Mushrooms have been valued throughout the world as both food and medicine for thousands of years. In virtually every culture people enjoy hunting for wild mushrooms. Europeans have always appreciated their gastronomic value. In Japan, pushcart vendors on the streets still sell medicinal mushrooms to the average citizen who uses them to maintain health and promote longevity.
In this study, the researchers aimed to see if reishi was effective in preventing obesity. They gave mice different amounts of reishi or placebo and either a normal diet or a high-fat diet for eight weeks. All mice on the high-fat diet gained a lot of weight and body fat, but those given reishi did not gain as much weight or body fat. The reishi supplement did not have an effect on mice fed a normal diet. The supplement appeared to work by improving the number of “good” bacteria in the gut and through reducing inflammation. Some studies have suggested that chronic inflammation and an increased number of “bad” bacteria in the gut are linked to obesity in humans.
Common dietary advice almost always includes some variation of the phrase, “Eat more fruits and vegetables for good health.” Pick up most diet books, talk to the health professionals, and look at the research: fruits and vegetables are nutritional superstars.
Less often do we hear the phrase, “Eat more mushrooms for good health,” and if we look at the research, one may wonder why we neglect to include our fungal friends in the dietary limelight.
At TEDMED, TEDTalks favorite Paul Stamets gave an emotional talk about new medical uses for mushrooms — including a variety that, he says, helped treat his mother’s cancer. Stamets spoke about powerful medical uses for mushrooms and their extracts, from anti-tuberculosis effects (Agarikon) to Cordyceps, a treasure trove of potential medicines, such as cyclosporine, which prevents organ rejection in transplant patients, and the recently FDA-approved drug Gilenya, from Novartis, for treating multiple sclerosis (MS).
For example, according to world-renown mycologist Paul Stamets, ‘of the 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi, science is familiar with only 10 percent.’ Such a shame – when you understand that mushrooms have some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet.
Thankfully, there are many scientists looking at the health benefits within the plant kingdom – especially with regard to the Reishi mushroom. Known for its immune building and anti-aging virtues, more recent research highlights the antibody-mediating, multi-mechanistic power that makes Reishi a super cancer-fighter.
The difference between Cordyceps ‘Militaris’ and the inferior Cs-4 Paecilomyces (Fungi).
“Browsing through the supplements at your local GNC, or searching online for relief from stress and fatigue, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the numerous choices.
If you’re considering a long term supplement, you’ve undoubtedly heard of an Ancient Chinese remedy called Cordyceps sinensis.
Many Cordyceps supplements advertise the ability to help reduce fatigue, boost immunity, promote vitality, and increase energy levels. Product descriptions focus on the miraculous effect of the Cordyceps fungus, and how this mystical mushroom has been used for thousands of years by Ancient Chinese and Tibetan doctors to treat a plethora of ailments ranging from kidney and liver disease to sexual impotency and fatigue.
In Europe and the United States, this mushroom (Grifola frondosa) is commonly called “hen of the woods,” since its frond-like growths resemble the feathers of a fluffed chicken. Maitake is the name I prefer, in a bow to the Japanese who pioneered its cultivation. Maitake mushrooms are known in Japan as “the dancing mushroom.” According to a Japanese legend, a group of Buddhist nuns and woodcutters met on a mountain trail, where they discovered a fruiting of maitake mushrooms emerging from the forest floor. Rejoicing at their discovery of this delicious mushroom, they danced to celebrate. In Italy, this species is known as signorina, or “the unmarried woman.” Today these two common names, bestowed long ago on the opposite sides of the planet, seem especially deserving and perhaps foretelling recent research findings.
Maitake is a mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. Like other medicinal mushrooms, maitake contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan. In laboratory and human studies, maitake extract was able to stimulate various cells and factors in the immune system. Studies in animals show that it slows the growth of certain tumors and lowers blood sugar levels. More studies are being conducted to determine if maitake has the same effects in humans.