Mushrooms Have a Kingdom All to Themselves
I was amazed to find out how much the classification of living things has changed since I learned the 3 simple Kingdoms: Animal, Plant and Protists. Mushrooms being a Fungi were considered plants in my day. It’s all different now because before scientists only had physical appearance to go by, but now we have gene sequencing and higher powered microscopes.
According to gene sequencing and microscopes, mushrooms and all other Fungi are considered closer to the Animal Kingdom than the Plant Kingdom. So they now have a Kingdom all to themselves, the Fungi Kingdom. Animal cells have a cell membrane, but no cell wall. Plants have a cell wall made of cellulose and produce their food by photosynthesis and Fungi digest external food and have cell walls made of chitin. That’s why they are more flexible and chewy rather than crunchy. And now you know where this umami flavor comes from. Umami is a taste sense like sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Although this taste is only beginning to be acknowledged in the U.S it is the 5th taste in Asian Cuisine, which makes ample use of mushrooms. Some call umami the meaty taste.
Thankfully, the fact that mushrooms are packed with nutrition and beneficial phytochemicals hasn’t changed a bit and mushrooms are gaining popularity throughout the world. The fact that they are considered sustainable because they are space, energy and water efficient and farms can get them grown and to your table in 4 months has a lot to do with that.
History of Mushrooms
Historically they were hugely popular in continental European cultures, but Anglo Saxon cultures shunned them as toadstools likely to poison everybody. Part of a bit of folklore quipped that in the population of the area formerly known as Czechoslovakia there were 13 million people and out of 13 million people 13 million loved mushrooms. In some places like Bohemia, foraging for mushrooms is even a national sport.
In the US, white mushrooms have been sold for decades with crimini (baby portabellas) and portabellas the more recent addition to the usual fare in supermarkets. But there are SO many more mushrooms than that.
Every time I think I know them all I learn about more, so I looked up how many edible mushrooms there are in the world and the estimate was over 2000. And that was from only one NIH study, so I guess I am going to be learning for quite a while!
Benefits of Mushrooms
At Herbal Roots, we provide a mushroom medley of eight of the most powerful mushrooms from all over the world. Before I go into each of those mushrooms let me tell you about mushrooms in general.
Where do I begin? I am afraid there are so many mushrooms with so many interesting details that it’s hard to generalize. An article written in UCLA Health about mushrooms, in general, was very helpful. It said that the main thing found in all mushrooms in varying degrees was a compound called ergothioneine.
They said it was an antioxidant that prevents or slows cellular damage. I of course looked up this ingredient. I was blown away. This is a sulfur compound that latches onto mercury very strongly and carries it out of the body. It used to be called Mercaptan.
Mercaptan is a name that says it all. In the early 90’s I had a doctor who gave me mercaptan because I swallowed my mercury filling. I didn’t have any mercury detoxing symptoms or anything like what I was hearing about others going through trying to get their mercury fillings removed. When it came time to get another bottle my doctor said that I got the last one ( it was taken off the market). That’s curious. But if mushrooms contain this then they must be instrumental in keeping the body free of heavy metals or at least mercury and that could account a lot toward its effect of creating vigorous life. It is probably instrumental in its effect of protecting brain health too.
Mushrooms are the only type of produce that is a source of vitamin D, which helps build strong bones and teeth. And just like in humans if they are exposed to sunlight they make more vitamin D. The article suggests that white button, portabella and cremini mushrooms provide the most Vitamin D after being exposed to sunlight and suggest slicing three mushrooms or one portabella and exposing it to the sun for at least 15 min before eating and that will give you the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. Maitake mushrooms will provide the same without the extra exposure, but you would have to eat a little over a cup to get the same amount. Other mushrooms have varying amounts of vitamin D.
Mushrooms also stimulate a healthier gut because they act as a probiotic. The type of polysaccharides called beta-glucans survive the stomach acid and wind up in the gut as food for beneficial bacteria.
All previously mentioned components as well as their high levels of selenium and B6 support a healthy immune system. Some bacteria have beta-glucans on their surface so the beta-glucans in mushrooms trigger the immune system to activate as if under attack by those bacteria. At least that is what scientists are guessing, but the thing that has been seen is that mushrooms boost the immune system.
And now here is some info about our effective eight blend of mushrooms:
Ganoderma lucidum, known as the “mushroom of immortality”. Increases the production ofcachectin, interleukin 1 beta and interleukin 6. You’ll want to look those up to see what they do, we won’t go into that. It is a powerful adaptogen and helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver to name only a drop of what it can do. It is also known as the resurrection plant. In Chinese Legend the White Snake Lady traveled far to obtain the plant to revive her dead husband. Ganoderma means shining skin and lucidum means bright or lighted. So that refers to its bright shiny skin. It comes in different colors, but the red is most used.
Hericium erinaceus, named for the 2 compounds most focused on: hericenones and erinacines.
Erinacine means hedgehog in latin which is one of the other names of Lion’s Mane, actually it’s Bearded Hedgehog. The mushroom looks like a mass of white hair, so it could be interpreted as different things to different observers. This mushroom is found in markets as a delicious culinary delicacy. It is sometimes used as a lobster substitute because of its taste and texture. Both its unique main compounds are light and can pass the blood brain barrier. They help the brain produce nerve growth factor.
Just think of all the things that can help with. What couldn’t it help if the nervous system controls everything in the body, not to mention what effects that would have on the brain which is a mass of nerve cells. Briefly it is known for enhancing focus, productivity and creativeness, but does so much more. Oh I can’t forget this: Native Americans used to rub it on their skin to stop bleeding.
Cordyceps sinensis, militaris, or ophioglossoides are the most common species. There are over 400 cordyceps. We use the sinensis species. Cordyceps comes from the Latin words cord meaning club and ceps being head. This refers to its parasitic ways in the wild which I will skip for those with more delicate sensibilities.
Fortunately through much trial and error they can now be farmed by growing them on barley or rice cakes with a slurry of other nutrition added. And because of this they have gone from the most expensive mushroom in the world to a much more affordable superfood.
This mushroom was originally discovered because Yaks weakened from the winter would feed on it in a frenzy and then mate like crazy. Other animals also became strong and thrived. Then farmers and herders began to make tonics and teas out of it.
Superoxide dismutase SOD for short and Glutathione peroxidase seem to be stimulated by cordyceps. Those are compounds you get to know when studying biochemistry because of their involvement in so many biochemical reactions.
They affect everything from sleep patterns to liver detoxification and so much in between. And this mushroom contains so many more bioactive compounds. The one concentrated on is one that is actually named Cordycepin because of its nutraceutical and therapeutic potential.
This compound is almost identical to one of the compounds key to energy metabolism in all cells, Adenosine. You have probably heard of ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate) from your general biology class.
One really could spend days reading about all that this mushroom helps. But a shorter general list would be: Keeps you young, strengthens heart, boosts immunity, enhances carbohydrate metabolism, helps normalize sleep patterns, helps sexual function and enhances athletic performance.
Coriolus versicolor also known as Trametes or Polystictus versicolor. I guess scientists couldn’t agree on which trait was more important. Coriolus refers to the color as does the species name variety of color or turning color like in shades, Trametes refers to its bracket shape and Polystictus refers to the fact that its spores come out of pores instead of gills. Fortunately the common name says it all. It looks like a turkey’s tail.
This mushroom is indigenous to North America. It has most of the benefits of the other mushrooms but two of its bioactive compounds have been in use in traditional medicine for years. Polysaccharide K or Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP).They promote immune response by modulating specific types of immune cells and they suppress unhealthy, uncomfortable over reactions.
PSK also increases the immune cells that promote immunity to toxins as well as activating natural killer cells. PSP increases other white blood cells that protect the body.
Inonotus obliquus, ino meaning fibrous and ono meaning ear and obliquus meaning against and bent upward or oblique slanted.
This is not a usual mushroom. Normally the edible part of the fungus is the fruiting body. Chaga is actually a mycelial mass that eats into the tree. It is black from a high concentration of melanin and is what is known as a conk. It looks like a black mass of tar on birch trees for the most part, but it has a woody orange interior like a cork.
When it is found on other trees it does not have the same chemical composition and is not as beneficial as the chaga growing on Birch trees. Only when the birch tree actually dies does the fruiting body develop which sends pollen into the air to seek out injuries to the bark of other trees to land in and start over. In our formula we use both the fruiting body and the conk.
Chaga is considered a superfood. It is one of the highest sources of antioxidants on the planet. It does many things that the other mushrooms do but in a different way. This is an adaptogen that works by supporting the adrenals. It reduces the hormones like cortisol which usually increase with age. This keeps the body relaxed and healthy.
Grifola frondosa. There is some disagreement with what Grifola means. Some say that Maitake is known as the Royal Mushroom or the Griffon mushroom and that Grifola refers to that mythical creature often found on royal family crests.
You know the mighty animal with the eagle head and wings with a lion’s body. And some say Grifola is from the Greek Griphos rete - the interweaving of reeds referring to the pattern of its underside. But since the underside of the maitake isn’t anything that special I would go with the Royalty idea. Frondosa means leafy and it does have a leafy appearance. It is also known as the hen of the woods because it resembles the feathers of a hen when it is roosting.
Historically this was not an abundant mushroom and it was often a gift to a Shogun. The price of it was its weight in silver. If a person found a place where it was growing he would keep it to himself his whole life and only pass the location of it to his oldest son in his will.
Fortunately in 1980 organic cultivation practices were perfected and it is available to common people as a food and a health supplement.
Maitake which means dance mushroom in Japanese is high in vitamins, especially vitamin B2 and niacin and D2 and very high in minerals especially calcium, magnesium and potassium. It is also high in fiber and amino acids. All this on top of the usual mushroom phytochemicals.
Maitake has two main areas of action. The immune system and the metabolism. He has a hand in regulating sugar, blood and fat in the liver. It is known as a tonic to help whatever ails you.
Lentinula edodes - there is no definite meaning I found and believe me I looked. Edodes means edible, but Lentinula is not found anywhere.
Lent goes back to Spring or spiritual renewal and inula is a genus of sunflowers. So I’d like to think it is likening the effects of eating shiitake to a sunflower of spiritual renewal. That would be about right when you consider the uplifting benefits of this mushroom. -take means mushroom in Japanese and Shii is the tree this mushroom normally grows on. So that was at least easy.
Shiitake (Shitake alternate spelling) is very high in B vitamins, especially vitamin B5. It is high in copper, selenium, manganese and iron. Its active ingredient was named after itself too. So I guess maybe that’s common in mushrooms. Lentinan is another substance it would be worth your while to look up. All I can say is that it supports the immune system and keeps one healthy.
Shiitake is useful in building bones. It increases hydration levels in the skin and makes the skin more resilient and increases elasticity. It also promotes healthy hair. It helps the heart and brain and it can help you get your figure back.
Tremella fuciformis- Tremella means to tremble referring to the gelatinous nature of this mushroom. And fuciformis means in the shape of seaweed.
Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) it has been known as “The Fountain of Youth” It is used in women’s beauty products in China, Korea and Japan. It helps the skin retain moisture and keeps the capillaries in the skin from degrading from age. It promotes hyaluronic acid and collagen formation. It increases SOD (Superoxide dismutase) in the brain and liver and acts as a potent antioxidant all over the body, especially in the skin. It also nourishes the lungs.
There are few foods more power packed than mushrooms to enhance your health. The mushrooms in our formula are the most powerful of all the mushrooms available. Be a friend to yourself and click below to get yourself a supply.