Tuesday, 05. May 2015

The Power of Fungi

Mushrooms are fascinating in many ways. For example, they are neither part of the plant nor animal kingdoms. They form a distinct genus and are crucial for decomposing organic material. In addition, they have affected the lives of people for thousands of years.

Fungi are capable of using their metabolites against viruses and bacteria. The most famous example is penicillin. Traditional Chinese medicine has been incorporating the healing properties of fungi for several thousand of years and in Europe, the positive effects of mushrooms has been known for a long while. In monastic medicine, domestic fungi had a high significance and their effect explored.

Unfortunately in Europe, this knowledge has been increasingly overseen over time. However, it has been establishing itself slowly again. In recent decades, medical studies have been intensely occupied with the ingredients of various fungi. Most medicinal fungi are well absorbed by the human organism and they can be widely used as preventative treatments or as a supportive measure for one's own health.

When being processed, medicinal fungi are usually dried and ground. The fungi powder is then used as the basis for many different products . Among the most famous medicinal fungi, Reishi, Shiitake and Hericium are the most well-known types.

The Reishi plays an important role in traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese call this fungus the "divine fungus of immortality". It is native not only to Japan and China, but also to Europe. During the growth phase, the fungus can take on very bizarre forms and has a wide range of colours, from brown to reddish orange, white and yellow. The Reishi is used as a tea, as an extract or in capsules as fungi powder.

The Shiitake mushroom is one of the most cultivated in the world. It has the flavour characteristic umami, which is now regarded as the fifth tongue perceptible property of flavour next to sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Umami designates a particularly full-bodied taste. In Asia, Shiitake mushrooms have been used for thousands of years. The nutritional value of Shiitake is very high because it contains protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Hericium (Hericium erinaceus), which is also called monkey head fungus, is known not only for its excellent flavour, but also because of its positive effect on the body. It is found throughout Europe, but very rare in quantity. In Asian cuisine, this fungus, which can have a creamy white to pale pink colour, is considered a delicacy. Hericium contains all eight essential amino acids needed by the human body, as well as many minerals.