Humans have been using mushrooms as a medicinal source since the beginnings of human civilization. Today, some of our most important medicines, such as penicillin are derived from fungi. Due to the wide variety of mushrooms that exist, the medicinal benefits of mushrooms are numerous.
Introducing mushrooms into your diet can help realign imbalances and strengthen your overall health. In general, mushrooms are low in calories, have low glucose levels, low sodium concentration, high levels of several key vitamins, high in potassium, antioxidants, and proteins.
The ability to grow your own mushrooms and produce your own medicine provides you with an opportunity to have a degree of control in defining the health of your mind and body. Mushroom medicines act slowly over time, gently working with the body’s systems. You can utilize mushrooms in meals, teas, soups, or tinctures in order to introduce these natural medicines into your daily routine.
Here are just 5 of the many health benefits ofmushrooms that you can grow at home.
1. Prevent Cancer
Mushrooms are being studied and widely used as an alternative or complimentary treatment to cancer. In Asia, over 100 species of mushrooms have been used alone or in combination with radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer. Some of the most popular are Shiitake, and Hen of the Woods. Shiitake mushrooms contain a sugar, lentinan, that has been attributed to slowing the growth of tumors. Hen of the Woods has been shown to have anti-metastatic properties inhibiting the proliferation and spread of cancer.
2. Boost Immune System
Certain mushrooms have been shown to boost the levels and activity of many vital immune system cells. Reishi has been revered for centuries, given such names as “the king of herbal medicines” or “the mushroom of immortality.” It is thought that Reishi promotes longevity and overall health. Reishi extracts stimulate T-cell action, Natural Killer cell activity, and Dendritic cell maturation. Chaga has been used for hundreds of years by people living in the Siberian mountain region of northern Russia. It is known to concentrate health-boosting compounds found in living birch trees and, when turned into a tea, makes a delicious and warming beverage known for its use as a preventative medicine.
3. Support Brain Health
Lion’s Mane mushrooms have been found to have extraordinary brain boosting compounds. Compounds in this mushroom stimulate neurons to re-grow, a feat of great significance in the possible treatment for senility and Alzheimer's disease, repairing neurological trauma, increasing cognitive abilities, and perhaps even improving muscle/motor response pathways. Lion’s Mane contains a substance called erinacine, which has the ability to catalyze the production of the peptide, nerve growth factor (NFG), thereby reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders.
4. Lower Blood Sugar
Mushrooms have been shown to improve blood sugar and insulin regulation. Mushrooms contain beta-glucan compounds, a form of soluble dietary fiber that have been found to reduce blood sugar levels. Hen of the Woods has been shown to decrease the amount of starch that is digested into sugar, as well as improve insulin activity. Additionally, high blood sugar levels cause stickiness and blockages in the blood vessels, from which the complications of diabetes arise, such as kidney failure and blindness. Therefore Hen of the Woods can work to prevent these diabetic complications from arising.
5. Boost Athletic Performance
Cordyceps are ideal for athletes, as these mushrooms minimize fatigue and increase stamina and oxygenation in the blood. Cordyceps contains adenosine and can therefore stimulate the production of Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, a molecule that carries energy within cells, thereby increasing stamina. While you may not be able to grow Cordyceps at home, you can introduce them to you diet through tinctures that can be taken alone or mixed into tea, coffee, juice, or water.