Mushrooms been used medicinally for for thousands of years.
They can help boost your immune system, fight off viruses and bacteria, and are beneficial in cancer prevention, protection and treatment. Some mushrooms are used medicinally to ease menopause symptoms. And, they can boost your stores of vitamin D.
The variety matters, however. According to special guest, Dr. Patrick Fratellone, regular white button mushrooms do not have as many health attributes as shiitake mushrooms or chaga mushrooms.
You can realize these benefits either by eating the mushrooms or taking supplements (or both). It's important to purchase from a reputable company; one that uses organic mushrooms which have been grown in clean soil (no metals).
To get the most out of your mushroom regimen, you should be eating at least two ounces every day. The best way to prepare them is to steam or lightly saute, because you don't want to cook out all of the nutrient properties. You also shouldn't eat mushrooms raw, as there are some alkaloids in raw mushrooms that can have negative health effects.
If you're thinking about heading out into the wild to pick your own, you must be very careful to choose the non-poisonous varieties. There are plenty of mushroom guides available to get you started. And, in certain cities, you can take a community course on mushrooms.
Mushrooms can also be beneficial for the environment.
Listen in as Dr. Fratellone joins Andrea and Lisa to share more about the tremendous health benefits of mushrooms, as well as ways you can start implementing these health powerhouses into your daily diet.
RadioMD Presents: Naturally Savvy | Original Air Date: June 3, 2015
Hosts: Andrea Donsky, RHN & Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest: Patrick Fratellone, MD
Your organic search is over. Here’s Naturally Savvy with health experts Andrea Donsky and Lisa Davis.
LISA: Last night with dinner I took some mushrooms--just regular old button organic mushrooms--and I sautéed them in some avocado garlic oil that I got and it was so good. Now at the time, I wasn’t thinking about the health benefits but now I’m like, “Wait a second. Are these really great for me?” Apparently mushrooms are good for you and I’m so excited. Andrea has something to say. Did you make mushrooms too?
ANDREA: Well, you were like, “I took some mushrooms”. I’m like, “Wait. Is this conversation going somewhere that I wasn’t sure about?”
LISA: Okay. I have a funny story which I’ll tell at some point about that. I didn’t take them but I was working at a camp and this guy sent them to me in my care package and I’m like,
“Why?” As a teenager, I’m like, “Why did you do that? Are you trying to get me fired?” Anyway, we’ve got Dr. Patrick Fratellone with us. He is a fantastic integrative physician. Hi, Dr. Patrick.
DR. PATRICK: Hi, how are you? That was a funny story you started. Mushrooms? Okay. Well, now you cooked real mushrooms last night. So, I put on my blog a recipe for marinating mushrooms which came from a book by John Moore. It’s called 100 Edible Mushrooms. I did that two nights ago combining mushrooms with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, paprika, lemon juice and chili powder and some parsley and keeping them, shaking them up, and then serving them. They were delicious and there are very health conscious benefits because mushrooms could help your immune system. They’re adaptogens. They fight off viruses, fight off bacteria. They have a cancer prevention and they’ve been used for thousands and thousands of years. So, there’s nothing bad about them.
ANDREA: So, my question is and I always wonder, you know, is eating let’s say a white button mushroom just as healthy as eating, let’s say, a Chinese mushroom like a shitake. Do they have different benefits?
DR. PATRICK: They do. I mean a white button mushroom really doesn’t have the medicinal benefits as shitake. I mean shitake’s been known for centuries to be anti-cancer, to be anti-viral. It also reduces blood pressure, reduces lung inflammation. You know, the button mushrooms, they’re some benefit but not as much as the medicinal like shitake, shitake and cordyceps.
ANDREA: Oh, they are delicious. Are we supposed to be eating them as food or do we want to be taking them as supplements? I know I was at a lot of the health food shows and I noticed a lot of the companies are making supplements with mushrooms?
DR. PATRICK: Right. I mean, you could do it either way. I mean some people don’t like the taste of mushrooms so they use it as supplements. For my cancer patients, I do both having them as food and as a supplement and you want to get a good company. There are really, Paul Stamets who’s in Olympia, Washington state, and I did a couple of courses with him. He wrote a book called, The Mycelium Running. You want to go and buy his mushrooms at the, I think it’s called Fungi Imperfecti where you can look up Paul Stamets and he is a great…I mean he is a really phenomenal mushroom. You don’t just want to buy them anywhere because you want them grown organically. You want to make sure their grown in soil that has no metals. So, I mean, his mushrooms are good. There is another company Aloha Medicinals but you want to get them in especially to pick up your immune system to fight off all these diseases we have, especially autoimmune disease.
LISA: You know, it’s funny. I was going to ask about that because you mentioned cancer and I was going to ask why are they’re particularly good for that? It sounds like boosting your immune system obviously is beneficial for all these different diseases we have.
DR. PATRICK: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s numerous studies on mushrooms. I mean, hopefully, conventional medicine is accepting more and more and a lot of these are published in peer review journals. I mean, mushrooms are excellent for cancer-- not only protection but for prevention and treatment and they’ve been used in other countries for thousands of years with great benefits, so I don’t think we should shy away from them. Now what I want to say, a lot of mushrooms this time of the year…There’s a lot of people going to pick mushrooms in the woods-- in the forest--and you have to be careful. If you’re just going to go pick a mushroom in the woods, please do not ingest it. You really should look it up. There are poisonous mushrooms out there. Some of them look similar in look to one that’s edible, so you have to be very careful.
ANDREA: So, now let’s talk a little bit about dosage because for those that are listening they might say, “Oh, I have a little bit of, you know, a couple of mushrooms in my salad every day or maybe sautéing them like you guys recommended.” Is there a certain amount that we should be eating to get that cancer prevention or some type of autoimmune prevention?
DR. PATRICK: Yes. You should be having at least two ounces. I mean, if you’re going to eat mushrooms let’s have like a full side dish, a whole two ounces. You can marinate them in olive oil but you want to have it as a side dish every day.
ANDREA: Now, does cooking them ruin some of their nutrient value like some of the other vegetables that we eat?
DR. PATRICK: You don’t want to cook them. You want to steam them because you don’t want to eat them raw because sometimes raw mushrooms have some alkaloids in it that are not good for your body and make you sick.
ANDREA: Oh. Interesting.
DR. PATRICK: You don’t want to, then, take all the medicinal benefit out of it by cooking them to like soup like. So, you want to have it like an Italian al dente, a little steamed.
LISA: Now, I’m curious you said now people go out and pick mushrooms and I actually had a boyfriend that I went out for a long time in my twenties who actually use to go look for chanterelles. He was obsessed of going and looking for mushrooms.
DR. PATRICK: Oh that’s fine yeah because he knows that, that’s great. Yes. Go ahead.
LISA: I was just going to say but what happens, how do you know because you said you want to be careful, some are poisonous. Once you get them home, is there a way to find out?
DR. PATRICK: Yes. There’s mushroom guides. There’s a book called The Fungal Pharmacy, which is a guide. 100 Edible Mushrooms is a guide. There are many mushroom guides. Paul Stamets on his website lists the ones. There are color-coded books to look for. Also, your local town like in New York City, the Botanical Gardens has a course on mushrooms. So, for that person who wants to go upstate and pick them, you have to be careful but at least you can show them; you can look in a book. The problem I have is that you know the way with plants is some species look like good species but they are they are poisonous. So, some of them are similar to the good species so you have to be careful but you can definitely pick them Right now, everyone’s picking…I’m trying to think of the name. It’s morel. Everyone likes morels. So, morel picking is like June and July. So, there’s people that go find patches of morels which is, you know, they sell for a lot of money. So, if you can find a, really one grown in the wild, that’s great.
ANDREA: Out of curiosity, I don’t know if you know this answer but how many different types of species or different types of mushrooms are there?
DR. PATRICK: Oh, my god, we’re talking 20-30,000.
ANDREA: Wow, not many at all.
DR. PATRICK: Paul Stamets when you read his book Mycelium Running he believes that mushrooms can save this planet because the way they grow, they could eat up the toxic waste that we have in this world.
ANDREA: That’s interesting.
DR PATRICK: You know mushrooms take over. Well, mushrooms are fungi. They take over. You know, they’re scavengers so the thing is they could take over a garbage bin and eat it all up so we can really use it to get rid of toxins in this world. So, when you’re reading Mycelium Running mushrooms are so, I mean it’s ingenious. They’ve been living for thousands of years. They’ve found mushrooms over 5,000 years old. So, mushrooms are really important.
ANDREA: I love mushrooms. I mean, I make soups. I love soups and I always throw at least three different varieties of mushrooms in my soup every single week and I just love them. Now, before, you know, we only have about maybe under two minutes left. We work with a company called North American Urban Spice and they have a chaga mushroom.
DR PATRICK: Oh, chaga.
ANDREA: So, they do teas. Chaga, yes. So tell us a little bit about chaga.
DR. PATRICK: Well chaga’s one of the biggest mushrooms. It has a lot of studies on it for medicinal value. It’s definitely used for cancer, immune system. A woman who’s going into menopause, it’s great for that. It’s great for dizziness. It’s an all-around mushroom. As a tea, you have to get used to it. I like chaga to eat. I don’t like to take as a capsule because for me it regurgitates but it’s an excellent mushroom and everyone should be taking chaga.
ANDREA: You know, its funny people are starting to put it into chocolates.
DR PATRICK: Love it.
ANDREA: You’re starting to see functional foods. Yes. There’s functional foods that are coming out that have chaga in it. So, I find it fascinating.
DR. PATRICK: I think it’s a super food. It’s going to be a new super food.
LISA: Oh, definitely. I read, too, that the button mushrooms if they’re dried that there’s an extract that’s found to help with increasing your vitamin D levels. It is something that—
DR. PATRICK: Yes, that’s true. You know the people who don’t want take vitamin D could take mushrooms and get their vitamin D met, their requirements. So, we don’t always have to take—
DR. PATRICK: Yes. There’s certain mushrooms that have vitamin D in the dried form so it’s good to take. So, fresh mushrooms can help your vitamin D; dried mushrooms can but this way if you don’t want to take the vitamin D liquid or you don’t want to eat sardines, you can definitely eat mushrooms for vitamin D.
ANDREA: Wow. That is a very good tip, I did not know that. Lisa, I am very impressed. That is great information.
LISA: I did my homework.
ANDREA: That is awesome.
DR. PATRICK: Well, thank you, guys.
ANDREA: Thank you Dr. Frattelone and that’s awesome. So, where can people find you if they want to learn more about you in your practice?
DR. PATRICK: Fratellonemedical.com is our website and we also have a Facebook page, all our information is there and most of my website is educational so I hope people read it.
ANDREA: Perfect and you’re also on Twitter as well?
DR. PATRICK: I’m on Twitter. I’m on Facebook. I’m on Instagram and I even do Pinterest, different posts on mushrooms. I have a mushroom post. I have a post on bees and herbs.
ANDREA: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for being on our show today, very interesting conversation. I’m Andrea Donsky along with Lisa Davis. This is Naturally Savvy Radio on RadioMD. Stay well.