I have some oyster mushroom logs on my land, and was delighted to recently find that the combination of fall rains and warm days had led to a good harvest this year. I was also delighted to learn that in addition to being a gourmet treat, oyster mushrooms share many of the benefits of the other medicinal mushrooms. Many mushrooms like shiitake, maitake, and reishi are known for their use in helping with cancer prevention and enhancing the immune system. These are in fact some of the most common attributes of medicinal mushrooms. Their immune enhancing capacity is due to the special polysaccharides found in their cell walls such as beta glucan. Most mushrooms have these polysaccharides, but the type and amount varies between the different varieties.
In addition to the immune benefits, different species of mushrooms have other unique ways they shine. It is fairly common for mushrooms to contain antimicrobial compounds. Some species like reishi and turkey tail even inhibit the growth of yeast such as candida. These mushrooms and several others are also showing benefit in fighting viral infections. The oyster mushrooms I enjoyed are reported to have these antiviral properties and cholesterol-lowering benefits along with other species including maitake. Unique compounds have been isolated from lion’s mane mushrooms that may help with re-growth of nerves and are being considered for use with many neurological issues like Alzheimer’s.