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  • Writer's pictureKasie Carlson

Medicinal Mushrooms

Is it weird that I’m excited to start a post about mushrooms? Well, I am! I learned about some mushrooms, from a Chinese herbal perspective, back when I was in school, but other than that, my knowledge was limited. So, when Paula, one of my patients, sent me a question regarding a product that I had never heard of, I was excited to learn about it! I see that as the best part of blogging, the chance for me to learn along with you. The product in question was called “Agarikon Host Defense Organic Mushrooms. ” After just a little research, I have already decided that I am buying some TODAY. I think you will see why I want to have them around after you read this post.  The Egyptians saw mushrooms as food for royalty and the Chinese have been using them medicinally for thousands of years.

There are many “Chinese herbs” that are mushrooms, I linked that to a very comprehensive article that I found on Huffington Post that lists the 6 most widely used mushrooms in Chinese Medicine. The first one that comes to mind for me, as an herbalist, is the Reishi mushroom.  In Chinese herbology, it’s known as Ling Zhi or the “spirit plant.” Ling Zhi, the Reishi mushroom, has the longest recorded use for medicinal purposes of any other mushroom in the history of Chinese Medicine. They call it the “elixir of immortality” and the reason for the name is that Reishi mushrooms are believed to strengthen the Kidneys and prolong life. In recent history, solid research has been done to validate the claims made thousands of years ago and the research has been conclusive. Reishi mushrooms have been proven to kill bacteria and even show anti viral properties. They have also been shown to improve the immune system and alleviate the side effects of chemo – therapy.

Shitake is another variety of mushroom that is used often in Chinese Herbal medicine. The studies done on shitake show that they contain eritadenine, which lowers cholesterol levels and can lower blood pressure. Shiitake also has essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals and it has been shown to improve liver function. Not to mention that I LOVE LOVE the taste of shiitake! One of my favorite recipes at PF Chang’s is their double pan fried noodles ( which are not gluten free so I can’t eat them anymore 🙁 ) but the whole dish tastes like Shiitake mushrooms, it’s so delicious…..

Many Anti-biotic medications are derivatives of the mushroom isolate, pleuromutilin, and there are even a few anti-biotic meds that are isolated directly from the mushrooms themselves. There are countries that have approved mushroom extracts in immunological treatments and many have anti cancer properties. This brings me to the “Agarikon host defense organic mushrooms” that Paula asked me about. I’m fascinated. First of all, they are native to North America and many are harvested here in the United States. They grow on Douglas Fir Trees, Spruce and hemlock.

Check out this photo of an Agarikon Mushroom! These things are amazing!

The Agarikon is a polypore mushroom and the research, although it’s ongoing, is very positive. There have been several studies on the healing properties of the Agarikon mushroom, one was done at the Institute of Tuberculosis Research at the University of Chicago. They tested the mushroom’s properties against turburculosis and the study found that in fact the Agarikon mushroom did contain anti tubercular properties. There was another study done, post 9/11, that showed exceptionally strong anti viral activity. That particular study concluded that the Agarikon mushroom had properties that worked against HINI, the bird flu and even the herpes virus!

I’m the first one to be skeptical of anything that claims to heal the world. I don’t think that any of this information is life altering. What this says to me is that mushrooms are not only an integral part of the human diet but that if a person is suffering with a chronic viral infection or a weakened immune system, why would they not take an anti viral mushroom vs. a pharmaceutical anti viral with horrible side effects?? The chronic virus’ that come to mind are herpes ( both cold sores and genital herpes), Hepatitis B or C, HPV, HIV, Shingles, CMV or Epstein Bar. If I were suffering with any of these virus’ chronically, I would make certain that I was taking a supplemental form of Agarikon mushroom, during the time when the virus is active and causing symptoms. The mushrooms have the effect of strengthening the body’s immunity and helping it to fight off the virus vs. the alternative, pharmaceutical anti viral, which works by inhibiting the virus’ ability to grow, it works on the virus itself but not by strengthening the body to fight the virus. I hope that makes sense. I could even see it being beneficial to do both. Use the pharmaceutical anti viral to lower the ability for the virus to reproduce while also using the mushrooms, in a concentrated supplement to strengthen our bodies and give them the ability to stave off the infection for longer periods of time.

I found a link here for a good deal on what I think looks to be the best brand of the Agarikon variety of mushrooms.  I’m ordering a bottle today to take me through flu season. I get the flu EVERY YEAR in November or December and I’m hoping this little bottle of natural anti viral just might prevent it this year! So, my dear Paula, tell the friend of yours with the chronic viral infection to get the mushrooms! Why not?? Thanks so much for the awesome and thought provoking question. Let me know what you think!

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