Certain species of mushrooms have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Today there are over 270 different varieties with scientifically documented healing properties. These powerful fungi are a rich source of healthy compounds such as lipids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and many others.There are hundreds of mushroom species with medicinal value. Here are a handful I find particularly helpful.
Coriolus versicolor (multicolored mushroom) is found in China, Europe, and the Pacific Coast. In addition to showing activity against cervical and other cancers, coriolus has been proven to help reduce side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy by helping to protect tissues and reduce inflammation.
The primary active ingredient is a beta-glucan called PSK, which helps activate immune cells and scavenges free radicals. Coriolus has also demonstrated antiviral activity—possibly even inhibiting HIV infection—and can help control herpes. This mushroom is useful in treating respiratory, urinary, and digestive infections and inflammation, as well as helping control hepatitis B and other liver problems.
Ganoderma lucidum (shining skin) is found worldwide, though the Chinese and Japanese species have been studied the most for their therapeutic value. This species has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health. It demonstrates powerful anticancer actions and has also shown antiviral action, including activity against HIV. In addition, ganoderma improved enzyme levels for patients with hepatitis B, and also showed improvement for people suffering from asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Agaricus blazei (mushroom of the sun) is unusual among the medicinal mushrooms because it is not native to Asia but was originally brought to Japan from Brazil. This mushroom boosts various aspects of immunity and has demonstrated powerful antitumor activity in animal studies. It has also shown antibacterial effects, especially against Salmonella. On the cardiovascular side, agaricus has been found to regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Ophiocordyceps sinensis (Chinese clubhead), also known as caterpillar mushroom or fungus, is found in high mountainous regions of China and elsewhere in Asia. Ophiocordyceps enhances multiple aspects of the immune system, enriches the bone marrow, and has demonstrated anti-tumor effects. This mushroom improves cardiovascular function, lowering LDL and increasing HDL cholesterol. It is also known to improve athletic performance and restore low libido.
Polyporus umbellatus (umbrella-like polypore) is found in forests in China, Europe, and Eastern and Central North America, growing from dead tree stumps or the roots of birches, maples, beeches, and willows. Like its cousins, polyporus has demonstrated significant anticancer activity, confirmed in both in vitro and animal studies. In addition to being used to treat lung and other cancers, it can help reduce the side effects associated with chemotherapy. This mushroom can also help alleviate symptoms of chronic hepatitis.
Keep your metabolism roaring by including mushrooms in your diet! They are loaded with fiber, protein, and vitamin B, which send your metabolism into overdrive as it works to break down these nutrients during digestion.