You may not get high or stoned from it, but it can help you with numerous complaints or conditions. There is increasing attention for and research into the effects of different mushrooms. Microbiologist Johan Baars and naturopathic therapist Peter van Ineveld shed light on this in AD.
Like many substances from nature, medicinal mushrooms have also been used for centuries against various types of ailments. Unlike the well-known magic mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms do not have a hallucinatory effect. This psychoactive effect is due to the substance psylocybine.
Even in a free country like the Netherlands, there is still a lot to do when it comes to the average perception or association people have with mushrooms, says Johans Baars. He is a microbiologist at Wageningen University and Research Center and has been working with all kinds of mushrooms for more than 30 years. Many people think that all mushrooms are poisonous, but that is not the case. Although you have to be very careful with many species, because they can be deadly.
Research on health benefits
Not only research into psychedelics is increasing, but also medicinal mushrooms are becoming increasingly well known. This also shifts the fairly negative perception that people have. As a naturopathic therapist, Van Ineveld has been applying mycotherapy for almost 15 years, the use of mushrooms or extracts from mushrooms to prevent or treat certain disorders or diseases.
Just like with cannabis, there are also a lot of stories about the therapeutic effect of medicinal mushrooms. However, this often remains with anecdotal evidence. For example, medicinal mushrooms would support our metabolism, protect the brain, boost our immune system and much more. To what extent are these health claims hard to make?
Indirect evidence for the effect of mushrooms
There are different types of mushrooms, each with their own effect. Take for example chaga, oyster mushroom, shiitake and wig and fire mushroom. The fire mushroom would help with the muscle disease Mutiple Sclerosis (MS) and the wig mushroom could positively influence the brain. For the time being, however, it remains difficult to substantiate this anecdotal evidence. Yet many studies show indirect evidence, says Baars. However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) asks for hard data when it comes to allowing health claims. This data is simply not available at the moment.
European legislation is very strict when it comes to health claims. For admission, this organization requires at least two independent epidemiological studies. That takes a lot of time and money. Baars: ,,A major literature study has been done by Cancer Research UK into the polysaccharides in fairy benches. They could sometimes 'do something' in the case of cancer. But if you want to attach a claim to that, you have to follow large groups of people for decades."
Difficult long-term research
Not only the size of the group of people is important, but also that you can follow these people for a long time during the consumption of a certain mushroom. “This is almost impossible to do, especially in a country where the oyster mushroom is already a bit exotic. More long-term studies are known in Asian countries. However, because there are small genetic differences, the question is whether these can be translated one-to-one to the Western population.''
More and more oncologists and other specialists are prescribing mycotherapy as an additional treatment. In Asian countries, medicinal mushrooms have traditionally been associated with regular medicine. You see that more and more here, says Van Ineveld. “More and more oncologists and other specialists are prescribing mycotherapy as an additional treatment. The active substance from the elf bench, Polysaccharide-K, is often used additionally in the treatment against cancer by regular medicine under the name Kerstin. Medicinal mushrooms and fungi have been the main supplier of the pharmaceutical industry for decades. Pleuromutilin from fungi was discovered as an antibiotic as early as 1951.''
Just like the effect of psychedelics on PTSD, depression and addiction, the potential of mushrooms has long been hanging over the market for the treatment of certain complaints or disorders. However, there is always the demand for convincing scientific evidence. Whether the health claims will be substantiated with studies remains to be seen, but Baars indicates that we should probably not look that far at all: “Mushrooms contain hardly any calories. You can let them absorb all kinds of minerals and – under UV light – have them produce vitamin D. They are rich in potassium and dietary fiber. All things that you can say with certainty that they are valuable additions to your diet.
Source: AD.nl (NEITHER)