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It is with great honour that we present the screening of Fantastic Fungi at the Capitol Theatre on November 14th, 2019 in Windsor, Ontario

Medicinal Mushrooms by Jure Pohleven, Tamara Korošec, Andrej Gregori

Medicinal Mushrooms by Jure Pohleven, Tamara Korošec, Andrej Gregori

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Fungi, including mushrooms, are a distinct group of organisms of great importance for the environment and humans. In nature they are essential for the cycling of organic matter, being able to decompose material not degradable by other organisms, and furthermore, are important for establishing symbiosis with plants. Fungi became of major significance for human health in the first half of the last century, when Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin, produced by Penicillium mould.

In higher fungi, the main part of the organism lies in the ground, out of sight. This is an extensive assimilative part of the fungus, called mycelium, where basic metabolic processes take place. When mycelium provides itself with energy, the reproductive organs – fruiting bodies or sporocarps – sprout from the ground; these are commonly called mushrooms, as people generally refer to fungi. However, the term only applies to approximately 14,000 fungal species forming fruiting bodies visible to the naked eye that come in a wide variety of shapes and colours.

Mushrooms have been important in the human diet and in traditional medicine since prehistoric times, especially in Asia, as well as America, Africa and Europe.

Two mushroom species, Piptoporus betulinus (birch polypore) and Fomes fomentarius (tinder fungus) have been found with 5300-year-old mummy, Ötzi the Iceman, discovered in the Tyrolian Alps, which were presumably used for medicinal purposes or as tinder, respectively. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, described the use of Fomes fomentarius for cauterisation, while in traditional East Asian medicine, certain medicinal mushrooms are ascribed miraculous powers of conferring longevity and have been used in various preparations, such as powders, tonics, teas and soups.

Since the second half of the last century, their popularity has been growing worldwide with the development of cultivation techniques and with increasing awareness of their therapeutic properties supported by scientific research.

Furthermore, mushrooms are also increasingly used for culinary purposes as healthy food, low in fat and sugar. They contain dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, and have relatively high protein content, therefore are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Nowadays, numerous preparations in the form of powders, capsules, pills and tinctures are made from medicinal mushrooms, which are available on the market as dietary supplements. These are used in the prevention and treatment of various health conditions, including modern lifestyle diseases, and are recommended for active people, athletes, and the elderly. Moreover, medicinal mushroom products have been increasingly used as feed supplements to improve health or treat diseases of companion (pets), domestic and sport animals.

There are more than 50 species of mushrooms with a wide range of therapeutic properties, which are referred to as medicinal mushrooms, including the most popular Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), Cordyceps spp. (caterpillar fungus), Lentinula edodes (shiitake) and Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom).

They contain a variety of biologically active compounds, among which the most important are polysaccharides, i.e. β-glucans, as well as triterpenes, polyphenols, proteins, and others, that have been scientifically proven to possess a broad spectrum of pharmacological activities. Several β-glucan compounds derived from medicinal mushrooms are approved as anticancer medicines and employed clinically in Japan, such as lentinan from Lentinufa edodes and PSK from Trametes versicolor (turkey tail). Medicinal mushrooms generally strengthen the immune system and thus exhibit anticancer activity, particularly when used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatment (chemotherapy and radiotherapy). Furthermore, they have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, they regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure, thus can help prevent diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Mushrooms can protect against viral and other infections and are a potential source of new antibiotic compounds. In addition, they contain high amounts of ergosterol, which is, when exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light, converted to vitamin D2 that may play a protective role in many diseases. However, no serious adverse side effects or toxicity have been associated with the use of medicinal mushrooms, which have been proven safe even for pregnant women and their fetuses, except for species of the genus Auricularia, which are not recommended for use during pregnancy.

Many scientific studies, including a number of clinical trials, have been conducted over the past few decades that support the findings of traditional medicine and provide evidence for the therapeutic properties of medicinal mushrooms in humans as well as animals. Therefore, mushrooms are not only fruits of the forest used merely for human consumption, but are increasingly recognised as a cultivated natural source of pharmacologically active compounds with medicinal properties.

This reading focuses on the following Mushroom varieties:

Agaricus blazei (Royal Sun Agaricus) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . 9
Auricularia spp. (Wood Ear). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . 11
Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . 13
Cordyceps spp. (Caterpillar Fungus). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . .. . . . . . . 14
Fomes fomentarius (Tinder Fungus) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .. . . . . 17
Fomitopsis pinicola (Red Belted Polypore) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ./ . . . 18
Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi, Lingzhi). . . . . . . . . . . . . ………... . . . . . . 19
Grifola frondosa (Maitake, Hen of the Woods) . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 26
Monascus purpureus (Red Yeast Rice). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Piptoporus betulinus (Birch Polypore) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . 30
Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster Mushroom) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 31
Polyporus umbellatus (Umbrella Polypore). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Poria cocos (Hoelen, Poria Mushroom) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 35
Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

NY Times | ‘Fantastic Fungi’ Review: The Magic of Mushrooms | Louie Schwartzberg’s informative and kooky documentary offers nothing less than a model for planetary survival.

Fungi Day in #YQG! | 14th November

Fungi Day in #YQG! | 14th November