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Mushrooms as Medicine!

June 29th, 2016

In Western society, mushrooms are largely ignored outside of the culinary world. In the East, though, they have long been revered as a powerful component of natural medicine. Mushrooms have been used in the Eastern world for thousands of years to promote longevity and stamina and to improve the body’s immune response. Multiple clinical studies have in recent years evinced that there may be science behind the many and varied health claims that are associated with mushrooms.

Here are some of the most popular medicinal mushrooms:

Reishi (AKA Ganoderma Lucidum or Ling Zhi)

This mushroom has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Originally only found growing wild in the forests of Asia, these mushrooms are now commonly cultivated for commercial purposes and are much easier to come by. Studies have shown great promise for this particular mushroom in treating a variety of ailments. They’re even known as the “Mushroom of Immortality” in many places due to their purported effect on longevity. One study in Taiwan found that the polysaccharides that lend Reishi some of its bioactive properties may boost the immune system and help prevent cancerous formations. It also may help aid in liver regeneration, protecting the neurological system, and in alleviating some cancer symptoms when used alongside traditional treatment methods. The best type of Reishi supplements are extracts, and you’ll want to look for a product that uses the whole fruiting body such as this Nature’s Way Reishi supplement. The fruiting body is where this particular mushroom stores almost all of its bioactive compounds, and extracts ensure that you are getting a high concentration of polysaccharides per serving. Paradise Herbs also offers a good extract-based Reishi supplement.

Maitake (AKA Grifola frondosa or Signorina)

The Japanese name for this mushroom, “Maitake”, means “The Dancing Mushroom”. It gained this nickname because those lucky enough to stumble across Maitake in the wild were often elated to the point of dancing for joy. Some legends even say that at one point this mushroom was worth its weight in silver! Maitake performs double duty as both a medicinal and culinary treasure. It’s loved in cooking for its rich umami flavor and is a wonderful addition to any meal. Or, if mushrooms aren’t your thing you can still reap the medicinal benefits from one of the many available Maitake supplements. Maitake’s most celebrated bioactive component is D-Fraction, a specific type of beta-glucan that has been extensively studied (with very promising results!) around the world. Perhaps the most spectacular health benefit of this mushroom is found in its ability to boost the immune system by activating Natural Killer cells and T-Helper cells. Maitake has shown promising results when it comes to this immune response; some studies done on mice even suggest anti-tumor properties and indicate possible future application as a cancer treatment aid. Maitake also may boost insulin resistance and can be an effective tool in controlling diabetes when used in tandem with other treatments. To take advantage of this super mushroom try the Mushroom Wisdom Maitake D-Fraction liquid or the even more potent Mushroom Wisdom Maitake D-Fraction Pro 4X Liquid. We also offer a specialized Maitake immune-boosting supplement.

Chaga (AKA Inonotus obliquus or cinder conk)

This mushroom is much less studied than the others on our list, and finds its most ancient roots in Russian medicine. Anecdotal evidence suggests a wide range of uses, and a few studies have shown that Chaga may help with inflammation, fatigue, and immune functioning. Just like the other medicinal mushrooms, Chaga has displayed anti-cancer properties in laboratories and in mice. This mushroom is often made into tea, which you can make from scratch or buy pre-made. Try North American Herb & Spice’s Chag-o-Charge or choose from their wide range of other Chaga products. Planetary formulas offers a nice liquid chaga extract (They have you covered in Tablet form, too). There’s also a Chaga-Maitake combination supplement made by Mushroom Wisdom that packs the amazing health benefits of both mushrooms into one easy supplement.

Cordyceps (AKA Ophiocordyceps sinensis or Catterpillar Fungus)

This medicinal fungus is actually a misnomer, as it was discovered to belong to a species slightly different from the true cordyceps. Despite the name issue it has just as rich of a medicinal background as the other fungi on our list. The main difference that makes this catterpillar-shaped mushroom stand out from the crowd is its reputation as an aphrodisiac. This effect has never really been studied but many people swear by the cordyceps ability to improve virility, especially in the elderly. Try Doctor’s Best’s cordyceps supplement to give it a try or choose from our full range of cordyceps products.

If you’re looking to combine the powers of all the medicinal fungi on this list we also have quite a few combination supplements to suit your needs. Once again mushroom wisdom has a great supplement containing a long list of medicinal mushroom extracts and powders. Rainbow Light carries an immune-boosting supplement containing almost all the mushrooms on our list, as does Paradise Herbs and Dr. Mercola. Taking a mushroom supplement is an easy way to boost your immune system and give your body that extra little something it needs to be in great health, so browse all of our mushroom products and try out a few today. If you have some spare time, look into this sadly underrated branch of fungi superfoods and I think you will be amazed at all of the anecdotal and scientific evidence that is out there. Mushrooms have a rich history in medicine for a reason!

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