Mushrooms are fascinating in many ways. They are neither animals nor the plants but have affected the lives of people for millennia. When it comes to good health, they are extremely healthy.
Fungi produce an organic matter called metabolites, which they use to fight bacteria. The now widely-known example is penicillin, a drug that has saved millions of lives. The healing effects of fungi have been known in traditional Chinese medicine for several millennia. In Europe, the healing properties of individual fungi have been known for centuries, thanks to monastic medicine. The mushrooms were researched and studied their effects by monks throughout history.
Unfortunately, this knowledge was nearly lost, but is slowly establishing itself again. Today, modern medicine deals intensively with the ingredients of various fungi. So-called medicinal mushrooms are generally well absorbed by the human body. In traditional Chinese medicine, they have been used for ages support varying types of health.
The processing methods for drying methods have not really changed over time. First the mushrooms are dried, then ground finely. The powder obtained serves as the basis for many different products. Among the most famous medicinal mushrooms are the Reishi, Shiitake and Hericium mushrooms.
In China, the Reishi mushroom is also called the "divine mushroom of immortality". It is native to China and Japan, but also to Europe. Reishi has a wide color gamut, from brown to yellowish, and may assume bizarre shapes during growth. It is used in tea extracts, and in capsules.
The Shiitake is the most commonly grown mushroom in the world. It has the flavor characteristic defined as umami. This is now the fifth, officially recognized flavor perceptible on the tongue, alongside the well known sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavors. The nutritional value of the Shiitake mushroom is high because it contains protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Hericium is also known as the monkey head mushroom. It has an excellent and distinct flavor. It is widespread within Europe, but is only rarely encountered. In Asia, this mushroom is considered a delicacy. Hericium is creamy white to pale pink in color and contains all eight essential amino acids and many minerals.