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Holten: Another one of those medical miracles

Dear medical community. Your need to get your “you know what” together and America, you need to do the same thing.

Oh sure, we marvel at the magic of modern medicine. But I’ve got news for you. Nature has already provided all of the magic that we need and yet we refuse to believe it because we are a quick-fix, pill-popping society.

Get a sore throat. Go get some drugs. Blood pressure goes up. Get some pills. That’s what we do. Do you know why? Because we are lazy, but more than that, we are misinformed.

So why has modern medicine, with its pill popping, cut-and-transplant mentality surged to the forefront? Because we don’t consistently take care of ourselves and then they have to come in and pull out all the stops to keep us from kicking the bucket. That’s really what modern medicine is, the last-ditch effort.

Still, we spend billions on research and inventing new drugs when Momma Nature has already provided everything we need and it’s right there on our plate. Or it should be on our plate.

Take mushrooms, for example. They contain some of the most potent medicines on the planet and you can eat them without a bundle of side effects.

You probably didn’t realize that there might be thousands of species of mushrooms and a half-dozen of them boost your immune better than napping, Vitamin C and any drug that’ll ever be invented on this planet or Mars. That’s important because your immune system is what keeps you alive and consistently getting out of bed each and every day.

More specifically, there is something called long chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha and beta glucan molecules that are primarily responsible for a mushrooms’ beneficial effect on your immune system. In fact, according to one study, adding one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms has been found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.

Then there’s something called Cordyceps, which is a parasitic mushroom that is unique because, in the wild, it grows out of an insect host instead of a plant host and has been used for eons by medical practitioners in China and Tibet. But what do they know?

It is proven that this mushroom has hypoglycemic and possible antidepressant effects, protects your liver and kidneys, increases blood flow, helps normalize your cholesterol levels, and has been used to treat Hepatitis B. In spite of that, we go ahead and spend a bunch of money on drugs with lovely side effects instead of eating what Momma N has given us.

In addition, Cordyceps has anti-tumor properties and recent studies suggest it also has potent anti-inflammatory characteristics that may be helpful for those suffering from asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, renal failure and stroke damage.

But if you think you’re going to go traipsing around the hills and valleys and fill your buckets full of hillside mushrooms, think again, because some are very toxic.

Thus, if you eat some wild ones and think you’ve gotten by, you might want to note that during a latency period of six to 24 hours after ingestion, toxins are actively destroying your kidneys and liver, but you won’t have a clue because you won’t experience any discomfort.

Then, after about 24 hours, you find yourself having severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and you’ll be vomiting violently.

After that, you might appear to recover and even be released from a hospital if that’s where you went. But you’ll soon experience a relapse, during which kidney and liver failure can often occur, leading to death.

Patients may also “bleed out” and die due to the destruction of clotting factors in the blood and there may be more than one relapse.

So the best, and maybe only, way to survive having eaten poison mushrooms is to be rushed to the hospital where the toxins can be removed before being fully absorbed into your body. So the moral of that story is, eat mushrooms, but eat the right ones.

In fact, it is this need to be careful with mushrooms that once prompted Bill Ballance, a groundbreaking Los Angeles radio personality and talk-radio pioneer to say, “Falling in love is like eating mushrooms. You never know if it’s the real thing until it’s too late.”

Holten is the manager of The Drill and the executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. He writes a weekly column for The Dickinson Press. Email him at