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Hericium, A Worldwide Edible Mushroom With Health Benefits

Author : Frances Woodley

Hericium is a white fleshy edible mushroom, which grows on dead or decaying wood. The dropping spines of the mushroom grow out in a formation that resembles intricate white wintry icicles. When the spines are shorter in length the mushroom resembles white cottage cheese, when medium in length it looks like a white coral formation and when longer, the spines droop and the mushroom begins to resemble a white beard or intricate hanging icicle.

The mushroom was discovered and named by Christian Hendrik Persoon in 1794. Subsequently, a number of species were discovered and were found to be worldwide in distribution. All four North American species are edible, and the easily identifiable characteristics of Hericium make it one of the safest of the wild edible mushrooms. The mushroom is popular in China, and both Chinese and Japanese prize the edible fungi for its healing properties.

Salutary properties of the mushroom, include cytotoxic effects on cancer cells, stimulatory effects on nerve growth factor synthesis, antimicrobial and nematicidal activity, and antitumor activity.

Hericium erinaceus is a species of the mushroom which resembles a lion mane or full beard in appearance as it hangs down from the side of trees. The mushroom is edible, and widely used in China as a substitute for pork or lamb. It also has a unique flavor resembling lobster or shrimp, making it a popular substitute for seafood in Chinese dishes.

The mushroom has healing properties and a recent study showed that some of its chemical components, like threitol, D-arabinitol, and palmitic acid may have antioxidant effects, may regulate blood lipid levels and may reduce blood glucose levels. All three effects are believed to be efficacious in strengthening the Chi, or blood circulation.

In addition to the mushrooms beneficial effects on the blood, it has been found to stimulate nerve and myelin regeneration, which may be beneficial in many neurological conditions. Medicinal mushroom expert Paul Stamets suggests it may have potential application in conditions such as Alzheimer's, dementia, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy.

The neuroregenerative effects of the mushroom are attributed to active ingredients called erinacines, a series of low molecular weight molecules, found in the mushroom, which are able to pass through the blood brain barrier. Once passing into the brain they are believed to exert a healing effect on myelin and nerve tissue.

Additional healing effects attributed to the mushroom extract have included positive benefits to people suffering from stomach cancer, inflammation of the GI tract and Hepatoma. Most recently, Internet company E-Helps has added Hericium extract to their herbal sleep supplement BioDream.

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Tags:   antioxidant effects, blood circulation, erinacines, Health Benefits, Hericium

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Submitted : 2011-05-06    Word Count : 402    Times Viewed: 927