The Incredible Medicinal Benefits of Mushrooms 5 types of mushrooms that pack a number of great health benefits. BY DR. KEITH SCOTT-MUMBY
There are 5.1 million species of fungi and only about 100 have been scientifically studied.
“ Though there are more than 140,000 types of these "fruiting" fungi, only about 100 of them have been studied scientifically in regards to their medicinal benefit.”
Have you heard about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms? In my never-ending search for whole foods that boost health, fight disease, and make me feel great, what I’ve found in regards to mushrooms has absolutely blown my mind.
First, these delicious foods are not actually vegetables. They belong to the fungi classification. The American Journal of Botany estimates there are as many as 5.1 million species of fungi on our planet and that they outnumber other plants by an incredible 6-to-1 ratio.
Fungi are one of the most diverse botanical groups that often results in a "fruit" growth that we know as a mushroom. Of those studied, it has been determined that the nutrient content is similar despite variety and size.
Basic Nutritional Content of Mushrooms
* Naturally fat free
* Low in sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and calories
* Excellent sources of dietary fiber such as chitin and beta-glucans
* Rich in B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid)
* The only natural (non-fortified) vegan source of vitamin D
* Abundant in essential minerals such as potassium, copper, iron, and selenium
* Prime food source of choline, which regulates sleep, brain cognition, and muscle function
Though there are more than 140,000 types of these "fruiting" fungi, only about 100 of them have been studied scientifically in regards to their medicinal benefit.
Many species grow in the wild but identification of mushroom type is essential to determine safety. Reactions to poisonous mushrooms can range from stomach upset to death. You shouldn’t eat any wild mushroom if you are unsure of the species.
Additionally, mushrooms are like nature’s sponges. They absorb the properties of wherever they grow so some wild varieties have tested positive for heavy metals. Use caution and consider joining groups such as the Mycological Society to help you identify wild mushrooms and learn how to prepare them for culinary or medicinal purposes.
Fortunately, mushrooms are becoming so widely sought after that they are being actively cultivated for broader availability. Always choose organic if you can to ensure they are grown in clean soil.
Mushrooms With Medical Benefits
Let me tell you about my five favorite mushrooms with medicinal benefits!
1. Tiger Milk Mushrooms(Lignosus) originate in Malaysia. Being able to grow them in a larger capacity is only now being researched and it is critical to the continued availability of the tiger milk mushroom. In the wild, they grow singly, with one mushroom possibly 5 kilometers from the next. They have powerful antioxidant ability and are a particularly effective nutraceutical to boost the immune system, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, controlling cough and other respiratory distress, and countering the effects of oxidative stress on the human body.
2. Cordyceps Mushrooms(Cordyceps sinensis) are wild Chinese mushrooms referenced as far back as 2,000 years in the medical arts. They gained modern day popularity with many athletes seemed to perform above and beyond prior expectations when using them. They also aid in the treatment of fatigue, cough, and sexual dysfunction. Research released by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center stated that they inhibit cancer cell growth and prevent the formation of new cancer cells. In fact, the natural mushroom works better than synthetic versions created by the pharmaceutical industry to treat cancer.
3. Maitake Mushrooms(Grifola frondosa) contain complex polysaccharide proteins that have shown outstanding results in inhibiting cancer cell growth, regulating blood sugar levels, and lowering blood pressure. They are an excellent option for type 2 diabetics and those with pre-diabetes because they reduce resistance to insulin.
4. Shiitake Mushrooms(Lentinula edodes) are probably the most well-known mushroom on my list. Other than the white button mushroom in most produce departments, shiitake mushrooms are the most widely grown mushrooms. They have an abundance of iron, making them a great choice for anemia due to delivery or abnormal bleeding during menstruation. By boosting the oxygen in your blood, they help fight fatigue and low energy levels. Their lentinan content makes them a powerful ally to your immune system. They boost basic function to fight off everything from the common cold to life-threatening diseases such as HIV due to their natural anti-tumor and anti-viral ability.
5. Reishi (Lingzhi) Mushrooms(Ganoderma lucidum) are effective at lowering high blood pressure, repairing the liver, and easing the chronic pain of those with rheumatoid arthritis. The polysaccharides found in Reishi’s is able to offer joint protection to slow further deterioration. Referred to as the medicine of kings, they’ve been a prominent choice for herbalists for many centuries. They are a powerful tool for anti-aging by boosting the immune system and protecting against cell mutation. Several studies have found that not only can Reishi mushrooms inhibit the growth of cancer cells, they likely destroy them entirely.
There is still so much to learn about the medicinal benefits that mushrooms offer. With so many varieties in the fungi world, we will hopefully have hundreds more to enjoy in the decades to come. In the meantime, find the ones readily available near you and sauté up the natural goodness for good health!
Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby, MD, MB ChB, PhD, received a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) and in 1970 immediately began research into controversial alternative medicine. By 1990 the press were calling him "Britain’s Number One Allergy Detective." He now writes and lectures internationally on the themes of energetic medicine. He has published over 20 groundbreaking books from antibiotic alternatives to the biggest medical breakthrough ever… and the surprising cause of most diseases. To find out more visit: Alternative-Doctor.com.