Last week, we sent an email to our subscribers about using mushrooms to reduce depression (Lion’s mane to be exact.). We received so many questions about the use of medicinal mushrooms, it was fitting to write a more detailed article on it. The most popular questions were:
What are medicinal mushrooms exactly?
What are the medicinal properties of mushrooms?
What kinds of mushrooms can I use medicinally?
All great questions! Honestly, mushrooms are one of our favorite superfoods. There isn’t enough space in one article to list all of the great things about them (we could literally write books one each individual mushroom), but we’ll give our best overview below to help you learn more about why these fungi are so powerful and crucial for your overall health!
What are medicinal mushrooms?
Medicinal mushrooms are simply the fruiting body of certain fungi with a wide variety of health benefits. It is safe to say that most mushrooms carry some, if not a plethora, of benefits to the human body. But, like most food, they aren’t created equally. There are some that are more nutrient-dense and healing than others.
Mycologists and other scientists have studied these mushrooms for centuries. Ancient peoples from many nations have utilized the healing power of fungi for a broad array of ailments. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), mushrooms are an important ingredient in several medicinal herbal combinations. Pharaohs referred to them as the ‘sons of gods’ because of their life-giving properties! While they are gaining popularity in today’s time, there is a lot to still be uncovered.
What are the medicinal properties of mushrooms?
There are over 130 medicinal properties found in a variety of mushrooms. Here are the most touted ones:
- Beta Glucan rich
- Polysaccharide rich
- Cancer fighting
- Supports a healthy heart
- Improve brain health
- Energy boosting (benefits chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Immune boosting
- Relieves stress
- Fertility support
- Asthma relief
- Allergy relief
- High in fiber
As you can see, mushrooms have a lot to offer any health regimen. In comparison to many other herbs and foods, their benefits supersede most. When it comes to experiencing the benefits listed above, it does depend on the type of mushroom consumed. Thankfully, several types have multiple positive components. Here are a few of our favorites:
Chaga mushrooms grow on birch trees and bear a deeper resemblance to charcoal than the mushrooms most are used to. They are rich in several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B, iron, magnesium, manganese, amino acids, potassium, zinc, selenium, and copper to name a few. In addition to being nutrient-rich, Chaga is also known to have a beneficial effect on the heart by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Like most mushrooms, it is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and gives the immune system a much needed boost!
Reishi mushroom, also known as Lingzhi, is a longtime staple in Traditional Chinese medicine. Along with Lion's Mane, Reishi has been known to reduce fatigue and depression, while also improving immune function. Its use in fighting cancer continues to be studied. Reishi has shown to increase natural killer cells (NK cells, or white blood cells) to help fight infection and the spread of cancerous cells. This mushrooms, like Chaga, has many beneficial traits (almost too many to list here!) and is thankfully gaining popularity.
If you've ever come across turkey tail while hiking in the woods, you'll never forget it. It looks just like the tail of a turkey growing on the side of a standing all fallen tree, but don't let its wild look fool you!
This mushroom has been used to treat respiratory and many other issues. It also contains compounds known to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. In fact, turkey tail has shown promise in colon and breast cancer studies. For those with gut imbalances, turkey tail may also help support healthy bacteria growth in the intestines. Not many supplements can provide such an array of potent benefits!
Our last email touched on Lion's Mane mushroom. Like Turkey Tail, this fungus is named after its look. It resembles a lion's mane more than it does a standard mushroom! As mentioned last week, this mushroom may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety--making it a good choice for those suffering with related mental health issues (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder). But that's not all.
Lion's Mane reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. Its positive effect on cognition makes it an excellent supplement for those suffering from cognitive decline, such Alzheimer's disease. While it is not a cure, it has shown promise in this area and others, such as nerve recovery, diabetes, and gut health improvement.
Also known as Caterpillar Mushroom, Cordyceps is a fungus found on specific species of caterpillars in the mountainous regions of China. For centuries, it has been used to treat heart irregularities, high cholesterol, liver disorders, bronchitis, cough, premature aging, stress, fatigue, and kidney disorders.
Cordyceps also stimulate cells to improve immune function. Some athletes take this mushroom in place of other energy boosting compounds. For men, it has been known to improve libido too. This fungus is quite versatile!
There are literally thousands of mushroom species in existence that we know of (over 14,000). However, the mushrooms above are some of the most potent superfoods on the planet. While many varieties of mushrooms are not edible, these are not only edible, but impart so much goodness to the human body that it is almost unbelievable!
How should I take Mushrooms?
There are many ways to take mushrooms. Like most supplements, how you take it really depends on you, the reason for taking it (treatment or preventative), and any challenges you may have to taking them. Many of these mushrooms can be eaten as part of a healthy plant-based diet. However for more potency and convenience, you can find many of these mushrooms in capsule form, extract, tea, and in a loose powdered variety that can be added to soups, smoothies, juice, water, or enjoyed as a drink.
If you're not sure how to best take them, schedule a health consultation with us. We can suggest an optimal way for you to take medicinal mushrooms, while instructing you on the best singular mushroom or combination for your particular health issue or goals.
Our Mushroom Immune Complex is a great way to start! We've combined 14 powerful mushrooms varieties for you to experience bigger health returns. Our customers have reported increased energy, better sleep, better mental recall, and a host of other improvements. It's available here.
No matter where you are in your health journey, mushrooms have a place in it. If you make no other change to your current regimen, the addition of these ancient medicine foods are sure to offer you a multitude of goodness.