I often will recommend mushrooms to my patients. Many (especially those who were children of the 60's) start laughing. Of course the mushrooms I recommend are medicinal not the magic mushrooms from our youth. Mushrooms and mushroom extracts have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Mushrooms are fungi and many drugs have been discovered from them. These include penicillin, cephalosporin, and even the statin drugs (just to mention a few).
There is quite a bit of ongoing research looking at the healing properties of mushrooms. There are studies that have shown that they can modify the immune system to boost our defense against cancers, they have antioxidant properties, and certain mushrooms such as reishi mushrooms can lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Mushrooms also contain large amounts of vitamin D. They have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
In Japan, the mushroom coriolus versicolor or turkey tail also know as Kresin is used as an anticancer drug. It is commonly used as a supplement during radiation and chemotherapy. There are ongoing studies looking at the extract from this mushroom as an anti-cancer drug in the US. I often suggest turkey tail to my patients who are healed from cancer and those with a strong family history of cancer.
Oyster mushrooms contain the natural compound that is found in the statin drug lovastatin. In the test tube this mushroom has also been found to decrease the growth of breast and colon cancer cells.
There is a mushroom called Lion's mane that has been found to have a potential anti-dementia activity. It also has been found to stimulate nerve growth. In one study it improved cognitive ability. I often will suggest its use to my patients with back pain as well as brain fog.
Cordyceps is one of my favorite mushrooms. It has a long history in Chinese medicine. It has antidepressant properties and possible anti-cancer activity. It also gives an energy boost and may promote general cell health. Whenever I feel tired in the afternoon I will take a capsule of cordyceps. I also was able to find a chocolate bar that contains this powerhouse mushroom covered in dark chocolate and it tastes surprisingly good.
Since there are so many wonderful things that the different varieties can provide I often recommend a blend of many of them. There are many companies that grow and sell mushrooms. I have found that the company Fungi Perfecti does a wonderful job. If you are interested in more information you can go to: www.fungi.com.