Medicinal Mushrooms, Pt. 2

So I had to change my plans for attending the NMMS this weekend. This is a time of plentiful, big transitions for both Kamran and I, and I’ve been spreading myself a bit thin between a lot of demands this month. (Anyone else familiar with this?) We have two of my best friends’ wedding this weekend in Poughkeepsie– the absolutely lovely Hannah and Zach (AKA Zannah) of Thrive Acupuncture and Chiropractic near Pittsburgh, PA– which we are super pumped for! Between travelling to the wedding in the midst of the conference plus sleeping outside, I had a creeping suspicion I would fall ill if I tried to do it all… I had to take a step back, and prioritize what is most important. A hard decision for me to make, but nevertheless, I hope to attend the summit next year!!

BUT! I still have two more medicinal mushrooms of the Chinese pharmacopoeia to talk about.

Also, I wanted to share this abstract for a lit review published in 2017 in the International Review of Neurobiology, about the treatment of insomnia with Chinese medicine (herbs!). The mechanisms of our beloved Fuling (Poria cocos 茯苓) discussed in the previous post are analyzed in relation to how it promotes better sleep (in Chinese medicine, we say it has the function of calming the spirit). Now for a couple more fantastic featured fungi friends:

Dong Chong Xia Cao 冬蟲夏草 (aka Chinese cordyceps sinensis) – Technically *pushes up glasses* not a fungus! It is a medicinal substance produced by the process of a parasitic fungus growing on specific caterpillar larvae (in particular Lepidoptera Hepialus armoricanus). The fungus grows in the autumn, and the next spring/early summer the stromal tissue of the fungus develops, which is why this herb’s name translates to “winter herb, summer grass.” In the spring, it’s cultivated before it disperses its spores. In Chinese medicine, we consider this substance to be sweet in flavor, warm in nature, with the ability to gently tonify Lung and Kidney yang. It is found in formulas used to treat issues like male impotence, spermatorrhea/nocturnal emissions, chronic coughing and wheezing with phlegm and small amounts of blood, spontaneous sweating, and weak/sore low back and knees. Here’s a cool, detailed review of how Cordyceps sinensis has been used traditionally, medicinally, and a summary of current research.

Yín ěr 银耳 (aka wood ear, silver ear, snow ear, snow fungus, white jelly, Tremella fuciformis) – A wonderful food-grade medicinal! The best kind of medicinal– gentle, safe for long-term use, and easily assimilated by the body. It is sweet and bland in flavor, and neutral in nature (have you noticed how most mushrooms I’ve discussed are neutral in nature? That means they have no post-digestion body temperature effect). In cuisine, it may be served with lean pork to help recovery following a long, debilitating illness. Somewhat similarly to Dong Chong Xia Cao, it may be used to treat chronic cough with blood-streaked mucus– but in this presentation, the individual’s cough would be more dry. If you have had a dry, parched throat with a dry cough which has lasted longer than your typical cold symptoms, or if it is the last lingering symptom after mostly recovering from illness, it would be an excellent idea to experiment with cooking wood ear mushrooms! You can buy them in bulk from any local Asian market.


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