Unlike America, where mushrooms are most noted a s a part of a salad or for their psychedelic effects, a large part of the world has been using them for medicinal purposes. However there is now a new movement to find out more about the medicinal qualities of mushrooms. There are two types of mushrooms that have been most popular, they are the Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes). This page will look at these two.

REISHI--Ganoderma Lucidum

The Reishi Mushroom is one of the most valued plants in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. It has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for many various ailments. The latin word lucidum means "shiny" or "brilliant" and refers to the surface of the cap, often reddish orange to black. The stalk of it is often times attached to the side of the cap.


Medical uses: The mushroom extracts have been shown to have many positive effects as an adaptagen. An adaptagen is defined as a substance which increases the resistance to stress and improves the general tone of the body and mind. Reishi has been known to be an anti-cancer and immune enhancing agent as well as showing:

--A positive effect in treatment of insomnia

--Preventative effects against high altitude sickness

--Cholesterol-lowering effects

--Therapeutic effects in hepatitis

--Antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.



Taking Reishi: Reishi may be taken in a variety of different ways. It may be taken in soups, teas, syrups, tablets and injections. Most of the time the whole mushroom is not recommended but rather the use of dried or powdered mushrooms. The mushroom may also be sliced thinly.


A NOTE OF PRECAUTION: Although extracts of Reishi can be beneficial, the long term effects are virtually unknown.

SHIITAKE--Lentinula edodes

Shittake mushrooms like the Reishi have been used for thousands of years by the Japanese and Chinese, and are starting to find a place in the culture of America. Unlike Reishi, Shiitake mushrooms are currently a culinary rage. It can be sauteed, boiled, baked, used in salads. The cap is dark brown, sometimes with tan striations and can be as large as 8-10 inches across, the average is 3-6 inches. The earliest recorded use dates to the fourteenth century, when Wu-Rui, a Chinese doctor, described as a food that accelerated vital spirit energy, staves off hunger, "cures cold, and penetrates into the blood circulatory system", in other words it makes one more lively.


Medical uses: A large amount of research has been completed on the Shiitake mushroom and it shows the ability to fight tumors and viruses and enhance the immune system. It has been shown to be helpful in fighting Cancer, Hepatitis B, Leukemia, lymphosarcoma Hodgkin's disease and even HIV . Antiviral actions, due to substances present in spores and mycelia, inhibit cell division of viruses. In Japan, it is taken for heart disease because it regulates both high and low blood pressures. Shiitake has also been found to counteract fatigue, generate stamina, and improve complexion.


ANOTHER NOTE OF PRECAUTION: While Shiitake is nonpoisonous, it has been known to induce skin rashes. Its watery extract is also reported to hinder blood coagulation.

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