Mushrooms are “little powerhouses” of nutrition, containing some of the most potent natural medicines in the world. They are an excellent addition to salads, and are delicious when paired up with meats and fish. Mushrooms have long been used as a defense against bacterial infections due to their strong antibiotic properties. Penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline all are derived from fungal extracts.
One caveat when eating mushrooms is to be sure they’re organically grown to avoid harmful contaminants that mushrooms absorb and concentrate from soil, air, and water. It is not recommended to pick mushrooms in the wild because some mushrooms are toxic and look very similar to their healthy counterparts. Growing them yourself would be a better option.
Some healthy types of mushrooms include:
Shiitake – contains many health-stimulating agents, as well as anti-tumor and anti-viral, and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Reishi – used for medicinal purposes in Asia for thousands of years, the reishi mushroom has been used to treat lung cancer, leukemia, and other types of cancers. These little fungi also have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties and can up-regulate the immune system, normalize blood cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce prostate-related urinary symptoms in men.
Turkey Tail or “cloud mushroom” – contains polysaccharide complexes that studies show improve immune function, particularly with breast cancer. It’s also used to treat various infections, including aspergillus niger, candida albicans, E. coli, HIV, herpes, and streptococcus pneumonia.
Royal Sun Agaricus (Himematsutake) – related to the button mushroom, it is known for its anti-cancer properties and can protect from the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy. It also may help decrease insulin resistance, normalize cholesterol levels, and improve skin and hair.