Updated: Oct 11
12 of the Most Powerful Medicinal Mushrooms: What They Can Do For You (Part II)
In this Part II, we continue our exploration of the most effective and sought after mushrooms used to treat afflictions and optimize human performance.
Let’s continue with…
This common culinary mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) also goes by the names:
Swiss Brown Mushroom
Roman Brown Mushroom
The Agaricus most likely came from Brazil originally. They are now widespread and cultivated in China, Korea, Japan, Europe and the US.
The Agaricus mushroom today is used to treat type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, arteriosclerosis, liver disease and digestive issues. It is also used to prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, and stomach ulcers. It boosts the immune system and is said to ease emotional stress. In Japan, extracts of this mushroom are used as food additives for their unique qualities.
Research indicates Agaricus may reduce some side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, like loss of strength and loss of appetite.
In addition to the mushroom’s known benefits, there has been interest in research on potential hormone balancing by estrogen reduction through blocking an enzyme called “aromatase” in the human body. Studies are now showing this humble mushroom is a potential breast cancer chemopreventive agent, suppressing aromatase activity and estrogen biosynthesis. This action was also found to raise testosterone levels.
The beautiful Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are high in niacin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, choline, potassium, Iron, phosphorus and zinc. Low in carbohydrates, they also make a good choice for those following a keto diet.
The high beta-glucan level in oyster mushrooms are immune system enhancing and balancing, while their antioxidants help prevent oxidative stress on the body. A study found mushrooms like oysters helped to reduce blood pressure in rats. Another study showed oyster mushrooms reduced triglycerides and cholesterol levels in diabetic patients.
The mushrooms seem to have a general, natural blood sugar lowering effect.
A study of people with type 2 diabetes found powdered Pleurotus ostreatus mushrooms reduced blood sugar levels after meals. It seems the mushrooms increase sugar uptake in tissues while inhibiting blood sugar-increasing proteins.
The Enokitake (Flammulina velutipes) is a culinary mushroom, used extensively In Japanese. It is sometimes called just “Enoki” after one of the plants the mushroom grows on. It goes by other names too, including velvet foot, velvet stem, golden needle, and winter mushroom.
Enokitake thrives in Western Europe, Eastern Asia, and North America, on decaying wood of mostly hardwood trees like Oak.
Enokitake is highly nutritious, notable not only for its vitamins and minerals, but for what it does not have. It’s free of cholesterol and sodium, and low in carbohydrates and high in phosphorus, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B1, and dietary fiber.
Enokitake may help with many diseases and issues, from cancer to depression to gastric ulcers. Research has isolated several anti-cancer compounds in the mushroom. FIP-fve and Flammulina are considered anti-tumor substances.
It seems Enokitake may also help with heart conditions and weight management. In another study, enokitake extract was given to hamsters on a high-fat diet. The mushroom significantly lowered cholesterol levels, from the high levels of dietary fiber and other synergistic elements in this amazing mushroom.
Yellow Morel, Morchella or True Morels (Morchella esculenta), are considered a delicacy for their rich, nutty flavor and meaty texture. They are not farmed, like most mushrooms, but are only foraged or hunted and searched for by experienced foragers in areas of North America, Pakistan, India, Turkey and China. Morels favor hickory, ash, sycamore, and elm trees.
Morels may also protect against bacterial and yeast pathogens in the same way penicillin acts as an antibiotic. In 2017, an Indian study showed compounds found in Morel mushrooms effective for blocking Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria that causes intestinal problems.
Other research suggests Morels could enhance immune function and reduce inflammation. An in vitro study in the journal “Food and Chemical Toxicology,” showed a polysaccharide of the Morel enhanced anti-inflammatory properties of immune cells.
Lastly, morel mushrooms might also have anti-cancer effects. One in vitro study in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences.” concluded that compounds of the Morel mushroom inhibited growth of colon cancer.
Wood ear, tree ear, wood jellyfish, tree jellyfish, Judas's ear or Jew's ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) is an edible fungi used mostly in Chinese food. When cooked, they are prized for their crunchy texture, deep color and interesting look.
Wood ears grow on deciduous trees like elders and shrubs throughout Asia and Northern Europe and are most commonly used in China, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam. They are found in small clusters as well as larger colonies.
Wood ear mushrooms contain high levels of fiber, vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, pantothenic acid, vitamin D, riboflavin, copper, and selenium, but are low in calories, fat and carbohydrates. This makes them an appealing food for weight loss programs. A substance called “diazane” in them may even suppress the expression of adipogenic/lipogenic (fat creating) genes in the body.
Their many health benefits include lowering cholesterol levels, decreasing blood glucose levels supporting wound healing and decreasing the growth of breast cancer cells, as shown in studies from 2020. Throughout their long history of use in China, wood ears were traditionally used to treat uterine bleeding, hemorrhoids, dry mucosa, and more. Their use dates from the Tang dynasty, over 1000 years ago and continues today.
Lastly, here’s a bonus medicinal mushroom, unique in its health and beauty enhancing properties, as it is used in topical treatments for the skin. Also known as Silver ear fungus, Snow ear, Snow fungus, White jelly mushroom, the Tremella mushroom (Tremella fuciformis) looks a bit like a loofah sponge and is often called the “Fountain of Youth” for its reported effects on the skin.
Tremella mushrooms favor tropical and subtropical climates, but they may also be found in milder regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Tremellas were first only foraged in the wild, since being “mycoparasites”–growing on other fungi, instead of wood like most other mushrooms–cultivating them was difficult. In 1894 during the Qing dynasty in China, however, they were successfully cultivated.
Though Tremella is one of the oldest traditional Chinese medicines, used topically for its skin benefits, it was also prescribed to be eaten as a tonic for increasing “yin” qualities in the body, providing support for the stomach, immune system, heart, brain, and lungs.
The high polysaccharide content in Tremella mushrooms has a remarkable water-retention capacity not found in other mushrooms. In fact, this mushroom has the capacity to hold 5000 times its weight! This is higher than even the rate of the common beauty ingredient hyaluronic acid and with smaller molecules for better absorption for hydration. To add to its beautifying properties, Tremella has high levels of vitamin D, which helps repair damaged skin cells, boosts skin cell growth and calms inflammation.
Polysaccharides in Tremella offer not only powerful anti-aging and antioxidant benefits for those seeking an effective skin treatment. They also optimize antioxidant enzymes in the body when eaten. A 2018 study shows Tremella polysaccharides reduce liver and spleen damage in mice with cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppression.
Another study showed how beta-glucans in Tremella mushrooms are immunostimulant, helping the body to resist disease. These beta-glucans enhance the function of the white blood cells, macrophages, and killer cells.
This concludes our general exploration of some of the world’s most powerful medicinal mushrooms, but this list is only the beginning. There are over 10,000 different species of mushroom known to man, and countless that may not even be discovered yet.
Follow us at NanoFungi.com as we dig deeper into the mysterious and wondrous world of mushrooms; what they can offer us and how we can work with them now and in the future, in new and surprising ways.
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