October 5 2017
Whether you love them or hate them, mushrooms are becoming well known for their impressive health benefits. We were always told to eat our fruits and vegetables so we could grow up healthy, even the ones we do not love the taste of. While many people never really grow into the taste of mushrooms, many people do and no one can deny the health benefits that they give us. The most well-known mushrooms in natural medicine would likely be the shiitake mushroom, the reishi mushroom, the maitake mushroom and the chaga mushroom. For thousands of years, these different mushrooms have been used both in food and for its medicinal properties.
Reishi has been a popular natural medicine for at least 2,000 years in parts of Asia such as China, Japan and Vietnam. This mushroom has been boasted as a sort of longevity inducing medicine that is full of nutritional value. Reishi is available fresh or dried for use in food, as well as in capsule, pill and extract form. Reishi has analgesic, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, cardiovascular and antidiabetic health benefits. The antioxidant properties in reishi are reported to prevent free radical-induced damage to the body, reduce allergy symptoms as well as relieve colds and sinus infections, treat and prevent hypertension and stimulate the production of immune system supporting antibodies. Shiitake mushrooms have been a popular food staple in Far East Asia for centuries, and definitely boast a long list of medicinal benefits. Shiitakes are a unique plant because they contain all eight essential amino acids. They also contain linoleic acid. Linoleic acid helps with weight loss and building muscle as well as protein synthesis. It also has bone-building benefits, improves digestion, and reduces food allergies and sensitivities. It is also a powerful antioxidant with anti-carcinogenic properties.
Chaga mushrooms are a bit unique. Texturally they feel like they are made of wood and they look like stone. Often referred to as the “king of medical mushrooms”, it is one of the most powerful adaptogens and superfoods in existence. Chaga mushrooms are a host for many different incredibly powerful antioxidants. Chaga’s specialties include improving the cardiovascular system, protecting your immune system as well as being a powerful detox. Preparing and consuming chaga is interesting seeing as they cannot be consumed raw. The most recommended way to consume chaga is through a tea (will be explained in a future entry). Maitake mushrooms are another dietary and medicinal staple from Asia. They can be cooked and eaten with many foods and can now be found as dietary supplements and powders. Recent research is showing their many health properties. Like all the other mushrooms on this list, maitake is rich in antioxidants which gives it fantastic cancer fighting abilities as well as the ability to fight off free radicals as well as repair some of the damage done by them in the body. What makes them a little more unique is the fact that they are also a fantastic source of vitamin D and help to lower blood sugar levels in the body. It’s fascinating how we can find so much nutrition just out in the wild (do not go out in the wild and pick random mushrooms, a lot of edible mushrooms have toxic versions of themselves, do not do this unless you are with a professional or you are a professional). We seem to forget sometimes that a lot of our medicine actually came from plants. What was once upon a time considered our main source of medicine has been cast aside for more unnatural chemical based products that could have long term negative side effects. Maybe if we took the time to just try to incorporate what nature has to offer us into our lives we would reap more than just a couple of benefits.