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What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Maitake mushrooms may help relieve chemotherapy side effects for someone suffering with stomach cancer.
Oyster mushrooms naturally contain lovastatin, which lowers cholesterol.
Some types of medicinal mushrooms show promise in helping patients undergoing chemotherapy reduce hair loss and other side effects.
Shiitake mushrooms are often used for medicinal purposes.
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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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Medicinal mushrooms are eaten to help preserve good health and prevent certain diseases. Shiitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms are examples of medicinal fungi that are beneficial. Mushrooms are a tasty addition to a number of foods. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are a source of fiber. Mushrooms also contain vitamins B and C.

Mushrooms are prized for medicinal purposes because they can help to lower the risk of cancer and are good for the heart. Including medicinal mushrooms in an eating plan treats inflammation, helps to keep blood sugar levels balanced and reduces the symptoms of allergies. The mushrooms also give the immune system a boost, which makes it easier for the body to fight off infections causes by viruses and bacteria.

Shiitake mushrooms are native to China and are used in Chinese and Japanese cooking. They are sold fresh or dried. If the dried version is bought, it must be rehydrated with water before use. Medical studies have confirmed that shiitake mushrooms help the liver to process cholesterol more quickly. Shiitake mushrooms also have cancer-fighting properties and studies conducted on mice indicate that this food can shrink tumors.

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Reishi mushrooms is a purple-brown color and has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It grows in China, Japan and in North America. This type of medicinal mushroom can be used to treat respiratory ailments. People with asthma or bronchitis may benefit from taking a syrup made with this ingredient. This example of medicinal mushrooms also has antioxidant properties. It can be used to reduce inflammation in the body and may help to fight cancer. This food also gives the immune system a boost.

A third from of medicinal mushroom, the maitake, is found in clusters growing at the base of trees. It is commonly discovered growing on oak trees. It is native to northern Japan, and is also grown in North America.

The maitake mushroom is known as a cancer-fighting agent. It has helped those diagnosed with bone or stomach cancer, as well as leukemia. When cancer patients added the mushroom to their treatment plan, which included chemotherapy, they reported relief from common side effects associated with the treatment. Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and hair loss were reduced.

This type of mushroom can also help to bring high blood pressure down to a normal level. Doctors in Japan may prescribe medicinal mushrooms to their patients suffering from hypertension. The maitake mushroom can also be used to treat digestive problems.

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umbra21
Post 3

@Iluviaporos - I'm not sure that was the right medicine for that particular issue, but mushrooms in general are actually very healthful. There have been a few studies to show that they do have cancer fighting properties.

I wouldn't pay extra for them in supplement form, I would just add them to my own diet, and I don't really think there's been any research on how they might help pets. But don't throw out the idea entirely, just because that vet didn't do right by you.

lluviaporos
Post 2

@irontoenail - I remember when I had a kitten as a student, it caught a cold and I walked with it to the closest veterinarian. She basically said that the cold had to run its course and sold me an expensive bottle of medicinal mushroom extracts to give to my kitten to help her immune system so she would get better faster.

Well, my kitten did not get better any time soon (although she did eventually, but not until she'd sneezed in my face more than once) and I soon realized that I'd basically gone to see a crack pot of a vet.

I was too young to realize it at the time, expecting that anyone who could hang out a shingle and call themselves a vet would have to be someone who didn't think mushrooms would cure the common cold.

irontoenail
Post 1

If you would like to try some of these mushrooms in your diet, then I would recommend going to an Asian food store and getting a big bag of dried ones, then re-hydrating them and using them in noodles, or frying them.

If you try to buy them fresh, they will often be very expensive (which is a shame, because they aren't all that difficult to grow). But bags of dried ones will be cheap and will have all the same medicinal qualities, if not exactly the same taste and texture as the fresh ones.

Your other option is to get some mushroom extract which is fairly popular as a supplement.

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