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Mycomedicinals -
Fungi Used for Health through History

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MycoMedicinals - An Informational
                            Treatise on Mushrooms
MycoMedicinals book

During the European "Copper Age" five thousand years ago, a man of high ranking status fled his home valley of Val Venosta, Italy, across an Alpine glacier. But his enemies caught up with him. An arrow penetrated his subclavian artery, which soon bled him to death. In 1991, two unsuspecting tourists came upon his mummified remains. On the body of "Oetzi the Iceman" were found pouches with two health supporting mushrooms, the oldest known example of mushrooms used for health.

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One of the mushrooms he carried was a traditional de-wormer known as Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus), which makes sense because whipworm eggs were found in Oetzi's intestines. The other mushroom was a species frequently used to cauterize wounds, Tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius). The Iceman's right hand had been injured days earlier and was in the process of healing when he was killed.

Both of these are polypores, so named because they have pores instead of gills underneath. No species of polypore is known to be poisonous. They usually grow on trees, dead or alive.

Few polypores are edible because they are hard and fibrous. But people in the Orient as well as the Occident have used them to treat a multitude of diseases for ages. Usually in the form of a tea that would be brewed and drunk; sometimes as a poultice placed on a wound or over an aching body part.

Oral traditions of Native Americans bear tale of many types of polypores being used to help against the diseases brought by the Europeans, including Birch polypore but also Reishi (Ganoderma resinaceum), Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) and the now almost vanished species Agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis).

As it so happens, Agarikon is also the oldest mushroom referenced in European health literature. It was listed by Dioscorides in the Materia Medica of 65 B.C. as a treatment for tuberculosis. In confirmation of this, Polish researcher K. Grzywnowics published an article in 2001 titled Medicinal mushrooms in Polish Folk Medicine where he states that Agarikon tea was historically used in his country as a remedy for lung conditions, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, open bleeding and infected wounds.

While health supporting mushrooms have been utilized in the West, it pales in comparison to the adulation they have received in the Orient. Next follows three species of health supporting mushrooms from Asia, which simply have to be included in any article on health supporting mushrooms.

First out is Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), sometimes nicknamed the "Mushroom of Immortality" due to its wide range of healing properties. Reishi was mentioned in Shen Nong's Herbal Classic from around 2,000 years ago. Many ancient Oriental temples and wood-carvings include images of this highly revered "cure-all" mushroom.

Next is Cordyceps, a minute fungus from the Tibetan plateau, parasitising on silk caterpillars. Cordyceps sinensis was first mentioned as a health supporting mushroom in The Classic Herbal of the Divine Plowman from 200 A.D. It is popular with athletes to improve physical stamina. Historically, it's been used as an aphrodisiac.

Finally there is the Shiitake mushroom, which today is a common household name even in the West. In Asia, however, it is known to have been cultivated as a gourmet mushroom for at least a thousand years. What may surprise is that Shiitake is also one of the most researched mushrooms in the world. Its potential uses range from energizing tonic to immune-booster and antibiotic with anti-tumor properties.

Modern research into health supporting mushrooms began in earnest in the late 1960's Japan. One pioneer, Dr. Ikekawa, discovered that families of mushroom growers had significantly lower cancer rates than their surrounding communities. Scientific research into health supporting mushrooms has expanded exponentially since that time and continues to increase and intensify. Mushrooms until this day are still in the process of making history.

Note: This article is for informational purpose only. None of the health supporting mushrooms mentioned herein have been approved for medicinal use by the FDA. Never use any mushroom medicinally without consulting a licensed medical practitioner.

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-2016 Cordyceps Reishi Extract, LLC - All written material on, including "Mycomedicinals - Fungi Used for Health through History."