Mushrooms have long been an important part of folklore and a vital food source for the ancients. Undoubtedly, these naturally occurring fungi have some remarkable medicinal properties that are able to fight even the deadliest of diseases.
As such, extensive research has been going on in order to find out the various therapeutic benefits that these mushrooms hold within them.
With a great deal of literature supporting the fact that mushrooms are an invaluable addition to one’s diet, it is only a matter of time before they become the new super staple food. So let’s have a look at some of the many types of mushrooms and the benefits that they have to offer.
Mushrooms and their medicinal benefit
I’m not claiming mushrooms have the power to cure or treat; but what I can tell you is it’s PACKED with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and the active constituents in these mushrooms that have been studied showing immune strengthening and boosting properties amongst other health benefits.
#1 – Shitake
Also known as the Black Forest Tree Mushroom, Shitake is a very luscious mushroom that is often used in various cuisines. However, its medicinal benefits make it even more popular as it contains AHCC which plays a vital role in fighting cancer.
In Japan, the mushroom is used as an alternative therapy as it is considered to boost one’s immune system significantly. In fact, a study conducted in Japan showed that Shitake has anti-tumor properties.
Furthermore, according to Christopher Hobbs, herbalist and editorial advisor for Herbs for Health, Shitake can be used against flu, environmental allergies and candida infections.
#2 – Chaga
Chaga Inonotus obliquus, or Black Tree Fungus, is a medicinal mushroom that grows on birch trees in Alaska and Europe and in the Eastern part of the United States.
It has been found to have quite strong anti-cancer properties due to the presence of a chemical called betulin. Betulin has been shown to inhibit the production of topoisomerase, a cancer-causing enzyme.
Also, betulin, being a constituent of betulinic acid, helps in fighting cancers in the skin, brain, ovary and the neck.
In addition, Chaga has some incredible anti-oxidant benefits which means it is effective in freeing the body from free radicals.
Moreover, the mushroom is also effective against certain viruses such as those that cause flu.
#3 – Turkey Tail
Turkey Tail is probably the center of focus in the scientific community as it is one of the most researched fungi among others. It has a number of medicinal benefits.
To begin with, Turkey tail has long been used as a tonic in China for its ability to improve the immune system significantly.
As such, according to research, a daily dose of Turkey Tail improves the immune system in women who are suffering breast cancer.
Quite surprisingly, taking Turkey Tail as a medicine does not cause any kind of side effects. It is also an anti-tumor agent that is effective against stomach and intestinal overgrowths.
#4 – Cordyceps
Another effective anti-cancer agent, Cordyceps plays a vital role in fighting against cancer by increasing the production of T Cells. It also increases the life span of white blood cells and hence improves the immune function.
Apart from being a powerful generator of antioxidants, it has anti-ageing properties due to its ability to decrease monoamine oxidase and lipid peroxidation activity.
This fungus also allows people who suffer from fatigue to maintain balanced hormone levels and thus enhance their ability to retain energy. Its often suggested for women dealing with PCOS.
Also, Cordyceps has been shown to help protect the kidneys from the side effects of chemotherapy.
#5 – Reishi
Ganoderma Reishi Mushroom, also known as the Mushroom of Immortality, is indeed a remarkable fungus that has a number of benefits in terms prolonging the life span.
To start with, Reishi is also used as an anti-cancer fungi and to enhance a person’s stamina along with inner strength.
Furthermore, it is very beneficial for patients suffering from diabetes. This is because Reishi contains polysaccharides and triterpenes that help reduce the accumulation of fat.
Also, it regulates the production of the enzyme, alpha-glucosidase, which is responsible for the metabolism of starch.
In addition, Reishi has been shown to be very effective in terms of helping relieve anxiety, nervousness and insomnia.
#6 – Maitake
Maitake has been shown to be another fungi that is a powerful immune system booster and is a very frequently used in Japanese food. It has also tumor fighting properties and it helps in reducing blood pressure levels.
Maitake can be found in Asia, Europe and in the Eastern Part of the United States.
#8 – Lion’s mane
Research shows that Lion’s mane is very useful for people who are suffering from nuro based problems such as memory loss. The mushroom contains Nerve Growth Factors (NGFs) – proteins that aid in the regeneration and growth of brain tissue.
Primarily, the mushroom contains two NGFs – hericenones and erinacines – which are known to help in the production of more NGFs and new neurons.
It is also beneficial for those who are suffering from depression or anxiety.
Lastly, Lion’s mane contains antioxidants along with polysaccharides and beta-glucan that help in enhancing the immune system.
To sum it up, Mushrooms are really powerful for boosting your immune system, have shown tremendous anti-cancer properties, help many fight off anxiety, depression and many other aliments. Best of all it is known to do all that while boosting your energy. It doesn’t really get any better than that!
Now that you know all the amazing benefits of medicinal mushrooms … how on earth do you get them info your diet? Here are a few easy ways to incorperate them into your life:
Coffee or Hot Chocolate: Coffee is probably the most popular way to add the benefits of mushrooms. For those non-coffee drinkers (or just like to drink it in the bath tub like me), Hot Chocolate is the secondary option. The powerful antioxidants, anti-viral effects, and immune-boosting properties of chaga mushrooms transform your cup of Joe from an energy-boosting treat to a health-enhancing choice!
Hot Chocolate – Also comes in a spicy version that is pretty yummy! Cacao can help reduce daily anxiety and stress to levels and improve your circadian rhythm for deeper REM sleep.
Brownie Bites: Brownies are the perfect place to sneak in some mushroom power into your diet. Mix together 3 tablespoons of your favorite mushroom & cacao powder, 1 cup dates, 1 cup peacans (or other nut you enjoy), pinch of salt. Throw it all in a food proceesor or blender. Then, roll into bite-sized balls and keep in the fridge. Feel free to dust in additional cacao powder or top with chopped nuts.
Mushroom Tonic: This is also a popular way to consume mushrooms. Great addition to add after your meditation practice.
1½ cups coconut or almond milk
1 tablespoon chia or hemp seeds
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon of a mushroom mix
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of pink sea salt
Top with a dash of cinnamon
Have you made BFF’s with Fungi? Let us know in the comments your favorite ways to add mushrooms into your health and wellness program.