Healing with herbs is becoming more popular as an adjunct therapy, especially in cancer treatment. But what about healing with mushrooms? Herbs are considered plant material. Where do the fungi fit in? From a botanical standpoint, herbs are herbaceous plants. Leaves, roots, and flowers of herbs may be used in herbal medicine. The plant kingdom is comprised of plants. The fungi kingdom is comprised of mushrooms. Science is taking a closer look at the value of medicinal mushrooms in treating serious medical conditions including autoimmune disease, nerve disorders and cancer. This article uncovers some of the mystery surrounding mushrooms and takes a brief look at their use in natural medicine.
There are many myths surrounding the Kingdom Fungi. You may be thinking, “Well, some mushrooms are poisonous.” And yes, this is true. Some plants are also poisonous. Mushrooms get a bad reputation because often cases of mushroom poisoning attract a lot of attention. Most mushrooms are not poisonous. You may be thinking, “Will I see visions or hallucinate?” Many cultures around the world use hallucinogenic mushrooms for healing. But medicinal mushrooms are being researched in laboratories around the world and practicing physicians, cancer doctors, and alternative medicine practitioners are taking mushrooms seriously and prescribing them for serious medical conditions.
Which mushrooms are medicinal? When searching for mushrooms for healing cancer, look first to the polypores, or shelf fungi. These mushrooms are the oldest from an evolutionary standpoint. Some mycologists (those who study fungi) believe that all mushrooms have evolved from polypores. Polypores are hard, not soft like gilled fungi. For any mushroom to be digestible it must first be cooked, heated, or tenderized. This is especially true in the case of polypore mushrooms. They must be heated first in order to be bio available. Historically polypore mushrooms have been heated and steeped in hot water, strained, and the resulting drink served as a mushroom tea.
Historically, polypore mushrooms were quite valuable to native peoples all around the world. Some hard, shelf mushrooms were used as tinder or spunk to start fires and carried over long distances. These same species were also mushroom tent chopped up and steeped in water for tea. Shamans in cultures on every continent treated serious medical ailments with polypore mushrooms.
Which mushrooms for cancer treatment are polypore mushrooms? The most famous and widely used polypore mushroom is the Reishi mushroom. It is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine, by mainstream Japanese physicians, and throughout Korea, Vietnam and Eastern cultures. Also known as the Ling Chi, this medicinal mushroom is available in supplement form over the internet and directly from alternative medical practitioners.
Another powerful medicinal polypore mushroom is Grifola frondosa, also known as Maitake. Maitake is a soft fleshed polypore with nutritional and medicinal value. It is attracting a lot of attention from pharmaceutical and neutraceutcal companies because initial studies show it is quite effective as an anti-tumor medicine, especially in cases of liver and breast cancer. Look for Maitake supplements that address the D-fraction and beta glucans. Maitake supplements are widely available over the internet and from natural pharmacies.