Mushrooms such as lion's mane, reishi, maitake, cordyceps, and turkey tail have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years. These mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, polysaccharides, and other exceptional compounds that can improve cognition, improve mood, strengthen the immune system, relieve stress, and fight aging. This functional mushroom contains no psychoactive substances and is safe for consumption, making it an ideal addition to any health program.
There are so many different types of medicinal mushrooms that it can be difficult to navigate. So we've put together this guide to medicinal mushrooms to help you choose the ones that suit you and tell you the best ways to consume them!
- These mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, polysaccharides, and other compounds that can improve cognition, strengthen the immune system, and relieve stress.
- They contain specific compounds such as beta-glucan, terpenoids and sterols, which have immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
- Medicinal mushrooms can be consumed in a variety of ways, including as nutritional supplements, herbal teas, or incorporated into the daily diet.
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What are medicinal mushrooms?
Mushrooms as medicines are not a new concept. In fact, medicinal mushrooms have been used by some cultures for centuries and are prized for their ability to revitalize, boost immunity, and promote overall good health.
Mushrooms as medicines are not a new concept.
In fact, medicinal mushrooms have been used by some cultures for centuries and are prized for their ability to revitalize, boost immunity, and promote overall good health.
Medicinal mushrooms cannot be compared to magic mushrooms. It will not get you high and is 100% legal.
Each type of medicinal mushroom has unique properties, but they all share some active compounds that set them apart from the mushrooms you find on pizza or in a prepared meal.
They are complex carbohydrates made up of long chains of sugars. This composition makes them soluble in water and classifies them as polysaccharides. Beta-glucan, one of the most famous and most studied compounds in medicinal mushrooms, is believed to be responsible for strengthening the immune system. Because they are water-soluble, they are easy to extract from mushrooms with a simple brew of mushroom tea.
These are a class of compounds known as terpenes whose effects vary based on their unique “functional groups,” that is, the atoms or bonds that give molecules specific properties. Terpenes are linked to the medicinal benefits of mushrooms, such as antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory activity. Unlike beta-glucans, terpenes are fat-soluble and must be extracted from mushrooms using alcohol rather than water.
The latter are unsaturated fatty molecules (fats) whose structure is similar to that of cholesterol. Sterols contribute to the health of cell membranes by helping to create the right balance between stiffness and elasticity. Some also act as hormone precursors, such as ergosterol, which can be converted into vitamin D2 when exposed to sunlight. Ergosterol may also help fight the effects of aging.
Medicinal mushrooms throughout history
In the past, ancient civilizations recognized the benefits of medicinal mushrooms, despite lacking the science to explain their effectiveness.
In the 5th century, the alchemist Tao Hongjing described several medicinal mushrooms that had been in common use for hundreds of years.(1). Some of the most notable uses of mushrooms as medicines are found in traditional Chinese medical treatments, some of which are still used today.
Fomes fomentarius was mentioned by Hippocrates for its anti-inflammatory properties in 450 BC, and mentions of various medicinal mushrooms can be found in ancient Greek and Roman literature.
The Egyptians also mentioned medicinal mushrooms in their hieroglyphic writings, proving that this functional mushroom was an object of certain veneration.
Today, mushrooms are not yet considered a cure in Western cultures, but some scientists are starting to take a closer look at their potential benefits. Some human studies have been conducted on mushrooms such as cordyceps and lion's mane, usually in small groups, to determine how their components may improve health and quality of life. But most studies focus on specific extracts isolated from mushrooms and tested on animals or cells.
What are the most famous medicinal mushrooms?
|The scientific name
|Mushrooms are shelf-shaped, fan-shaped, with or without a leg, without gills
|Improves immunity. Reduces anxiety. Promotes better sleep
|It has a “hairy” or “hairball” appearance.
|Improves concentration. Supports nervous system health
|It grows parasitically on insects, but can be easily grown on soybeans and rice
|Increases energy, stamina and athletic performance. Improves the body's response to inflammation
|It is also called the “hen of the woods” because of its feathery appearance
|Strengthens the immune system
|Thin stem with a generally rounded and flat cap; It is usually included in Asian dishes
|Improves skin health; Strengthens the immune system
|Tall and thin with a small round hat
|Anti-virus; Potentially hypoallergenic
|The exterior is black and the interior is orange. The visible part is actually a mass of fungi
|Rich in antioxidants; Strengthens immunity. Improves digestive health
|It grows in fan-shaped clusters that resemble feathers
|Strengthens immunity; It is sometimes also used for intestinal health
|It looks suspiciously like a bath sponge
|Anti-aging. Promotes skin health. It can fight brain aging
Whether we realize it or not, our body is exposed to a large number of stresses every day.
For you, your schedule may be busy and prevent you from getting enough sleep. It can be a very stressful task and requires you to be extra alert throughout the day.
It can also be environmental stressors, such as seasonal weather changes or toxic substances in the air you breathe every day.
Our bodies must find ways to adapt to these sources of stress in order to maintain a healthy balance in the body.
“Adapogens” are a very specific class of natural substances (including herbs, plants, and of course mushrooms) that help us deal with these stressors in a non-specific way.
This means that it gives our body and mind exactly what it needs to adapt to stress and find balance. Some mushrooms, such as reishi and cordyceps, have been used as adaptogens for many years.
Mushrooms for the immune system
Our immune system forms the foundation of our overall health. If it is deficient, we become vulnerable to colds, infections and other diseases. On the other hand, if the immune response is excessive, infections and other more serious autoimmune disorders begin to attack our bodies.
Either way, if your immune function is out of balance, you're going to have a bad time.
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of medicinal mushrooms is their ability to regulate the immune system. This is similar in action to an adaptogen: mushrooms can boost your immune system when it's not working well and calm it when it's out of control.
The reason for these effects is that key cells in our immune system have a strong natural affinity for mycopolysaccharides, which are small compounds found in the fruiting bodies of mushrooms.
You can take advantage of all the benefits of this adaptogenic mushroom in several ways:
Edible varieties (including shiitake, enoki, maitake, and lion's mane) can be purchased fresh and used in recipes to add flavor and take advantage of their functional properties.
Dried mushrooms can be used to make tea, broth, or as a base for soup.
Today there are more and more functional products based on mushrooms, such as coffee, chocolate, protein powders and even pre-workouts. These products can replace the products you currently use in your daily life.
You're likely to find edible mushroom varieties in some Asian supermarkets, well-stocked health food stores, and online.
(Tags for translation) What are medicinal mushrooms?
The best medicinal mushrooms and their benefits