Medicinal mushrooms seem to be popping up all around us. We are seeing them added to smoothies, added to coffee drinks, added to supplement compounds and even added to snacks.
You might be thinking – “What’s the deal? Are they worth the price tag? Is this just another fad?” Let’s break it down.
Here are 5 ways medicinal mushrooms can improve your health:
1. Medicinal mushrooms can give your immune system a boost.
Many immune support supplements have Chaga or Reishi mushrooms added to them for additional immune support. Medicinal mushrooms have been cited to have immunoregulatory benefits, and can help fight inflammation. According to recent research in the Integrative Medicine journal, these mushrooms have been known to affect immune cells such as hematopoietic stem cells, lymphocytes and natural killer cells, and have potent properties that slow the growth of tumors.
“Of particular note, a derivative of turkey tail mushroom, polysaccharide K (PSK), when administered to stage II/III colorectal patients, was found to be effective. PSK was given at 3 g/d for 2 years in conjunction with standard therapy and survival was assessed. The researchers found that the control group had a 60% survival rate compared to 86.8% in the PSK treatment group, a finding that was statistically significant.” – Source
2. Reishi mushrooms can help calm anxiety, can help alleviate depression, and support neurotransmitters.
Reishi mushrooms have been used to help treat anxiety, sleeplessness and stressed adrenals, for years. (2) However, more recently, as medicinal mushroom sales have boomed, people are starting to use them over other, more traditional supplements, to support their health. Brands such as “Four Sigmatic” can be found in your local natural foods grocery store (like Whole Foods, or online, and are sold in single serving packets or “Superfood Blends.” Some blend them into their morning coffee, while others prefer to blend them into smoothies or yogurt bowls. Whatever you prefer, you won’t really notice the taste.
Athletes are starting to use Cordyceps because this specific type of mushroom has been shown to increase ATP production (while increasing O2 intake), increasing endurance, and has been documented in having anti-aging properties. (3) In addition, many functional medicine physicians are also discussing Cordyceps with patients suffering from arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke damage, because of it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Like most of these mushroom strains, they can be nourishing to the adrenal glands because they help maintain energy levels, naturally. (4)
According to recent research on nude mice, after feeding them a solution of C. militaris extracts (Cordyceps strains) for four weeks, C. militaris shrunk tumors and increased mouse lifespan. This data suggests Cordyceps effectiveness in treating tumors in nude mice. Overall, this treatment “significantly inhibited human leukemia cell growth in a concentration-dependent manner by inducing apoptosis.” (6)
4. Shittake mushrooms may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Have you ever made an Asian stir-fry, and use Shittake mushrooms as part of the vegetable medley? Let’s face it – They add delicious flavor to most dishes, and provide a ton of benefits, including potential cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-lowering properties. This variety of mushrooms is also noted for it’s high concentration of Vitamin C, Calcium and B vitamins. It can be found in most grocery stores, so next time you are shopping, pick some up and incorporate them into your favorite dish!
5. Medicinal mushrooms have a variety of immune-boosting properties.
Many times, consumers are seeking out medicinal mushrooms for their general immune-boosting properties, which help fight off bacteria, viruses, parasites and potential diseases.
One strain, Agaricus blazei, has commonly been consumed for medicinal purposes in both Brazil and Japan, and has been used to fight stress, to stimulate patient’s immune systems, and to prevent or treat a variety of medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer. (7)
According to this source, “the beta-glucan fibers found in the cell walls of mushrooms stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells and prevent tumors from forming.” Your immune system will thank you for the extra support. (5)
As always, if you are considering taking any form of medicinal mushroom, please consult your physician before doing so. What is right for one person, might not be right for another, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.**
If you are interested in learning more about incorporating medicinal mushrooms into your diet, feel free to call our office and setup a FREE 10-minute consult with one of our doctors, or schedule a new patient appointment.
**This blog provides general information about naturopathic medicine, health and wellness. The content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If a person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an licensed physician or health care provider.