By Logan Christopher
This past weekend was the 41st annual Fungus Fair in Santa Cruz, California. This was the second time I’ve gone to it.
They even have an ID table where you can bring in mushrooms and they’ll tell you what they are. I learned that I had just discovered a patch of edible Honey mushrooms.
And they have a number of classes. I wasn’t able to attend as many as I would have liked to because the place was crowded and it was first come, first serve, but I did make a couple.
Both happened to be on the nutritional and medicinal benefits of mushrooms. The first was with Chef Zach Mazi. The second was with noted herbalist Christopher Hobbs, who has written one of the foremost books on Medicinal Mushrooms, titled the same.
Here’s a few fun facts.
General Mushroom Facts
- Hyper accumulate minerals (both good and bad kinds)
- Most are complete proteins
- High in B vitamins
- High in Fiber
- Most high in potassium, phosphorus, zinc and copper
- Don’t eat non-organic varieties. Mushrooms are sponges for pesticides.
- All contain triple helix polysaccharides (beta-glucans) which are best used medicinally in water extracts for the immune-modulating effects. It appears that pretty much ALL mushrooms (save the poisonous ones) have immune system benefits.
- What it grows on will likely change its medicinal benefits.
Hobbs told a story from China how people with cancer would seek out reishi mushrooms that grew on cherry trees. His reasoning for this is that perhaps the reishi would concentrate a compound known as laetrile (also called B17) that has been shown to have positive effects against cancer.
Hobbs also recommended for people to go mushroom hunting. Even if you don’t find mushrooms, or can’t identify what you found, you’ll get the health benefits of being out in nature.
According to a Journal of the Society of Integrative Oncology article in 2008:
- 270 species are recognized to have immunotherapeutic properties.
- 50 have yielded potential immunoceuticals
- 6 species have been studied in human cancer trials.
Now let’s move onto some of the specific benefits of different mushrooms.
White Button Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)
- 12 times the antioxidants as wheat germ
- Showed a 67% reduction of cancer in a Chinese study on women. This increased to 90% when green tea was also taken.
- (This wasn’t discussed there, but recent research also shows an anti-aromatization effect.)
- Fights candida
- Possesses over 250000 unique compounds!
- Contains cancer fighting compounds PSP and PSK. PSP is a cancer fighting drug in Japan.
- Shown positive effects in 21 stomach, 9 colorectal, 3 esophageal, 4 breast cancer human trials in Asia.
- Ongoing research for Breast and Prostate cancer in the US (more here)
- Enhances natural killer cell activity
- Best to do a long boil of 45-90 minutes to extract compounds
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
- Chef Mazi recommends eating shiitake with your food 3-4 times a week. He said if you took away one thing from his lecture this should be it.
- Most research on cancer benefits. Even more than Turkey Tail.
- Fights candida
- Used for Herpes, HIV and other viral problems
- Generate Vitamin D when left in sunlight
- Regulates cholesterol
- Thought to promote stamina and sexual vitality
- Limited high quality clinical studies have been conducted
- 80% protein
- Bioavailable gold (and other trace minerals)
Black Trumpet (Craterellus cornucopioides)
- Taste great especially with butter
- DNA Protective and stops aflatoxins
Oyster Mushroom (Pleutorus spp.)
- 25% Protein with high bio-availability
- Great for anything skin related
- Alcohol extracts are analgesic
- About 10% of people are allergic to this mushroom as it contains a bee-venom like compound
- Recommended to powder and add to rice while being cooked
- Regulates cholesterol
Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum)
- These prized mushrooms have caused inter-tribal warfare among monkeys for their possession
- Hepatoprotective (Liver)
- Immunostimulating and Antitumor
- Some similar benefits as Reishi, but different too. Not nearly as much research on this fungus.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
- Great for blood sugar imbalances
- Stops fat cells from forming
- Cut bladder cancer recurrence in half (33% vs. 65% in control group)
- Renowned cancer remedy in Russia, including clinical trials
- Betulinic acid is an anti-tumor compound
Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
- Contains two liver toxins, which have been reduced with milk thistle in Europe
- Used homeopathically showing that poison is all about dose.
While we highly recommend supplemental mushrooms like we have available here, you can also get many benefits from more common ones you regularly cook and eat (not the last one though).
We’ll be bringing you more about mushrooms, and having different one’s available here, in the future. In fact, we have a new one coming very soon…