Magical, Medicinal Mushrooms at Work

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Mushrooms are magical in the sense that they are have extraordinary benefits for our health. You might remember my post on the otherworldly power of the Reishi mushroom, which has used been in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat chronic hepatitis, nephritis, hypertension, arthritis, neurasthenia, bronchitis, asthma, gastric ulcers, insomnia, anorexia, dizziness, mushroom poisoning, and coronary heart disease (Wasser 2005). Well, my friends, that was only the beginning.

One thing you need to know is that mushrooms are packed with dietary fiber (DF). According to a recent mini-review (Cheung, 2013), the cell walls of mushrooms are made of chitin and other non-digestible polysaccharides such as b-glucans, which have been shown to stimulate the immune system and curb unhealthy cell development (Lam & Cheung, 2013; Reshetnikov & Tan, 2001). That, and they maintain healthy digestion. 

The second thing is that these motherlodes of fiber come with a host of vitamins and minerals. Shiitake mushrooms are the clear winners as they are superb sources of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper. Portobello mushrooms carry all of these in slightly lesser quantities. Maitake mushrooms are rich in riboflavin, niacin, and copper. Crimini mushrooms are a great source of selenium, a powerful mineral.

Finally, Mushrooms bring natural balance to the blood. One way they do this is by promoting arterial health. According to Mori et al., (2008), supplementation with Eringi, Maitake, and Bunashimeji mushroom powder significantly decreased biomarkers for atherosclerosis in mice. Some mushrooms—maitake in particular—naturally contain an alpha-glucodinase inhibitor that lowers blood sugar. This makes them helpful for people with diabetes. 

The most important question with mushrooms is, “Which ones are going to kill me?” Obviously, any mushroom you find in a grocery store is edible and will not kill you. For a list of deadly mushrooms, go to this site. I am not a veteran mushroom hunter myself, so if you’re looking to scavenge in the great outdoors, consult a book on the subject. Here is our brief list of friendly and easy-to-find fungal foods:

  • Shiitake
  • Morel
  • Portobello
  • Cremini (distinctly flavorful)
  • Reishi (in supplement form)

Medicinal mushroom consumption are an integral part on any oncological nutritional protocol. While there are many medicinal mushrooms used among patients needing nutritional support, there are two that I use at my clinic: AHCC and Reishi mushroom.

Active Hexose Correlated Compounds (AHCC) is an extract derived from the mycelia of shiitake mushroom root threads. About 40 percent of AHCC is comprised of polysaccharides, which are known to have immune-stimulating effects. AHCC increases the production by immune cells of protein messengers. These proteins in turn promote the creation of macrophages, T cells, and NK cells to destroy cancerous cells. 

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is commonly known as Reishi, is a popular medicinal mushroom that has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the prevention or treatment of a variety of diseases.  A recent meta-analysis study on the use of Reishi reported immune stimulating effects with this ancient mushroom. This same report indicates a positive response in about 50 percent of patients consuming Reishi mushroom while undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, as compared to those treated with chemo or radiation alone. (Ruiz et al. 2012)

At XY Wellness, we aim to empower you to make informed decisions about your diet and lifestyle to maximize your health in natural ways. Making mushrooms a staple in your diet, from food and quality supplementation, is one way to do this. A synergistic combination of botanical agents found in ImmunoPCTN includes healthy amounts of Reishi mushroom. AHCC is another important dietary supplement we carry to support healthy immunity and healthy cells. 

As always, make sure you fill your plate with a healthy amount of greens, lean meats, fish, whole grains, fruits, roots, and nuts. Also, stay active and sleep like it’s your job.

Be well.

Dr. Geo

 

References

Cheung, P. C. K. (2013). Mini-review on edible mushrooms as source of dietary fiber: Preparation and health benefits. Food Science and Human Wellness, 2(3–4), 162-166. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2013.08.001

Kodama, N., Kakuno, T., & Nanba, H. (2003). Stimulation of the natural immune system in normal mice by polysaccharide from maitake mushroom. Mycoscience, 44(3), 257-261. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/S10267-003-0099-Y

Lam, K.-L., & Chi-Keung Cheung, P. (2013). Non-digestible long chain beta-glucans as novel prebiotics. Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre, 2(1), 45-64. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bcdf.2013.09.001

Mori, K., Kobayashi, C., Tomita, T., Inatomi, S., & Ikeda, M. (2008). Antiatherosclerotic effect of the edible mushrooms Pleurotus eryngii (Eringi), Grifola frondosa (Maitake), and Hypsizygus marmoreus (Bunashimeji) in apolipoprotein E–deficient mice. Nutrition Research, 28(5), 335-342. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2008.03.010

Reshetnikov, S. V., & Tan, K.-K. (2001). Higher Basidiomycota as a Source of Antitumor and Immunostimulating Polysaccharides (Review). 3(4), 34. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushr.v3.i4.80

Wasser S. P, Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, Levine M, Moss J, White J. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York: Marcel Dekker; 2005. Reishi or Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum) pp. 680–90.

Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM, Chan GC.Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jun 13;6:CD007731.

 

 

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