To Your Health Series: Types of Medicinal Mushrooms

In a previous article, this author discussed the discovery of mushrooms and their health benefits that dates back thousands of years.  For centuries, certain cultures have used mushrooms for their large range of medicinal capacity.  Certain mushrooms have powerful immune boosting enhancers, antibacterial and antibiotic properties, anti toxins to support the liver and kidneys, adaptogenic properties to alleviate and assist in coping with environmental stressors, as well as natural cancer fighting properties.  Although many of these properties are found in vegetables, mushrooms show an accelerated amount.  Many believe this is due to the way the mushroom grows on the trees.

How to Prepare Mushrooms For Medicinal Use

Preparing these mushrooms and even preserving them is not difficult in the least.  In fact, multiple medicinal sources suggest that teas or infusions made of mushrooms are the best way to treat a person medicinally.  The hot water breaks the polysaccharides out of the undigestible cell walls so that it’s immune properties are released and made available.  However, many mushrooms can be dehydrated and stored much like the food we dehydrate.  When shiitake mushrooms are cooked or dehydrated their nutritional properties improve.

5 Popular Types of Medicinal Mushrooms

Due to the fact that there are over 220 anti-tumor and 42 anti-viral agents that have been isolated from fungi, studies on mushrooms and their effect on the human body have been ongoing since the 1960′s.  Natural News states that there are over 150 species of medicinal mushrooms found to inhibit the growth of different kinds of tumors, especially cancers from the stomach, esophagus, and lungs, but there are certain mushrooms that seem to stand out, as far as cancer fighting abilities go.

Button mushrooms contain an impressive amount of copper, which helps to create red blood cells.  According to sources at LiveStrong, copper provides the body with protection from free radicals, helps the body absorb iron, and assists the body in the formation of bone and the clotting of blood.  One cup of cooked button mushrooms supplies the body with 16% of the daily value of iron, important for blood and energy, and 12% of the daily percentage of Vitamin C.”

Although this type of mushroom does not contain the beneficial polysaccharides that were discussed in the previous article, button mushrooms are loaded with aromatase inhibitors, a natural occurring cancer fighting agent that is specifically helpful in fighting breast cancer.  Women who do a regimen of taking button mushrooms and drinking green tea can reduce their risk of breast cancer significantly.  According to a study conducted in China, women who ate 10 grams of button mushrooms were two thirds less likely to develop breast cancer.  Button mushrooms also have anti viral and anti bacterial agents present in them as well.

Button mushrooms can be cooked, eaten raw or made into a tea.  For more information on button mushrooms, click here.

The Chaga mushroom has been isolated for it’s cancer fighting abilities.  This type of fungus grows mainly on birch trees, but can occansionally be found on ironwood, elm, alder and beech trees.  This mushroom is actually a fungal parasite that draws its nutrients out of living trees, rather than from the ground. The chaga musroom has a charred looking appearance that grows around the wound areas of the above stated trees.  According to sources, the chaga mushroom has one of the highest amounts of antioxidants that an be consumed.  Chaga mushrooms treat ailments and disorders such as an immuno stimulant, used as an anti-inflammatory, treating stomach diseases, intestinal worms, liver and heart ailments, cancers such as breast, liver, uterine and gastric, hypertension, diabetes, anti-tumor activity, and reduces symptoms of HIV/AIDS.

Chaga can be made into a tea by soaking the fungi in water for four hours to soften it, and then placed in boiled water.  For more intricate details, as well as how to make a chaga extract, click here.

Cordyceps  are used to strengthen the body and mind at a fundamental level.  This mushroom is also called the Chinese Caterpillar Fungus because it grows in the larva of the ghost moth.  It has been used to medicinally treat humans and animals with different types of cancers and health issues including lymphoma, and acts as an immuno stimulant, and possesses antioxidant properties.  In addition, cordyceps have a dilating effect on bronchials and act as a cough suppressant, thus minimizing the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory disorders while making breathing easier.  Due to the increase in blood flow this mushroom creates, it would make an ideal dietary supplement to increase endurance levels.  Many endurance runners make a tea  to increase their energy levels while training.  Research is currently going on to see if this mushrooms has an effect on those with diabetes and liver related problems.  Click here for more information.

This mushroom can be dried to make a powder or can made into a tea. Or the dried mushroom can be put into soups or dishes for additional nutrition.

Reishi mushrooms are known in Eastern medicine as the Immortal Mushroom and the Resurrection plant.  For over 4,000 years this mushroom has been used for it’s health benefits, longevity, resistance from diseases, energy and memory enhancements.  Reishi has been known to treat a variety of medicinal problems including treatments for cancer, hepatitis,prevents the death of lymphatic cells, lowers blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis and increases daily energy levels.

Since this type of mushroom is very woody and inedible when fresh, the traditional way of preparing reishi for medicinal purposes is to prepare a tea.  Additionally, some like to dry the mushroom out and grind is up to make a coffee-like tea with or use in soups and dishes.  There are also capsules available in health stores as well.

Here are two ways to make reishi tea:

  • Soak/Brew Method - Place 1 ounce of dried mushrooms in 8 cups of water and allow to soak overnight.  In the morning, boil the water.  Stain the mushrooms out of the liquid.  Honey or agave nectar can be added to sweeten the drink.
  • Extended Brew Method – Place 1 ounce of dried mushrooms in 11 cups of water and allow to boil for two hours.  Stain the mushrooms out of the liquid.  Honey or agave nectar can be added to sweeten the drink.

Shiitake mushrooms are the most researched of all the mushrooms.  It can be used both medicinally and for culinary purposes.  Medicinally speaking, shiitake mushrooms have antihistamine properties that can assist in allergy related discomfort.  This mushroom type also assists in treating high blood pressure, has cancer fighting agents (particularly for those that suffer from stomach cancers), anti-tumor agents. antifungal and 42 different anti-viral agents.  Shiitake also has eight different types of amino acids (in better proportions than milk, eggs and soybeans) and is a good source of Vitamin A, B, B12, D and niacin.  Readers may also be particularly interested in this mushroom type used as an antibiotic.  (Source)  Shiitake mushrooms have been used for high cholesterol, diseases of the liver (such as hepatitis B and cirrhosis), general immune support, and diabetes (for high cholesterol).

A tea can be made from fresh mushrooms, dried or dehydrated mushrooms, or a mushroom powder can be used.  Interesting, it has been found that when shiitake mushrooms are cooked or even dehydrated, the nutritional amounts increase.

This article is for informational purposes only.  If a person is considering using mushrooms as a medicinal source, contact a doctor for further advice.  Additionally, women who are pregnant should talk to their doctors before taking an alternative medicine source.  Some mushrooms are poisonous.  If you cannot identify them, do not take the chance in eating them.  A Field Guide to Mushrooms is an excellent and practical guide to mushrooms.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 20th, 2010
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  • GoneWithTheWind

    Do you really believe in magic mushrooms?  Ancient Chinese medicine is base on superstition.  Alternative medicine is not medicine.  Most of it is nothing more then a money grabbing scam.  Anything useful in traditional alternative medicine was long ago incorporated into science based medicine.  

  • http://www.readynutrition.com Tess Pennington

    Many perceive Chinese medicine to be superstitous, but studies are proving them to be right after all.  In the not so distance past, many believed medicinal herbs to be “mumbo jumbo” too, but there is documented facts that positively support their influence on the body.  And, as a result, many have incorporated these into their daily diets.

    In a SHTF situation, having these mushrooms as a medicinal source would be ideal with the wide range of medicinal use they could provide.  I have had success with growing reishi and shiitake, and plan on dehydrating them to use for an emergency scenario. 

  • GoneWithTheWind

    You cannot possibly believe this.  There is no reliable study to support the magic mushroom beliefs.  While it is true there are plants that have effects on our body it is not true that we can predict with any certainty what those effects will be.  A lot of people die every year just to learn the hard way that toxic plants vary greatly in their toxicity.  The amount of a specific plant that “might” relieve a headache today may be 10 times more toxic tomorrow and kill you.  There are no reliable and effective “natural” medications.  If you rely on the internet as a source for medical information you may be horribly suprised one day.  A SHTF time is the worse time to be dabbling into pseudo-medication because there may be no hospital to save your life. 

  • http://www.readynutrition.com Tess Pennington

    Gone With the Wind,

    I understand your skepticism.  The purpose behind this article is to inform, have readers do further research on their own, and if they are interested in this to contact a doctor for further advice. 

    If you believe that ” there are plants that have effects on our body,” how can you not see that there are natural fungis that produce the same effect?

    In regard to there being no proof, allow me to direct you to the National Institute of Health where they discuss these types of mushrooms and their effects on ailments in mre detail:

    http://www.naturalhealthresearch.org/nhri/?p=1770

    as well as these links:

    http://intraspec.ca/mycomedicine.php

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/29068.php

    Additionally, here is a study that is currently recruiting participants to use maitake mushrooms in their cancer treatments

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01099917

    And in response to your claim that there are no “natural” medications that are reliable and effective, might I direct you to the fact that most of our medicine is based upon it’s natural predecessor. Here are three examples:

    Aspirin – Aspirin’s roots are deep, and reach back to Hippocrates himself, the Greek father of modern medicine, who held the recipe for a pain reliever and fever reducer made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree. The key the Greek father of modern medicine held from sometime between 460 and 377 BC, was buried with him, and was not rediscovered until 1758 by an English clergyman.

    Scientists, now aware of the pain relieving properties of willow bark, struggled to strip it down to the exact ingredient responsible for its powers, and finally did so in the 1820s. They narrowed their search to salicin, an early form of the family of drugs named salicylates, of which aspirin is a member.

    Alka Seltzer – Alka Seltzer is actually a chemical reaction in a tablet that you can do yourself in your own kitchen. Dehydrated vinegar and baking soda make up this tablet. When it is added to a cup of water, the vinegar gains moisture which reacts with the baking soda.

    Vicks Vapor Rub is not more than petroleum jelly, peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    Two points:  There WERE indeed some useful thngs gleaned from natural sources.  Anything that actually proved useful was incorporated into science based medicine long ago.  Would you really try eating willow bark today to cure a headache and how much?  Take two twigs and call me in the morning!  Or is it 3 twigs or 5  or 7 or…   Who, in their right mind, would pop mushrooms based on superstition from ancient Chinese as interpreted by someone who is a quack?

    2) Most of these counterculture superstition based substances have been studied and investigated and nothing useful has come from them.  As I already stated if they were useful they would have been incorporated into science based medicine years ago.   Sometimes these studies don’t get clear cut results and these results are used to exploit the ignorant or mathematically challenged to convince them that there is a chance taking the magic mushrooms will cure your cancer.  But in fact it is the nature of statistical research that you will often see a small correlation from data that to the uninitiated appear to mean something.  But in general it is meaningless and caused by too small too small a sample or some form of samle bais creeping in.   Even when the correlation is strong It is a simple truth that correlation does not imply causation. 

    By the way some of our medicine is based upon natural sources but most of our medicine is pure chemistry and research.

    For those who might be interested in further research on their own I offer this simple challenge.  Find someone who will assert the efficacy of any alternative herb or supplement in curing your cancer who will also sell you that herb or supplement.  I’m betting you cannot find anyone who will do this.  No one!  Not a single person doctor or quack or health store clerk will do this.  And the simple reason is because it isn’t true.

  • AK Country

    What the hell Gone with the Wind!  Your off the deep end. 

    You keep naggin for proof.  Tess gave you proof and now your off nagging about somethng else.

    Here’s another article that may piss you off.  Brace yourself.  It’s about natural alternatives.  You wanted to find some who had cancer and chose natural medicine over traditional – and survived?  Well here it is.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/030274_Suzanne_Somers_Michael_Douglas.html

  • anonymous

    Sounds like somebody had a bad mushroom trip.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    I think you have a strange notion of what “proof” is.  What she provided were articles that were totally devoid of proof.

    Piss me off?  No!  Saddens me.  Superstiotion is OK.  If you want to wish on a star or throw salt over your shoulder be my guest I won’t laugh or make fun.  But can you really be so lacking in intelligence to believe some magic mushroom will “cure” anything?  Where is the proof?  This industry is a $16 billion dollar fraud.  They are worse then snake oil salesmen and should be put out of business.  I am just saddened that our public schools produce so much ignorance and gullibility.

    Suzanne somers is a shameless quack that has been selling her snake oil for years.  In a just society she would be in jail.  Her latest craziness will likely get some people killed.  I would not be suprised to see her in legal trouble one day.  Cancer is a serious illness that cannot be cured by magic mushrooms.  It would be against the law for Somers or anyone to sell you an alternative medicine claiming it would cure your cancer.  The ONLY reason it is against the law is because you would be defrauding the victim.  Proof that it worked would be your defense and yet none of the quacks in business will take a chance because they cannot prove their magic mushrooms work.

    I sincerely hope no one who reads this site or listens to the proponents of alternatives to real medicine die because of this crime but if it happens I hope the law comes down on you.    

  • George Mancer

    Tess, you are SO right on track!  Pay no attention to the trroublemaker who has no doubt been assigned to cast doubt on your efforts.  You are correct, that traditional western and oriental medicines generally consist of time tested, well known remedies; versus for-profit ‘medicine’ loaded with nightmarish side effects.  It is time for us all to learn to be our own doctor, and to grow and produce our own God-given medicines like we always have.  GWTW’s fear tactics and threats are noted.

  • kaley

    LOL!! WTF?! Mate I think YOU have ‘gone with the wind’……
    If anyone needs to explore the full range of benefits from our little fungal friends its you dude.

    Chill. Research with an open mind and an honest heart….. You have been conditioned my friend.

    Peace and love………. and

    Mycelium is saving the world :-)

  • GoneWithTheWind

    I do research.  What bothers me is either someone making these claims out of ignorance or worse making them out of greed.  There have always been quacks and snake oil salesmen and their sleazy history really needs to be understood.  They aren’t out there discovering cures they are writing books and selling vitamins and supplements for profit.  But in addition to them there is a large segment of the population that simply believe in the whole “magic mushroom” thingy and are acolytes of the quacks.

    If you like mushrooms for their taste and utility in recipes then welcome to the club.  If you think that  Suzanne Somers is the next coming of Christ giving her gift to the world then I have nothing for you.  I doubt you can be disabused of your bias and I won’t really try.  My only goal is to offer some science to counter your superstition so that anyone who has not already made up their mind might think twice before following the pied piper of the magic mushroom. 

  • ba

    I’ve read a lot of major institutional patents and cancer research.  Japan, China and Korea are way ahead in the science and industrialization of medicinal mushrooms and extracts thereof or related molecules. 

    Our major treatment centers are just starting to wake up about it.  I have my doubts about Western pharmaceuticals ever doing more than trying to be trolls.

  • http://www.videostune.com/ Julia Stone

    Thank you for sharing this article, İt is really Helpful, Thanx/3/26/2011 4:31:32 PM

  • http://www.somhali.com HALI YIKAMA

    Really useful. Thanks for your efforts. Appriciated.

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