Modern medicine often takes its cues from medicinal treatments of old – there is much to be learned from the past, and scientists and patients alike are finding a new interest in the field of medicinal mushrooms to boost the immune system and treat diseases such as cancer.
Medicinal mushrooms originally were brought into use in Asia, and historical populations derived substantial health benefits from ingestion of several different kinds of mushrooms. Reishi, Shiitake, and Grifola frondosa in particular have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of health issues.
Today, clinical research continues to find positive health benefits from mushrooms, utilizing their antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. China, Korea, and Japan regularly use mushroom treatments as an auxiliary therapy to radiation and chemotherapy.
In addition to their ability to stimulate the immune system, medicinal mushrooms have also demonstrated that they have antitumor properties, as well. These two mushrooms have health benefits that in particular make them extremely popular as additional treatments for various forms of cancer.
Mushrooms, when in nature, develop their own antibacterial and antiviral chemicals in order to protect themselves from various environmental hazards. Certain medicinal mushrooms seem to protect against certain pathogens. For example, porcini mushrooms appear to be effective against HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), birch polypore against the vaccinia virus, and reishi against the malaria virus.
Medicinal mushrooms not only exhibit antibacterial and antiviral properties, but they also seem to have a positive effect on balancing hormones, lowering blood sugar, and providing anti-inflammatory relief when inflammation occurs.
Many medicinal mushrooms also have extremely high levels of naturally occurring vitamin D, which can help people who have vitamin deficiency. They are also extremely high in antioxidants, which are known to help retard the aging process and keep the body from breaking down at a cellular level.
Although many mushrooms are edible, it is particularly important obtaining them from a trusted source. There are also many poisonous types of mushrooms that are toxic to humans and animals if ingested, and proper care should be taken that no mushrooms are consumed if there is any doubt as to their type or origin.
Many health food companies have decocted the active chemical compounds of medicinal mushrooms, creating mushroom extracts that contain highly concentrated mushroom medicine. Medicinal mushrooms can be brought to the consumer in pill form, as liquid drops, or other dissolved compounds.
Medicinal mushrooms are gaining popularity today, as more and more people are coming to recognize their excellent health benefits.