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Show 1374: Marvelous Medicinal Mushrooms (Archive)

In this episode, learn about medicinal mushrooms that can modulate the immune system or possibly reduce the risk of dementia.
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Marvelous Medicinal Mushrooms (Archive)

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This week, we talk with 4th-generation herbalist, research scientist and mycologist, Dr. Christopher Hobbs. He extolls the benefits of mushrooms not only as nutritious foods, but also as important components of natural medicine. What should you know about marvelous medicinal mushrooms?

You may want to listen through your local public radio station or get the live stream at 7 am EDT on your computer or smart phone (wunc.org). Here is a link so you can find which stations carry our broadcast. If you can’t listen to the broadcast, you may wish to hear the podcast later. You can subscribe through your favorite podcast provider, download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of the page, or listen to the stream on this post starting on July 8, 2024.

Learning about Medicinal Mushrooms:

Our guest, Dr. Christopher Hobbs, grew up in a family steeped in botany and herbalism. He himself studied acupuncture professionally and pursued further acupuncture studies in China. There, he was impressed with the variety and prevalence of mushrooms in the diet. The health professionals with whom he was working were all convinced that eating mushrooms would improve their health. Moreover, they pointed to the wide us of mushrooms in traditional Chinese medicine. At that point, he decided he needed to learn more.

Although they are not plants, mushrooms have many of the qualities that make a plant-based diet attractive. In addition to vitamins, fiber, protein, trace minerals and phytonutrients, mushrooms are a rich source of beta-glucans. These natural compounds can help lower cholesterol and improve the immune response. If you are a fan of mushroom-barley soup, you may enjoy the exchange between Joe and Dr. Hobbs regarding the best mushrooms for this delicious comfort food.

Strengthening the Immune System:

If you asked your healthcare provider for a prescription to strengthen your immune system, you’d probably get advice instead. You’d be told to eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep and manage your stress. Western medicine does not have any medications designed to improve the immune response, although there are many powerful drugs to suppress the immune system.

In contrast, there is basic research and some pre-clinical studies indicating that certain mushrooms can modulate the immune response. One of these is Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) (Foods, April 3, 2023).  Scientists are examining its potential against cancer as well as infection. It seems that this mushroom may also help reduce the risk of diabetes.

Preventing Dementia with Medicinal Mushrooms:

At this time, western medicine does not have good prescriptions to prevent dementia. Research on mushrooms is still quite preliminary, but there is epidemiological evidence that women who eat mushrooms frequently have a degree of protection (British Journal of Nutrition, Jan. 19, 2024). Animal studies also show promise with medicinal mushrooms such as lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) boosting memory (Biology, Jan. 28, 2023).

Other mushrooms, such as turkeytail, shiitake or maitake, also can help protect the liver and respiratory system. They also lower cholesterol and inflammation.

We briefly discussed research utilizing psilocybin to counter existential anxiety among people with a cancer diagnosis. You can hear an entire interview dedicated to that topic here in Show 1084: Psilocybin, Cancer and Spiritual Awakening.

A Seasonal Suggestion:

People who are suffering from colds or other respiratory infections at this time of year can get relief by sipping a concoction of thyme tea with 3 grams (1 teaspoon) of reishi powder in six ounces of tea. Ivy leaf, which is popular in Europe, is also a helpful addition to this remedy. In this country, one product is BronchialSoothe. In Europe, ivy leaf is available in a mixed herbal product called Bronchoforce.

This Week’s Guest:

Dr. Christopher Hobbs is a fourth-generation internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist, and research scientist with over 35 years of experience with herbal medicine.

Dr. Hobbs has a doctorate from UC Berkeley in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology and phytochemistry. He is also a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild. Dr. Hobbs is the author of several books, including Christopher Hobbs’s Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide: Boost Immunity, Improve Memory, Fight Cancer, Stop Infection, and Expand Your Consciousness

Christopher Hobbs, PhD, speaks on medicinal mushrooms

Dr. Christopher Hobbs

His website is https://christopherhobbs.com/

Information about the mushroom trek in Nepal is available at the website, International Mushroom Tours. https://www.imtnepal.com/

You can also find information on medicinal mushrooms and herbs at christopherhobbs1 on Instagram.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available Monday, July 8, 2024, after broadcast on July 6. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free.

Download the mp3

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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  • Ekiz E et al, "Exploring the potential medicinal benefits of Ganoderma lucidum: From metabolic disorders to coronavirus infections." Foods, April 3, 2023. DOI: 10.3390/foods12071512
  • Aoki S et al, "Mushroom intake and risk of incident disabling dementia: the Circulatory Risk in Communities Study (CIRCS)." British Journal of Nutrition, Jan. 19, 2024. DOI: 10.1017/S000711452400014X
  • Roda E et al, "Cognitive healthy aging in mice: Boosting memory by an ergothioneine-rich Hericium erinaceus primordium extract." Biology, Jan. 28, 2023. DOI: 10.3390/biology12020196
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