There are so many different kinds of mushrooms. White ones, brown ones, bright orange ones, small ones, fat ones, this one will make you grow taller, and that one will make you grow smaller – wait, those last two only exist in Wonderland.
Mushrooms are so versatile. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Sometimes they are cooked to mimic a “steak,” certain seafoods, or shredded to act as “pulled pork.” Whichever way you eat them, they are a great way to add nutrients to your meal without worrying about the caloric intake because of their high-water content.
While some are sautéing button mushrooms for pasta and grilling portobellos for sandwiches, others are using mushrooms for their medicinal properties.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is estimated that about 70 percent of the world’s mushrooms are sourced from China.
Medicinal mushrooms can aid in a variety of ailments from fatigue to asthma to cancer. That’s right, cancer. Scientific studies have been performed on rodents that show certain mushrooms have cancer cell killing properties. There are over 2,000 different kinds of edible mushrooms on our home, planet Earth, but some contain more health benefits than others.
Chaga mushrooms have becoming more and more popular in Western society. If you shop in health food stores, co-ops or similar such stores, you have probably seen Chaga in teas, lotions and bath products. This is because raw chaga is different from your typical mushrooms. Chaga is more of a solid mushroom and is usually ground into a fine powder so that it may be drank or applied topically. Chaga is an excellent immune-booster and anti-inflammatory as well as having anti-cancer and blood purifying properties.
Ganoderma, also taken as a powder in the form of tea or capsules can have immune-boosting properties. Ganoderma is used in traditional Chinese Medicine to treat many ailments that are related to the immune system. Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and allergies may be alleviated with the implementation of this mushroom to a daily regimen.
Shitake mushrooms are likely among the mushrooms that are a bit familiar. They are sold in most grocery stores and can be cooked any way you like them. They can also be dried and ground into a powder if you would like to get a more concentrated dose. Research shows that shiitake mushrooms have the ability to prolong the life of patients receiving cancer treatments. Japanese doctors are actually prescribing Shiitake extract to patients receiving chemotherapy. These mushrooms also boost immune and gut health.
The oyster mushroom is another that may be familiar. Available in most grocery stores, it can also be cooked into any dish you would like, or dried and powdered. The oyster mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine to treat ailments such as diabetes, and certain infections. More recently, lab experiments show oyster mushrooms to have antifungal properties as well as tumor reducing and cholesterol lowering properties.
Labeling mushrooms as “magic” might be a stretch if not impossible. Still, their benefits are plenty and the options for edible mushrooms are endless. A little bit of research and a small change in diet could go a long way for your body and overall health.