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Articles in 'Body Awareness'

Magic Mushrooms

by Paul Gaylon

Many of us have collected edible wild mushrooms, such as boletus, chanterelle, oyster, or puff ball, and enjoyed how they add richness to various dishes. But mushrooms offer so much more than tasty additions to our cooking. They are highly nutritious and help keep our bodies healthy in a number of ways; in fact, we could call them health multipliers. It is best that we understand a little about mushrooms as a life form, to start with, as this will clue us in to their many health benefits. What we commonly know of as mushrooms (the “fruiting body” that we collect, as stem and cap) is only part of the story of the complete mushroom organism; this part of the mushroom is but the reproductive stage. Mushrooms are, first of all, fungi, and are radically different than green plants; they are able, for one, to create their own special soil chemistry.

We almost always see mushrooms only in their ephemeral form. We find them popping up seemingly overnight, and then in a short, few days they can die out. But the body of the mushroom grows far more extensively than we realize, because most of the mushroom’s life cycle is invisible to us, taking place beneath the ground, within the soil. It is there that extremely fine, microscopic threads form mat-like networks called “mycelium.” These networks of mycelia are the growth stage of the mushroom, and can extend in a range far beyond the visible mushroom that we find above ground. These networks can spread, for example, throughout a forest, biochemically interacting in crucial ways with all the forest’s plants and trees. They can spread to hundreds, or even thousands, of acres. Mycelia are in constant living interaction with their environment. They are very sensitive, registering all manner of soil activities. Above all, they are decomposers. They exude special, potent, extracellular compounds—types of acids and enzymes—(which, in themselves, have high nutritional value), that break down complex dead plant matter, including wood, into simpler, nutrient components. These compounds are also anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. All of these nutrients, freed into the soil, enrich the soil to the benefit of living plants and trees. The mycelia also absorb the decomposed nutrients for their own growth. This whole process, unique to mushrooms, is essential to soil ecology; without mycelia, soils would literally lose their life force, becoming but a layer of dead matter.

At the tiny nodules of mycelia networks, under the right conditions, primordia can form. Contained in the primordium is the nascent, first visible sign of the mushroom form we all know—the stem and cap. The mushroom’s fruiting body can fully mature in a matter of days. It is this fruiting stage, with its underside gills or pores, that will then produce fine, dust-like spores that can be spread far and wide by weather and by animals. The mushroom life cycle is a whole, largely invisible, substratum of the biosphere, creating, absorbing, and integrating nutrients, resulting in important health tonic benefits for us. And every part of the mushroom life cycle has nutrient, as well as medicinal, value.

For thousands of years, mushrooms have been a staple in Chinese medicine. Many clinical studies, in addition, have shown the wide range of their tonic, adaptogenic abilities. Above all, they are known to enhance immune functioning and increase antibody production, stimulating and modulating the immune system toward an optimal state. They are therefore a natural defense system in fortifying the body, revered for their traditional longevity properties. They build stamina, and assist with glucose metabolism and cholesterol management. They also have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. Mushrooms help with cold and flu recovery, stress relief, allergic responses, hypertension, diabetes, and support the proper modulation of blood pressure, blood sugar, and the body’s oxygen utilization. They offer circulatory support, which then helps with memory, and have antioxidant and detoxifying properties—liver and kidney studies show their ability to correct toxic overload in the body. They provide endocrine support, and aid in the formation of T-cells, which are important in cell-mediated immunity. Included in their wide range of nutrient compounds, mushrooms contain beneficial complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), amino acids, proteins, beta glucans, glycoproteins, B vitamins, and a wide range of minerals. Their biochemical profile works in synergy with vitamin C. They also provide both digestive and antioxidant enzymes. They are also high in fiber. Note that Herbal Products & Development’s Mushroom Power Supreme is non-candida forming and, in fact, helps keep candida in check.

Mushroom Power Supreme, available here at Way of Life, uses full spectrum extractions, certified organic, which include all five stages of the mushroom life cycle: mycelium, primordia, fruiting body, spores, and the highly important extra-cellular compounds that mycelia exude. Mushroom Power Supreme:

Cordyceps (sinensis)  Also called caterpillar fungus. Has a high nutritional profile, promoting overall health. An immune system modulator, adaptogenic, helps with injuries, increases energy levels, improves metabolism, good for longevity and libido, helps regulate hormone production.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)  Called Mushroom of Immortality—used for ages as a longevity and health-promoting tonic. An immune enhancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-viral, protector and fortifier of major body organs, protects the skin, and protects against DNA damage. Immune Assist   Concentrated complex of Agaricus blazei, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, turkey tail, and reishi, with beneficial polyphenols from green tea. Used clinically worldwide.

Agaricus blazei (ABM)  Highest protein content of any mushroom (approx. 35% & higher). Anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen. Enhances digestion.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)  Its giant clusters are highly prized in Japan. High in protein. Helpful with diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure regulation, hyperglycemia, and oncology.

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)  Commonly used in treating various cancers, ulcers, herpes, psoriasis. Good for circulatory, heart, lung, and digestive issues. Helps increase antibody production.

Turkey Tail (Trametes, also Coriolus versicolor) One of the most common woodland mushrooms. Used extensively in treating a wide variety of cancers. Also has strong antibiotic properties.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)  Well-known for providing neurological support: used for nerve damage, neuropathy,  and encourages nerve growth factor. Also used for gastrointestinal issues.

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) One of the most popular culinary mushrooms in the world. Immune enhancer, anti-viral, used for treating ulcers, herpes, kidney issues, speeding up bone formation.

The mushrooms we use are collected from their native areas, cultured in a solid substrate method, with organic sorghum, resulting in a 98-99% yield of the complete mushroom life cycle, including all the highly important, exuded, extracellular compounds. The process is conducted under optimally controlled conditions of air flow, light, temperature, pressure, oxygen, and moisture. This ensures the highest potency for a more complete healing spectrum. US produced, non-GMO, organic ingredients.

See our website for a bibliography of mushroom references – http://herbprod.com