Winter is on our doorstep and with this in mind, a staple in the clinic dispensary and our household are medicinal mushrooms. Years ago studying Food as Medicine at college, I remember the deep adoration I had for mushrooms learning their phenomenal medicinal properties for preventing chronic diseases and promoting longevity, earning a well-respected place in our pantry and now in the clinic dispensary.
Medicinal mushrooms are now swiftly gaining momentum in scientific research with over 600 studies that have been conducted worldwide, including human clinical trials researching the medicinal properties of various mushrooms and fungi that are commonly used in Asian traditional medicine to prevent and treat various diseases. Notably, they have been used for culinary purposes in Asia for thousands of years in China, Korea and Japan.
Packed full of vitamins, fibre and beneficial amino acids, medicinal mushrooms contain far-reaching biological properties known as polysaccharides that offer immune-modulating, anticancer, anti-tumour, antiviral, anti- inflammatory, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic effects.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) or Lingzhi, in Chinese, translates to ‘herb of spiritual potency’ believing to represent the essence of immortality and spiritual potency, offering success, wellbeing, divine power and longevity. When looking at the major bioactive compounds of Reishi with its adaptogenic (stress adaption), immunomodulating, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, anti-tumour and hypoglycemic effects, this stacks up as good evidence to prove this 2000-year-old remedy lives up to its name!
Whilst mushrooms individually have an impressive bioactive profile, when applied in combination they truly shine. A study identifying the immunomodulating glucans (polysaccharides) of Shiitake (Lentinela edodes) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa) found the combination of the two mushrooms in an extract form showed stronger cellular and humoral immune stimulating responses. This also included defence from infection and cancer, whilst reducing stress response, reducing cholesterol and hypoglycemic effects. The defence mechanism of glucans from the stimulation of the phagocytic system, which are white blood cells that are your body’s cellular army protecting you from bacteria, foreign particles and dead or dying cells by engulfing or ingesting the harmful material. Another interesting find research discovered glucans are nonspecific in how they activate cell immune reactions in all species from earthworms to humans. How fascinating!!
Due to the complex physicochemical properties and bioactivities of mushroom polysaccharides research is now determining the species of mushrooms and the best extraction methods to offer the most efficacious therapeutic activity. With this in mind, we are fortunate to have fabulous Australian herbal manufacturing companies (such as Mediherb) that provide our Naturopaths and Herbalists with genuine mushroom extracts that have been tested and standardised ensuring we are offering remedies of a high quality that include evaluated concentrations of therapeutic polysaccharides.
To get your medicinal mushrooms into your household ASAP see a delicious recipe for an Asian infused soup I made for our dinner over the weekend. I was fortunate enough to score some locally grown Shiitake mushrooms from Rusty’s market along with some delicious fresh Asian greens 🙌✨
Asian Winter Soup:
1 heaped tablespoon Nutraorganic Chicken Broth powder 1.5/2L boiled water Organic non-gmo silken tofu 1 carrot 1 zucchini 1 stick celery 1 ½ bunches chopped Asian greens Handful coriander 3 bulbs crushed then diced garlic Knob of ginger finely diced ½ red, ½ green chillis 1 brown onion ¾ cup wakame seaweed Rice vermicelli noodles ½ red capsicum finely sliced 1 1/2 cups of finely sliced fresh shiitake Splash tamari or soy, seasoning
Directions: Gently saute off the onion, garlic, ginger, celery, carrot, add in stock and rest of vegetables. Once they look cooked but firm add rest of ingredients. Very simple and serves 6!
Or a family of four with yummy leftovers for lunch.
Love and light,
Jaunita May ~ Your Family Naturopath
ref: Medicinal Mushrooms in Human Clinical Studies. Part I. Anticancer, Oncoimmunological, and Immunomodulatory Activities: A Review, Wasser SP
Comparative characterization of physicochemical properties and bioactivities of polysaccharides from selected medicinal mushrooms, Chun-Han SuMin-Nan LaiChing-Chuan LinLean-Teik Ng
Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts, V Vetvicka, J Vetvickova
Cellular and Physiological Effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Silva D