What are medicinal mushrooms?
Medicinal mushrooms are edible macroscopic fungi occasionally used for the prevention and alleviation of many medical health conditions, as well as adjunct to a healthy diet for balancing the nutrition. Medicinal mushrooms are usually taken in powder and are not intended for consumption in raw condition.
Medicinal mushrooms have been around for thousands of years. The researchers found that the first references of certain types of fungi used for healing properties have been linked to Chinese, Indian, and Japanese Medicines. Indian texts dated 5,000 years highlighted the mushroom’s medicinal properties used in ritual drinks, while Japanese folklore featured the Shiitake as a cure for cancer-ridden monkeys in the fables.
Nowadays, these fungi may be found in plenty of popular health and dietary supplements which are usually added for boosting the efficacy of the supplements themselves and their active ingredients. Furthermore, some manufacturers prefer to add these fungi to tinctures, teas as well as processing them for further intake as foods.
The most popular uses of medicinal mushrooms include immune support, relief for difficulty sleeping, mental health conditions, and promotion of weight loss among others. These fungi are also believed to benefit cancer treatment, however, more studies have to be conducted.
Beyond that, there is a comparison that “medical mushrooms may act as nootropics”, as per Dr.Michele Ross, former addiction researcher with PhD. in neuroscience. — “and enhance cognitive function”.
Despite this favorable profile on medicinal fungi, they are not considered to be the first-line treatment to one’s medical health conditions. Speak to the doctor about their applicability to your particular case.
What are the different types of medicinal mushrooms?
There are 7 medicinal mushrooms known for healing and supporting health properties including:
- Lion’s Mane
The main benefit of Lion’s Mane is the support of cognitive function and nervous system. They are rich in beta-glucans in charge of blocking the tumor growth, immuno-modulating antioxidants as well as neuroprotective chemicals. Lion’s Mane are believed to protect individuals against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Reishi are most well-known for promoting healthy sleep and boosting the immune system. One may also use them to alleviate stress. Due to the presence of beta-glucans in Reishi, these fungi have liver-protective, and anti-cancer properties. Furthermore, they aim to balance blood- sugar levels.
Cordyceps are medicinal mushrooms used for an energy boost, as they have the ability to affect and increase Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) compounds responsible for nourishing the propagation of the cells which then enrich people with energy. Beyond that, Cordyceps are known for anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antibacterial effects, lung-support during asthma or other respiratory conditions, and their analgesic properties.
Chaga is a fungus used for antioxidant effects. It may support liver and brain functioning, and strengthen the immune system. Chaga is also related to anti-cancer properties and may enhance the digestion. As for beauty effects, this medicinal mushroom is believed to clear skin.
- Turkey Tail
Turkey Tail also improves immune function and digestion. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this fungus has been found to be used for lung disease treatment, while Japan used Turkey Tail to manufacture the drug PSK which is prescribed for cancer treatment alongside standard treatment protocol. This fungus contains one of the highest amounts of beta-glucans among other medicinal mushrooms.
Shiitake is beneficial for the immune system, liver functioning, and cardio health due to the active compound — Lentinan. The major benefit of Lentinan is its ability to fight infection and diseases. Shiitake was believed to be the elixir of life back to the Ming Dynasty in China. Beyond that, this fungus is fully edible and many people use it for cooking. Shiitake is rich in B-vitamins that help to control blood sugar levels and provide anti-inflammatory effects.
Maitake is known to control blood pressure and boost the immune system. It is an edible fungus. Maitake is also believed to control cholesterol levels, and help with obesity and diabetes.
Why use medicinal mushrooms?
There are myriad benefits of medicinal mushrooms. Chinese and Japanese Medicines may occasionally incorporate them into the treatment of many diseases like cancer, while modern applications, thanks to the assortment of health supplements with medicinal fungi in the composition, allow to boosting health, and strengthening the functions of organs. Some fungi may be also used for wellness to clear and moisturize the skin and provide an anti-aging effect among others.
The benefits of medicinal mushrooms include:
- Antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant properties;
- Analgesic effect;
- Nourishment with vitamins and minerals including Vitamine B and D;
- Fiber depot, as fungi may be incorporated to diet plan aimed for weight loss;
- Beta Glucan support for the immune system;
- Polysaccharides which provide anti-cancer, antibiotic properties among others.
Medicinal fungi are not fully discovered in all their beneficial properties on the human body, so many of them may vary in effects and may also cause unwanted sensations when taken as not directed.
What type of medicinal mushrooms are best for anxiety and stress?
Reishi are known to reduce stress and provide anxiolytic effects. Their mechanism of action is not fully understood, however, they are believed to regulate the body functioning and bring it back to the balanced state. Furthermore, Reishi provide peace of mind by promoting healthy sleep. They soothe and relax the brain as well as unwind persisting stress which contributes to difficulty sleeping.
What types of medicinal mushrooms are best for brain health?
Lion’s Mane is the best for brain boost and health. It is believed to promote nerve growth and then protect individuals against Alzheimer’s. Also, it contributes to the reparation of neurons, and affecting neurotransmitters in charge of memory, concentration, mood, learning among others. Beyond that, Lion’s Mane is known for eliminating brain fog.
What types of medicinal mushrooms are best for sleep?
The beneficial properties of Reishi are also related to sleep difficulty. They work by affecting the neurotransmitters in charge of stress which then promote healthy sleep and calming effect on the nervous system. Reishi may be used alongside sleeping aids for the highest efficacy and/or prevention of insomnia.
What types of medicinal mushrooms are best for the immune system?
Typically, all the above-mentioned medicinal fungi are known for their effects on the immune system and function. Cordyceps aim the immune system when they are incorporated into the treatment programs for infections including HIV, hepatitis. Maitake increase the activity of white blood cells such as macrophage which is a natural killer cell. Lion’s mane stimulates nerve growth factor production that is vital for immune function. Turkey Tail contains polysaccharide PSK which is in charge of inhibition of sarcoma formation. Reishi by stimulating macrophages aim to develop an anti-tumor property. Chaga is rich in antioxidants, melanin, and zinc that all support the immune function. Finally, Shiitake contain much Vitamin B and D, amino acids, niacin, and selenium that all nourish the immune system as well.
What types of medicinal mushrooms are best for energy?
Cordyceps are considered one of the best for energy. They are believed to work by helping the system utilize more oxygen, increase Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) compounds, and enhance blood flow which then enrich individuals with energy. They fit professional athletes as well as those who lack endurance.
What types of medicinal mushrooms are best for cardio health?
Reishi are effective for the heart and cardiovascular system. They may prevent coronary heart disease, hypertension as well as high blood pressure. The triterpenes such as acid F and S found in the composition of Reishi help to protect the blood vessels against hardening which then prevents blood cell clotting.
What are the best brands for medicinal mushrooms?
- Paul Stamets’ Fungi Perfecti
Fungi Perfecti is a family-owned company that promotes the cultivation of medicinal fungi as well as gourmet fungi. It was founded in 1980, since that time Fungi Perfecti carries the mission to make people aware of all the favorable properties of medicinal mushrooms. Beyond that, they are dedicated to attracting more organically minded growers who will support and carry the industry into the next century.
The founder of Fungi Perfecti is Paul Stamets who is a speaker, mycologist, and medical researcher. He shares his knowledge on production, medicinal use of the fungi, and widens the respect for these organisms among people. Mr. Stamets lectures on how fungi can help the health of people and the planet. He is the author of several books including Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, and Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World.
The assortment of Fungi Perfecti is huge, and one may find syrups, capsules, tea, powders, extracts, sprays made of medicinal mushrooms alone or in conjunction with other herbs including Elderberry, California Poppy, Passion Flower among others.
- The price for Fungi Perfecti products vary between $19-$31;
- They offer discounts for extracts, capsules, and powders. One may save up to 25%;
- Fungi Perfecti offers for sale grow accessories, and the actual fungi for cultivation;
- There is an assortment of books and gifts for mushroom-lovers.
What are the risks associated with taking medicinal mushrooms?
Medicinal mushrooms are not all edible and are typically sold in the form of supplements, powders, tea, capsules among others. One should not take them without consulting the doctor.
There is lack of research on their efficacy and/or safety for certain medical health conditions. Beyond that, medicinal fungi are not usually well-tolerable by pregnant and nursing mothers. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ensure to speak to your doctor before taking medicinal mushrooms.
The most common side effects when taking these fungi include:
- dryness of the mouth;
- upset stomach;
- allergic reaction;
- liver toxicity.
If you experience any side effects after taking medicinal mushrooms, stop the intake immediately, and address this concern with the doctor.
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