Everything that you've heard and read is probably true!
The Mystery of Mushrooms...The Good, the Bad and the Human Comedy
Poison, love potion, hallucinogenic, truth serum, demon seed, destroying angel, jack o' lantern, puffballs and miracle cure foreverything from sagging libido to fading heartbeat - mushrooms in all their numerous identities and marquee nicknames havebecome the stuff of mythology. And the fact that these prolifically growing fungi have species that number in the thousands hasprovided us with the opportunity to gain an even clearer perspective on them - specifically which ones are worth considering for useas both food and healthy systemic supplements rich in fiber, protein, and vitamins C and E.In fact there are approximately 3300 species of mushrooms in 38,000 varieties to be exact-more than two-dozen kinds of
alone-so it is little wonder that they have beenboth praised and vilified throughout recorded history.Historically, the ride for mushrooms has become a series of slides and ladders that makes for afascinating chronicle all its own. Although the Greek pharmacologist, Dioscordes, the Romanphysician Pliny and an infinite number of Asian herbalists have always found varieties of mushrooms useful as therapeutic foods and herbal compounds, common people in the middleages thought their very sudden and prolific appearance very often acted as warning signs forthe presence of demons.Since mushrooms, being naturally occurring crops that are born of their own spores, tend tospring up everywhere in moist climates, the denizens of the European countryside lived in aconstant state of terror. And, in certain countries, anyone caught cooking with them or usingthem were suspected of being involved in the practice of black magic and were often persecuted and occasionally executed forwitchcraft and demonism. (Of course, this would tend to discourage one's inclination to indulge in further culinary exploration oradditional medicinal formulations that included mention of these tiny little flavor buds.)In the last fifty years or so, much due to the passionate imagination of world famous French and Italian chefs and the rapid rise inpopularity of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, mushrooms have become the darling of the
and the rage of theinternational gourmet kitchen.Today incarnations such as
Portobello, porcini, oyster, button and (even) shiitake
mushrooms roll trippingly off the tongue of even the average seeker of designerentrees, soups, sauces and salads at local bistros and in trendy restaurants. Amongthese, only Shiitake mushrooms enjoy a reputation for providing at least sometherapeutic benefit. And they are usually too expensive to be embraced as a part of theaverage daily diet. And though few of the others offer any notable therapeuticreputation, several varieties of commonly consumed mushrooms do offer a reasonablespectrum of nutrients that have helped validate them as an acceptable part of themodern supplement world.No doubt about it, all good things set aside, mushrooms - though they grow like plantsand are often harvested in the same ways - are still a fungus. Some varieties can befactories for
in the human system, or what is commonly referred to as"yeast infections," which are quickly identified with genitourinary and reproductive complications among modern women.Since almost all processed foods are virtual "yeast factories," the bombardment the average American undergoes on any given dayin this industrialized society is mind-boggling. And mushrooms of any kind only account for a minuscule portion of it. Nevertheless,although there are other presentations of high Candida foods, many varieties of mushroom should not be eaten in great quantities if you're experiencing respiratory problems such as colds or an outbreak of flu.On the other hand,some varieties of mushrooms are found to be rich in selenium, antioxidants and synergistic blends of other traceminerals. And a
has come to qualify as crossover foods that are actually proving to begood for you in a number of surprising ways. Not surprisingly, many of them are simply too expensive to use as a part of the dailydiet and are either purchased as pricey food supplements, over-the-counter herbal formulas or (in some countries) concentratesthat are sold by prescription.
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes)
are the best known among the so-called therapeutic mushrooms and are renown fortheir purported ability to fight free-radical formation in the human system. Easy to cultivate and harvest in local atmospheres inNorth America, they are - though expensive- the one "Muscle mushroom" that is both edible and affordable in massive quantities.
Related to Shiitake mushrooms, the Maitake is slightly less flavorful and contains slightly greater