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Key Medicinal Species of Mushrooms

These are some of the best mushrooms to eat regularly.

Cauliflower Mushroom: Sparassis Crispa

I present my perfunctory findings based on research of the Cauliflower Mushroom, scientifically called Sparassis Crispa.

Health benefits of the cauliflower mushroom

  • Cardio-Protection: All mechanisms and means that contribute to the preservation of the heart by reducing or preventing myocardial damage.
  • Neuro-Protection: An effect that results in the salvage, recovery or regeneration of the nervous system, its cells, structure and function.
  • Anti-Tumor: Inhibiting the growth of a tumor or tumors.
  • Anti-Angiogenic: Treatments that stop tumors from growing their own blood vessels. This slows the growth of the cancer and shrinks it.
  • Anti-Metastatic: Inhibiting the spread of cancer cells from the place where they first formed to another part of the body.
  • Anti-Microbial: A substance that kills microorganisms such as bacteria or mold, or stops them from growing and causing disease.
  • Anti-Viral: A drug used to treat infections caused by viruses (Treatment for HIV Corona Virus etc).
  • Anti-Oxidant: a substance such as vitamin C or E that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism.
  • Anti-Hypertensive: A substance used to treat high blood pressure. They work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Some remove extra fluid and salt from the body. Others relax and widen the blood vessels or slow the heartbeat.
  • Anti-Diabetic: A substance that helps a person with diabetes control their level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Anti-diabetic agents include insulin.
  • Anti-Allergic: Relieving, controlling, or preventing allergic symptoms.
  • Anti-Carcinogenesis: Having to do with preventing or delaying the development of cancer.
  • Anti-Obesity: Pharmacological agents that reduce or control weight.
  • Beneficial agents for menopausal syndromes
  • Prevents Macular degeneration.
  • It has the highest Beta-Glucan content of any known mushroom by a very significant margin (47%).
  • Beta-Glucans are the healing elements.

First and foremost to have a single substance with such a wide healing spectrum that targets so many different functions in the body is extraordinary. To summarize the list of properties: this mushroom is basically Anti-DEATH. It basically protects your mind & soul according to this report and likely has other properties that have yet to be discovered or that work in combination using all of these seemingly distinct anti-this and anti-that labels that the research scientists have assigned.

We need to begin growing it ourselves immediately to support the health of the saints and to study it more in addition to other mushrooms that may have similar or complimentary profiles. I personally want to eat it every day based on what it’s revealed properties are (who with a sane mind wouldn’t want to ingest it every day).

There is a term called Elixir, defined as a substance held capable of prolonging life indefinitely. I’ve meditated on this word for years and thus far this mushroom is the one thing at the top of this list that matches that definition. While there certainly are other elixirs, based on what I’m seeing here this can help us considerably in challenging death and eliminating many lifestyle diseases as well as reinforcing our general state of health and mind function. Something to really think about are it’s healing properties in this context: For anyone that has compromised health, it seems to be a systemic wide healer to reverse damage on many fronts. What effect would it have on an individual who is already healthy?

Also worthy of note is why would scientists seek to Genome sequence this mushroom in particular? It has to have a definitive reason for that level of examination. Why are Asians in particular driven to research and consume these elements so seriously?

The number of fungal species is estimated to outnumber plants by at least a factor of 7 to 1. This is a point worth considering deeply as to why יה would place such emphasis on the amount of distinct species in the fungal kingdom. What isn't evident to man in these latter generations of the fall is the extent of the decline of the fungal kingdom. 21st century man can't conceptualize the super-abundance and ubiquitous presence of mushrooms that existed in the antediluvian age. What we witnessing now in these fallen generations is actually the relative extinction of the availability of mushrooms in contrast to their excessive presence in the Genesis.

Paddy Straw Mushroom: Volvariella volvacea

  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Anti-Diabetic
  • Anti-Tumor
  • Anti-Viral
  • Anti-Allergic
  • Anti-Oxidant
  • Immune-Stimulant
  • Cardio-Protective
  • Neuro-Protective
  • Immuno-Modulatory

Enoki Mushroom:

  • Anti-Cancer
  • Anti-Allergy
  • Anti-Bacterial
  • Anti-Viral
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Anti-Tumour
  • Anti-Aging
  • Anti-Atherosclerotic (Cholesterol)
  • Anti-Hypertensive
  • Anti-Oxidant
  • Memory restoration
  • Aids in overcoming learning deficits
  • Thrombosis inhibition activity (blood clots)
  • Melanosis inhibition

Beauty Mushroom: Tremella Fuciformis

  • Improving skin, reducing wrinkles
  • Improves memory/learning
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Helps with nerve damage repair
  • Maintains normal blood sugar
  • Reduces inflammation on the skin and in the body
  • Reduces chronic coughing
  • Protects against cancer and tumors
  • Helps protect the liver
  • Reduces chances of osteoporosis
  • Improves stomach health and intestinal health
  • May aid weight loss
  • Helps protect the cardiovascular system
  • Anti-aging effects

Turkey Tail

Trametes versicolor

Medicinal Properties: Trametes versicolor is the source of PSK, commercially known as “Krestin,” responsible for several hundred million dollars of sales as an approved anticancer drug in Asia. In clinical studies of 224 patients (Sugimachi et al. 1997) and 262 patients (Nakazato et al. 1994) afflicted with gastric cancer and treated with chemotherapy, patients showed a decrease in recurrence and an increase in the disease-free survival rate when treatment was combined with a regimen of using the protein-bound polysaccharide (PSK) from Trametes versicolor. By all measures, the treatment was clearly cost-effective. PSK reduces cancer metastasis (Kobayashi et al. 1995). PSK stimulated interleukin-1 production in human cells (Sakagami et al. 1993). PSK was also found to be a scavenger of free-radical oxidizing compounds (superoxide anions) through the production of manganese superoxide dismutases (Kobayashi et al. 1993; Kim et al. 1999). A highly water-soluble, low-cytotoxic polysaccharopeptide (PSP) isolated from this mushroom has been proposed as an antiviral agent inhibiting HIV replication based on an in vitro study (Collins and Ng 1997). PSP is a classic biological response modifier (BRM), inducing gamma interferon, interleukin-2, and T-cell proliferation, differing chemically from PSK in that it has rhamnose and arbinose while PSK does not but has fucose (Ng 1998). Dong et al. (1996, 1997) reported that a polysaccharide peptide (CVP) and its refined form (RPSP) has not only antitumor properties, but elicits an immunomodulating response by inhibiting the proliferation of human leukemia (HL-60) cells while not affecting the growth of normal human peripheral lymphocytes. Yang et al. (1992) also found that a smaller polypeptide (SPCV, 10,000 m.w.) significantly inhibited the growth of leukemia cells. Kariya et al. (1992) and Kobayashi et al. (1994) showed that the protein-bound polysaccharides of Trametes versicolor express superoxide dismutase (antioxidating) mimicking activity. Lin et al. (1996) showed that Coriolus versicolor polysaccharides (CVP) enhanced the recovery of spleen cells subsequent to gamma irradiation. Ghoneum et al. (1995, 1998) conducted two clinical studies in the United States using arabinoxylane, a product from fermenting Trametes versicolor, Lentinula edodes (Shiitake), and Schizophyllum commune, on rice that showed dramatic fivefold increase in NK activity within 2 months of treatment. PSK also has been found to be a strong antibiotic, effective against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albincans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and other microbes pathogenic to humans (Sakagami and Takeda, 1993; Mayer and Drews, 1980). Both PSK and PSP are present in the mycelium and can be extracted from fermented cultures.

Lions Mane: Hericium erinaceus

Lions Mane in tablet form, proved to be effective on “ulcers, inflammations, and tumors of the alimentary canal.” Ingestion of this mushroom is said to have a remarkable effect in extending the life of cancer-ridden patients. Ying (1987) reports that pills of this mushroom are used in the treatment of gastric and esophageal carcinoma. I know of no studies outside of China. A patent recently awarded in Japan (#05391544) showed that this mushroom produces Eninacines (sic) (= erinacines), which are strong stimulators to nerve growth factor synthesis (Kawagishi et al. 1991, 1994). These compounds stimulate neurons to regrow, potentially significant in the treatment of senility, Alzheimer’s disease, repairing neurological trauma from strokes, improving muscle/motor response pathways, and cognitive function.

Reishi: Ganoderma Lucidum

G. lucidum Reishi

Medicinal Properties: Although directly active as an antimicrobial (Suay et al. 2000), according to most studies reishi mushrooms do not act directly as a tumoricidal against cancers as do many other mushroom species (Ooi et al. 2002). Reishi primarily functions as a biological response modifier, stimulating production of macrophages (often a consequence of the effects of interleukins-1, -2, -6, -10), activating the host’s production of natural killer cells, T cells, and tumor-necrosis factors. More than 100 distinct polysaccharides and 119 triterpenoids from this species have been isolated, from both the mycelia and the fruitbodies (Zhou and Gao 2002). Of those that have been identified thus far, many triterpenoids and polysaccharides demonstrate immunomodulatory properties.

Triterpenoids are steroid-like compounds that inhibit cholesterol synthesis, allergenic response, and histamine release. These compounds are thought to be more concentrated in this species’ fruitbodies than in the mycelium, a fact of significance for those choosing medicinal mushroom extracts for relief from bronchitis, asthma, and allergies (Hirotani and Furuya 1986; Han et al. 1998; Zhu et al. 1999). Lanostanic-type triterpenoids from spores of G. lucidum have been shown to limit the in vitro growth of meth-A and LLC tumor cell lines (Min et al. 2000) and cervical HeLa cells (Zhu et al. 2000).

Liu and others (2002) found that germinating or fractured spores produced more antitumor agents than dormant spores. Gao and fellow researchers (2002) discovered a new cytotoxic lanostanic triterpene aldehyde from the fruitbody of G. lucidum showing activity similar to that in a study by Min and others (2000). An ethanol fraction isolated from spores strongly stimulated the activity of T-lymphocytes (Bao et al. 2002). In response to hot water extracts of reishi mushrooms preserved in ethanol, versus saline controls, natural killer cell activity was significantly augmented when cancer cells were co-cultured with human spleen cells (Ohtomo 2001). Slivova and colleagues (2004) reported that G. lucidum inhibited breast cancer cell adhesion, reducing motility and migration of highly metastasized cancer cells.

Studies by Wang and others (1997) ascertained that the primary antitumor effects of G. lucidum are from biological response modification of the host. Reishi’s polysaccharides caused a 5- to 29-fold increase in the tumor-necrosis factors, interleukins-1 and -6, and a substantial augmentation of T lymphocytes. G. lucidum has also been shown to help restore T-cell function in the spleen of gamma-irradiated mice (Chen et al. 1995). Lieu and others (1992) reported that polysaccharides of G. lucidum significantly inhibited the growth of leukemia (U937) cells. The antioxidant properties of reishi have been well established (Chang and But 1986; Chen and Zhang 1987; Wang et al. 1985; Yang et al. 1992; and Lee et al. 2001). Zhu and others (1999) found that several triterpene fractions, higher in the fruitbodies than in the mycelium, scavenge superoxide anions, interrupting the associated chain reaction of free radicals, thus providing a strong antioxidant effect. Similarly, Lee and others (2001) found that reishi inhibits hydroxyl radicals and prevents oxidative damage from the effects of cancer chemotherapies. A unique beta-glucan from the mycelium enhanced the production of nitric oxides from macrophages but decreased other free radicals and the collateral harm they cause to healthy cells (Han et al. 1998; Li et al. 2000; Zhou and Gao 2002). This mechanism was further elucidated by Kawakami and others (2002), who showed that tumor necrosis factors (alpha TNFs) were released by macrophages 8 hours after exposure to derivatives of mushroom polysaccharides targeting cancerous cells, followed 4 hours later by a burst of nitric oxide, which then killed the diseased cells.

Constituents—including lanostanic triterpenoids—from the fruitbodies of this remarkable species have been shown to be anti-inflammatory (Ukai et al. 1983) in the treatment of arthritis (Stavinoha et al. 1990, 1996; Lin et al. 1993; Mizuno and Kim 1996; Lee et al. 2001). In one study, reishi extracts compared favorably with prednisone but had few if any negative side effects (Stavinoha et al. 1990). In a small clinical study involving 33 patients, an aqueous extract of this mushroom inhibited platelet aggregation and gave positive results in treating atherosclerosis (Tao and Feng 1990). Another limited clinical study (Gau et al. 1990) of 5 HIV-positive hemophiliac patients likewise showed no adverse effect on platelet aggregation from extracts of G. lucidum, which was of concern due to the high adenosine fractions found in this mushroom. G. lucidum may prove useful for treating inflammation of the brain (Stavinoha 1997). Significant results were obtained recently in a clinical study using reishi components in the treatment of prostate inflammation (Small et al. 2000).

Concurrent with the well-known anti-inflammatory properties of G. lucidum is the production of interleukins-2, -6, and -8, which are typically associated with an inflammatory response of the immune system. This apparent contradiction—an immune enhancer being an anti-inflammatory—may be further explained by the fact that the effects of reishi can be bidirectional at different dosages. Bidirectionality of the anti-inflammatory and immunostimulatory effects, as measured by cytokine production, was found to be dose dependent when using polysaccharides from the closely related G. tsugae in a study by Gao and others (2000). The possible inflammatory influences may be ameliorated by the production of the steroidal triterpenoids, which are typically anti-inflammatory (Stavinoha et al. 1996). The end result of many studies is that G. lucidum is an anti-inflammatory agent and yet an immunity enhancer. D. Kim and others (1999) found that ganoderenic acid A in G. lucidum was a potent inhibitor of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme closely related to liver dysfunction, and that ganoderenic acid A may be helpful for those developing cirrhosis from hepatitis.

Lin et al. (1995) determined that the water extract of fruit bodies of G. lucidum induced free-radical scavenging activity. Han and others (1998), Zhou and Gao (2002), and Li and others (2000) concurred that reishi polysaccharides potentiate the release of nitric oxide while enhancing the scavenging of free radicals by peritoneal macrophages, thus making them less inflammatory while enhancing interleukin, natural killer cell activity, and tumor necrosis factors.

The studies mentioned in the preceding paragraph underscore that reishi may play an important role in minimizing the effects of aging by reducing damage from oxidative stress associated with free radicals. Cao and Lin (2002) found that polysaccharides from this mushroom regulate the maturation of function of dendritic cells, critical for immune response, while Zhang and other researchers (2002) isolated yet another bioactive glucose-galactose-mannose sugar that enhances lymphocyte activity and immunoglobulin. Future research may better explain the unique, complex actions of this species and its diverse constituents.

Consumption of reishi helps respiration, since this species enhances the oxygen-absorbing capacity of the alveoli in the lungs, thereby enhancing stamina, not unlike ginseng (Chang and But 1986). Research by Andreacchi and others (1997) demonstrated that a crude ethanol extract of G. lucidum increased coronary flow due to vasodilatation, with a corresponding decrease in diastolic blood pressure and no change to heart rhythm. Although called a blood-vessel/coronary dilator, patients should be aware that there are concerns about its use prior to surgery, as it might cause excessive bleeding (Andreacchi 1995). More recently, research suggests this mushroom restricts tumor angiogenesis.

Research in Seoul by Dr. Byong Kak Kim showed that extracts of this mushroom prevented the death of lymphocytes infected with HIV and inhibited the replication of the virus within the mother and daughter cells (Kim et al. 1994).

From this mushroom, Murasugi and others (1991) isolated and characterized the gene responsible for manufacturing a novel immunomodulating protein (“Ling Zhi 8”). The LD50, an inverse measure of toxicity, shows this species has low toxicity even at relatively large doses (Chen and Miles 1996), making it a strong candidate for immunotherapy.

This mushroom also shows promise fighting chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) by enhancing endurance (Aoki et al. 1987; Yang and Wang 1994).

Shiitake: Lentinus Edodes

The most popular and best-studied medicinal mushroom, shiitake has remained a focus of research since the late 1960s. Lentinan, found in shiitake mushrooms, is a heavy molecular weight polysaccharide (around 500,000 molecular weight), free of nitrogen. According to Mizuno (1995), lentinan has no direct cytotoxic properties but is instrumental in activating a host-mediated response. Macrophages respond to lentinan and, in turn, stimulate lymphocytes and other immune cell defenses. Lentinan is a protein-free polysaccharide, in comparison to flammulin, a protein-rich polysaccharide found in enokitake (Flammulina velutipes). Ng and Yap (2002) found that lentinan is orally active, and they suggest its use as a vaccine in the prevention of tumor development. Sia and Candlish (1999) found that a shiitake extract enhanced the production of normal white blood cells, leading to phagocystosis.

Another extract of shiitake mushroom mycelium, Lentinula edodes mycelium (LEM) is an orally active, protein-bound polysaccharide. A water-soluble, lignin-rich fraction from LEM (JLS-18) has been found to have 70 times the in vitro antiviral activity of LEM and activates natural killer cells, T cells, macrophages, and interleukin-6 (Yamamoto et al. 1997). Both LEM and the JLS-18 fraction have strong antitumor properties. Gu and Belury (2005) found that, when comparing 5 of our cold water and ethanol extracts from the living mycelia of Hericium erinaceus, Grifola frondosa, Ganoderma lucidum, and L. edodes, the L. edodes extract caused significant but selective apoptosis to melanoma cells in vitro without causing harm to non-tumorigenic healthy cells.

In a study by Ghoneum at Drew University, 11 cancer patients with advanced malignancies were treated with an active hemicellulose compound derived from L. edodes fermented mycelium and showed significant improvement. Ghoneum (1995) found that arabinoxylane, a derivative of the fermentation of rice by shiitake, turkey tail (Trametes versicolor), and the split-gill mushroom (Schizophyllum commune), increased human natural killer cell activity by a factor of 5 in 2 months. Arabinoxylanes are an enzymatic consequence of the digestion of rice by living mycelium. Composed of xylose and arbinose sugars, they have diverse medical benefits (Hawkins 2001; Mondoa and Kitei 2001). Arabinoxylanes from mushroom-fermented rice also have antiviral effects (Ghoneum 1995, 1998).

That shiitakes yield antiviral compounds has been well documented. An extract from shiitake mycelium has been shown to be effective against herpes simplex virus type 1 (Sarkar et al. 1993). A water-soluble lignin derivative limited HIV replication in vitro and stimulated the proliferation of bone marrow cells (Suzuki et al. 1990). Clinical trials with lentinan in the treatment of HIV patients showed inhibitory activity (Gordon et al. 1998). However, Abrams (2002) found no significant advantage in using lentinan in treating AIDS patients. A serine proteinase inhibitor has been recently isolated from the fruitbodies of shiitake (Odani et al. 1999). This mushroom has also been suggested as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (T. Aoki et al. 1987) and as an overall tonic.

Shiitake has broad antibacterial properties. Antibacterial tests have proven positive against several microbes (Hirasawa et al. 1999). In one study, lentinan was shown to be effective at preventing septic shock (Tsujinaka et al. 1990). Hatvani (2001) found that the cell-free extracts from the liquid fermentation of mycelium significantly inhibited growth of the yeast Candida albicans and the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus megaterium. Hirasawa also reported activity against Streptococcus species.

Medicinal Properties: Lentinan, a water-soluble polysaccharide (ß-1,3 glucan with ß-1,6 and ß-1,3 glucopyranoside branchings) extracted from the mushrooms, is approved as an anticancer drug in Japan. The Japanese researcher Chihara was one of the first to publish on the anticancer properties of Shiitake, stating that lentinan “was found to almost completely regress the solid type tumors of Sarcoma 180 and several kinds of tumors including methylchloranthrene-induced fibrosarcoma in synergic host-tumour system” (Chihara, 1978, p. 809). The mode of activity appears to be the activation of killer and helper “T” cells.

Another heavyweight polysaccharide, called KS-2, isolated by Fujii et al. (1978), also suppressed Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich ascotes carcinoma in mice. Other protein-bound fractions have shown differing degrees of antitumor activity. Clearly, a number of anti-tumor compounds are produced in Shiitake besides the well-known lentinan.

In the past twenty years, more than a hundred research papers have been published on the chemical constituents of Shiitake and their health stimulating properties. In an early study (Sarkar, 1993), an extract from the cultured mycelium of Shiitake interrupted the replication of the type 1, herpes simplex virus. Ghoneum (1998) has shown that an arabinoxylane derivative from fermenting Shiitake is effective in slowing the HIV virus. In clinical trials at the San Francisco General Hospital, Gordon (1998) found that a combination of lentinan with didanosine (ddI) showed a mean increase of 142 CD-4 cells/mm3 over a 12-month period compared to a decrease in CD4 cells in patients treated with ddI alone. Odani et al. (1999) has isolated a novel serine proteinase inhibitor from the fruitbodies with a molecular mass of 15,999. In a study on the effect of a novel low molecular polysaccharide fraction on human cells, interleukin1 and apoptosis on human neutrophils decreased while increasing interleukin 1 and apoptosis in the monocytic (U937) human leukemia cells. (Sia et al., 1999). Yamamoto et al. (1997) found that Shiitake’s mycelium produces a water soluble lignin-polysaccharide fraction, unique from lentinan, which has potent anti-viral and immunopotentiating activities in vitro and in vivo. These studies confirm the medical significance of this species, and encourage further research.

In a series of clinical studies by Ghoneum et al (1994, 1995, 1996), patients afflicted with a variety of cancers, some with advanced malignancies, were treated with mycelially derived hemicellulose compounds and showed significant improvement. Ghoneum (1998) found that arabinoxylane, a fraction from the fermentation of Shiitake, Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), and the split gill mushroom (Schizophyllum commune), increased human NK activity by a factor of 5 in 2 months. Ghoneum’s studies are the first clinical trials with cancer and mushrooms in the United States. Shiitake has also shown promise in lowering blood pressure. (Kabir and Yamaguchi, 1987; Jong et al., 1991.) Novel antibiotics have recently been isolated from Shiitake. (Hirasawa, 1999). The cholesterol-lowing compound was identified as eritadenine, an adenine derivative.

A very small percentage of individuals are allergic to Shiitake mushrooms, and a rare form of dermatitis, exacerbated by sunlight, has been reported in Japan (Hanada et al. 1998).

For more information on the medicinal properties of Shiitake, consult Mori et al. (1987), Fujii et al. (1978), Jong (1991), Ladanyi et al. (1993) and Jones (1995).

Interesting facts about the Fungal Kingdom

  • The Kingdom of Fungi has an estimated population of 4-5 million species.
  • The Plant Kingdom has an estimated population of about 320,000 species.
  • Mushrooms are not plants. They breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Fungi are genetically closer to humans than plants.
  • Mushrooms are often called by divine epithets like Immortality,Divine, God, Magical, Beauty and others.
  • The seeds of mushrooms are called spores and one mushroom can contain more than 7 trillion spores.
  • Mushrooms by far are one of the most potent natural healing elements that are endowed with immunity stimulators, adaptogens and potent polysaccharides.
  • Mushrooms have one of the fastest growth rates of any organism on earth.
  • Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health. — Paul Stamets
  • Mushrooms help fight age-related diseases. Researchers found that mushrooms have high amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione, both important antioxidants, that help fight age-related diseases.
  • Lion's mane mushroom has been proven to have potent nerve-regenerative properties which protect the mind from Alzheimers, Senility and Dementia.