Mushrooms For Animal Health
Do you know a cat with herpes? The calicivirus? or FIV? Or, a dog going through chemotherapy treatments? Perhaps, birds suffering from Beak & Feather diseases? How about senior cats and dogs that need an extra boost? Well, guess what. They all may benefit from mushroom therapy.
Let’s take a look at the mushroom: First, there is the T-shaped fruiting-body. Next, are the spores that fall off the fruit. And because the spores are male & female they will meet and combine to make more mushrooms. The mushroom you see above the ground is only a small part of a much bigger organism which is the mycelium, an underground network of thread-like fibers.
There are approximately 2 million species of fungi but only 1400 are known to man. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, 300 species are used for medicine. Of that number, about 200 species have anti-tumor properties, and the most famous is Ganoderma Lucidum, known as Ling Zhi in China, or Reishi in Japan.
Mushrooms are 70% carbohydrates and 30% proteins. Unlike plants that store polysaccharides in starch, mushrooms store it in a form of glucogen (a polysaccharide that is the chief carbohydrate storage material in animals). Humans share 30% of their DNA with mushrooms which makes us more closely related to fungi than to plants. Mushrooms “breathe” in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. And fungi protein looks more like animal protein than plant protein. Mushrooms don’t contain cholrophyll, but plants do. The defense mechanism that fungi use against other fungi infections can actually help us. When we consume medicinal mushrooms it can have a potent effect on the immune system.
Mushrooms are immune-modulators or Biological Response Modifiers (BRMs). It’s like they have an intelligence that seems to know whether the immune system needs more stimulation or less stimulation. So, whether you have an immune deficiency or an auto-immune disease (like MS), mushrooms will work with the body. There’s a number of compounds that contribute to the BRM effect: Such as, lectins, terpenoids, polysaccharids and their peptides, and Fungal Immunodulator Proteins (FIPs).
The most well-known BRM compound that most people are familiar with are beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are largely responsible for warding off tumors, cardiovascular disease, immune deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases.
Beta-glucans and complex proteins don’t directly attack virus, bacteria, or cancer cells. Instead, what they do is activate different immune pathways, such as, macro-phages, T-cells, B-cells, Natural Killer Cells, and then activate the antibodies.
What’s the best way to consume medicinal mushrooms?In Asia, the traditional method to consume medicinal mushrooms is as a decoction, or a strong tea. Simmering whole dried mushrooms in hot water makes them more bioavailable and the best way to receive benefits. Those important beta-glucans are actually in the cell walls of the mushrooms, which are made of chitin, and it’s only hot water that can release them.
There are two types of medicinal mushrooms you can buy on the market: Extraction and Non-extraction. In non-extraction, the product will contain mycelium, or the mushroom fruit, that has been dried and powdered and then encapsulated. Unfortunately, you won’t get any major therapeutic benefits from these products. And the bad news is: 95% of the mushroom products for sale on the market are non-extracted.
In extraction, the hot water method is used and will produce approximately 12% to 38% beta-glucans depending on the product. There are three types of extraction procedures: 1. The hot water is centrifuge off and the extracts are dehydrated, and the by-products are then encapsulated. Or, 2. there is hydro-alcohol extract where the mycelium or the mushroom fruit is tinctured in alcohol. It hasn’t been extracted in hot water but will have the same beta-glucan level as if it been prepared in hot water. And the third method, the mushroom is extracted in hot water, dried off, and the by-product is added to alcohol. The third method has the highest amount of active constituents, second to a decoction.
It’s very important to know your product and read the labels. If you can, ask how the product was prepared. If you see a beta-glucan level on the label then you probably have a product that has been extracted in hot water at some point. But if you don’t see a beta-glucan level on the product’s label then it’s likely not extracted. And therefore, will not contain much beta-glucan.
Resources: Read about Turkey Tail Mushrooms “FDA Approves Turkey Tail Trial for Cancer Patients” HERE.