Actions of Mushrooms
by Robert Bidleman

Mushrooms occupy a revered niche in the plant world. In some cultures this is due to it's food value, in some for it's medicinal powers and in many cultures the oxygen breathing fungi are the central point in a subset of fantasy and lore. The Reishi mushroom, honored by the Taoists, enjoys it's own mythological status which rivals that of any plant perhaps even the Oak and Ash of Celtic and Wiccan persuasions.

From tiny antler shaped mushrooms sprouting from caterpillars to legends of fairy-rings and attributes of "Food of the Gods", mushrooms have had a wide spectrum of human perception laid at their feet. No where else on earth is the mushroom feared and is as misundertsood than in the United States. While droves of delicacy seeking gourmets tromp through the spring woods in search of their next fix of "'shrooms", hundreds of lesser experienced novices end up in the emergency room while some even expire from their own ill-advised meal. In other countries mushroom hunting is something that is handed down from early youth and practiced with much supervision while in the U.S. many enthusiasts acquire their knowledge from books. But whatever your interest - food, medicine or the promise of a taste of immortality; mushrooms need to be understood and respected for the strange yet immensely powerful gift that they are.

But it doesn't stop there, or even slow down. Some varieties of mushrooms have been used as spiritual sacraments, lending their user a doorway to a deeper consciousness. Used for thousands of years in both shamanic and medicinal practices, psilocybin, for instance has been regarded by some indigenous peoples as a "Gift from God" enabling them access to the higher realms of spirituality.

Today with the veritable cornucopia of fungus about, mushrooms are more than "functional foods"they are superfoods. Even the lowly grocery mart variety is low in calories, high in vegetable proteins, iron, zinc, chitin, chiton, fiber, vitamins & minerals, including the valued selenium. Their legendary effects on promoting good health and vitality and increasing your body's adaptive abilities have been supported by recent studies. These studies suggest that Mushrooms are probiotic - they help our body strengthen itself and fight off illness by maintaining physiological homeostasis - restoring our bodies balance and natural resistance to disease. The compounds they contain have been classified as Host Defense Potentiators (HDP) which can have immune system enhancement properties."