So far scientists have managed to identify and describe around 10,000 species of mushrooms. However, microbiologists suspect that it’s just a small fraction of what our mother earth has in store.
In recent years mushrooms have developed into a sought-after superfood. However, these fleshy fungi have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Many different superfoods can be found in the Otway Ranges. If you would like to come & explore with me, please check out the OJAS Adventures page.
Superfood in the Otways
Ganoderma applanatum / Artist’s bracket
Artist’s bracket is a mushroom type growing on wood of dead and living trees as a mycelium. Its fruiting bodies grow up to a width of 30 to 100 cm and is characterized by its woody texture and tough leather-like finish.
The mushroom is a rich source of bioactive polysaccharides and triterpenes. These are substances tested clinically for possible anti-cancer, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, anti-fibrotic, immune modulating, and hepatoprotective properties.
Beta-glucans are the most beneficial polysaccharides found in artist’s bracket. They are known for enhancing immunity and hindering the growth of tumors. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, on the other hand, has used the mushroom for reducing heat generation inside human body and treating pain, excess phlegm, and indigestion.
Cordyceps are known to grow in altitudes over 4,500 meters and are rare combinations of fungus and caterpillar. To date, scientists have identified over 400 species of this mushroom. Among them, two have been proved to be real superfoods.
Cordyceps have been found to improve lactate energy metabolism and result in better lactate clearance. This ability of the mushroom has allowed the researchers to conclude that cordyceps can be used as a superfood for increasing anaerobic physical performance of athletes.
They are also known for their anti-aging effects. Its antioxidant properties delay aging by fighting the free radicals. In addition, the mushroom is capable of improving antioxidative enzyme activities and brain function.
Practitioners of alternative medicine often use the mushroom for boosting sex drive in individuals experiencing loss of libido. The mushroom is also used for improving kidney function, heart health and liver function.
The mushroom Trametes versicolor is commonly referred to as turkey tail due its arresting color combination.
The mushroom is a storehouse of antioxidants and thus can reduce or inhibit damage resulting from oxidative stress. Two of the most beneficial antioxidants present in this superfood are flavonoids and phenols. These antioxidants work by stimulating production of protective compounds and reducing inflammation, which in turn boost our immune system significantly.
The mushroom is also widely used for improving gut health. Thanks to the probiotics present in turkey tail, it helps in protecting the beneficial bacteria present in our gut and thereby aids digestion. Having enough gut bacteria is also essential for having good immune response, low cholesterol levels, and reduced risks of some cancer types.
This medicinal mushroom grown on the wood of mulberry trees. Some other names used for the mushroom are song gen, black hoof mushroom, and Meshima.
The most talked-about feature of this superfood is its ability to work as an anticancer agent. According to researchers, Phellinus linteus works by enhancing the efficacy of various anti-tumor drugs given to cancer patients.
The polysaccharides present in the mushroom have been found to prevent occurrence of the autoimmune disease type 1 diabetes. It can also be used for treating the condition effectively.
Phellinus linteus is also capable of treating atopic dermatitis, which is a skin disorder linked to malfunctioning immune system.