Mushrooms have been used by all ancient cultures all over the world. They were highly revered in ancient Peru, where they “used the power of mushrooms medicinally, nutritionally and spiritually.” In Meso America, the “A. muscaria [mushroom] has been shown to have been deeply engrained in the religious cultures.”
Even more amazing, Amadou mushrooms have the ability to store fire! You can put an ember inside an Amadou mushroom and it will stay lit for days. This knowledge is believed to have been critical for the first humans to travel throughout Europe and into colder climates. (2)
Medicinally speaking, mushrooms are one of nature’s greatest gifts. Science is now showing that medicinal mushrooms are capable of slowing ageing, improving blood flow, reducing the risk of heart disease, improving your skin and hair, stabilising cholesterol and blood sugar, protecting the kidneys and liver, improving respiratory function, decreasing platelet aggregation, increasing sexual function and athletic ability. Mushrooms with anti-tumor activity appear to increase the number and activity of killer T and natural killer (NK) lymphocytes, with no toxicity to healthy cells. They also have potent antiviral (including HIV), antibacterial and anti fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties. (1)
But where medical mushrooms really excel is with immune system modulation. (3)
Ancient Knowledge, Modern Healing
Different mushroom have different properties so, to get the full spectrum of all the different kinds of healing agents mushrooms offer, it is best to utilise a blend of several mushroom species. It is easier for pathogens in your body to adapt (and become resistant) to one type of mushroom than to several. Each mushroom species also has a unique arsenal of anti-infective and immunomodulating agents, so combining medicinal mushrooms is the best way to support your immune system.
Immunomodulating agents in medicinal mushrooms include:
-Ergosterols (steroid-like compounds that create vitamin D in sunlight)
It is the synergism between these elements that makes mushrooms so medicinally powerful. These are all precursors to the more complex compounds, Beta Glucans, which are used medicinally:
“… for high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. Beta glucans are also used to boost the immune system in people whose body defenses have been weakened by conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, or physical and emotional stress; or by treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy.” 
According to leading natural health advocate and New York Times best-seller Dr. Joseph Mercola, some of the most effective medicinal fungi include:
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
“Science is showing that Turkey Tail mushroom holds an arsenal of cancer-blasting compounds. Two polysaccharide complexes in Turkey Tail are getting a great deal of scientific attention, PSK (or “Kreskin”) and PSP. The subject of large scale clinical trials, it the most extensively researched of all medicinal mushrooms.
“A seven-year, $2 million NIH-funded clinical study in 2011 found that Turkey Tail mycelium improves immune function when taken daily by women with stage I–III breast cancer. Immune response was dose-dependent, with no adverse effects. In addition to breast cancer, Turkey Tail has been found to hold promise for other cancers, including stomach, colorectal, lung, esophageal, nasopharyngeal, cervical, and uterine. PSP has been shown to significantly enhance immune status in 70 to 97 percent of cancer patients.
“Turkey tail is also being used to treat many different infections, including aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, E. coli, HIV, Herpes, and streptococcus pneumonia, and is hepatoprotective. It may also be useful for CFIDS.”(1)
Himematsutake (Agaricus blazei)
“Himematsutake mushroom is attracting many scientists worldwide due to its remarkable anticancer properties related to six special polysaccharides. Like many other medicinal mushrooms, this fungus can also protect you from the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy. But its benefits don’t stop there—Himematsutake can also decrease insulin resistance in diabetics, normalize your cholesterol, improve your hair and skin, and even treat polio.”(1)
A 2005 Wellness Industries report concluded that Ergosterol, a major constituent of Agaricus blazei:
“… was found to inhibit tumour growth in mice via direst inhibition of tumour-induced angiogenesis. Other studies demonstrated that polysaccharides present in Agaricus extract caused activation of macrophages or natural killer cells and induced cytotoxic T‐lymphocyte activity in tumour‐bearing mice. Specifically, activation of natural killer cells was mediated through IL‐12‐induced IFN‐gamma expression.” (4)
This is just 2 of hundreds of mushrooms celebrated for their medicinal qualities.
Grow Your Own or Supplement Instead?
Growing your own mushroom is easy, rewarding and good for your health. Not all mushrooms are easy to grow but there are edible mushrooms for just about every climate.
You can purchase spawn, or full mushroom kits from many sellers online.
If you can’t grow your own or just want to get all the effects of medicinal mushrooms in an easy to take form, there are some good supplements on the market.
I recommend Megadefense (from Pure Liquid Zeolite) which is the most potent and broad spectrum mushroom supplement available. It blends 6 potent medicinal mushrooms, including Turkey Tail and Himematsutake, each offering a slightly different polysaccharide structure, activating all 260 different types of human immune cells. All the mushrooms in Megadefense are grown in competition with each other, which stimulates production of the immune-modulating agents that medicinal mushrooms are known for. It is made from only 100% USDA certified organic, certified kosher, non‐GMO ingredients (3) and it also includes the benefits of micronized eolite, an powerful immunity and detox agent.
For more information, please visit www.pureliquidzeolite.com
Solutions From The Underground – How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World
Paul Stamets has been a dedicated mycologist for over thirty years. Over this time, he has discovered and coauthored four new species of mushrooms, pioneered countless techniques in the field of edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation, and written six books on mushroom cultivation, use and identification.
This is Paul’s inspiring and fascinating lecture about various ways in which mushrooms can help humanity and the earth heal.
May mushrooms bring healing to the world!
1. Mercola.com – Eat Mushrooms During Winter to Radically Reduce Your Risk of the Cold and Flu – Dr. Joseph Mercola 2011
2. Paul Stamets – Solutions From the Underground – 2013
3. PureLiquidZeolite.com/What is Megadefense?
4. MegaDefense Product Overview Report, Wellness Industries, LLC. 2005.
5. http://www.webmd.com/BETA GLUCANS
Featured image credits: listofimages.com