Friday, April 19, 2013

Fungus Among Us! Part 1– Medicinal Mushrooms

This is a second post based on classes I took at the Organic Growers School (OGS) Conference in March of this year. Two of the best classes I attended this year were Medicinal Mushrooms  and Shroomin’ Off The Grid, both taught by mushroom evangelist, Tradd Cotter. Cotter owns and operates Mushroom Mountain in South Carolina, and has made a name for himself with his work on mycoremediation and spore cultivation. If you have questions about mushrooms, this is the guy to ask!

So first I’d like to address medicinal mushrooms. Cotter’s lecture on this subject was fast and furious. He probably condensed a 3 hour lecture into an hour. There was more information than I could even absorb.

According to Cotter, many mushrooms contain antibiotic, anti-pathogenic, and some even seem to protect against cancers! For instance*:

Chanterelles – contain a cancer-fighting enzyme, are high in beta carotene and vitamin D if grown exposed to light for a couple of hours a day.




Cordyceps mushrooms – are an immune system stimulant that is frequently given to people undergoing surgery.These mushrooms are also carnivorous! They attack and eat insect pupae and the mushrooms frequently sprout out of the back of the pupae’s head. Gnarly! Some of these mushrooms can be used to kill fire ants, squash bugs, aphids, etc. Think of the gardener’s who could use this fungus! Cordyceps Ophioglossoides has been shown to stimulate adult brain cells to grow. It is being researched on its ability to reverse brain diseases like Alzheimer's.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) – cook this mushroom to release a nerve tonic




Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) – are currently being studied at Johns Hopkins as a treatment for addiction and PTSD. Preliminary studies has shown great promise with just one dose!



Maitake – Makes a great tea and has anti-cancer properties.





Chicken of the Woods – kills e-coli bacteria and is a great treatment for fungal infections.






Wood Ear – (commonly used in hot and sour soups) These mushrooms dehydrate down to a fraction of their original size, but rehydrate almost completely. These mushrooms store well and are high in anti-coagulants.


Enoki (Velvet Foot) – is very high in anti-cancer properties.






Almond Portobello – tastes like toasted almonds when cooked and is high in anti-cancer properties.







Pleurotus (Oyster) – has twice the protein of eggs, is high in psyllium, is anti-viral and anti-parasite.




Corn Smut – a corn fungal pathogen that tends to grow on Silver Queen and other heirloom varietals. This fungus tastes like a corny guacamole and can help with uterine contraction.



Turkey Tail – dried and powdered has been studied in its use to fight breast cancer. Seems to work as a preventative as well.



Reishi (Ling Chi) – is known as the Mushroom of Immortality. If this mushroom is grown in light, it is more medicinal. This amazing mushroom is adaptogenic, immune enhancing/modulating, and has ganoderic acid (for diabetics). Cotter made us some reishi mushroom tea to try and it had a pleasant earthy/chocolate flavor. This medicinal can be dried and powered or extracted.

Cotter recommends reading The Fungal Pharmacy by Robert Rogers for more information on medicinal mushrooms. If you are interested in growing your own medicinal mushrooms, check out my next posting on Shroomin’  Off The Grid!

* This information is not intended as medical advice. Do not ingest any mushrooms without assurance from a mycologist that they are safe to eat.

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