Shiitake, Reishi and other mushrooms for a seventh heaven

The book of Genesis tells us how God created the world. The mushrooms are not mentioned and everything God created was good, we are told. Are the mushrooms creations of the devil? People would start to believe it, judging by the distrust that has existed for fungi and mushrooms over the centuries and still today.

Shiitake, Reishi and other mushrooms for a seventh heaven.

They have always been mysterious and exciting. Just think of the many ominous folk names given to many mushrooms: witch’s bolete, devil’s egg, devil’s brood, stink fungus, not to forget the famous witch circles. Also look at the paintings by Hieronymus Bosch where Satan’s boleths are depicted at the gates of hell.
None of this is surprising, if you look at the remarkable growth habit, the sudden appearance and just as quickly disappearance of the fruiting bodies in the dark forests, the corpse smell of the Phallus impudicus, the toxicity of, for example, the green tuberous manite and the hallucinatory effects of baldheads and conspecies. You would fear less and, at the same time, admire it.
In recent years, we have seen a revival of interest in the mushroom in nutrition, medicine and the spiritual sphere. The main reasons are:

  • We can grow the mushrooms better, scientifically substantiate their medicinal and hallucinogenic effects, so that we have a better grip on them and can therefore use them more easily.
  • For food, in addition to the good mushrooms, other species such as oyster mushrooms and shiitakes are grown and eaten.
  • In spiritual movements you see a greatly increased and accepted use of, for example, bald heads as a mind-expanding stimulant. They belong to the so-called “ecodrugs” and are given pet names such as psylos and magic mushrooms.
  • And in medicine we learn from the Japanese how to use Shiitake and Reishi as medicine.

 

Shiitake or Lentinus edodes

The Shiitake belongs to the Polypraceae family, also called tough plates. Take is the Japanese word for mushroom and Shii is the tree on which this mushroom was traditionally grown (Castanopsis cuspidata).
The entire mushroom is edible and is also eaten as a delicacy in posh restaurants. However, it is not because of its fine taste, but because of its special medicinal properties that it is now attracting attention.
Shiitake is traditionally and scientifically one of the best-researched mushrooms. Its active substances are the polysaccharides lentinan and KS-2, which have an immune-stimulating effect. This tough plan also contains eritadenine, a substance that has a cholesterol-lowering effect.
Proteins (all essential amino acids), vitamin B, many minerals and even some vitamin B12 and D, which is special for plants, make this mushroom a tasty and healthy food.
Effect on the immune system
In addition to a general improvement in the functioning of the central regulator of immunity, the thymus gland, many studies have established that the polysaccharides in Shiitake stimulate interferon production and inhibit resistance-suppressing prostaglandins . the E2 type, for an increase in the production and activity of Natural Killer cells (NK cells) and for an increase and stimulation of macrophages (eating cells), which neutralize bacteria.
Shiitake is effective against weakened immunity in general, both with increased susceptibility to infections such as colds and flu, and with serious damage to resistance such as some forms of cancer or AIDS.
Good results can be expected, especially with many viral infections such as myxovirus, flu, herpes, HIV and hepatitis. The anti-tumor effect, which is reported in several studies, is not aimed at direct destruction of the cancer cells but is due to the stimulation of the immune system, especially the activation of T helper cells and NK cells (1).
Lentinus edodes also has a general vitality-improving effect and can therefore also be used for fatigue, old-age weakness and during a recovery period. It can also be used as a replacement for Ginseng.
Furthermore, successes are also reported with allergies, asthma and high cholesterol levels in the blood (2).
Its very long history as a food and contemporary research has shown that the use of Shiitake is completely safe.

Ganoderma lucidum or Lac fungus

Lacquer fungus is a remarkable and beautifully shiny fungus that appears to be carved from lacquered wood. In Japan this species is called Reishi, it has been used for centuries as a health remedy and even as a good luck charm.
Scientific research seems to confirm the versatile and miraculous effect of this mushroom. For example, anti-allergic activity was demonstrated in various animal experiments in both asthma and eczema (3).
Aqueous extracts of the Lak fungus also reduced blood glucose concentrations in rats, confirming its popular use in diabetes.
Two glycans (Ganoderma A and B) were found in the mushroom that have a blood sugar lowering effect (4). Furthermore, substances have also been found that inhibit the production of cholesterol (5).
And as if that weren’t enough, a blood pressure-lowering ACE inhibitor (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) was also found in the fungus (6). Enough reasons to pay more attention to this Ganoderma and all those other fungi . Perhaps, in addition to herbalists, there should also be mushroom scientists who specialize in the study and practical use of medicinal mushrooms.
Here is a first list of (interesting) mushrooms to study, both medicinal and poisonous:

  • Agaricus campestris – Meadow mushroom: anti-allergic effect
  • Amanita muscaria – Fly agaric: hallucinogenic (muscimol and ibotenic acid), slightly poisonous, traditionally used by shamans
  • Boletus edulis – Cep: edible, very tasty, eat young unaffected specimens
  • Cantharellus sp. – Chanterelles or Cockscomb: edible, tasty, special shape
  • Claviceps purpurea – Ergot: medicinal, poisonous, astringent effect on blood vessels up to gangrene, parasites mainly on grasses and grains (rye), contains LSD-like substances that affect the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system
  • Coprinus sp. – Ink mushrooms: edible when young, some species cannot be combined with alcohol
  • Cordyceps chinensis – Winterworm/Summer grass (dong chong xia cao): stimulant (sports), immunomodulatory, aphrodisiac, blood sugar lowering.
  • Fomes fomentarius – True tinder fungus: formerly used as tinder
  • Ganoderma lucidum – Lac fungus: see article
  • Hirneola auricula-judea – Judas ear: edible, grows mainly on elderwood, was used in the 16th century to “reduce inflammation in growths”
  • Hypholoma sp. – Sulfur heads: bitter, poisonous, causes intestinal colic, was used by a bishop against a drip in the 17th century? Still used in Switzerland for rheumatic diseases
  • Inocybe sp. – Fiber heads: poisonous, hallucinogenic, odorous from fruity to semen-like
  • Laricifomes officinalis – Apothecary’s fungus: used since ancient times as a laxative and as a sweat suppressant
  • Lentinus edodes – Shiitake: see article
  • Morchella sp. – Morels: edible and tasty
  • Paneolus sphinctrinus. – Fringe blotch: probably a commonly used magic mushroom among the Mazatecs in Mexico, also contains psilocybin, grows on cow manure in pastures
  • Phallales sp. – Stink mushrooms: fascinating, both in shape and smell (signature leather), the devil’s egg is also said to be edible
  • Pleurotus ostreatus – Oyster mushroom: cultivated, highly edible
  • Psylocybe sp. – Baldheads: hallucinogenic mushroom, especially P. mexicana and P. semilanceata, active substances are alcaloids psilocybin and psilocin
  • Scleroderma citrinum – Potato bovist: slightly poisonous, in small quantities, dried as a powder as a truffle flavor?
  • Stropharia cubensis – Sacred dung mushroom / Teonanacatl: also contains psilocybin like the Baldheads and the Flatcaps.
  • Tuber sp. – Truffles: of course!

There is still plenty to explore in this mysterious, poisonous and medicinal world of our mushrooms.

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