The cap of the Winter Mushroom is hemispherical and slightly elongated. It is yellow-brown or honey-colored. A slightly darker shade is visible in the center of the cap. In wet weather, the mushroom cap remains slimy. It has been observed that adult Winter Mushroom are often covered with brown spots.
The flesh of the mushroom is watery, cream-colored, has a pleasant taste and is endowed with a delicate mushroom aroma. The leaves are mature and rare, cream-colored, which change to a dark shade as the mushroom grows. Spores white in color.
The stem of the Winter Mushroom is cylindrical in shape, the upper part of the stem is the same color as the mushroom cap, the lower part of the stem is darker. Stem length 4-9cm, diameter up to 8mm. For the Winter Mushroom , the stem is tough.
Fruiting bodies occur in autumn and spring. In winter, during the thaw, the fruit bodies continue to grow, they survive even under the snow. Winter Mushroom form large stands consisting of both young and old mushrooms. Often this mushroom climbs a tree at a height of three or more meters, which makes collecting mushrooms much more difficult.
The Winter Mushroom can be confused with basically two counterparts - the variable stilt and the poisonous, rimmed helmet. Mushroom pickers, beginners, therefore tend to collect this mushroom starting in November, so as not to mix it with a poisonous relative, because the relative has already died in November. To be safe, look at both the rimmed helmet and the Winter Mushroom - the main differences can be seen on the stem! The rounded helmet has a ring, the Winter Mushroom does not, and the appearance of the stalks differs between these two mushrooms.
For new Winter Mushroom , collect the caps and the upper part of the stem, for older winter stems, collect only the caps. Collecting is done in woven baskets, otherwise the mushrooms will collapse.
It is not recommended to collect this mushroom close to industrial areas - at least >4km from them. In Latvia, the medicinally important winter mushroom is not collected, even though it is not far behind in its properties compared to earthworms, birch chaga and other medicinal mushrooms.
The Winter Mushroom is also valuable from a chemical point of view, it has a high content of carbohydrates, fibers, proteins, vitamins B1 and C, minerals - copper and zinc. The composition of the mushroom also contains flammulin, which prevents the formation of malignant tumors. In smaller quantities, but the Winter Mushroom also contains B2, B5, B9, PP, phosphorus and potassium.
Biochemical studies of the Winter Mushroom reveal that it is high in antioxidants, including the common mushroom antioxidant ergothioneine. Proflamin, an antioxidant present in the Winter Mushroom , showed good results in experiments in increasing the life expectancy of cancer patients, compared to the control group.
Antioxidant ergothioneine has a strong effect on the human immune system, which ensures that malignant tumors and other formations do not form in the body. In Japan, as a result of long-term studies, it has been determined that using this mushroom or preparations containing ergothioneine, the risk of getting lymphoma and prostate adenoma disappears.
Japanese scientists have also identified substances in the Winter Mushroom that directly fight cancer cells. The Winter Mushroom does not allow a disease such as sarcoma-180 to develop and form metastases. In addition, it has been experimentally determined that not only the Winter Mushroom amino acids, but also the polysaccharides have extremely high antioxidant properties, which allows it to be used as an anti-cancer preparation (more precisely, an aid).
Chinese biochemists have determined that Winter Mushroom polysaccharides, which they extracted from a mycelial culture, are natural immunomodulators that encourage the body to fight its own cancer cells.
The substances contained in Winter Mushroom reduce the cholesterol content in the blood and slow down the development of atherosclerosis. In Eastern countries, various preparations and also cosmetics are made from this mushroom. This mushroom has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties, for example, lectin and PD-glucan, the composition of the mushroom increases the production of antioxidants in the human body, because lectin is an immunomodulating protein.
English medical researchers talk about the fact that the immunomodulating properties of the Winter Mushroom help balance the immune system and help maintain liver health.
Chinese laboratory research has proven that Winter Mushroom have a beneficial effect on degenerative diseases - Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia.
The anti-inflammatory properties of the Winter Mushroom help a person stay in good shape - general weakness does not occur. The detoxifying properties of the substances in the mushroom protect the cardiovascular system against diseases.
Returning to Japan, this mushroom is also included in the diet because it promotes the proper functioning of the liver and stomach, preventing the development of golden staphylococcus.
And what else is worth mentioning. In terms of the content of microelements (phosphorus, zinc, potassium, manganese, iodine and copper) and minerals, Winter Mushroom exceed the value of vegetables several times. It can be compared in value to beef or milk. This allows the Winter Mushroom to be considered a complete food product that contains all the necessary elements for human functionality.
The Winter Mushroom is more often used by folk scientists in our country, because this plant is also available in late autumn (November), so it can be used fresh, which is a huge benefit. Folklorists recommend it as an antioxidant and as a natural antibiotic.
In case of serious colds and lung inflammations, mushrooms are ground through a meat grinder and used together with raspberry jam. Since this mushroom is also known for its anti-cancer properties, it is recommended to use it in case of liver cancer, along with chalk and aloe.
An alcohol infusion can be made from Winter Mushroom to treat lacerations, as well as to treat lacerations caused by childbirth, not only for women, but also for livestock. But you should always remember that there are no clinical studies with preparations made from the Winter Mushroom , so treatment with it is at your own risk!
Not recommended for use
Preparations of the winter strain are not recommended for pregnant women, as well as during lactation, of course, also if there is an allergy to any of the substances contained in the mushroom. Remember, we never treat children with mushrooms - children's stomachs are even weaker than adults' and there may be problems with mushroom processing.
This mushroom will also not be the most successful choice if there are problems with the digestive tract, liver and gall bladder diseases (these organs produce processing enzymes), as well as kidney diseases and gout.