Getting More Out of a Simple Mushroom
Mushrooms come in all sizes, shapes and flavors. The textures vary from solid and firm to soft and fluffy. Whether smothered in an omelet or scattered on pizza, mushrooms are not just another tasty gourmet treat. Their therapeutic or healing properties are known worldwide.
Growing Mushrooms will Replenish The Soil
Those that work with the soil, like gardeners and farmers, have always understood the importance of healthy soil. Growing mushrooms is not only good for replenishing the soil, but also has medicinal components that benefit those that eat them. Shiitake, reishi, and cordyceps are just a few of the many varieties that house building blocks of healthy nutrients for both body and soil.
Most mushrooms have therapeutic effects within their DNA. However, all types do not have the same therapeutic effects. Each mushroom species is collected from unique strains of fungi. Grown naturally, the fungi must be located and harvested with no guarantee they are not contaminated. For this reason, most mushrooms bought and processed for human consumption, are scientifically propagated for specific purposes.
Paul Stamets, author of Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms, is responsible for cultivating many new and unique strains of fungi. Collecting samples from the older forests of the Pacific Northwest, he has set out to create a master culture of mushrooms. In effect, his idea is to create mushrooms that will remain with their original DNA intact and unharmed by man’s abuse of the ecosystem.
Only when cultivated under strictly controlled, laboratory conditions, free from pesticides and contaminants, can mushrooms be labeled Certified Organic by the Department of Agriculture. Careful attention to “chain of custody” procedures, prevent possible inbreeding of the original varieties. To keep therapeutic values from becoming diluted, careful attention to procedure is documented.
Mushrooms are Targeted for Therapeutic Effectiveness
Although not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, the following are how some mushrooms are cross-indexed and targeted for therapeutic effectiveness.
Shiitake mushrooms are said to have anti-bacterial, anti-tumor, blood-pressure, anti-viral, blood-sugar, immune-system and anti-stress properties.
Cordyceps are reported to have many of the same as Shiitake with the addition of anti-oxidant, cardiovascular, lung/respiratory and nerve system characteristics.
Reishi have all the same characteristics of the Cordyceps. Some varieties of mushrooms have little therapeutic value. The Enokitake or Chicken of the Woods for example, are almost void of medical properties.
Some mushrooms are grown from logs that are inoculated. Others are actually grown on the tree in the forest. Recipes for gourmet foods made with mushrooms can be found all over the world. Added to meals, boiled in tea or swallowed in capsules, the healthy components in mushroom are said to improve health and keep the body systems functioning normally.
As part of the environment, the plants and the soil must survive together. Mushrooms are part of the environment — a part we know very little about. Yet, the more we understand about the exchange of nutrients between plant and earth, the more that scientific knowledge will benefit our planet.