Our columnist extols the virtues of our fungal friends
For a while I have been using the power of medicinal mushrooms within our Wild Nutrition formulas. These powerful multi-cell organisms have been used medicinally throughout Asia for thousands of years, ranging from support for inflammatory conditions to prolonging life!
The list of medicinal mushroom species is a lengthy one, many of which haven’t been used outside their native country. The most commonly studied include Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi), Cordyceps sinensis, Hericium erinaceus (Lions Mane), Grifola Frondosa (Maitake), Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster) and Coriolus versicolor (Turkey Tails).
Traditionally, mushrooms are considered closer to plants and in the same way that some plants produce flowers as a means of reproduction, fungi produce mushrooms. This means they are rich in active compounds that support human and animal health. The most common group that is found in all mushrooms species are polysaccharides, the most well researched of which are Beta Glucan 1-3 and Beta Glucan 1-6. These immune-supporting molecules have been shown to stimulate the body’s response to viral and bacterial infection as well as anti-tumour activity.
However, there are additional natural properties within mushrooms that are also the source of several major pharmaceutical drugs, including antibiotics such as penicillin and statins such as lovastatin. Recent research also demonstrates their prebiotic effect on the gut microbiome, increasing the growth of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus and the necessary short chain fatty acids for healthy food breakdown. These multi-use mushrooms can be taken as supplements.
Henrietta Norton is a nutritional therapist, author and co-founder of Wild Nutrition (wildnutrition.com). She has clinics at Grace Belgravia and SP & Co in London.
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