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Understanding The Importance of Mushrooms for Health and Our Planet

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Understanding The Importance of Mushrooms for Health and Our Planet

There’s a subterranean network lurking just beneath my feet that becomes evident every time it rains. A labyrinth of mycelium, a fungus-like colony of bacteria, neither plant nor animal, thrusting its fruiting bodies above the soil.

Mushrooming overnight, they bear names that figment my imagination: bolete, puffball, chanterelle, shaggy mane, and morel. Finding them, photographing, and sometimes eating them is a passion that’s gone well beyond reason.   

For good reason……

Mushrooms are an ancient culinary pleasure.

We all have eaten a button, but here’s nothing more sublime than a shiitake, enoki, or oyster done just right in butter, roasted or broasted.

Truffles are one of the world’s highly prized foods, partaken since the Third Dynasty of Ur in the 20th Century BCE. Ancient neo-Sumerians took note of their enemy’s truffle eating habits in their manuscripts.   

French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called truffles “the diamond of the kitchen.”

Indeed they are!

Besides their great taste, mushrooms may offer amazing health benefits and healing properties. 

Mushrooms are a rich, low-calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They may help mitigate the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Which mushrooms to incorporate into your healing regime?

Once I learned about medicinal mushrooms, I saw them everywhere. I sauntered outside and spotted a plume of colorful disk-like Turkey Tail mushrooms growing right on the side of a hardwood tree.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms outside my door

These beauties contain polysaccharopeptides and polysaccharide peptides which may help boost the immune system. Researchers continue to examine the use of the mushroom’s extracts to prevent or treat several kinds of cancer.

They have soft underbellies

Cordyceps are a genus of parasitic fungi with a story to tell. They prey on the larvae of insects, and when they attack their host, they literally become the insect itself—sprouting long, slender stems that grow outside the host’s body.

It sounds creepy for sure, but the remains have been hand-collected, dried, and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to treat fatigue, sickness, kidney disease, and low sex drive.

Reishi mushrooms, called lingzhi in China, signify longevity and spirituality. They’ve been utilized for over 2,000 years to help manage stress and bring restful sleep.

There are also some benefits of taking a lion’s mane herbal supplement that you might want to explore if you want to target your brain health in particular.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are stunning, white, shaggy mushrooms that resemble an old man’s beard or mane. They taste a bit like lobster and contain two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines.

Studies have found that lion’s mane may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and boost general brain functioning.

The good people at Gaia Herbs have been connecting people, plants, and the planet to create healing since 1987. Their Reference Guide can enhance your relationship and knowledge of herbs and mushrooms to enhance your well-being.

Not all are fit for human consumption—if you don’t know, don’t swallow.

The Amanita genus contains about 600 species; some are the most toxic mushrooms in the world, and some are the highest-regarded ones to eat. 

I would steer clear of them because they’re responsible for approximately 95% of the fatalities and mushroom poisoning.

Mycelia networks are vital for the planet.

Terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems rely on their networks to decompose material, contributing to the organic matter of soils. They help increase water efficiency, nutrient absorption, and resistance to pathogens in plants and trees.

They are vital to agriculture and are important to almost all species of plants, many species co-evolving with the fungi.

For more information, watch the Fungi Community Summit that reveals nature’s mysteries and helps save the planet by Unlocking the Power of MUSHROOMS!

Mushrooms are usually short-lived, but their underlying mycelium can be ancient and quite massive. One colony in the Malheur National Forest in the United States is believed to be over 2,400 years old, spanning 2,200 acres connecting plants, insects, and soil.

If you too want to live long and prosper, eat organic food. The foods you snack on should be healthy and offer some benefits to your brain as well as tickling your tongue.

What about magic mushrooms?

I support MAPS, a nonprofit currently designing and funding clinical trials intended to develop psilocybin into prescription medicines for treating end-of-life anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse. They have had a lot of press lately about the success of their work.

If you’ve ever thought, “Of all the things I ever lost, I miss my mind the most,” it may be time to think about incorporating some of the age-old medicinal magic.

For now, let’s keep it legal. 

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