Nutritional Properties of Mushrooms
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
The Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has been used by humans for thousands of years. Known to the Chinese as Ling Zhi, which translates roughly to the “Mushroom (or Herb) of Immortality,” this mushroom has been revered for a wide range of health benefits. Reishi is primarily used to support the immune system function by promoting the beneficial effects of white blood cells in the body. It is regarded as a powerful adaptogen to help bring the body back into balance and reduce stress. Polysaccharides and beta-glucans are the immune-boosting compounds in Reishi. These compounds stimulate the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer (NK) cells that can stop the spread of cancer cells and fight infections.
Reishi contains other compounds called triterpenes that may have anti-viral and anti-allergy effects and sterols that can lower blood-pressure. Laboratory studies suggest that Reishi has antihistamine effects that can reduce inflammation in the body.
Reishi has been found to have anticoagulant effects and can slow blood clotting. People using blood-thinning drugs should avoid using Reishi as this may increase the risk of bleeding
More studies and human trials are still needed to improve the understanding of the benefits of Reishi. Try it for yourself and see what benefits may come to you from this powerful organism that has been partnered with humans for millennia.
Blue Sky Fungi cultivates Reishi during the warm summer months for use in our tinctures and for direct sales to those interested in herbalism. We cultivate Reishi on hardwood substrates in both wildcrafted and artificial conditions.
For more information on Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), please consult these references and resources:
Cao, Q. Z. and Lin, Z. B. Antitumor and anti-angiogenic activity of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides peptide. Acta Pharmacol.Sin. 2004;25(6):833-838
Hong, K. J., Dunn, D. M., Shen, C. L., and Pence, B. C. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum on apoptotic and anti-inflammatory function in HT-29 human colonic carcinoma cells. Phytother.Res. 2004;18(9):768-770
Eo, S. K., Kim, Y. S., Lee, C. K., and Han, S. S. Possible mode of antiviral activity of acidic protein bound polysaccharide isolated from Ganoderma lucidum on herpes simplex viruses. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;72(3):475-481
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Reishi Mushroom. (https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/reishi-mushroom)
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Chaga is a fungus that grows primarily on Birch trees in boreal forests of northern latitudes. The form of Chaga used for nutritional products is actually not a mushroom, but is a sclerotia, which is a mass of fungal cells that stores nutrients for use when the fungus is ready to make a mushroom. It takes many years to form a nutrient-dense sclerotia on the exterior of the bark of a tree. Chaga is a hard, woody mass that has the appearance of a lump of charcoal on the exterior and is orangish-brown and densely soft on the interior. It has been widely used in Russia and Poland as traditional medicine to treat gastric disorders.
Chaga is considered an adaptogen which is a biological response modifier that has a balancing effect on all systems within the body. It acts in this way due high concentrations of beta-glucans and polysaccharides which support the immune system by improving the function of immune cells and promote anti-inflammatory response. Polysaccharides also act as a prebiotic in the digestive system, which are the food/nutrient source for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Chaga is also an abundant source of phytonutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. It contains Super Oxide Dismutase, which acts a free radical scavenger of cancerous cells. The dark black exterior is very high in melanin, which protects the integrity of DNA and reduces genetic mutations. Chaga also contains many triterpene compounds, which have been found to have anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and antioxidant properties. Chaga is a real nutritional powerhouse to maintain health, keep the immune system strong, and reduce oxidative stress.
Blue Sky Fungi sources Chaga from ethical harvesting in regions around the world. Our tinctures for 2019 are made with Chaga from the Altai Mountains in Asia. We also offer Chaga in dried chunks for use in making nutrient-rich tea.
For more information on Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), please consult these references and resources:
Najafzadeh M., Reynolds P.D., Baumgartner A., et al. Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in lymphocytes of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Biofactors 2007;31(3-4):191-200
Cui Y., Kim D.S., Park K.C. Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2005 Jan 4; 96(1-2):79-85
Kim Y.R. Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus. Mycobiology 2005 Sep; 33(3): 158-162
Zhao F., Xia G., Chen L., Zhao J., Xie Z., Qiu F., Han G. Chemical constituents from Inonotus obliquus and their antitumor activities. Journal of Natural Medicine 2016 Oct;70(4):721-30
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake mushrooms are a popular gourmet mushroom that is a primary decomposer of dead hardwood trees. It is a good source of protein, B Vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid), folate, Vitamin D, selenium, and other minerals. They also contain several amino acids, sterols, polysaccharides, terpenoids, lipids, eritadenine, and lentinan.
Lentinan is a polysaccharide that can stimulate lymphocytes and other immune cell responses. It can increase natural killer (NK) cell action and enhanced production of white blood cells. In addition, other active compounds found in Shiitake can help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and have anti-viral properties.
The Vitamin D content of Shiitake can be increased by exposing the gills of a living or freshly picked mushrooms to direct sunlight. According to Stamets, “one hour of exposure … (finish from Mycelium Running)."
Blue Sky Fungi cultivates Shiitake on supplemented oak sawdust and wood chips, along with wildcrafted mushrooms grown on oak logs. Sunlight charged, high-Vitamin D mushrooms are available upon request. If you are interested in cultivating Shiitake mushrooms, contact us for grow kits or sawdust or plug spawn to inoculate your own mushroom installations.
Finimundy T.C., Pinheiro Dillon A.J., Pega Henriques J.A., Ely M.R. A Review of General Nutritional Compounds and Pharmacological Propertie of the Lentinula edodes Mushroom. Food and Nutrition Sciences 2014, 5: 1095-1105
Stamets P. MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms; 3rd Edition. MycoMedia Productions 2002.
Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)
The Oyster mushroom is a very common mushroom found around the world; both cultivated in grow rooms and growing wild in forests. The Oyster mycelium is also one of the most hardy and vigorous growing organisms in fungal kingdom. It can grow and learn to eat anything from wood and most cellulose containing plant matter to small microorganisms like nematodes … and all the way to petroleum products. The nutritional value of Oyster mushrooms makes them an important part of the human diet. The potential value and wide-ranging application of Oyster mushrooms may be integral to the future of humanity.
Oyster mushrooms belong to the genus Pleurotus and the many species have different forms, colors, growth characteristics, and habitats. In general, Oyster mushrooms are a good source for protein, B Vitamins, polysaccharides, and lovastatin. The molecule lovastatin has been found to modulate blood-cholesterol levels which can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Oysters can also lower blood-sugar levels with an anti-hyperglycemic effect from their compounds. The variety of polysaccharides in Oyster mushrooms promote anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor effects in the body.
Blue Sky Fungi cultivates a variety of Oyster mushrooms during much of the growing season and are available at the local farmers markets. This is one of the easiest mushrooms to grow and is recommended for beginners interested in mushroom cultivation. If you are interested in cultivating Oyster mushrooms, contact us for grow kits or grain spawn to inoculate your own mushroom installations.
Ajith T.A., Janardhanan K.K. Indian Medicinal Mushrooms as a Source of Antioxidant and Antitumor Agents. Journal of Clinical Biochem Nutrition 2007 May; 40(3): 157-162
Gunde-Cimerman N., Cimerman A. Pleurotus Fruiting Bodies Contain the Inhibitor of 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl-Coenzyme A Reductase—Lovastatin. Experimental Mycology 1995 Mar; 19(1): 1-6
Patel Y., Naraian R., Singh V.K. Medicinal Properties of Pleurotus Species (Oyster Mushroom): A Review. World Journal of Fungal and Plant Biology 2012; 3(1): 1-12
Stamets P. The Mighty Oyster Mushroom: The Workhorse of Gourmet Fungi. www.huffpost.com. January 25, 2013
Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that drops spores through spines or tubes that look like a waterfall or the hairs on a lion’s mane. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the stomach and gastro-intestinal disorders. This is because it contains a lot of water-soluble compounds that protect the mucosal lining of the stomach from ailments like gastric ulcers. Lion’s Mane contains a lot of polysaccharides and beta-glucans that have anti-tumor effects on the GI tract and liver, along with antioxidants and terpenes that are known to modulate insulin secretion to treat diabetes.
The most popular aspect about Lion’s Mane is its ability to stimulate Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which will promote the growth, repair, and maintenance of nerve cells in the peripheral and central nervous systems, in addition to protecting the myelin sheath around nerve cells. Lion’s Mane compounds called hericenones and erinacines can improve cognitive function, motor skills, memory, and nerve damage repair. These properties can be effective for people with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Studies have shown that by promoting neurogenesis, Lion’s Mane can improve the emotional state, mood, and stress recovery while reducing anxiety and depression. However, the hericenones and erinacines are primarily alcohol soluble, so the alcohol extract will only exhibit the neuro-protective properties. Eating the fruiting bodies will primarily act on the digestive tract and immune support.
Blue Sky Fungi cultivates Lion’s Mane mushrooms during part of the growing season and are available at the local farmers markets.
Bing-Ji Ma, Jin-Wen Shen, Hai-You Yu, Yuan Ruan, Ting-Ting Wu & Xu Zhao. Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. Mycology (2010), 1:2, 92-98, DOI: 10.1080/21501201003735556
Ryu S., Kim H.G., Kim J.Y., Kim S.Y., Cho K.O. Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain. Journal of Medicine and Food 2018 Feb;21(2):174-180
Kolotushkina E.V., Moldavan M.G., Voronin K.Y., Skibo G.G. The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro. Fiziol Zh 2003;49(1):38-45
Thongbai, Benjarong & Rapior, Sylvie & Wittstein, Kathrin & Hyde, Kevin & Stadler, Marc. Hericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroom. Mycological Progress (2015). 14. 1-23. 10.1007/s11557-015-1105-4. DOI 10.1007/s11557-015-1105-4
Blue Sky Fungi tinctures are meant to be taken as dietary supplements only. The statements above and the nutrition properties have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consultation with a qualified health professional who specializes in natural medicine is recommended before use, especially if you have any serious medical conditions, are pregnant, breast feeding, or currently taking potentially conflicting medication.