Mushrooms – Healers from the forest

“Eat mushrooms and you’ll live longer!” recommends Prof. Jan Lelley, Professor of Mycology at the University of Bonn. In his books, he presents a whole range of mushrooms that, in addition to enriching the diet, are also said to have amazing healing effects on various diseases. Mushrooms have always played an important role in folk medicine and have also been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. Now science is also becoming increasingly interested in the medicinal effects of mushrooms. In the following, you will find out how healthy mushroom varieties such as button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms & Co. are.

Mycotherapy – fungal medicine

In the meantime, many scientists have become aware of the possibility of “fungal medicine”. Prof. Lelley even coined the term “mycotherapy” analogous to the herbal medicine known as “phytotherapy”.

Some of the mushrooms with the strongest healing effects are quite tough and therefore inedible varieties that have to be ground into a powder in order to be taken. Others, such as the button mushroom, the oyster mushroom or the shiitake, are among the most sought-after edible mushrooms of all.

Mushrooms: healthy effect

Quite apart from the healing power, experts recommend the consumption of cepes and chanterelles, chestnuts, birch mushrooms and russula, mutabilis, pearl mushrooms and butter mushrooms for a variety of health reasons. Mushrooms are very  low in calories  and they contain different carbohydrates than plants: no starch, but  mannitol,  a type of sugar particularly suitable for diabetics, which was originally discovered in manna.

Mushrooms regulate digestion through their  dietary fiber content  and they provide  valuable  minerals  and  vitamins.  Their health effects are said to be due to various secondary plant substances.

In addition, certain types of mushrooms are said to have special effects. For example, the Chinese morel Mu-Err, known to us  as Judas  ‘s ear, is said to stimulate the immune system and normalize excessive blood lipid levels.

Shiny lacquered polypore

The edible, inedible, hard, woody Lacquer Porling (Reishi mushroom) has been considered an elixir for immortality in China for 4,000 years. Powder and extracts of lacquer polypore are said to lower blood pressure, activate the immune system, prevent inflammation, counteract altitude sickness on the mountain and are good for  bronchitisdiabetes  and muscle cramps. The fungus has even been the subject of research in cancer therapy.

The fungus is also said to have an antiallergic effect on  hay fever  and certain food allergies, because it is said to suppress the release of the messenger substance histamine, which is responsible for the allergy symptoms.

oyster mushrooms

The oyster mushroom is bred for trade, but also grows in deciduous and mixed forests and parks on tree stumps and wood waste. Above all, it is said to have a strong cholesterol-lowering effect. Extracts have been used successfully against various tumors in Japan. And Russian researchers have extracted an  antibiotic  called pleurotin from oyster mushrooms.

Champignon as a well-known edible mushroom

It is our most important and best-known cultivated edible mushroom. What is largely unknown, however, is that it is said to have a blood pressure-lowering effect thanks to its active ingredient tyrosinase. Chinese healers recommend that young mothers eat mushrooms frequently to stimulate milk production for the baby. Finally, mushroom extracts have also been used successfully in animal experiments to treat connective tissue tumors (sarcomas).

The honey fungus

For foresters, it is a pest that can kill trees, but it could serve as a medicine for cardiovascular diseases: the parasitic fungus, which not everyone tolerates well, contains a number of active ingredients that can promote blood circulation and the supply of oxygen to the organism.

It is intended to combat germs such as the pus-causing Staphylococcus aureus and the triggers of meningitis. Honey fungus tablets are made in China to strengthen the lungs and digestive organs.

Giant Puffball: Known as the official schnitzel

It is 20 to 50 centimeters in diameter. And it can weigh up to 20 kilograms. Young and white, it is considered a productive edible mushroom, from which schnitzel can be fried, which earned it the nickname “official schnitzel”.

With its ingredients, the giant puffball is said to be able to help against anemia, chronic inflammation of the digestive organs and  cystitis  . Homeopathic  preparations are used against bleeding after operations, especially  nosebleeds .

Der Schopttintling

The white, finger-shaped mushroom, which likes to grow on well-fertilized pastures, is a sensitive fellow. It can be grown, but is difficult to market as it dissolves into an inky black liquid within a few days when warm.

As an edible mushroom, connoisseurs have already equated it with the porcini mushroom, the Kaiserling and the morel. And as a medicinal mushroom, it may still have a career ahead of it as a diabetic drug because it  could lower blood sugar  in the long term. However, it should never be consumed with alcohol.


The shiitake mushroom is certainly the most medicinal mushroom, and its unmistakable, almost garlic-like taste characterizes every shiitake dish. In Japan, it is recommended for normalizing blood pressure, against  gastric ulcersgoutconstipation , neuralgia and as an antidote to old age. Its effects against colds have been confirmed in scientific studies.

Its possible protective effect against the flu virus A ( influenza ) has been investigated in various studies. In type 2 diabetics, it could increase insulin production. According to study results, it can also lower cholesterol levels and is also said to slow down tumor growth. Researchers obtained the tumor drug lentinan from the fungus and its mycelium, which is now approved in Japan for the treatment of stomach cancer in combination with chemotherapeutic agents.

But whether the shiitake mushroom can be safely tried out as a medicine is controversial. Because after eating the mushroom, severe skin rashes that last for weeks can occur in very rare cases, which are also known as shiitake dermatitis. The German Cancer Research Center warns that breathing difficulties and gastrointestinal problems can also be the result. This follows a warning from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, which they issued back in 2004.

Two-spored Egerling

A study from California in 2006 examined the effect of two-spored Egerling (also known as cultivated mushroom or Portobello) in relation to  breast cancer  . The researchers found that the mushroom extract can interfere with the  metabolism  of aromatase – an enzyme that Helps the body produce estrogen. The estrogen, in turn, is needed for breast cancer to grow.

Medicinal mushrooms as medicinal products?

More and more positive health effects of mushrooms are being discovered and more and more products with medicinal mushrooms, capsules with mushroom extract or other products made from supposed medicinal mushrooms are coming onto the market. However, one should be aware that such substances are not approved as medicinal products in Germany and may not be advertised as such.

Many of the suspected effects have so far only been proven in the laboratory or in animal experiments. Even if the effect of the fungi has been increasingly investigated in recent years, the current state of knowledge is still very incomplete. It is therefore not yet possible to say with certainty whether the fungi have the same effect on humans as they do on mice and whether they can actually be used to treat or prevent diseases. Mushrooms should therefore not replace therapy under any circumstances.

In addition, taking vital mushroom products can also lead to serious side effects. Because it turned out that some of the supposed medicinal mushroom products were contaminated with mold toxins or heavy metals. It is therefore advisable to consult a doctor before using medicinal mushroom products.

So while experts warn against buying vital substance products, there is nothing wrong with eating fresh edible mushrooms from a health perspective.

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