How These 6 Mushrooms Can Transform Health
There was a pretty fair amount of interest in mushrooms based on the article I wrote a few weeks ago, so I’m going to follow it up with an additional 2-part series on mushrooms.
In the first part of this series, I’m going to focus on some of the more powerful (and admittedly, exotic) ones.
Not all of these are available in the grocery store or farmer’s market.
Many of them are only available as supplements.
However, since there are thousands of years of use behind these mushrooms and a growing body of research surrounding them, I’m confident that many of you will want to try some of them out.
In the second part of the series, I’ll focus on some of the more common and readily available varieties and give you the low down on how they can benefit health. Some of them are true superstars and others aren’t the “best-of-the-best,” but will certainly aid in your quest to look and feel your best.
7 Mushrooms That Can Benefit Your Health
Some of the mushrooms featured in this article made it into my previous article discussing mushrooms and brain health.
I’m going to briefly cover 7 of the more well-known, and well-studied medicinal mushrooms and show you what they could be good for.
1 - Maitake Mushroom:
The Maitake mushroom is somewhat related to the shiitake mushroom and shares many of the same vowels as the shiitake. Also known as the hen of the woods, or the “dancing mushroom,” it can be found across the United States and is quite distinct in appearance.
When it comes to the health properties maitake could impart, studies (as well as hundreds of years of traditional use), indicate they are useful at helping to modulate blood pressure as well as giving your immune system a boost.
Regarding immune system support maitake is believed to help your body’s immune system’s lymphocytes, natural killer cells, monocytes, and T-helper cells all work a little better.
2 - Turkey Tail:
Turkey Tails are somewhat exotic as they appear in many regions across the United States and are quite prevalent in the regions they do grow in, and they are found throughout the world in many temperate forests.
They get their name from the way they look (imagine that).
The turkey tail mushroom is renowned for its evidence-backed immune system support.
Studies indicate a compound called protein-bound polysaccharides (PBP) can stimulate cytokine production which leads to an increase in the activity of natural killer cells as well as other immune-boosting functions.
Best of all it’s safe to use long-term.
3 - Chaga Mushroom:
Chaga mushroom is quickly becoming one of the more well-known “exotic” mushrooms. It’s enjoyed thousands of years of use in the Northern Hemisphere but we are only now beginning to see how it can serve us medicinally based on renewed interest in fungi.
The primary benefit provided by Chaga is it can help aid the digestive process and clears/protects skin, boosts immune function, and helps with cardiovascular health.
According to the site Real Mushrooms, there’s a great deal of research behind Chaga use:
“Chaga has over 200 pre-clinical animal and cell studies showing promising health benefits including such as being high in antioxidants, supporting digestion, immune support, modulating inflammation, containing key anti-microbial substances, and being adaptogenic.”
4 - Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane is all the rage for people interested in supporting cognition and getting the upper hand in the business world.
This is a true exotic as Asian cultures prize these strange-looking mushrooms (they are round, and white with shaggy spines) for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Lion’s Mane is considered a brain booster, or a nootropic.
“Lion’s Mane is full of a multitude of important compounds, such as beta-glucans, which are immuno-modulating antioxidants and neuro-protective phytonutrients*. In vitro research suggests that certain compounds found in Lion’s mane, namely hericenones and erinacines, may help induce Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) synthesis in nerve cells. This dovetails with findings from animal research that Lion’s mane promotes nerve tissue growth and supports motor function.
And research in adults with mild memory problems associated with aging found that those taking Lion’s Mane extract had better brain function compared with control participants who did not ingest the mushroom. All of this indicates that Lion’s Mane mushroom is an amazing helper for healthy brain function and may even support neurogenesis.”
Additionally, some studies implicate Lion’s Mane in helping improve cardiovascular health, digestive health, blood sugar regulation, and more.
5 - Cordyceps:
This is a mushroom that’s hard to spell and hard to pronounce, and honestly, kind of hard to deal with where it comes from.
Cordyceps are known as caterpillar fungi and are found after invading a host insect's body, killing it, and then growing through it.
Despite their morbid origination story, they are quite good for helping to make humans potentially healthier.
Primarily known to help improve respiratory function as well as offer solutions to fatigue, cordyceps is also known to improve blood sugar and factors related to cardiovascular function.
Some studies indicate cordyceps in helping to improve athletic performance, like this one that showed older individuals who took it had better respiratory function and better athletic output.
And other studies indicate they could even help to improve women’s libido as well as increase sperm count in men.
6 - Reishi:
Reishi mushrooms are something I put in sixth place because we don’t have enough studies on them to make claims about how awesome (or not awesome it is).
It’s been used in Eastern medicine for hundreds upon thousands of years for how it can help people achieve transcendent calm as well as enhance how well they could mediate.
Other uses for it were for enhancing the quality and length of life which is why it even garnered the name the “mushroom of immortality,”
Today we know reishi to help aid in sleep as well as support immune function.
WARNING: One thing about reishi is that it is definitely in the mix when it comes to medicinal mushrooms. However, it may be harmful to use, so while I may write about it here, I want to provide you with the warning that some research indicates reishi may be toxic so it may be best to avoid it in favor of other mushrooms with better safety profiles.