Oh, you’re back for more. Great! Like me, you must be fascinated by the world of mushrooms. Either that or you’re so bored from the COVID-19 quarantine that you’ve found yourself on a mushroom blog. Either way, welcome! Let’s get right into it.
Since I was a child playing Mario Bros., mushrooms have held a special place in my heart. In all seriousness, over the years I learned more and more about these natural little wonders and they are truly amazing. Maybe the creators of Mario Bros. weren’t that far off in suggesting a boost in stamina, a “shield” against damage and even “extra life” when eating mushrooms. I’d like to convince you that the existing science shows exactly that!
We’re going to dig more into the science, but first another quick word about coronavirus - all joking aside. We all know, more than ever, that viruses cause serious outbreaks on all continents leading to difficult symptoms, mortality, and enormous economic burden for society. Viral infections are amongst the most common diseases affecting people worldwide. New viruses emerge all the time and as we’ve seen we have a serious lack of prevention or preparedness and only a few antivirals to combat these viral diseases. Medicinal mushrooms represent a vast source of bioactive molecules, which could potentially be used as antivirals in the future but can certainly play a part in maintaining your health through times like these.
In the first part of this ongoing series, I briefly mentioned the hybrid strains of mushrooms that are bred and grown by MyShroom® scientists. These strains are grown in sterile research labs under the strictest guidelines with proprietary organic substrates. They are specifically bred for their health benefits and contain valuable unique constituents including terpenoids, lectins, lipids, hericenone, erinacol, erinacine, and polysaccharides. What are these things? Well… I’m glad you asked:
These relatively simple chemicals are responsible for giving most plants and food their smells. Terpenoids are gaining popularity because they are abundant in cannabis and make up part of the “entourage effect” of benefits from medical cannabis. The wide array of terpenoids in cannabis is responsible for the unique and distinct aromas of various cannabis strains - but they are also what make oranges smell like oranges or lavender smell like lavender. It’s all these little guys!
Among humans, terpenoids have been used for health purposes in Indian and Chinese medicines, and they’ve also been used for food, pharmaceutical and chemical purposes. The cancer drug Taxol and the antimalarial drug artemisinin, as examples, are both terpenoid-based drugs, but these compounds are best known for being the main constituents of the essential oils in many plants. Essential oils have such a wide range of benefits and uses that you could dedicate an entire blog to them alone -- and people have.
Terpenoids exhibit value in many areas of health including cancer treatment, pain relief and reduction of inflammation. There’s even evidence that these powerful compounds play a beneficial role in metabolism. According to researchers at Kyoto University in Japan, terpenoids can help regulate the metabolism of fat and sugars. This, in turn, can help with blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke! Terpenoids represent the largest and most diverse class of beneficial chemicals. More than 40,000 individual terpenoids exist, and new ones are discovered every year. It’s only natural you’d find unique terpenoids in mushrooms that contribute to its earthy, nutty aroma and add to the many other health benefits we have yet to get to!
Lectins are proteins that bind carbohydrates. In the first part of this blog series we talked about how important proteins are to life. In fact you’ve likely heard them called “the building blocks of life” and that’s exactly what they are. Lectins are a specific kind of protein that are used to facilitate cell-cell contact – lectins on one cell recognize and bind to surface carbohydrates on another cell. Some fad diet enthusiasts have claimed that foods rich in Lectins should be avoided - but many experts tend to disagree strongly. The sugar-binding activity of these proteins means that in ordinary amounts, lectins may even be necessary for normal digestion and absorption of foods.
A particular lectin commonly found in mushrooms has been found to stop the spread of cancer cells in lab tests. A 2017 report published in the International Journal of Molecular Science examined how lectins are currently being used to treat cancers of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, and pancreas. Interestingly, some lectins are used to actually detect and diagnose cancer cells. Lectins may also play a role in weight management and prevention of diabetes.
Lipids are a necessary part of a healthy diet and the functions of lipids within your body are many. Beyond the various roles they play in the proper functioning of the body organs, lipids act as a source of energy, aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, insulate your body and provide the essential fatty acids. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that you’ve no doubtetly heard of are in fact, lipids. Not to keep bringing up cannabis but even more important than the terpenes in cannabis are the cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, which are also lipids!
The importance of lipids to a healthy diet can seriously NOT be understated. According to one theory of the emergence of life itself - “abiogenesis” - lipids in the water bound together under highly specific (and chaotic) conditions around 4 billion years ago. These formed a little bubble that kept most stuff out but let proteins in. The long story written by DNA was started and life began. I’m oversimplifying the theory but I highly recommend learning more because it’s fascinating. Assuming the theory is correct, life in its simplest form was made up of a chain of proteins surrounded by a wall of lipids. That should give you some idea of how vitally important they are to your health.
Certain lipids, including those found in MyShroom hybrid strains, have been linked to the prevention and treatment of many diseases. They have shown beneficial effects on obesity, bone health, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, as well as treating and managing depression, and more.
Hericenone, Erinaco, and Erinacine
This trio of chemical goodness makes up the “rat pack” of nervous system health. Not a contemporary enough reference? Let’s call them the Avengers of neuroprotection! Neuroprotection simply means the ability to protect neurons and prevent neurodegeneration which, in even simpler terms, means improved brain function -- including memory and cognition.
Hericenones have been shown to produce Neural Growth Factor (NGF) in several studies. NGF plays a role throughout our entire lives, from early development to adulthood, in the central nervous system, sensory and autonomic systems, as well as the endocrine and immune systems. NGF may play an important part in treatments for eye, skin, vascular and immune diseases, gliomas, and even traumatic brain injuries.
Erinacines have been shown in studies to be more effective than Hericenones at increasing NGF. Since NGF itself can’t cross the blood-brain barrier, Hericenones and Erinacines are showing promise in the treatment of degenerative neuronal disorders such as Alzheimers. Erinacine also displays great promise in preventing cancer. That’s always a plus!
Erinacol has been shown in a number of studies to have the ability to repair injured nerves during early stages of recovery and also has displayed a strong protective effect on the liver.
In the most basic terms, polysaccharides are long chains of sugars. Not ultra processed simple sugar like those little paper coffee packets but complex, rich, and healthy sugars. The main function of these get-up-and-go powerhouses is actually storage of energy. The main types of polysaccharides are starch (short-term energy stores) and glycogen (loooooong term energy stores). Polysaccharides are critical when it comes to proper nutrition because they comprise the complex carbohydrates that serve as the body’s primary energy source. Every bodily function relies on carbohydrates for energy. But, while the body can produce some energy, it’s certainly not enough to sustain itself.
If we don’t take in enough carbohydrates, we have to instead supplement energy from other sources, like mushrooms! When you don’t get enough carbohydrates, you put your body at risk for physical symptoms. Examples include a drop in blood sugar, feelings of weakness, and/or lightheadedness. Polysaccharides can help you overcome fatigue, support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar, encourage a positive mood, soothe irritation, support immune function, promote cardiovascular health and even increase libido (yep, you heard me!). Polysaccharides also have the ability to synthesize NGF and have displayed antimicrobial functions as well.
Remember how I said lectins were special proteins that bind to carbohydrates? Well mushrooms contain “protein-bound polysaccharides” such as tongue-twisting “polysaccharopeptide” (PSP). Most notably, PSP has been administered to patients with esophageal cancer, gastric cancer and lung cancer, and who are undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy and has shown great promise in helping alleviate symptoms and preventing the decline in immune stress.
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, mushrooms are heavyweights when it comes to treating and preventing cancer. More than one of the beneficial constituents in MyShrooms unique hybrids have incredible cancer-fighting properties as we’ve seen. As if that wasn’t already enough - it’s ONLY the tip of the iceberg. The overall health benefits of mushrooms as a dietary supplement are completely off the charts. If this is something you are getting really excited about then stay tuned. We have gone over the “what” of mushrooms and their various beneficial contents. We have talked about the “why” of using mushrooms regularly for optimal health. The “who” in this context is MyShroom - but also all of the dedicated mushroom researchers and enthusiasts spanning back to antiquity! Next time we are going to get even deeper into the science and talk about the “how”, exploring the various pathways within the body. We will expand on what has been briefly mentioned here in this post and brush up right against the limit of what we currently understand about these natural little miracles!
In the meantime, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to check out MyShroom’s crowdfunding campaign at HERE. If you want to learn more, get involved, and help them to reach their initial goals - all while enjoying the massive benefits of their incredible products - I highly recommend you check it out. Once you experience the positive effects on your overall being, mental and physical, you will want to share it with the world just as much as the passionate team at MyShroom!
Until next time...