Mushrooms are strange and powerful. Some can kill you, some can send you to other dimensions, and some can heal you. The extraordinary world of fungus much underrated in the modern world; with over 10,000 varieties, modern research has barely scratched the surface of this secret kingdom. Mushroom medicine has been used for thousands of years. In 450bce, Hippocrates classified the Amadou mushroom as a powerful anti-inflammatory. The renowned ancient Chinese alchemist Tao Hongjing noted the healing benefits of dozens of mushrooms.
Despite their extensive use by our ancestors, modern medicine is only just, slowly, rediscovering the potential of mushrooms. As with many things, we have a lot of catching up to do. Despite their incredible healing potential, there is a disappointingly low number of scientific studies. Perhaps because mushrooms are abundant in nature and can’t be patented like pharmaceuticals drugs. We have noticed that, whenever there are billions of dollars to be made, scientific studies are plentiful, but with the natural substances they are rare. This is why you always read things like, “There is no scientific evidence that X can cure Y” – not because it can’t, but because there is no financial incentive for the studies to be done.
So, with the mainstream knowledge being corrupted by financial interests, to find out what is really good for us, we need to dig beneath the surface. This is literally true in the case of mushrooms! Under the soil, mushrooms are the underground network of the forests that allow plants to communicate with each other. Kind of like nature’s internet (but without the corporate censorship). It is interesting to note that the ingestion of mushrooms also aids the communication between cells in our own bodies (as above, so below). Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses, brimming with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and greatly boost your immunity. We will not look at some of our favourites.
Chaga mushrooms grow on the bark of the Birch trees. They are a type of parasitic mushroom that looks like charcoal or burnt wood and often begins life when there has been an injury to the tree. Also referred to as black gold – a nod to its bright orange interior – the Chaga mushroom is rich in minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. As well as having such an impressive nutritional content, Chaga mushrooms are one of the best sources of betulinic acid, which kills cancer cells on contact and is a powerful anti-viral, anti-malarial, and anti-inflammatory.
Betulinic acid specifically targets cancer cells and induces programmed cell death, leaving healthy cells completely unaffected. Ground-breaking studies have also shown that betulinic acid inhibits the replication of HIV cells. Chaga also contains a large amount of vitamin D and melanin, both of which are highly effective in the treatment or prevention of skin cancer. If you are looking for a mega-boost in immunity- we recommend introducing Chaga into your diet, it’s an all-round over performer, and a great introduction to mushroom medicine.
Reishi is touted as ‘The Queen of Mushrooms’ for its mystical ability to unite the mind and body. Its name in Chinese literally translates to ‘the herb of spiritual potency’. Reishi has been used therapeutically for over 2000 years, especially in traditional Chinese medicine, and unfortunately, the wild mushroom was almost over-harvested into extinction and is very rare today. However, it’s healing powers are such that Chinese doctors still prescribe it today, often in place of pharmaceutical drugs. Ancient Chinese texts also referred to Reishi as the mushroom of immortality and it was documented in ‘Shen Nong’s Herbal Classics’ in the 1st century. In these times, Reishi mushrooms were a rare commodity and could only be afforded by Chinas elite.
In the 1960s worldwide cultivation of Reishi mushrooms began, and with it came a wave of new studies and research. These studies have confirmed the effects of Reishi for treatment against, cancer, high blood sugar, chronic fatigue, depression, poor immune system, and many other ailments. The most exciting discovery has to be its anti-cancer abilities. Consumption of Reishi has been shown to increase the activity of a type of white blood cell that fights infection and cancer. Other research has shown it to reduce the size of tumours in the large intestine, prevent prostate cancer, and generally improve well-being in cancer patients.
Shiitake mushrooms are the second most widely cultivated mushrooms on the planet – for good reason. One of the few plants that contain all 8 of the essential amino acids, it enhances the body’s ability to heal and grow. Traditional Chinese medicine has made use of Shiitake’s therapeutic qualities for millennia. It was used for its aphrodisiac effects, to improve immune function, and to boost vitality. In Traditional Chinese medicine, it is a symbol of youth and vitality- and recent studies have proven its anti-ageing powers. It is fascinating how ancient peoples’ understanding of plants is so often confirmed by modern science. Shiitake is packed full of antioxidants and rich in Kojic acid. It brightens skin, clears blemishes, fades sunspots, increases cell turnover, and improves the appearance of wrinkles.
Lentinan, a chemical that is found exclusively in the Shiitake mushroom, repairs DNA, especially against chromosome damage caused by anti-cancer treatments. Because of this, it is widely used in Japan and China following chemotherapy. Millions of people are deficient in B vitamins, and the Shiitake contains plenty of them. A healthy dose of B vitamins naturally balances hormones, clears brain fog, and reduces fatigue. It contains Selenium, a rare trace mineral that is a powerful skin food when taken with vitamin A or E – reducing scarring and acne. Shiitake also promotes a healthy immune function, repairs DNA, protects against cancer, and balances thyroid hormones. To reduce inflammation in the body and boost immune function, give Shiitake a try.
Maitake translates to dancing mushroom in Japanese, legend has it that when the people discovered this mushroom, they danced and danced, elated that this medicine was bestowed upon them. Japan and China, the nations who have the most extensive use of mushrooms medicinally, have been using maitake for thousands of years. At one point, in Japan, it was even used as currency and was worth its weight in silver. During this time, many Maitake cultivators kept secret the location of their mushrooms, only to be revealed in their will upon death. What made the Maitake so highly prized? Modern researchers have found that it can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, particularly for breast cancer. On top of that, it also increases the number of cells fighting tumours, making it the top cancer-fighting mushroom.
These are just a handful of the healing mushrooms available. As we have said, it is quite incredible that there has not been more research into these remarkable substances, especially with their apparent cancer-fighting abilities.
We now have a special blend of Shiitake, Reishi and Maitake, the holy trinity of shrooms, so you can receive all the benefits of all of these healing fungi in one capsule. Chaga mushroom is available in a tincture. We recommend Mushroom products to customers for many different conditions and always get great feedback. Many people choose to take them for general wellness and immune system function and often report increased energy, focus, and reduced anxiety. All mushroom products are now available in our Brixton store, and we are currently adding more to our online store.