For thousands of years, the Chinese have known that food can heal. They have used food and herbs together with their famous acupuncture treatments unblocking meridians, to achieve balance, harmony and health in the human body. The Chinese system of healing has also developed a dietary repertory of which food will heal what illness.
It is amazing that Western Medicine has not adopted this method although prominent ancient doctors, philosophers and, in modern times, people with a vision have pointed in that direction. Hippocrates and Maimonides, both physicians, advised to use food as medicine. Thomas Edison predicted: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
We are slowly beginning to pay attention. With devastating incidences of degenerative diseases, like cancers, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders and the cause of it all, a bad diet leading to an inferior immune system, we are now looking towards as much help as we can get from different places. Mushrooms as well as herbs known for centuries to doctors of oriental medicine are now researched for western medicine.
China and Japan have known that certain mushrooms made people stronger and also live longer. Recent research showed that mushrooms also contained chemicals that produced apoptosis in cancer cells or provided amelioration for side effects produced by chemotherapy.
Lingzhi in China, Reishi in Japan is one of these mushrooms. In China, this mushroom has been used for over 4000 years as an anti aging tonic and to achieve overall wellness. It is the oldest known and most treasured mushroom. Its other powerful health benefits are to combat stress and to invigorate the brain. It helps with liver, cardiovascular and endocrine disturbances. It has been used for prostate cancer as well as treatment for other tumors and cancers. Reishi is undergoing continuous research.
Lingzhi/Reishi is not an edible mushroom. It is available as tincture or in capsule form. The powder inside the capsule can be made into a tea.
Tremella is used in TMC as a tonic for the immune system. Women use Tremella for the skin internally and as a skin cream to improve the complexion. It helps produce hyaluronic acid, which makes the mushroom also suitable for joint problems. Hyaluronic acid helps to lubricate joints and also the skin.
Dong Chong Xia Cao or Cordyceps are fungi as well as parasites that infect insect larvae. Cordyceps have been used as medicine in Asian countries for many centuries. It is high in antioxidants, supports the immune system and has been used in cancer treatments. It is a lung and kidney tonic and used for general debility. Its beneficial effects are for every part of the body.
Yun Zhi or Turkey Tail in the US is another magic mushroom. It is considered as such because of its tremendous healing abilities. It contains a polysaccharide, PSK (polysaccharide Kureha) that has been shown to inhibit sarcoma and HIV infections. It is anti-tumor, anti-viral and supports the immune system at the same time. Turkey Tail is edible, but tough in texture. It is usually soaked and ingested as tea.
Hui Shu Hua or Maitake This mushroom is quite popular in Japan. Although it is used in TCM, not much has been written about it. Maitake contains beta glucans and vitamin D and like other mushrooms is high in Germanium a mineral, which stimulates the immune system. Based on results in laboratory animal studies, Maitake is used as an anti-tumor treatment. For medicinal purposes it is given in capsule form or liquid. It is also a very tasty edible mushroom raw or cooked.
Xiang Gu or Shitake in Japan. Shitake’s species name is Lentinus edodes and edodes means edible. It is truly a delicious mushroom with superior nutritional values as well as very strong pharmacologic activity. It contains a good amount of vitamin D and when exposed to direct sunlight for three days, it increases its vitamin D content up to five times. LEM (Lentinula edodes mycelium) is an extract made from the mushroom, which is known for its anti-tumor and anti-viral effects.
Hou Tou Gu or Lion’s Mane in the US is getting more recognition lately because of research, which shows the mushroom to stimulate the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) a deficiency of which could be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Lion’s Mane acts as a tonic for the nervous system, supports the digestive system and aids memory. It is used for prevention of dementia, helps with immune function and more. It is an edible mushroom and very tasty.
All the above mushrooms are available in capsule form or as tinctures, but since some are delicious as food, one should make use of them as such. Health is more easily maintained when healing foods are regularly incorporated into meals. Healthy meals should consist of different seasonal and organic vegetables and pastured animal products if desired.
My personal preference to eat mushrooms is to fry them quickly in real butter.