists, conducted over 3,000 experiments involving 500,000 people to study the effects of adaptogens. An adaptogen is a substance which modifies the human body's response to stress. The results of these studies were a protected Soviet secret for 40 years. The Soviet government commanded athletes, astronauts and other Soviet elite to take adaptogens on a daily basis to improve physical and mental work capacity. One of these adaptogens was chaga. In fact, of all these adaptogens, chaga was found to be the most powerful. It is now believed that up to 80% of all diseases are mainly due to stress. Therefore, combating stress with chaga may be quite medicinally significant.
7. Shiitake- Many people may recognize this edible mushroom as a tasty addition to many oriental dishes like, miso soup. What is not commonly known is that the shiitake mushroom is one of the best medicinal mushrooms to prevent cancer. Clinical studies have discovered a phytochemical called lentinan which has been thought to help prevent cancer, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, hepatitis, AIDS, herpes and other viral conditions. As suggested earlier, shitake mushrooms can act like an immune modulator; up or down-regulating the immune system as needed by the body. The essential compounds are often extracted from the mushroom and made into a pill form for the most potent and quickest means of digestive absorption.
8. Maitake- These mushrooms have gone through numerous clinical studies proving the power of this medicinal mushroom in preventing cancer. Known as a polypore mushroom, with its first discovery in Japan, the maitake mushroom has been used for centuries to enhance immune function. Here's a short list of the health benefits of maitake mushroom: Helps to regulate blood pressure and normalize cholesterol. It regulates insulin levels in the body, support healthy immune system activity, activates macrophages, which eat up cancerous cells, inhibits the growth of tumors, lessens the negative side effects of chemotherapy, and probably most importantly, improves liver function.
9. Meshima- aka Phellinus linteus- Mentioned in many study reviews out of China as one of the most medicinal mushrooms in the world, this mushroom grows on a tree like Chaga, reduces the size of tumors in mice, and activates the immune system, making it is one of the most often used medicinal mushrooms known to man. Extracts from fruit-bodies or mycelium of Phellinus linteus stimulate the hormonal and cell-mediated immune function; quench the inflammatory reactions caused by a variety of stimuli, and suppress tumor growth and metastasis.
10. Reishi- The reishi mushroom is also known as Lingzhi; in Chinese. Unlike other edible mushrooms, reishi contains bioactive (natural) chemicals that have been studied and confirmed through scientific research to prevent cancer. This mushroom has the ability to keep one's immune system functioning at a very high level. Keep in mind, there are six different types of reishi and top herbalists will say that the red reishi is the most potent (medicinal) variety. Reishi contains over 90 percent indigestible fiber and has quite a bitter taste. So, for those less daring; you may want to purchase this mushroom in capsule, tablet or extract form at your local health food store.
Interesting to note, Japanese researchers suggest that we can enhance the immune-building power of reishi by taking a quality vitamin C supplement at the same time.
It is about time for the spring foraging excursions and to start looking for some of these species. Perhaps we should find them and photograph them (harvest some if you're so inclined) and try them out. I already consume a good number of the species on this list. One thing about these forum software packages is how easy a thread like this can disappear below other activity.....I'm hoping my reishi logs fruit this year, but there is plenty growing in the wild here.
i orderd some lions mane , Shitaki ,reishi and dowles . i thought i would go in the woods with ny cordless drill and inoculate somme dead trees .
johnny apple seed them heh
Dead tree's will likely already have quite the "infection" going on, your results may be less than expected. IME you want to get fresh logs (meaning less than a year old) that show no signs of other fungus growing.
coorsmikey, riseabovethought and Moonless like this
Cordyceps Militaris has been found to show anti-depressant effects in mice. The study compared the cordyceps to ketamine as a rapidly acting anti-depressant. lol. I suggest this read because damn those mice went through a lot and it's sad.
Here's some great information about the cordycepin chemical. It is more soluable in water than in alcohol but each batch has a variability of soluability. The chemical will stay stable for 3 years at 20 C.
The main medicinal compound in turkey tail is thought to be a polyscharide called PSK (pollysacharide-K). This article is by far the most thorough and informative article about PSK, it single-handedly answered all I need to know about cultivation and drug delivery. Please allow me to put some of the most vital information pertaining to us Mycotopiates about PSK.
PSK is typically created from the mycelium though an extraction process. This means two things for us: first, turkey tail only needs to be grown as mycelium to get the medical benefits and second, we can do the extraction at home.The first step of the commercial extraction is to make a tea from the mycelium using hot water. Then ethanol is added to the solution slowly. Since PSK is insoluble in ethanol it will precipitate out and the solids can be filtered and dried out.
An easier method of PSK extraction for us kitchen herbalist is to make a hot water extraction, and add ethanol until the solution is 20%. AFIK a solution with an ethanol content of 20% should be shelf and fridge stable. If any solids precipitate out, the mixture will need to be swirled when used to dose.
The doseage of PSK for cancer treatment is 3 g, while for general well being it is 1.5 g. Currently all I can find on the concentration of PSK in turkey tail is that it is somewhere between "4 to 23 g/L depending on the size of the fermenter" so you've gotta take like at most a liter a day and at least .14 liters for cancer treatment, half of that for general well being. Of course this all is depending on the potency of your crop. The mushroom wellness company Host defense suggest 1 g of the powdered mycelium a day indicating that the PSK is bioavailable without being extracted as well as an easy dose of 1 g of mycelium per day.
Alright let me know if anything is wrong or debatable. I did my best to find good sources and convey them to the best of my ability. I especially need help with the potency of turkey tail part.
Sources and general info for nerds.
Grand article on PSK. I highly recommend this because it has literally everything and is more worthy than anything I've read.