Ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates (called the father of medicine), has been credited with the quote, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” Indeed, there is tremendous preventative and therapeutic value in various plants and fungi. As human beings, we evolved with these species in the Earth’s ecosystem. Since prehistoric times, people have gathered herbs and mushrooms for medicine and healthy food.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of medicine. They can be either eaten as food or used to produce extracts. Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are native to East Asia and are used in the cuisine of many Asian countries as well as medicine in traditional medicine. Shiitake kills cancer cells, has hypolipidaemic (fat-reducing) effects, supports immune function, and prevents cardiovascular disease. Turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) prevents and treats influenza and the common cold, combat breast cancer, and aids digestion. They also have been found to treat the Human Papilloma Virus and help patients with HIV/AIDS. A turkey tail extract known as PSK is used to fight cancer.
Many herbs have medicinal properties. Aloe vera helps with cuts and scrapes, sunburns, insect bites, as well as overall skin care. Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It also kills cancer cells and intestinal parasites. St. John’s wart (Hypericum perforatum) helps with anxiety, depression, skin care, nerve pain, lupus, and many other ailments.
Hemp and Cannabis (Cannabis Sativa) are some of the most beneficial medicinal plants. The differences between the two, although the same species, include the ratio of two phytocannabinoids, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Cannabinoids are chemicals that bind to certain receptors of cells throughout the body. These cannabinoid receptors make up the endocannabinoid system, consisting of CB1 and CB2 receptors. This system helps preserve homeostasis (balance) in the body. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and nervous system. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and are responsible for anti-inflammatory effects. THC primarily bind to CB1 receptors while CBD bind to CB2 receptors. Cannabis or more commonly known as marijuana, have a high THC to CBD ratio and creates a euphoric “high”, aids in appetite for cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, provides pain relief, protects brain cells from trauma, aids sleep, and many other benefits. It is a schedule I drug at the U.S. federal level and is illegal in most jurisdictions. Many U.S. States as well as many nations have legalized Cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. Hemp has a high CBD to THC ratio and is used to create CBD oils and extracts. CBD is legal in all 50 States in the U.S. CBD elevates nausea, relieves pain and inflammation, fights cancer, reduces anxiety, has antipsychotic effects, treats seizures,and promotes cardiovascular health.