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6 All-Natural Healing Mushrooms

6 ALL-NATURAL HEALING MUSHROOMS

Mushrooms are everywhere. In fact, experts believe we’re constantly inhaling their spores, with some estimating up to 10 billion spores a day! Due to the ubiquity of mushroom spores, many believe it’s the reason the human body responds so well to medicinal mushrooms. This would explain why our body’s immunity naturally becomes stronger when we consume them.

Experts say there are about 1.5 million species of fungi all over the world, but only a handful of them have been studies for their medicinal properties. If you’re wondering about some of the best healing mushrooms, look no further. Below is a list of 6 of the best mushrooms for health benefits.

1. Reishi

What it is

The Reishi mushroom is a medicinal mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The mushroom contains powerful compounds such as antioxidants, polysaccharides and triterpenes, which have shown potential in managing chronic inflammation, stress relief, pain reduction, and immune system stimulation. [1, 2]

Key Benefits

- Improve immune health

- Reduce inflammation

- Manage and combat allergies

- Provide liver support

- Boost cognitive function

- Calm the mind

- Improve sleep

Medicinal components

- Triterpenes

- Beta D Glucan

Find out more about the health benefits of Reishi here.

2. Cordyceps

What it is

The Cordyceps mushroom is a medicinal mushroom known mainly for its lung health boosting properties. Being mostly used to treat respiratory conditions for hundreds of years, it also possesses a variety of other health boosting properties such as immune-strengthening and reducing risks of diabetes. [3,4]

Key Benefits

- Helps fight infections

- Provides Lung Support

- Improves Stamina & Endurance 

- Promotes Liver Health

Medicinal components

- Beta D Glucans

- Cordycepin

- Adenosine 

3. Maitake

What it is

The health benefits of the Maitake mushroom are well documented in Japan, where this medicinal mushroom has been used for centuries. With extensive research over the past decade, researchers suggest that the mushroom has potential for boosting immune health, improving cardiovascular health, and helping to manage PCOS symptoms.[5]

Key Benefits

- Boost Immune Health 

- Cardiovascular Health Support

- Cholesterol Support

-Manage PCOS symptoms

Medicinal components

- Beta Glucans

Find out more about the health benefits of Maitake here.

4. Lion’s Mane

What it is

Like most mushrooms on this list, Lion’s Mane has been used for hundreds of years for its medicinal properties. This unique-looking mushroom is mostly known for its anti-ageing and cognitive boosting capabilities, but it also has other health benefits such as assisting to combat anxiety and managing immunity. [6]

Key Benefits

- Supports cognitive function

- May help manage anxiety

- May help manage depression

- Supports Brain Health

Medicinal components

- Hericenones

- Erinacines

Find out more about the health benefits of Lion's Mane here.

5. Turkey Tail

What it is

Turkey Tail is one of the most extensively researched mushrooms in the world. The mushroom has been cited to help improve immune health with majority of the research focusing on cancer treatment. [7]

Key Benefits

- Immune Health Support

- Cancer & Chemotherapy Support

- Combat Fatigue

Medicinal components

-Beta glucans

Find out more about the health benefits of Turkey Tail here.

6. Chaga

What it is

Chaga is mostly found on birch trees in cold climates. Aside from its specific growth conditions, Chaga is also described as having a “burnt charcoal” like appearance, making it one of the most unique-looking mushrooms on this list. Research suggests Chaga can help with strengthening immune health, managing inflammation and help manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels. [8]

Key Benefits

- Help manage Psoriasis 

- Reduce Inflammation

- Can Provide Cholesterol Support

- Improve Immune Health

Medicinal components

- Beta D Glucans

Find out more about the health benefits of Chaga here.

Different Medicinal Components

Just like herbs, mushrooms confer their medicinal properties through their special active compounds. 

Beta Glucans

Beta Glucans are a source of soluble fibre. Soluble fibre has been found to help contribute to cardiovascular health, specifically lowering high cholesterol and improving blood sugar management. This compound has also been cited to help with skin conditions such as eczema, wounds, and bedsores. More importantly, beta glucans have also been shown to help fight off bacterial infections. [10]

Hericenones & Erinacines

These compounds are isolated from Lion’s Mane. They have many benefits regarding brain health and function, but both are known to stimulate brain cell regeneration. These have also been cited to help lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases that can negatively affect mood, cognition, and memory. [11]

Cordycepin

As the name implies, cordycepin is found in cordyceps and is known for various nutraceutical and therapeutic potential. Studies suggest this compound has anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-ageing properties. [12]

Triterpenes

Triterpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pro-immunity properties. Triterpenes have also been found to help in the management of diabetes, particularly regarding complications such as insulin resistance and impaired wound healing. [13]

Peptides

Peptides can be described as smaller versions of proteins. They are commonly included in many cosmetic products and supplements because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties. Beyond aesthetics, peptides have been found to have potential when it comes to blood pressure management, antimicrobial effects, blood clot prevention, and strengthening the immunity. [14]

 

What to look out for when purchasing a mushroom supplement

There are various factors to consider when choosing a good quality mushroom supplement. One of the most important ones are the lab reports showing the testing the mushrooms have undergone for the active ingredients as well as safety standards such as heavy metals. For a comprehensive checklist read the following article here.

In conclusion, there are many types of mushrooms out there, but only a few that have been extensively studied for their health benefits. 

While many of the mushrooms confer similar health benefits, each mushroom has its own key benefits and unique compounds that make them suitable for specific health needs.

References: 

1. Singh R, Dhingra GS, Shri R. Evaluation of Antianxiety Potential of Four Ganoderma (Agaricomycetes) Species from India in Mice. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2016;18(11):991-998. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v18.i11.40. PMID: 28008811.

2. Dudhgaonkar S, Thyagarajan A, Sliva D. Suppression of the inflammatory response by triterpenes isolated from the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum. Int Immunopharmacol. 2009 Oct;9(11):1272-80. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2009.07.011. Epub 2009 Aug 3. PMID: 19651243.

3. Ashraf SA, Elkhalifa AEO, Siddiqui AJ, et al. Cordycepin for Health and Wellbeing: A Potent Bioactive Metabolite of an Entomopathogenic Cordyceps Medicinal Fungus and Its Nutraceutical and Therapeutic Potential. Molecules. 2020;25(12):2735. Published 2020 Jun 12. doi:10.3390/molecules25122735

4. Guo JY, Han CC, Liu YM. A Contemporary Treatment Approach to Both Diabetes and Depression by Cordyceps sinensis, Rich in Vanadium. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2010;7(3):387-389. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep201

5. Preuss HG, Echard B, Bagchi D, Perricone NV. Maitake mushroom extracts ameliorate progressive hypertension and other chronic metabolic perturbations in aging female rats. Int J Med Sci. 2010;7(4):169-180. Published 2010 Jun 7. doi:10.7150/ijms.7.169

6. Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, Wong KH, David RP, Kuppusamy UR, Abdullah N, Malek SN. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30. PMID: 24266378.

7. Stamets P. Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail Mushrooms) and the Treatment of Breast Cancer. Glob Adv Health Med. 2012;1(5):20. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.5.007

8. Wang J, Wang C, Li S, Li W, Yuan G, Pan Y, Chen H. Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Nov;95:1669-1677. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2017.09.104. Epub 2017 Oct 6. PMID: 28954386.

9. Lovegrove A, Edwards CH, De Noni I, et al. Role of polysaccharides in food, digestion, and health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017;57(2):237-253. doi:10.1080/10408398.2014.939263

10. Sima P, Vannucci L, Vetvicka V. β-glucans and cholesterol (Review). Int J Mol Med. 2018;41(4):1799-1808. doi:10.3892/ijmm.2018.3411

11. Li IC, Chang HH, Lin CH, et al. Prevention of Early Alzheimer's Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020;12:155. Published 2020 Jun 3. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2020.00155

12. Ji DB, Ye J, Li CL, Wang YH, Zhao J, Cai SQ. Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract. Phytother Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):116-22. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2576. PMID: 18803231.

13. Nazaruk J, Borzym-Kluczyk M. The role of triterpenes in the management of diabetes mellitus and its complications. Phytochem Rev. 2015;14(4):675-690. doi: 10.1007/s11101-014-9369-x. Epub 2014 Jun 24. PMID: 26213526; PMCID: PMC4513225.

14. Pripp AH. Effect of peptides derived from food proteins on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food Nutr Res. 2008;52:10.3402/fnr.v52i0.1641. doi:10.3402/fnr.v52i0.1641

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