Oyster Mushroom Benefits & Information
Hiratake, Píng Gū, Tree Oyster, Oyster Shelf, Straw Mushroom, Tamogitake, elephant ear, pleurottes, and shimeji
Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere
The fruiting body.
Following on from the rich traditional history of the Chinese the Oyster Mushroom has been used for at least 3,000 years. As with many other Asian medicinal fungi the Oyster mushroom is seen as a culinary delight as much as it a medicine. Many believe the Oyster mushroom has a mild taste that is similar to Oysters. Others describe the taste as being close to that of Aniseed. There are many traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean dishes that incorporate this mushroom with some new South Indian dishes being created.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Oyster Mushroom has been prescribed as a tonic mainly to release tension from tendons, strengthen veins and give overall muscle and joint relaxation. There is a famous Chinese herbal product called ‘Tendon-easing powder’ which has Oyster Mushroom as a main component and is very popular throughout China. Other actions attributed to Oyster Mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine include: helping kidneys function at their best, dispelling cold wind and strengthening Yang in the body.
Oyster mushrooms have been found to have a number of health benefits for human physiology. The biggest benefit is the Polysaccharide content found in the cell wall of Oyster Mushrooms. These components have been found to help the immune system fight mutated cells and push resistance toward degeneration of cells. This effectively has been seen to help lower the risks of age related illness and keep cells young. Also there has been compelling evidence to suggest that the ingestion of polysaccharides could help significantly boosting the immune systems of those undergoing treatment for life threatening illness. Oyster Mushrooms have been seen to have a symbiotic influence with other drugs strengthening their effectiveness in fighting the illness.
Chemical components called statins or lovastatins found in this fungi are thought to have an action that can help lower cholesterol. As well as this it has been found that Oyster mushrooms contain erogothioneine; a lesser known antioxidant amino acid that protects the cells of the body and can reduce triglycerides which are a cause of cardiovascular disease. Interestingly erogothioneine does not disintegrate under intense heat and so cooking with Oyster Mushrooms does not lessen this
Most commonly this mushroom is consumed as a food. In China and Japan it is also taken for its medical properties.
Although the Oyster Mushroom has been in use as a medicinal mushroom for centuries in China there are few ethnobotanical stories concerning its discovery. In the scientific world Oyster Mushrooms were first classified by Joseph Freiherr von Jacquin in the 18th century who designated this fungi under the ‘Agarius’ family. His hypothesis was that because of the gills exhibited under the cap the mushroom must belong to the same as all other gill fungi. In 1871 German mycologist Paul Kummar reassigned the mushroom under the family of ‘Pleurotus’, a new genus created from his own research. During World War I Germany grew Oyster Mushrooms as a subsistence food which later led to the discovery of antibiotic properties of the mushroom. Oyster Mushrooms are continuing to be researched as a means of a biodynamic remedy to waste. Mycologist Paul Stamets found that the mycelium of a special strain of Oyster Mushroom released enzymes which were powerful enough to break down PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) found in oil and its refined state of petrol. In one experiment soil contaminated with oil was inoculated with Oyster Mushrooms which began to effectively feed off the oil and brought life back to the patch of earth. With the mushrooms came flies which attracted birds who then deposited seeds and brought the area back to its original state. Some of the mushrooms reached 1 foot in diameter!
Beta-gulcan Polysaccharides, Antioxident Amino Acids (Ergothioneine), lovastatins, Minerals, range of B vitamins and high in protein.