Did you know that mushrooms are genetically more closely related to animals than plants? Fungi cannot produce their own food through photosynthesis as plants can. Rather, like animals, they must consume food found in their environment. This food comes from decaying organic matter that fungi transform into rich soil. The forest floor is a vast web of fungi, playing an essential role in supplying nutrients to plants and animals.
As more and more people become familiar with mushrooms for both their medicinal and edible uses, it is important to clear up some prevailing mushroom myths! The information below is based on a lecture given by Robert Rogers, a clinical herbalist and mycologist. Check out the images provided to see some edible and medicinal mushrooms growing on Vancouver Island in John Dean Provincial Park.
TOP 5 MUSHROOM MYTHS:
1. All edible, fresh mushrooms in food stores are healthy.
Though edible mushrooms can be very nutritious, it is not safe to assume that all mushrooms you see in stores are beneficial for your health. Conventionally grown, non-organic mushrooms often contain high levels of heavy metals and contain traces of fungicides. Therefore, always purchase organically grown organic mushrooms from a source you can trust.
2. Medicinal mushrooms stimulate the immune system.
Rather than stimulate the immune system, medicinal mushrooms are immune modulators. This means that the immune system is encouraged into a state of balance and optimal functioning, from either a deficient or excessive state. Thus, medicinal mushrooms are beneficial for people dealing with a wide range of heal issues including autoimmune conditions, chronic inflammation, and severe stress. It is interesting to note that when consumed, medicinal mushrooms are not absorbed during the digestive process. The constituents of these fungi rather nudge the intestinal villi to alert the immune system.
3. All medicinal mushrooms are edible.
Many medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, chaga, and the red-belted conk cannot be consumed in raw form. The medicinal components must be extracted in a decoction, tincture, or dried into powder to have an effect on the body. However, the reverse is true, most edible mushrooms are medicinal.
4. Wild-crafted medicinal mushrooms are superior to factory-produced product.
Some factory cultivation practices have become very advanced and high quality medicinal mushrooms can now be produced in a contained environment. These cultivation techniques are making mushroom products more affordable, consistent, and therefore more widely available. When purchasing “wild” medicinal mushrooms it should be ensured that sustainable practices were employed, as irresponsible harvesting can lead to the loss of coveted species and contribute to the degradation of the natural landscape.
5. Companies selling medicinal mushroom products on the Internet use good manufacturing practices.
You cannot trust all companies supplying medicinal mushrooms to the public. Often, customers are mislead as to which mushrooms are used in formulas. Further, the way the mushrooms were cultivated plays a large role in the potency of medicinal qualities. When you see medicinal mushrooms being sold for curiously low prices, it is likely that you are not getting the type or quality of mushroom that will benefit your health.
At Nectar, you will find reishi, chaga, and cordyceps available for home use and in the delicious immunity lattes. All of these mushrooms are can make a great addition to your self-care ritual and have a wide range of health benefits, which include:
- Improving circulation
- Increasing sexual energy
- Improving muscle tone
Speak to a nutritionist in store to learn which product is best for you!
Note: Many mushrooms can be harmful to your health and even deadly. Only consume wild mushrooms under the advisement of a professional.