The reign of mushrooms and their kingdom combine interesting characteristics of the animal or the plant kingdom. For centuries in the east, medicinal mushrooms, which contain more than 150 bioactive compounds in their structures, have been ingested as a decoction (after being boiled for 2 hours). Each mushroom, a true concentrate of active ingredients, has its own characteristic profile and all are antiviral.
Wild habitat and controlled strains
Some mycelia live in symbiosis with trees and plants which, most of the time, survive better with their existence and the support that is brought by the mushrooms. The mycelium brings minerals from the soil, while the plants share with it some of their sugars and other organic compounds that the fungi do not synthesize themselves. It is possible that, in addition to protecting plants and trees from disease, fungi also extend their life span. In our diet, mushrooms are moderately mucus-forming and not a detox food as fruits are. Extracts will be more potent.
There are medicinal mushrooms that grow in the wild and those that are cultivated under control, from the inoculation of mycelium to harvesting. Most underground parts of mushrooms grow several centimeters per hour, which translates into 2 to 3 meters per day. Mushrooms harvested in forests or gathered from meadows sometimes present a risk of contamination by pesticides, industrial residues, substances from uncontrolled landfills or antibiotics or hormones. Mushrooms are said to act like sponges because they are able to concentrate heavy and toxic metals from the soil. In fact, some species are used to decontaminate soils that are highly polluted by dangerous chemical agents.
Certified organic cultures have some advantages : they work with controlled strains of species that have been studied and standardized and contain an optimal amount of active ingredients. They are inoculated in the appropriate environment for a development free of toxins and contaminants. Mushrooms are harvested at the optimal time of their development. Today, modern techniques make it possible to elaborate extracts based on very fine ground powder, ensuring that the cells of membranes break down to release molecules present in the mushrooms.
Some companies are specialized in mycology with a research team (made up of doctors, biologists and pharmacists). Yet it will generally be hard for any product realized in a lab to preserve the signature of organic templates. They usually work with the aerial part or with the mycelium as well, assuring the production of the cultures until the finished product. The extracts offered are generally very concentrated (more benefits for less capsules). 150 kg of fresh mushrooms are producing 15 kg of dried mushrooms from which 1 kg of active ingredients is obtained. Here is a selection of the benefits of mushrooms:
- Reishi is a blood thinner that lowers blood pressure and modulates the reactions of the immune system. It is adaptogenic and stabilizing for the central nervous system. Blood oxygenation is improved. The triterpene in reishi comes with an anti-inflammatory action.
- Cordyceps is indicated in case of fatigue or convalescence.
- Maitake can be indicated for weight control and to support the digestive system and liver.
- The agaricus mushroom has an action against liver toxicity induced by chemical substances. It has a chelating action (which binds heavy metals to remove them from the body) and normalizing action on the immune system. It can be useful in cases of allergies and asthma.
- The turkey tail mushroom, which is suitable for chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, helps normalize the overactivity of the immune system (it is useful in cases of autoimmune diseases). It contains molecules acting against bacteria and viruses (Epstein barr, herpes, hepatitis B).
- Shitake, in addition to polysaccharides and proteglycans, contains a remarkable proportion of provitamin D with antiviral and immunoregulatory effects as well as the disaccharide trehalose, a slowly digested sugar that promotes the development of the substance improving the quality of the intestinal flora. It has hormone-regulating properties. Shiitake is not only an excellent edible forest mushroom that embellishes salads but also a medicinal mushroom used for a long time for its stimulating and invigorating properties (nervous system, immunity, white blood cells). The name shiitake comes from “shii”, one of the tree species (close to the oak) on which it grows and the word “take” which means “mushroom growing on”). It is one of the supplements that I add to my smoothies from time to time alongside with ashwagandha for its effect on clarity. Rich in a wide variety of nutrients, including essential amino acids and powerful antioxidants and B vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B9), shiitake contains valuable antibacterial and antifungal compounds, essential for the survival of fungi in their natural environment. Thus it is a real shield against external aggressions (germs, micro-organisms, bacteria) and at the same time it rebalances the microbial flora. It contains ergosterol, a precursor of vitamin D, which fights against fatigue and seasonal depression. I appreciate the great mental clarity it brings, the beneficial effect on the skin, its little boost on the mood and its action on the vision that seems more sharp, more colorful. Often grown in bulk with pesticides and fungicides, mostly in China, on sawdust blocks in environments where humidity, temperature, light and aeration are controlled, it is still found sometimes grown in a traditional way, as in Japan, on logs of natural wood. Organic certification may, however, be granted to productions on artificial logs.
- Coprinus helps to better manage sugar cravings.
- Poplyporus is assisting to drain the lymphatic system. It is appropriate in case of oedemas or in cases of fluids retention in the legs or the face.
- High dosages of mushroom extract may be used to treat serious illnesses. Cancer patients following a treatment with concentrated formulas tend to show a significant increase in the percentage of lymphocytes, improved quality of life and a reduction in side effects (nausea and insomnia) compared to other patients. A lot of labs though do not understand mushrooms on levels beyond the 3D and are not able to capture their full spectrum of possibilities.