Ötzi carried tinder sponge with him. Presumably every adult Stone Age person had the soft, felty middle layer of the tree fungus with them. Anyone who didn’t take them was careless. Because the sponge was medicine cabinet and lighter at the same time. It burned “like tinder” when sparks fell on it when it was struck with flint.
If Ötzi and his contemporaries injured themselves, they staunched the blood with the sponge and at the same time disinfected the wound without knowing it. Practical everyday experience taught them that the sponge was good for them. We are only now gradually discovering to an increasing extent why this is so.
It was a long way from the Stone Age remedy to the slow rediscovery of the healing power of mushrooms in our country. While healing mushrooms in Asia have a tradition that is thousands of years old – perhaps even linked directly to the knowledge of Stone Age people, our knowledge was lost.
The witch hunts murdered the wise women, who knew the healing powers of the tinder fungus, knew how to dose the fly agaric as a painkiller and anesthetic and perhaps even alleviated bone and joint pain with the oyster mushroom. Mushrooms became the work of the devil, and those seeking to heal or alleviate ailments turned against God, who sent diseases to try people.
Today we know that mushrooms such as the tinder fungus, but also our edible mushrooms such as button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms are full of healing substances. In addition to vitamins and minerals, polysaccharides, also known as glycans, are important components.
These polysaccharides have an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory effect and accelerate healing. At the same time, they have a strong antioxidant effect. The oyster mushroom, for example, contains the polysaccharide pleuran, which protects the body’s cells from free radicals.
Fungal proteins that modulate the immune system have a very complex effect – Fungal Immunomodulatory Proteins, or FIPS for short. They stimulate immune systems that are too weak and at the same time dampen excessive immune reactions. People suffering from frequent infections
The FIPS get support from proteoglycans, which also occur in cultivated mushrooms. The substances consist of proteins with attached carbohydrates and play an important role in the communication between and within the cells.
They stimulate the development of natural killer cells and “train” them. This keeps the body’s defense system awake and the killer cells successfully hunt down unwanted invaders. If they work correctly, they recognize cells infected by viruses as well as cancer cells and trigger their cell death. Of course, Ötzi and the Wise Women did not know such connections. Nonetheless, they used it successfully at a time when medicine was still in its infancy.