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Polyporus umbellatus - the vital mushroom for the regulation of the water balance
October 7, 2021
Dr. Dorothee Bös et al.
In alternative medicine, Polyporus is highly valued for its diuretic properties. With its help, water retention in the body can be gently drained. It acts especially on the organs kidney and bladder. By stimulating the flow of lymph, polyporus at the same time has a high detoxification potential.
Learn more here about all the wonderful properties of the vital mushroom, which has been relieving the suffering of people for many centuries.
Polyporus umbellatus: Great vital mushroom with great powers
Polyporus is a medicinal mushroom that has been providing valuable health services to mankind for many centuries. It was already mentioned in a Chinese book on agriculture and medicinal plants about 2000 years ago. Even then, it was known what a valuable influence Polyporus has, among other things, on the human fluid balance. In faraway China, the vital mushroom is called Zhu Ling, which means “pig mushroom”. In German, the Polyporus bears various titles that refer mainly to its biology. Thus, the name “oak hare” indicates that it prefers to grow on oak trees. However, he is also satisfied with beech trees and in the greatest need he even settles for a spruce.
Its other call name, “knotty tussock porling,” alludes to its growth habit. Its hats appear on small, branching stems that can extend to ten to 50 centimeters in diameter in a tufted arrangement. A single fruiting body of the vital mushroom can thus weigh several kilograms. Some reports even mention 20 kilograms. Besides the above-ground visible as well as edible fruiting body, the underground permanent form of the medicinal mushroom, the sclerotium, is also rich in valuable ingredients. Although it is hard and inedible, the ancient Chinese still liked to make a brew from it. This is said to have similar health-promoting effects as the fruiting body.
Traditional applications of Polyporus
According to the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Polyporus has the following effects on our organism:
- Dissolves accumulated moisture.
- Drains and lowers.
- Helps with spleen, kidney and bladder problems such as bladder dysfunction and blood in the urine.
- Provides relief from painful urination thanks to its antibiotic properties.
- Stops diarrhea.
- Helps with fluor albus.
In the meantime, a promising combined teaching of TCM experience and modern orthodox medicine is developing, especially in Asia. But also in Europe and America, more and more researchers are dedicated to the study of natural remedies such as vital mushrooms in order to derive new treatment approaches. Now read what ingredients make up the therapeutic powers of Polyporus and for what ailments it is successfully used in the context of alternative medical treatments.
Learn more about the vital mushroom Polyporus and its positive properties on your health here in this video
Ingredients of Polyporus
As an edible and vital mushroom, the oak hare brings a colorful variety of nutrients to the plate. Mushrooms do not have a good reputation among nutritionists for nothing. While they are quite low in fat, they nourish us with lots of long-chain carbohydrates and with protein. In addition to unsaturated fatty acids, they have all eight essential amino acids that our body absolutely needs for basic functions. The high fiber content is a boon for our intestines, which in turn has a positive effect on our overall health. If a vital mushroom is also an edible mushroom, as is the case with Polyporus, it can significantly enhance many a main meal as a healthy ingredient.
Special ingredients with health-promoting effects
In addition to this extremely favorable composition of nutrients, Polyporus also contains other substances, some of which are very specific. They play an essential role in connection with the typical effects of the medicinal mushroom on our health. For example, there are the polysaccharides, which belong to the dietary fiber and can support the body in various functions. The main areas of action are the intestines and the immune system. Researchers are primarily concerned with the immunomodulatory capabilities of beta-glucans, a particular form of polysaccharide. The oak hare is especially rich in beta-1,3-1,6-glucans.
The most important antioxidant substances are polyporusterones and special enzymes such as superoxide dismutase. They can capture superoxide radicals, so-called “free radicals” and make them harmless. These very aggressive oxygen compounds occur more frequently in the context of inflammations, infections, allergies and chronic diseases such as diabetes and rheumatism. Their formation is also promoted, for example, by an incorrect diet low in vital substances, stress, smoking or lack of sleep. If our body has too few antioxidants, oxidative stress increases. This can damage cells – especially their genetic material (DNA). The aging process is thus accelerated and the risk of serious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer increases. Antioxidants are therefore important guardians of our health.
Other ingredients important for its healing properties are mannitol, various steroids such as ergosterol, ergostane or ergone. It also contains nucleosides and various vitamins. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it clearly shows how many different levels Polyporus can support our health.
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The spectrum of action of the squirrel
As you could already see from the areas of application of Polyporus in TCM, a main competence of the medicinal mushroom lies in drainage and the associated organs. In addition to water, however, it also gets the lymph flowing and can thus promote detoxification processes. Not without reason, the oak hare also has the potential to improve the appearance of the skin and even support hair growth. In recent clinical studies, interest has also focused primarily on the antitumor properties of Polyporus. Read below exciting facts and interesting details about the various applications of Polyporus.
Draining with Polyporus
Even the ancient scholars of TCM knew about the diuretic, i.e. draining effect that the vital mushroom exerts on our body. This is probably due to the substances ergosterol and mannitol, which act as aldosterone antagonists. Aldosterone is a steroid hormone from the adrenal cortex that is responsible for regulating water and electrolyte balance. Basically, its job is to prevent too much water from being excreted through the kidneys. However, if there is water accumulation in the body, as is the case with edema, for example, increased excretion makes perfect sense. The advantage of Polyporus over some dehydrating drugs is that together with the water it does not excrete excessive amounts of potassium. On the contrary, urine is rather rich in sodium and chloride.
The causes of water retention and edema can be venous insufficiency, a weak heart or even a burden on the body from waste products. The heart in particular suffers from the relatively high volume of fluid. An elevated lower blood pressure value (diastole) is typical. Thus, taking Polyporus not only drains excess water, but at the same time relieves the heart and lowers blood pressure.
In alternative medicine, the diuretic effect of Polyporus has also proven effective in organically induced urinary retention. Typical reasons for this in men is an enlarged prostate, which presses on the bladder. In women, the cause may be a lowered uterus or bladder. When diabetics suffer from urinary retention, it is often due to neuropathies. All these people are helped by the oak hare, which promotes the excretion of water and strengthens all the organs involved.
"Despite water tablets, my legs were constantly swollen when I stood for long periods of time and my lower blood pressure was always very high. It was only through the mushroom Polyporus that I got my problem under control."
The vital mushroom even provides relief from bladder dysfunction and spasms by supporting the physiological function of the bladder. The increased urine production also has a positive effect on the general condition of the urinary tract. Regular as well as intensive rinsing makes it much more difficult for pathogenic germs to colonize. In addition, the fungus develops an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory effect in the area of the bladder, which significantly supports the reduction of bladder symptoms. Therefore, your risk of urinary tract diseases decreases significantly if you take the vital mushroom regularly.
In addition to the bladder, the medicinal mushroom quite significantly supports kidney function. In studies, for example, the polysaccharides from the oak hare showed an anti-inflammatory effect in the area of the kidneys. They are even said to be able to prevent kidney fibrosis. TCM healers also like to administer Polyporus for the prevention of kidney and bladder stones. For this application, the combination of polyporus and shiitake has proven to be particularly effective, as shiitake has a uric acid-lowering effect. This reduces the risk of deposits of uric acid crystals in the kidneys and bladder.
Polyporus in cancer therapy
Most of the experience of Western medicine on the oak hare and its effect on cancer cells goes back to laboratory experiments. In the course of these, researchers found a clear antitumor effect of steroids (ergone), polyporus sterones and beta-glucans from the vital mushroom. Their cytotoxic properties inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells. In the test tube, the researchers also observed the death of breast, liver cancer and leukemia cells when polyporus sterones were added.
In a live experiment on mice with breast cancer, the vital mushroom managed to reduce the volume of the tumor. More detailed analysis showed that it both suppressed cancer cell proliferation and induced apoptosis (natural cell death). In the case of surgical removal of bladder carcinoma, polyporus measurably reduced the risk of recurrence. Doctors attributed this to increased formation of glutathione S-transferase, stimulated by the medicinal mushroom. Glutathione S-transferase performs a detoxifying function in the organism, in this case particularly in the bladder mucosa, and thus seems to minimize recidivism.
Vital mushroom for a strong immune system
Strong defenses are not only important to prevent infectious diseases. The immune system can also take some action against cancer cells itself. Therefore, polysaccharides from Polyporus contribute greatly to our overall health when they support the body’s defense mechanisms.
For example, the immunomodulatory effect of Polyporus brings higher performance of macrophages (“scavenger cells”). This occurs through increased production of nitric oxide (NO) as well as cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL 1beta. Finally, antioxidant substances such as polyporusterone A and B are also an additional support for the immune system, as they prevent the degeneration of cells.
Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial effects
In addition to its general immune-supporting effects, Polyporus also has specific antibacterial properties. Particularly noteworthy is its potential to combat Chlamydia trachomatis. This is a pathogen that primarily affects the urogenital tract. In men, it causes inflammation in the urethra, accompanied by burning and pain. In women, it affects the reproductive organs and, in the worst case, can even cause cell changes in the cervix.
Studies also showed Polyporus to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus. Furthermore, a large-scale review from China still proves the effect of polysaccharides from the Polyporus against hepatitis B.
In the alleviation of diseases and their health consequences, the oak hare can contribute even more thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Nowadays, silent, chronic inflammation is a common phenomenon, which favors the development of chronic diseases, e.g. also in the joint area. A poor intestinal environment, poor diet and too much abdominal fat can be triggers of such smoldering inflammation. Alternative medicine has had many good experiences with the administration of Polyporus for joint swelling associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia.
The vital mushroom for beautiful skin and thick hair
Clear skin is by no means only an ideal of beauty. Rather, it is the distinguishing feature of a healthy body. For example, acne is usually the result of bacteria settling on the skin and feeding on the oil from the skin pores. Together with fat, our body sometimes also excretes toxins if it cannot get rid of them otherwise (for example, via the liver). The toxin causes additional stress to the skin. The combined administration of the vital mushrooms Reishi and Polyporus has proven to be an effective natural remedy against acne. They form the perfect combination of antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effect, which ultimately proves to be very positive in acne treatment.
Basically, the skin always benefits from a purification and detoxification of the organism, as the oak hare promotes. At the same time, the antioxidant abilities of the medicinal mushroom prevent premature signs of aging of the skin and hair. The causes of increased loss of head hair can be quite different. In this context, the central ingredients of Polyporus are polyporusterones A and B, acetosyringone and the micronutrients zinc, iron, copper and biotin. By the way, a combined administration of the two vital mushrooms Cordyceps and Reishi has proven to be effective for hormonally induced hair loss. In fact, they can compensate for a dysbalance of the hormonal system.
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Our experienced team of mycotherapists will be happy to advise you in detail and free of charge on all matters relating to your health:
Small vital mushroom lesson
The medicinal mushroom Polyporus umbellatus is a member of the family of stem porlings (Polyporales). It is found primarily in oak, deciduous and sometimes mixed forests. It prefers the proximity of oaks and beeches. If the tree dies, the medicinal mushroom can continue to live for up to 30 years. While it is rarely found in Central and Eastern Europe, it is quite common in North America, far Asia, Siberia, the Caucasus and Pakistan.
The young mushroom gives off a flour-like odor and is characterized by soft, sometimes brittle flesh. After collecting it, you need to process it immediately, because it spoils quickly. In the forest, you can recognize it by its tufted growth, with many hats appearing above and next to each other. The individual hats become between two and six centimeters wide. From a distance, it may look similar to the rattling sponge (Maitake), but on closer inspection it quickly becomes obvious that in the case of Polyporus, the stems attach centrally to the cap. In the case of maitake, on the other hand, the stalk emerges from the side of the cap. The color of the hats varies from yellow to ocher to yellow-brown, while the underside, covered with pores, is white. Because the Polyporus likes it warm, it forms its fruiting body in the months from July to September.
The individual stems converge to form increasingly thicker stalks, which originate from the subterranean sclerotium. This black and brown permanent form of the vital fungus grows around the thin roots of the host tree. It has a rough surface and appears bulbous, which may remind some of truffles. However, only the fruiting body that appears above ground is suitable for consumption.
How do I take Polyporus?
Since the oak hare is difficult to find in the wild in Europe, the mushrooms used for alternative medicine purposes are usually cultivated. However, it is one of the most sensitive vital mushrooms of all, which places high demands on its cultivation. When choosing your Polyporus preparation, always make sure that the mushroom has been cultivated with organic guidelines in mind. Only then can you also be sure that it is not loaded with heavy metals and toxins that your body would absorb directly.
In terms of the form, the powder in capsules has proven itself in mycotherapy. It is easy to dose, has a very long shelf life and contains all substances relevant for health. However, there are also limitations here in terms of processing. If the mushroom is dried too warm, i.e. at over 40° Celsius, important enzymes are destroyed. The grinding itself must also be carried out with the utmost care, as friction also generates heat. So ask the manufacturer about the exact conditions of cultivation and production before you buy his preparation. For exact dosage and possible combination with other measures, please consult a mycotherapist or contact our experts. Because every person and every clinical picture are unique and require precisely coordinated treatment for the best therapeutic result.
For mushroom powders there are many suppliers
You will find trustworthy ones with controlled organic cultivation in Germany, but unfortunately also less recommendable importers of cheap goods. Read what is important when buying.
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The 14 most important vital mushrooms
Scientific studies / sources
- Jianzhe Y., Mao X.: “Icons of Medicinal Fungi from China”; CRC Press; 1989.
- Hempen C., Fischer T.: “Leitfaden Chinesische Phytotherapie”; Urban & Fischer; 2001.
- Prof. Dr. med. Ivo Bianchi: “Modern Mycotherapy”; Hinckel Druck, 2008