Four Sigmatic Herbal Review Criteria for Identifying Mushrooms

herbal mushrooms

Herbal mushrooms and fungi are a popular topic of discussion. There is an endless debate over whether or not they are “natural” enough to be consumed on their own, and if they are safe enough to eat. This article intends to address both sides of the issue, and provide an explanation for the origin of “herbal mushrooms” in addition to offering an identification key for each species mentioned. Hopefully you will find this information to be of use in your search for natural foods and supplements.

First, what are the most common wild mushrooms? The most common wild mushroom foraging guide lists them in order from easiest to most difficult to find. In order to rank them, I place the easiest to find (in terms of availability) at the top of the list, and give the harder-to-find species lower ranks. My list can also be cross-referenced by any person looking for a mushroom foraging guide, allowing them to quickly see which mushrooms are more likely to be found where they would like to go, and why.

An Overview

A close up of a green field

Some of the mushrooms on the easier to find “Herbal Mushroom” lists, such as Shubhat, Agaricus, Penicillium, and Aspergillus, have proven to be effective in boosting the immune system. Agaricus has been shown to increase the ability of the body’s cells to fight viruses and bacteria, and stimulate the growth of white blood cells, which makes it useful in supporting the health of the heart. Penicillium and Aspergillus have been used by traditional healers to encourage the growth of the immune system, and slow the aging process. Though these two species are not actually “herbal mushrooms,” many manufacturers include them in supplements and claim that they work in concert with the growth and health of the human body. (If you do not know how to read a herbal mushroom identification, please click here for a detailed explanation.)

Some of the more common, and well known, species of foragers are chanterelles, red cap, white truffle, and more. These can all be found on foraging mushroom lists. Each of these species has common characteristics which make them easy to identify, but that does not mean that all of them will be effective in supporting your health. For instance, chanterelles contain a chemical called mycoflavonoids that can suppress the activity of the enzymes that cause inflammation in our bodies. Though mycoflavonoids have been shown to be beneficial for some people, most people need a minimum amount of this compound in their system in order to be healthy.

Sigmatic Herbal Review

A close up of a flower

Another common mushroom identification key is color. It’s pretty obvious whether mushrooms are fresh or dried. While there are several ways that mushrooms are processed (such as sauteing, drying, boiling, and fermenting), the key thing that you should look for is color: if the mushroom is red, it is most likely fresh. If it is a grayish color, it may be dried, but it is most likely older.

The third key element of mushroom identification is to be able to smell it. This comes in the form of the aroma that the fungi emit. My experience with this comes from trying to identify mushroom courses in my own backyard. All of the varieties I’ve seen, while very similar in shape and size, smell different. Some have pleasant subtle smells, while others have strong, pungent aromas.

The last of the four sigmatic herbal review criteria is texture. When I look at a piece of raw mushrooms, or any piece of licorice root, for that matter, I immediately get a nice feeling in my gut. This is because fungi have nerve endings down inside their shell. When I eat these, I feel a nice tickle in my gut. This effect comes from the same part of the mushroom that sense the taste of licorice root, but it extends beyond just taste. This sensory component of mushroom consumption combines with other clues to identify it.

Bottom Line

These are four criteria that must be used when trying to identify mushrooms. Foraging for mushrooms can be rewarding if you take the right approaches. As stated above, mushroom identification should include looking for obvious differences between the various species. Then you need to determine whether there is a difference in smell, texture, and other aspects. Finally, you should take the appropriate steps when you feel that you should consume the mushroom (i.e., consumption is imminent). Following these four criteria will help you forage safely, enjoyably, and hopefully attract more than your fair share of flies this summer!

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