Mushrooms have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years, and it is becoming more common for researchers to announce new therapeutic interventions based on different species.
Although it is common for people to tell you that 80% of mushrooms are poisonous, those that are not offer nutrients that are often difficult to find in the most common foods.
For brain health, there are few things better, and many mushrooms are now powdered and sold as “nootropic” supplements, with claims that they improve memory and mental performance.
Others have been found to inhibit cancer growth and proliferation, and others are being studied for respiratory infections.
Putting aside the traditional use of mushrooms in our society – that is, for pizza toppings and hallucinogenic travel – new names for new purposes are hitting health food stores and magazines, and here are just a few.
1. For longevity: reishi
“For more than 2,000 years, Chinese medical professionals have recognized reishi mushrooms as a valuable remedy.” read a study from the American-Eurasian Journal of Botany. Its Chinese name means “spiritual potency”, while it is also known as the “mushroom of immortality” and the “medicine of kings”.
Studies have shown that reishi mushrooms strengthen and improve the “competence” of the immune system through their triterpene content. They can protect the liver, significantly inhibit all four types of allergic reactions, and activate immune cells, particularly those that kill tumor cells and invading bacteria.
While it does not demonstrate antisenescence, lengthen telomeres, or increase NAD + levels, hallmarks of the modern understanding of longevity, any of the things that it can improve could easily end a life, so in a sense, the “mushroom of immortality” earns its nickname.
2. For respiratory health: agarikon
“This rare old-growth fungus has a history of use of thousands of years in Europe,” said world-renowned mycologist Paul Stamets. saying Rochelle Baker in Canada National Observer.
Stamets refers to a little-known fungus called agarikon, which it has worked to protect in North America. He notes that the Greek physician Dioscorides actually described agarikon in his works, calling it the elixir of long life, particularly when used to treat tuberculosis.
Now Stamets believes that agarikon and the primary forests in which it thrives must be protected and cultivated to use as a public health remedy for coronaviruses, as well as for other respiratory diseases, due to its role as a powerful aid to the immune system.
3. For the liver: chaga
As fun to say as good for you, chaga has been studied extensively for use as a therapeutic intervention. Lacking only accreditation as a nootropic, mood regulator, or other brain-related effects, there is a very important role that chaga can play: as an inhibitor of DNA damage.
A south korean study found that 40% less DNA damage was observed in human lymphocytes when treated with compounds caused by consumption of chaga. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell and one of the main immune cells.
Other study found that chaga inhibited the growth of tumor cells in human hepatoma cells (liver cancer), among whose references were other antitumor, antibacterial and hepatoprotective studies.
4. For … everything in reality: lion’s mane
in a study from the Journal of agriculture and food chemistry which is close to receiving 100 citations, the authors note that they are hijacking a large body of scattered literature to present the nutritional compounds and effects of the lion’s mane mushroom.
The reported benefits, according to the researchers, include “antibiotic, anticancer, antidiabetic, antifatigue, antihypertensive, antihyperlipodemic, antisenescent, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective and neuroprotective properties and improvement of anxiety, cognitive function and depression”.
For the authors, they point out that it is particularly the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunostimulating properties, which are shown in both human and animal cells, which give this fungus such a protective role in our biology.
5. For energy and brain: shilajit
While this blackish tar-like substance found in the Himalayas is considered by many people to be a fungus, it is actually a type of soil called humus. It is made up significantly of organic compounds, such as triterpenes, phenolic lipids, and small tannoids – three things that are often present in large amounts in fungi.
Still, ancient North Indians and mountain dwellers have used it for thousands of years, and its name, Divya Rasayan, means “heavenly supervitalizer.”
Studies have been conducted on shilajit that concluded nootropic effects, and others who analyzed the properties of the shilajit content of fulvic acid, a compound that carries nutrients such as energy, vitamins, and minerals to cells in much higher amounts than other transporters such as blood cells.
6. For everything else: cordyceps
There is little debate about the benefits of cordyceps, which one study noted it is used to “maintain vivacity and to increase immunity”. That same study noted that the only misunderstood thing about cordyceps is whether its nutrients confer protective effects as a nutritional supplement, or whether they are strong enough to be administered in medicine.
Another study noted that its uses could be described as “adaptogens, antioxidants, anti-aging, neuroprotective, nootropic, immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, hepatoprotective” and even, the study notes, aphrodisiacs.
Still another study he described it as “one of the most valuable medicinal and nutraceutical mushrooms in China.” Researchers cited other studies which showed powerful antioxidant capabilities and, perhaps most valuable, a moderate release of TNF-alpha and IL-1b-beta.
These molecules are known as inflammatory cytokines, which, being necessary for wound healing, are one of the main drivers of unhealthy aging patterns.
Far from being slimy, bug-ridden markers of death and decay, each fungus has enormous potential as a borderline between nutritional supplements and outright medicine, and incorporating them into your diet can be a great idea.
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