Medicinal mushrooms are among the most powerful botanicals known to man.
This is not news, as traditional healers and medical practitioners have long understood the benefits of using medicinal mushrooms for curing numerous diseases and promoting long-term vitality.
Today, a growing body of scientific research confirms the immune-boosting benefits of fungi — after-all that’s what most medicinal mushrooms are best known for, and they do it in a way that is truly unique…
Advanced immune training
It’s not just that mushrooms interact with your immune system; it’s how they do it from so many angles. Certain carbohydrates in mushroom cell walls such as beta-glucans seem to activate and fuel immune cells. For example, they stimulate macrophages, the immune cells that consume viruses and bacteria.
Beta-glucans also interact with lymphocytes, T-cells, natural killer (NK) cells and others immune components. They are particularly helpful with your innate immune system, your first line of defense against viral and bacterial invasions.
But there’s also evidence that certain medicinal mushrooms can regulate and “train” your immune system. Essentially, they prime immune cells to react appropriately to pathogens and toxins, while supporting healthy cells and tissues.
This is vital because a healthy immune system needs to be precisely tuned to provide the response needed to fight harmful invaders, cancer cells, etc. If your immune system responds too slowly, or not aggressively enough, infections and cancer can gain a foothold. On the other hand, if your immune reaction is too heavy-handed and over-reactive, you risk an autoimmune disease or allergic reactions. Mushrooms help to promote an optimal and balanced immune response.
Beyond immune support
If the medicinal mushrooms’ only “gold star” was that they benefited your immunity, they would still be superior natural remedies. But mushrooms can do much more: They provide important alkaloids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants that support health in multiple ways.
Mushrooms have been shown to…
- Reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
- Protect the liver
- Inhibit inflammation
- Support digestion
- Boost circulation
- Detoxify the body
- Fight cancer
- Support metabolic health
- Increase energy without a crash
- And more
Clearly, mushrooms are rich sources of unique health-promoting compounds. In fact, a number of pharmaceutical companies are working to isolate certain components from mushrooms in attempts to create new drugs.
As an integrative medical doctor, I applaud these efforts. But at the same time, with all the complex beneficial compounds contained within mushrooms, it seems that isolating one or two can detract from the synergistic benefits of the whole mushroom.
We’re still learning how the different compounds in medicinal mushrooms support each other, or work together in a formula with multiple varieties. From my experience, the best way to optimize their performance is to enhance whole mushrooms with unique cultivation methods, and combine them together in a carefully balanced formula. By doing that, we can fortify their entire spectrum of benefits.
Super-powered medicinal mushrooms
Mushrooms are highly absorptive. That is why they are so good at supporting detoxification. This also means that when they’re being grown, careful procedures are needed to ensure that the mushrooms don’t absorb toxins from the environment.
Unfortunately, many medicinal mushrooms are grown in other countries where environmental pollution is pervasive, contaminating the mushrooms with lead and other poisons. Organic cultivation indoors in controlled environments, and rigorous testing of finished product, are the only ways to ensure clean, safe mushroom formulas.
On the other hand, just like they absorb toxins, mushrooms can also draw in beneficial compounds while being grown. There’s one mushroom formula — the only one of its kind — that contains six species all grown on a blend of immune-enhancing herbs, aiming to fortify the mushrooms with additional healing properties.
There are literally hundreds of medicinal mushroom species. Here are just a few that stand out with remarkable health benefits:
- Reishi mushrooms are known for their ability to boost athletic performance. They enhance blood oxygenation, which is particularly helpful for long distance runners, mountain climbers and anyone exerting themselves at altitude. They also support lung function for those with asthma and bronchitis, lower cholesterol and reduce blood viscosity, which can help control blood pressure. On the immune side, they stimulate macrophages, as well as a cancer-fighting protein called tumor necrosis factor. Reishi mushrooms also support liver detoxification.
- Cordyceps mushrooms enrich bone marrow and energize macrophages, phagocytes and NK cells, again supporting immunity. They also have demonstrated anti-tumor activity. Like reishi, cordyceps support athletic performance, increasing cellular energy production and oxygen utilization. They also improve heart function by reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (the good variety).
- Coriolus mushrooms show anti-tumor activity in a number of cancers. They can also help mitigate the side effects from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, boost appetite and increase quality of life in cancer patients. They’re also shown to lower cholesterol, treat hepatitis and respiratory infections and benefit skin health.
A comprehensive approach
My best recommendation is to incorporate mushroom supplements into a comprehensive health plan and include culinary mushrooms such as shiitake, into a balanced diet. Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, a compound that has demonstrated anti-tumor activity in clinical trials and also protects against bacteria, viruses and parasites.
The research emerging on medicinal mushrooms is compelling, and their ability to balance the immune system alone makes them a key strategy in any long-term wellness program. Add in their additional remarkable benefits and it’s clear they should be a cornerstone in any effort to support lasting health.