Extensive research demonstrates that medicinal mushrooms can boost the body’s immune function. One such study showed how some mushrooms can promote immunity by increasing production of antivirals. These proteins help the body to defend and repair itself. The “immune stimulating” property is gaining a great deal of attention due to the fact that medicinal mushrooms can increase the body’s own defenses.
Polysaccharides are polymeric carbohydrate molecules (compounds) that can help cellular structure and support the immune system and increase immunity. Polysaccharides, peptidoglycans, and triterpenes are three major physiologically active constituents in medicinal mushrooms. Whether fighting cancer or fighting a common cold, a boost in your immunity can help your body to effectively defend itself.
The Power of Medicinal Mushrooms
In recent years, medicinal plants have gained more and more attention with Medical Practitioners, Naturopaths, and Herbalists. Medicinal mushrooms have escalated to the top of the list due to scientific backup. Medicinal mushrooms all contain polysaccharides that give the mushrooms an advantage over other microorganisms by discouraging the competitive organisms, and at the same time, having a profound effect on the body. Evidence shows that they have a strong effect on the immune system by warding off viruses, bacterial infections and they have a beneficial effect on fungal infections such as candida. The history of medicinal mushrooms goes back thousands of years.
Medicine – Ancient and Modern
The medicinal uses of mushrooms go back to Neolithic period in history. The oldest human mummy, dating back 4,000 years ago, was found with Piptoporus betulinus (Birch Polypore)– in his medicine kit, a mushroom used for its antibiotic properties and as a natural parasite killer, still in use today.
Archaeological evidence indicates that man has used the Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma) for over 7000 years. In ancient times, this little mushroom was considered to be so auspicious that reference to its medicinal superiority is highlighted in the Chinese Materia Medica, the oldest Oriental medical text compiled during the Han Dynasty between 300B.C. and 200A.D. from information passed down verbally through countless generations. Now accepted as being the original textbook of Oriental medical science, it described and classified 365 herbs into three categories…superior, average and fair. Out of 120 medicines that this ancient text lists as superior, Reishi mushroom is ranked number one. Reishi mushrooms were regarded in China as the “Elixir of Life”. Today they are still used to boost energy, help the body resist disease and stress and promote longevity. Due to its rarity in nature, Reishi was once available only to Asian royalty and the wealthy until the late 20th century. The mushroom was crowned by Chinese Emperors as the “King of Herbs” and believed to bring Imperial Chi or the life force that would create an eternal dynasty.
Historically, many cultures, such as Egyptian, Greek, and Roman have recorded use of medicinal mushrooms as a highly valued tonic and often reserved for sacred ritual as well as for health and wellbeing.
Medicinal Mushrooms List: The top 8 you need to know about:
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) – Chaga is a type of fungus. It mainly grows on the outside of birch trees in very cold climates. Chaga mushrooms grow wild in places like Siberia, northern Canada, Alaska, and some northern areas of the continental United States.
Cordyceps (cordyceps sinensis) – Cordyceps has been described as a medicine in old Chinese medical books and Tibetan medicine. This species is found only on the Tibetan Plateau is a rare combination of a caterpillar and a fungus and found at altitudes above 4500m in Sikkim. This fungus is known for its unique way of reproducing. It develops inside insect larvae, killing and mummifying the remains before popping out of the ground as a fruiting body.
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) – Lion’s Mane belongs to the tooth fungus group. Native to America, Europe, and Asia is can be identified by its long spines, its appearance on hardwoods and its tendency to grow a single clump of dangling spines.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) – Rishi is extremely scarce in its natural environment, Ganoderma lucidum is only found growing on two out of 10,000 species of mountain wild plum trees. The wild plum grows in dense, humid, high mountain rain forests of Asia. In 1972 the Japanese perfected the commercial growing of Ganoderma lucidum in a controlled organic environment.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) – Mitake is native to China, the northeastern part of Japan and North America. It is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) – Shiitake is native to East Asia and considered a medicinal mushroom of traditional medicine. It grows in groups on the decaying wood of deciduous trees.
Poria (Wolfiporia extensa also known as Poriae cocos) – Poria is very popular in traditional Chinese medicine for making formulas that tonify the spleen and kidney, and in prescriptions that are used to remove excess dampness. Its country of origin is southwest China.
Agaricus (Agaricus blazei ) – Agaricus blazei Murrill is a mushroom originally native to a small village, name Piedade, in the highland areas of Atlantic forest in a mountain town in Brazil.
Together, these eight medicinal mushrooms make a very powerful blend and deliver superior immunity, advanced hormonal adaptability and a tonic for the nervous and immune systems.
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