Sparassis Crispa (Cauliflower Mushroom, Hanabiratake)
This mushroom is both parasitic and saprophytic. It derives its name from Cauliflower, the vegetable, because it resembles its head. Alternatively, it is said to look like a brain and hence its nickname, the Brain Fungus. It is also referred to by other names such as Hen of the Woods, the Ruffle Mushroom, the White Fungus or Hanabiratake in Japanese.
It’s generally shaped like an irregular sphere on a short stem. The colour of its spores ranges variously from white to pale yellow.
It thrives at and around the base of conifer trees. It also likes hardwoods like the Pine. Farmers in Japan, Australia, the US and Korea are now growing this mushroom commercially. The Sparassis Crispa generally grows in temperate zones.
This is a very delicious mushroom. It is ready for picking when still white but if it overstays on the farm and turns yellow, it can give you indigestion. However, it can be dried and preserved as it remains cartilaginous with all its nutrients.
It is a very big mushroom that can weigh upwards of 6kg.
Before preparing it, ensure that you wash it keenly to remove all dirt residues within its creases.
Research particularly done on mice indicated that the Sparassis Crispa mushroom has got substances that help the body raise its haemoglobin level. This strengthens your immune system since continuous destruction of red blood cells is a cause for ill health. Haemoglobin is actually the specific element in the blood that is responsible for carrying oxygen and distributing it around the body. When haemoglobin levels fall below the acceptable count, a person is said to be anaemic. It occurs in instances of abnormal blood loss for example in cases of accidents or problematic deliveries. The body might also fail to produce enough blood cells. In some other instances, something could be triggering destruction of the red blood cells. A disease like malaria, if untreated for long, causes anaemia. Leukaemia is also another cause of anaemia. Finally, failure to produce enough blood cells and destruction of the same could combine and cause anaemia. In acute anaemia, food nutrients are not sufficient to restore the blood level. The doctor often prescribes relevant medication to boost the red blood cells or recommends a blood transfusion in severe cases.
Sparassis Crispa also has anti-tumour properties. In particular, it was able to fight Sarcoma 180 in mice. Sarcoma 180 is a tumour that affects mice tissue. Researchers specifically emphasised the impact of cytokine (Harada et al, 2002). Its ability to fight tumours was further supported by another study done in Japan. Within a period of five weeks, the tumours in the mice had significantly reduced in size and their lives extended (Hasegawa et al., 2004).
Some other research done by Woodward showed that the Sparassis Crispa has antifungal properties (Woodward et al., 1993). This means that the mushroom has substances that help to counter fungal diseases. Fungal ailments can be as serious as any other bacterial or viral diseases if proper treatment is not sought. Fungal diseases are grouped mainly according to the part of the body they attack in terms of penetration into the body. People who pay too much attention to the outside appearance are said to be superficial. Likewise the fungus that attacks the surface of the body is said to cause Superficial mycoses. Whereas the fungal infection does not cause any pain, it can cause a lot of discomfort. This is because the skin looks patched with different complexions and it draws a lot of attention if it’s on the face or some similarly conspicuous area.
Cutaneous mycoses or dermatomycoses are infections affect the skin and nails and go a little deeper than superficially. Examples of such fungal infections are ringworms. Athlete foot is another example. Fungal nail infection also referred to as onychomycosis makes the nail look extremely dark like as if it’s about to rot. It is caused by dermatophytes, yeasts or non-dermatophyte moulds. Dermatophytes however are the worst culprits. For proper and fast treatment, the best thing is to have some samples tested in a laboratory so that the correct strain of fungus can be directly treated. It is not advisable to do a trial and error self-medication with Over the Counter drugs. However with mushrooms, this single species can fight off most fungal infections.
When the fungal infection reaches the tissue below the skin or even touches the bone tissue, then that is Subcutaneous mycoses.
The final grouping is when the fungal infection has touched an internal organ. If this kind of fungal infection spreads in the body, it can easily turn fatal. Often a person will develop such a fungal infection if another ailment already exists, especially one dealing with invasive treatment. Leukaemia patients are also vulnerable to fungal infection. This is the category that claims most lives worldwide.