Mushrooms have gained significant popularity in recent years due to their potential health benefits. Many, many mushrooms contain important compounds that have been studied for their immune-modulating, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Researchers are flooding the scientific literature with studies that confirm what many have known for a long time: mushrooms contain some incredible healing properties that have the potential to radically improve your overall health.
Let’s take a look at a few of our favorites and explore the benefits of each one in more detail.
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s Mane is known for its ability to support healthy brain function and improve the formation of new neurons. It contains compounds like beta-glucans, hericenones, and erinacines, which are thought to stimulate the synthesis of an important chemical in the brain called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is a protein that helps protect and enhance the growth, maintenance, and survival of brain neurons.
Recent research has also shown that Lion's Mane promotes nerve tissue growth and supports motor function in animal studies. So, what does that mean for you? Well, a study in adults with mild memory problems associated with aging found that when they took a quality Lion's Mane extract, they had better brain function compared to control participants who didn’t take any at all. Thumbs up for this one!
Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi)
This mushroom is often referred to as the "Mushroom of Immortality" and for good reason. It’s been used in traditional cultures for centuries for its incredible ability to support and enhance the immune system. In addition to its immune-boosting properties, Reishi has been studied for its effects on sleep and helping to quiet an overactive mind. It can also help with stress reduction and even restlessness.
And if that’s not enough, Reishi is also showing promising results for lung and respiratory health concerns, along with blood sugar control. A definite YES!
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
Cordyceps has been used in Asian cultures for thousands of years for its energy-boosting properties. It has been traditionally used as a tonic to improve energy, appetite, stamina, and overall endurance. Cordyceps has also been shown to increase the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is like the fuel for your cells, helping them to produce more energy. Athletes and those interested in optimizing their exercise performance will often add cordyceps to their daily supplement regime.
And as you might have imagined, Cordyceps also has some distinct anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce inflammation markers on a lab test. Even hormone levels seem to be positively influenced by this amazing mushroom, increasing libido in women, and improving overall sperm health in men. Cordyceps for the win!
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
This mushroom is one of the most common mushrooms found in the wild. It has a distinct appearance, with brown and tan rings across the top, resembling the tail feathers of a turkey. As with other mushrooms, turkey tail has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a wide variety of issues including digestion, lung support, fluid retention, and overall vitality.
It’s also known for its impressive immune-boosting properties by stimulating the production of cytokines and increasing natural killer cells. There are studies showing its benefits for certain types of breast cancer and as an adjunct to other medical treatments. Be sure to consult with your doctor or oncologist before taking it.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Almost everyone has heard of shiitake mushrooms. As one of the most popular mushrooms in the world, shiitake mushrooms have a meaty flavor and are widely used in cooking. They seem to have benefits for cardiovascular concerns, immune health, and improving overall well-being.
Shiitake mushrooms are also rich in B-vitamins and have been shown to modulate blood sugar levels and support a healthy inflammation response.
Tremella Mushrooms (Tremella fuciformis)
Last but not least are the tremella mushrooms. Even though you may not be familiar with this one, pay attention because it just might become your favorite! Tremella has been referred to as the "beauty mushroom" due to its incredible impact on skin health. Not only does it promote collagen production, elasticity, improve overall skin tone and moisture, but the ancient queens relied on this mushroom to maintain their exquisite beauty.
Tremella mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides, including beta-glucans, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. They also contain hyaluronic acid, a popular ingredient in many skin care products, known to help hydrate and plump up the skin.
Incorporating Medicinal Mushrooms Into Your Routine
So, are you ready to start incorporating more of these amazing mushrooms into your daily routine? Here are a few great options:
Include Fresh Mushrooms in Your Diet
Your local grocery store should have a nice variety of mushrooms including shiitake, oyster, and plain old button mushrooms. They are best eaten cooked and can be sautéed, baked, roasted, or added to soups and stews.
Use Dried Mushrooms
Many types of mushrooms are available in the dried form. These can easily be rehydrated and used in soups, stews, stir-fries, or brewed into teas. Online suppliers often offer organic dried mushrooms which are always preferable.
Prepared Mushroom Extracts
Mushroom extracts are concentrated forms of mushrooms that come in liquid or powder form. They provide a convenient way to obtain higher amounts of the most beneficial compounds and can be easily added to smoothies, beverages, or taken as capsules or tinctures.
Purchase High-Quality Mushroom Supplements
When choosing a mushroom supplement, look for products made from the mushroom's fruiting body, as these will contain higher concentrations of the most important and beneficial compounds compared to mycelium or rice-based products. (Yes, many unscrupulous companies use rice instead of the whole mushroom). High-quality companies such as Real Mushrooms have strict controls in place, ensuring that every one of their products contains 100% of the fruiting body.
As with any supplement or dietary change, it's advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before adding medicinal mushrooms to your daily regime, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
Mushrooms For Your Health
Medicinal mushrooms have gained popularity for good reason. Their potential health benefits are nearly limitless, and they are so easy to include in your daily diet or as part of your supplement regime. Whether you’re adding Lion's Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Shiitake, or Tremella, you can feel confident that you are taking yet another step toward improving your overall health, vitality, and well-being.