Mushrooms are an enormous source of powerful new pharmaceuticals for the host health.
Mycotherapy is the therapy which uses one or more fungi in synergy to incorporate into preventive or integrative treatments in various pathologies, taking advantage of their natural properties. While it is true that the traditional use of mushrooms dates back centuries in Eastern culture, in the medicine and nutrition field they are gaining more and more interest.
Mushroom polysaccharides are a type of bioactive macromolecule which is isolated from the fruiting bodies, mycelia, or fermentation broths of edible or medicinal mushrooms. Recently, these macromolecules have attracted a lot of attention for being able to regulate the intestinal microbiota, by reducing the levels of pathogens and stimulating the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Therefore, mushroom polysaccharides are creating new possibilities for their use in the functional food and nutraceutical industries.
From AD Dietistas, we have interviewed Ariadna Ropero, a biologist at Hifas da Terra, the leading biotechnological company in Europe in the development of medicinal mushroom based products for human health.
Which would be the 2 most significant properties of mushroom extracts?
Fungi must be understood as adaptogens or BRMS (“Biological Response Modifiers”). This means that its active biomolecules help balance the body’s own physiological functions and, thanks to this, promote homeostasis, carrying out regulatory actions that act on the different systems of our body. A single medicinal mushroom can contain more than 400 active biomolecules. Its two most significant functions would be:
- Their immunomodulatory function: they help restore a healthy cellular microenvironment and strengthen the immune system to fight infections, allergies and autoimmunity, among others.
- Its prebiotic function plays an important role in the modulation of the microbiota. In fact, they regulate the gut microbiota thanks to the presence of polysaccharides.
At AD Dietistas we visit patients with DAO deficiency or with other digestive pathologies that lead to intestinal hyperpermeability. Which mushroom extract has been shown benefits in this context?
Lion’s mane extract (Hericium erinaceus) is indicated to improve the integrity of the intestinal mucosa and epithelium. In DAO deficiency patients, improving these parameters may lead to an upgrade in the functionality of the DAO enzyme. The use of Lion’s Mane in damaged intestines has been shown to enhance and modulate its microbiota, reduce inflammation and improve the immune system; this is a very diverse and interesting way at the clinical level, for patients with DAO deficiency or others digestive pathologies.
One of the DAO deficiency symptoms is fatigue. Are there any mushrooms which could be used in conjunction with a low-histamine diet to improve energy status?
Yes, the quintessential mushroom that helps in states of fatigue/asthenia is Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis). In various studies, it has been shown to increase ATP (“the energy currency” used by our body) and the use of oxygen, reducing the feeling of fatigue and improving energy production. It is a very useful fungus in states of fatigue, convalescence and high sports performance.
We published an article about natural antihistamines a few months ago and, in it, we talked about the sun mushroom. Why is it considered a natural antihistamine?
The sun mushroom (Agaricus blazei) is a fungus with a great antihistamine capacity due to the presence of various active biomolecules which inhibit the release of histamine by mast cells. Mast cells are cells that belong to the immune system which synthesize and store different substances, including histamine.
It is a fungus with a very important immunomodulatory activity, since it contains a large amount of beta-glucans, which works very completely against environmental and food allergies, reducing their most annoying symptoms (rhinitis, itching, etc.) and also performing an anti-inflammatory function.
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In conclusion, we have seen that the polysaccharides present in mushrooms can positively influence the individual health, through the interaction with the immune system and the microbiota. For this reason, it is essential to design an optimal and individualized treatment in each case and always in the hands of a specialized Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).
From AD Dietistas we thank Ariadna Ropero for having collaborated in this article, contributing her professional experience in this regard.
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