Love them or hate them, there is no denying that Mushrooms have been regarded as gourmet cuisine across the globe since antiquity for their unique taste and subtle flavour.
More recently, we are beginning to see that many mushroom species are miniature pharmaceutical factories producing hundreds of incredible nutrients with miraculous biological properties.
They have a long history of use in Oriental medicine but their legendary effects in promotion of good health and vitality are only really recently being uncovered. They are emerging as a wonderful source of nutraceuticals, antioxidants, anti-cancer, prebiotic, immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, anti-microbial and anti-diabetic wonder foods. The ongoing research projects are aimed to promote mushrooms as new generation “biotherapeutics”.
We all know by now, that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide.
The current anti-cancer drugs available are not always target specific and pose several unwanted side-effects and complications in clinical management of various forms of cancer. This highlights the urgent need for new, effective and less-toxic therapeutic approaches.
Numerous clinical trials have been conducted to assess the benefits of using commercial preparations containing medicinal mushroom extracts in cancer therapy. Their potential uses individually and used combined with traditional cancer therapies, would appear to be very successful.
Mushrooms are known to complement chemotherapy and radiation therapy by countering the side-effects of cancer, such as nausea, bone marrow suppression, anaemia and lowered immune systems.
Recently, a number of bioactive molecules, including anti-tumor agents, have been identified from various mushrooms.
The bioactive compounds of mushrooms include polysaccharides, proteins, fats, ash, glycosides, alkaloids, volatile oils, tocopherols, phenolics, flavonoids, carotenoids, folates, ascorbic acid enzymes, and organic acids. Their mechanisms of action involve their being recognized as non-self-molecules, so the immune system is stimulated by their presence.
Hispolon, an active polyphenol compound, is known to possess potent anti-neoplastic properties and helps reduce the toxicity in the cells from chemotherapy drugs. The scientific investigations to back the claims have gained momentum in recent years, suggesting that some mushrooms in combination with commercial anti-cancer drugs work in synergy as an effective tool for treating drug-resistant cancers.
Having said that, they are also remarkably good for everyone to have as a preventative tool. They are a wonderful immune support, full of antioxidants, a great anti-inflammatory, help to manage blood sugar, and support brain health and cognition, plus they also support the nervous system and increase energy and stamina.
They can be made into teas, soups, powders or tinctures.