4 ancient medicinal mushrooms fight modern diseases
More than 2,000 years ago Asian herbalists certainly didn’t know a thing about the disease dangers that we’d be facing today such as skyrocketing high blood pressure, rising cancer rates, the diabetes epidemic and antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
But they did already understand the fundamental principles behind building an iron-clad immune system that could help folks fight off illness and disease. And they knew how to harness the healing power of the over 270 species of medicinal mushrooms that we know of.
We now know that medicinal mushrooms can offer a variety of important health benefits including…
Fighting free radicals (antioxidant properties)
Supporting healthy blood pressure (anti-hypertensive properties)
Battling disease-linked bacteria and fungus (anti-microbial properties)
Naturally supporting healthy cholesterol
Supporting liver health
Promoting healthy blood sugar levels
4 medicinal mushrooms help conquer cancer to heart disease
Modern science is just now starting to crack the secrets of the therapeutic properties buried within potent medicinal mushrooms. But the research continues to grow as study after study confirms the traditional uses of these powerful natural healers.
1. Lion’s Mane or Bearded Tooth [Hericium erinaceus]:
This distinctive looking, large, globe shaped mushroom is covered in cascading white icicle-like spines that give it its various nicknames including Lion’s Mane, Bearded Tooth and Spiny Hedgehog.
The fungus sets up shop on dying broadleaf trees such as maple, oak, sycamore and walnut. It grows up to 40 cm in diameter and can be found in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Lion’s Mane has been shown to be useful in the treatment of esophageal and gastric cancers. The mushroom may help those suffering from cancer live longer.
Lion’s Mane supports healthy digestion. It has been found to help fight gastritis as well as gastric and duodenal ulcers.
This mushroom creates a protective barrier in the gastrointestinal tract, fighting off environmental toxins, inflammation, and tumor development. It has also been shown in animal studies to boost T and B lymphocytes.
2. Turkey Tail [Coriolus versicolor]:
With a name like Turkey Tail this mushroom looks exactly like you’d imagine it would. The multicolored mushroom is fan-shaped resembling a turkey’s tail feathers. The bands of color typically include brown, gray, white, and black along with occasional bands of blue or red.
Turkey Tails tend to grow in large cluster colonies on fallen hardwood trees or their branches. It is found in China, Europe and on the Pacific Coast of the United States.
Two substances found within Turkey Tail have been the subject of extensive study: polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and polysaccharide krestin (PSK). Both substances have shown promise in boosting the immune system and fighting cancer.
PSK has been found to be effective against several cancers including cervical cancer. In combination with other compounds, PSK may enhance the effects of radiation therapies.
PSP has been found to reduce the side effects of conventional cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy) of the stomach, lungs and esophagus and can help to increase appetite. PSP has also been shown to raise the remission rate of esophageal cancer.
This medicinal mushroom has been shown to increase the quality of life for cancer patients and may prolong their lives as well.
Turkey tail has been shown in animal studies to naturally lower cholesterol levels.
PSK boosts interferon, signaling proteins the body releases to defend against pathogens. PSK has also been found to have anti-viral properties that may even be able to play arole in deterring HIV infection.
PSK and PSP have been used to treat a variety of conditions including urinary and digestive tract infections, liver disorders, herpes, chronic fatigue, ringworm, hepatitis and pulmonary disorders.
3. Zhu Ling [Polyporus umbellatus]:
The Zhu Ling mushroom typically grows on dying or dead hardwood trees or stumps in varieties such as beeches, willows and maples. The medicinal mushroom can be found in China, Europe, and Eastern and Central North America.
The small white to gray rosettes appear umbrella like and sit on their own stalks but clump together into a single mass at the bottom.
Zhu lung has been used to help in the treatment of lung and other cancers. The mushroom has shown anti-tumor effects in both in vitro as well as animal studies. In addition Zhu Ling is useful for reducing the sickening side effects of chemotherapy.
This mushroom has been found to stimulate and boost the immune system.
Zhu Ling enhances the production of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies that appear when you’re exposed to a toxic or foreign substance (and antigen).
In addition, it has been shown to strengthen the large white blood cells called monocytes.
Zhu Ling has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of chronic hepatitis. In trials, as part of an herbal formula, it helped to cure 17 out of 39 people with liver cirrhosis, while 19 others saw significant improvement in their symptoms.
4. Reishi [Ganoderma lucidum]:
Reishi is a large, dark woody-textured mushroom with a striking glossy or shiny appearance. The kidney-shaped mushroom tends to grow on hardwoods such as plum and oak trees and comes in a variety of colors including white, yellow, purple, black, blue and red.
Reishi are fairly rare but are found all over the world. The Japanese and Chinese species of the medicinal mushroom have been the most studied.
The Reishi mushroom has the unique ability to enhance blood oxygen making it a good supplement for athletes. This mushroom is particularly useful in helping to prevent altitude sickness in mountain climbers.
Reishi has been shown to enhance heart health. It helps to lower cholesterol levels as well as helps with reducing blood thickness, making it a potential therapy for high blood pressure as well.
Reishi has been found to help fight sarcomas (malignant tumors) and stimulate the white blood cells known as macrophages. It has also been shown to boost levels of tumor-necrosis factor or TNF-a, interleukins which play a role in cancer cell death.
The mushroom has also been shown to have anti-HIV activity in in vitro and in vivo animal studies, as well as provide protection against ionizing radiation.
In hepatitis B patients Reishi has been shown to reduce liver enzyme (SGOT and SGPT) levels.
The medicinal mushroom has also been shown to help regenerate the bronchial tract lining.
The majority—60 to 90 percent—of chronic bronchitis patients tested had clinical improvements when given Reishi. Older folks with bronchial asthma saw the most improvement in respiratory health.
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