Magic mushrooms – the health benefits of mushrooms in daily living and to help those with cancer

By Jasmine Sufi

Egyptians associated mushrooms with immortality so they included mushrooms as a specialty in the diet of the royal family.
Many countries in Asia and Eastern Europe have a similar philosophy. Mushrooms have been consumed as part of our diet for centuries and there are more than 10,000 different varieties; about four per cent of which we can consume.

The common mushroom, also called toadstool, is a type of spore-producing mushroom, soft and fleshy and usually neutral in taste and colour. Mushrooms have been researched and investigated for years and more recently been noted for its immunological benefits.

The most common mushrooms include the button mushroom, shiitake mushroom, enoki mushroom and portobello mushrooms. These common mushrooms have loads of nutrients that can help you improve your overall health and boost immunity. Including these common mushrooms in your diet will give you more:

• Vitamin D – when mushrooms are exposed to sunlight they produce vitamin D. Consuming mushrooms can give you about 400 IU of vitamin D. Your daily recommended vitamin D intake should be at least 1000 IU.
• Vitamin Bs – helps your metabolism and helps your body produce energy.
• Selenium – aids in immune function and also helps maintain bladder health
• High source of anti-oxidants. We often think of bright vibrant vegetables when we think of foods rich in anti-oxidants, but mushrooms have the equivalent amount of anti-oxidant to the red pepper.

In addition to all the above benefits to the mushroom, there have been extensive studies to the effects that high doses of mushrooms in a supplement form can have on cancer cells. There has been a lot of research around the effects of mushrooms on various types of cancer. There is evidence supporting the use of high doses of mushroom (certain ones) to help slow, stop and prevent the growth of tumour cells. The most common mushrooms that have been studied are Agaricus blazei, Coriolus versicolor, Grifolia frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum.

Agaricus blazei (known as mushroom of the sun, mushroom of life, almond mushroom, himematsutake) prevents blood vessel formation in tumour cells and promotes cell death in cancer cells.
Coriolus versicolor (Shen Nong, also known as turkey tail or cloud mushroom) contains two polysaccharides (PSP and PSK) that appear to improve overall survival rates in patients with multiple types of cancers, including gastric, colon/rectal, breast carcinomas.
Grifolia Frondosa (Maitake, Hen of the woods) appears to stimulate the function of immune cells and may improve overall quality of life for those suffering from cancer. It has been shown to reduce tumor burden (the amount of tumour cells in the body) and aids chemotherapy.
Ganoderma lucidum (reishi mushroom, ling zhi) has the potential of reducing tumor burden (the amount of tumour cells in the body) and stimulate immunity.

Mushrooms have been part of our diet for centuries. With recent studies showing the use of certain mushrooms has shown incredible effects on improving the longevity of those diagnosed with cancer, can help decrease the size of tumours and prevent certain cancers, mushrooms may be a great health source. A tall order for an average mushroom.