What is neither plant nor animal, but shares over 50 percent of human DNA?
The answer lies in the unique kingdom of mushrooms and fungi. There of over 270 species of mushrooms and fungi and most of them are safe to eat, fun to grow and highly immunotherapeutic to humans. One of those important support functions is in brain & memory health.
We tend to think of mushrooms and fungi as something slimy, icky or dirty, but in fact, mushrooms grow in all kinds of climates and come in every color, every size and shape and some even can move on their own. Without these amazing organisms, we would still be stepping over the carcasses of dead dinosaurs and age-old forest debris; there would be no decay and decomposition. We would not have rich and luscious soils and plants could not survive. Surely, if these fascinating funguses positively benefit the ecosystem in such an amazing way, there must be some benefit to our human terrain!
You may have seen a few mushrooms in your yard, on your trees or on decaying matter on your last camping trip or even in the grocery store produce department or maybe you have picked them off your pizza. I think it is safe to say, that you have had exposures to mushrooms and fungi unless you have been living under a rock. Oh wait! That’s where they grow!
Functional fungi are made up of numerous complex compounds that have numerous benefits to the body. Many countries and cultures have used mushrooms and fungi as medicines for centuries. In fact, the beneficial components of functional fungi and mushrooms, make mushrooms one of the most widely researched subjects in botanical science and medicine today.
Many studies and resources can be found online at The National Cancer Institute, which has extensive information listed regarding those studies. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/mushrooms-pdq. A recent article states: In Asia, there are more than 100 types of mushrooms used to treat cancer. Some of the more common ones are Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor (turkey tail), Lentinus edodes (shiitake), and Grifola frondosa (maitake). Mushrooms are being studied to find out how they affect the immune system and if they stop or slow the growth of tumors or kill tumor cells. It is thought that certain chemical compounds, such as polysaccharides (beta-glucans) in turkey tail mushrooms, strengthen the immune system to fight cancer.
Nowadays, you don’t necessarily have to eat the mushrooms; you can always get a supplement from your local health food store. One of my personal favorite combinations includes 10 wonderful mushrooms, all with their own long list of health benefits. Lion’s Mane, Tremella, Agaricus, Chaga, Maitake, Turkey Tail, Shiitake, Reishi, Cordyceps and Meshima are combined together to make a general wellness tonic to support a healthy heart, support a strong immune system, improve cognitive function and memory, supply sustainable energy, and improve digestion.
Mushrooms, as a general health supplement, provide so many nutrients essential for healthy aging and for overall nutrition. All edible mushrooms contain compounds that are anti-inflammatory, protect the liver, and adaptogenic, which means that they improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress. As far as nutrition, mushrooms provide concentrated nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein and more. Medicinal mushrooms are pretty popular right now and can be found in the forms of capsules, teas, coffees, powders, confections and more.
Featured Fascinating Factoids:
Nature sometimes gives us clues to the facts that the outward characteristics of a plant or fungus might be beneficial for that system or organ. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms and Tremella both are ironically shaped like a human brain. Both are being studied for cognitive and memory benefits due to the fact that both of these mushrooms contain certain chemical compounds that are protective for neurodegenerative diseases and free radical damage, specifically in the brain. These two specific fungi produce compounds that stimulate nerve growth factor, an essential component of healthy aging and the central nervous system.
So don’t pick mushrooms off the pizza or count them out just because they look weird or funny just yet. You might be missing out on the most massive health opportunity in the history of humanity, if you are not currently including medicinal mushrooms in your daily health regimen.