Medicinal Mushrooms Health Benefits – Better Nutrition

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Q: Do mushrooms really have medicinal qualities? How do I know which mushroom I need? 

History of Medicine Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used throughout human history for food, clothing, tools, and medicine. Writings about mushrooms are featured in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Traditional Chinese Herbs, dated from 1644. Fungi and humans share up to 50 percent of their DNA, whereas most plants share less than 10 percent of their DNA with humans. Fungi and humans can both be infected by common pathogens, but fungi are much more adept at manufacturing compounds to combat these pathogens than are humans.

Because of the similarities between fungi and animals, our bodies can digest, assimilate, and utilize these fungi as functional foods. Most people are familiar with the fruitbody (mushroom cap), which is the end stage of the fungal life cycle. But the mycelium (underground network) also holds crucial health-promoting compounds for repair and regeneration. The fruitbody is the reproductive stage of the fungi with seed-like spores for complete reproduction. Compounds found in the fruiting bodies are just one part of the full range of mushroom constituents. Mushrooms confer benefits to multiple systems in the human body including the cardiovascular, digestive, neurological, immune, reproductive, skin, skeletal, and muscular systems.



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