Mushrooms have been getting a lot press lately.
Most of the attention focuses on psilocybe mushrooms for the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
The adjunct use of turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) to reduce side effects and boost the efficacy of chemotherapy is lesser known.
Controversy sells copy.
Controversy seems to lie in the regulation and profiteering of treatments, not the efficacy of the mushrooms themselves. The efficacy is medicinal mushrooms is widely known by the pharmaceutical industry.
What do Crestor® Mevacor® Pravachol® have in common?
They are all cholesterol-lowering, fungi-derived medications.
Crestor® is made from Aspergillus terreus, Mevacor®, Oyster mushrooms and Pravachol®, Penicillium citrinum.
Restasis® and Neoral®, dervied from Cyclosporine (Trichoderma polysporum), are used to prevent eye dryness and organ transplant rejection respectively.
Ask a cardiologist if you should supplement your diet with an oyster mushroom extract to lower cholesterol, he might very well scoff at the absurdity of the suggestion while at the same time write you a prescription for Lovastatin (which is an oyster mushroom-derived statin, see above).
Are there toxicity concerns over the use of recreational or unprescribed mushroom supplements? Yes. However, most efforts to delegitimize or criminalize fungi-derived supplementation seem to be rooted in who gets the profits and who gets to gatekeep.
I have heard many arguments against the augmented use of medicinal mushrooms, from the dismissive, "Where did you get your info, Dr. Google?" to the ignorant, "All mushrooms carry some hallucinogenic properties".
It has become clear any health benefit derived from an organic source (that hasn’t been peer reviewed) is considered quackery. Only when a health benefit comes out of a closed lab is it considered Science.
Even with cited, peer-reviewed sources if you speak of medicinal mushoom supplementation for disease treatment you run the risk of getting banned on community forums. The reason for which, I am told, is because mushroom use is considered new and largely untested. (Yes, I’m referring to you Reddit moderators.)
But it is Western medicine who is finally catching up. Among mushroom enthusiasts it has been said the future is fungi. The past is fungal as well.
Fungi have been in existance for 1 billion years and survived 5 extinction events.
It is only in the last 95 years has Western medicine taken strides to leverage fungi for medicinal purposes.
Eastern medicine has been using fungi for thousands.
Why can’t both peer-reviewed study and longevity count towards the legitimacy of medicinal mushroom use? I think both can.
While the argument continues, pharmaceutical companies profit from fungi-derived products and deep-pocketed marketing campaigns, holistic practitioners and proponents of therapeutic mushrooms get gagged.
The future is indeed fungi. Big Pharma knows it.