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Conclusion

Stengler ND, Mark Basic Health Publications ePub

Conclusion

There are a variety of medicinal mushrooms that can be used to improve one’s health. They represent some of the most effective immune-supportive supplements in the natural foods industry. Historical use and published research has consistently shown that hot-water extracts are the preferred method of extraction for most medicinal mushrooms and mycelium in order to attain therapeutic levels of active constituents. It is also important to select the mushroom extract that is most highly recommended for a particular condition for optimal benefits.

SUMMARY OF MEDICINAL MUSHROOM USES

Agaricus = antitumor

Cordyceps = lung, kidneys, adrenals, energy, libido, asthma, bronchitis, and tinnitus

Coriolus = chemotherapy support; lung, colon, liver, breast, and stomach cancer; and HIV

Maitake = breast and prostate cancer, and HIV

Reishi = liver, cholesterol, and daily immune tonic; hepatitis; HIV; anti-inflammatory; antiviral

Shiitake = antimicrobial, cholesterol, immune support

Hericium = stomach and cognitive enhancement

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6. Reishi

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Reishi

The reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the most revered herbs in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, with a documented history of over 2,000 years. Known as Ling Zhi in China, there are references to its use in that country as far back as 100 B.C. where it was referred to as the “Herb of Spiritual Potency” and the “Ten-Thousand-Year Mushroom.”

Reishi is one of the most highly regarded medicinal mushrooms and is probably the best choice when looking for a general health tonic to improve overall health and increase longevity. It is considered an adaptogen.

Modern clinical research also supports many of the uses for this mushroom as described in traditional medicine. It benefits immune health, cardiovascular health, and liver function. Reishi is also frequently used by mountain climbers to combat altitude sickness and is contained in many of the performance-enhancing herbal formulas used by Chinese athletes.

The fruiting bodies of reishi range from a reddish-orange to an almost black color. The fruiting body also has a shiny look to it (lucidum translates to “shiny”). Reishi is extremely difficult to find in the wild but is successfully cultivated for commercial purposes.

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9. How to Take Mushroom Supplements

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How to Take Mushroom Supplements

The first step in successfully using mushroom supplements is to understand how to read the label. In general this is best done by reviewing the Supplement Facts on the product label. The bottle should clearly state:

1. Mushroom name.

2. Type of extract (look for products that are formulated to the potencies given in the previous mushroom descriptions). This should include the guaranteed percentage and polysaccharide description, unless it is a well-researched isolate, such as MaitakeGold 404.

3. Check with the manufacturer to confirm extraction techniques (hot-water or hot-water/alcohol extracts) as well as quality assurance.

Hot-water extracted mushroom supplements are usually dehydrated and sold as capsules (except maitake fractions). Hot-water extracts also list the levels of active compounds on the label, making it easy to distinguish them from the other less potent forms of mushroom supplements. Take the recommended dosage between meals for optimal results. If you notice minor digestive upset when taking mushroom extracts on an empty stomach try taking the supplement with food.

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5. Maitake

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Maitake

Maitake is one of the best studied mushroom extracts. Indigenous to Northern Japan, maitake has a long history as a valued mushroom, both as a food and as a medicine. Maitake is translated in Japanese as “dancing mushroom.” Historical accounts explain the origin of the name, as people would dance with joy when they found maitake because it was so valuable and costly or because maitake is so delicious and healthful. Another explanation is that the fruiting bodies of clustered maitake overlap one another and resemble butterflies in a wild dance.

The Japanese have long used maitake as an adaptogen, a nutrient that helps to balance the various systems and functions of the body.

Evolution of Maitake

In the early 1980s, Dr. Hiroaki Nanba, a professor of microbiology and an expert mycologist at Kobe Pharmaceutical University, was intensively studying the medicinal properties of various mushrooms. During this time, much of his attention was devoted to the popular shiitake mushroom. However, his research showed him that maitake had a unique molecular structure that exhibited greater antitumor activity than other mushroom extracts he had been working with. Maitake, he discovered, also was unique when given orally. In 1984, Dr. Nanba discovered an important maitake fraction (or specialized component) that stimulated macrophages. Through a special extraction method, these maitake fractions were isolated. It was now possible to produce a standardized form of specific beta-glucan polysaccharides—beta-1,6 glucan and beta-1,3 glucan. Later in his research, Dr. Nanba patented what is known as MaitakeGold 404®.

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1. The Nature of Mushrooms

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The Nature of Mushrooms

Fungi are an essential part of a sustainable world. They are involved in the decaying and recycling of matter into the nutrients that animals and plants feed on. Medicinal mushrooms in particular help to purify the environment by decomposing dead trees and plants. For humans, there are approximately 700 species that can be eaten as a nutritious food. And, of course, medicinal mushrooms provide a wide variety of health benefits that can contribute to the prevention and treatment of disease.

What is commonly referred to as a “mushroom” is also called the fruit body. This is the part of the fungus that grows above ground, with the sole purpose of releasing spores (seeds) as part of the reproduction cycle. Some fungi do not produce mushrooms and release their spores without a fruiting body.

The spores of fungi are transported by wind and water to a favorable environment where the spores can germinate and generate a new colony. The new colony begins with the thread-like filaments called “hyphae” that emerge from the germinated spores. The original hyphae continue to grow, seeking another compatible hyphae to mate with. After mating, the hyphae branch out in all directions, colonizing the surrounding soil or decaying tree. This weblike collection of interconnected hyphae is then referred to as the “mycelium.”

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