Mushrooms! We fry them in garlic, throw them on pizza and toss them in salads. But did you know there’s a special class of mushroom called medicinal mushrooms which contain powerful healing compounds?
What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?
Popping up in trendy food stores nation-wide, medicinal mushrooms are finally getting the much-needed attention they deserve.
Of the currently known mushrooms (or fungi), there are around 2000 species that are edible or medicinal. Of those 2000 species, there are 15 mushrooms which are recognized to have medicinal or “functional” benefits. This means that beyond their nutritional benefits they have been shown to dramatically improve overall health and well-being in one way or another. Some help to lower stress, boost immunity, sharpen cognitive functions, and even increase energy.
They have a long history of being used by humans and can be eaten daily without any negative consequences. Medicinal mushrooms have been touted as the “original superfood” for a good reason. Let’s take a look why!
Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Medical mushrooms are loaded with polyphenols, polysaccharides, beta-glucans and antioxidants. These compounds each help to support a healthy, strong immune system.
Mushrooms are loaded with dietary fiber which aids in healthy digestion and supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria in your digestive system.
Due to their abundant levels of antioxidant properties, medicinal mushrooms provide amazing skin enhancing benefits. Glowing skin is a result of total body health and any disfunction in your immune system or digestive tract will show up in your skin first.
The number one reason I love medical mushrooms is because they are adaptogenic. Adaptogens assist and regulate your body in times of low energy, fatigue, anxiety and mood swings.
Most benefits are seen over long term consumption and sometimes won’t be noticed immediately. But this does depend on the type of mushroom.
Top 8 Medicinal Mushrooms for Immune Support
Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus)
This crusty looking mushroom grows in colder climates in the Northern hemisphere on birch trees. Loaded with antioxidant properties it’s great for supporting your immune system and overall well-being. It even has one of the highest ORAC scores of any food, with a score of 146,700!
Why is that a good thing?
ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbent capacity”. The higher the ORAC value, the better the foods ability to protect the body from disease-causing free radicals.
Chaga mushroom has also been shown to boost immune system by increasing the production of certain immune cells including interleukin-6 as well as T-lymphocytes. These substances help to regulate the immune system so it can fight off bacteria and viruses.
Cordyceps Mushroom (Ophiocordyceps sinensis)
The cordyceps mushroom is a true superstar. Known for its ability to enhance athletic performance, promote heart health and decrease inflammation to keep you feeling your best.
Cordyceps help strengthen weak immune systems by optimizing the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine and reproductive systems. This is because they contain anti-inflammatory compounds like polysaccharides modified nucleosides and cyclosporines.
Used in frequently in athletics, Cordyceps are known to provide a huge boost in energy, increasing stamina, lung capacity and oxygen utilization. This is mainly because they boost the body’s supply of ATP, one of the primary sources for energy during exercise.
Lions Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)
This fancy mushroom looks like the hairy scruff of a lion. It’s associated with major brain repair, potential cancer-fighting power and is undergoing research on dozens of other health benefits.
Known to fight infection in the body and brain, lions mane mushroom has the ability to enhance immune function in a manner related to its polysaccharide content.
The medical mushroom lions mane is considered to be a nootropic food. Nootropics are substances which improve cognitive functions such as memory, focus, creativity and motivation.
Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)
Commonly referred to as the “king of mushrooms”, the maitake mushroom is commonly found in clusters at the base of maple, oak or elm trees and can grow to over 100 pounds.
Maitake mushrooms have been shown to be effective at stimulating immune response and were even stronger when paired with the medicinal shiitake mushroom. Research from the University of Louisville Department of Pathology concluded that “Maitake and Shiitake mushrooms taken together strongly stimulated both cellular and humoral branch of immune reactions.”
These wonderful medicinal mushrooms are also commonly taken to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, boost fertility and reduce blood pressure. They are also considered to be an adaptogen, which means they contain powerful properties that can help naturally restore a balanced body and better health.
Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes)
These mushrooms have been a popular food choice all over Asia for thousands of years. Shiitake mushrooms have the ability to boost your immune system by improving your body’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections. Although not being a proven remedy, research has shown that shiitake may have the ability to fight cancer cells and other infectious diseases.
Shiitake mushrooms are a great source of vitamin B, they support adrenal function and turn nutrients from food into energy. B vitamins also help your body make red blood cells and protect your body from anemia.
Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)
The functional mushroom oyster is one of the newest mushrooms to pop up lately, but it has still managed to become a fungi favorite.
This medicinal mushroom has been cultivated for less than a hundred years and scientists are starting to uncover some promising benefits like lowering cholesterol, alleviating inflammation, blocking cancer growth, boosting brain health and more.
Many of these benefits are because it’s packed full of antioxidants which help fight free-radicals and prevent cell damage.
Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)
The name Reishi or Ling Zhi in Chinese represents “a combination of spiritual potency and essence of immortality” it’s tied to success, well-being, divine power and longevity.
Reishi is a strong anti-inflammatory, tied to longevity, better immune function and increased mental clarity.
They contain natural antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal substances that make them great for boosting immune function and even fighting off cancer cells. One of the most beneficial components of reishi mushroom are its polysaccharides. These are nutrients found in carbohydrate foods that are known to have anti-tumor abilities.
The medicinal mushroom reishi is considered an adaptogenic herb and commonly taken for its calming effects and famously known to put you into a “zen like state”.
Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)
If you’ve ever taken a hike in the woods, chances are you’ve seen plenty of turkey tail mushrooms. This medicinal mushroom grows everywhere on dead fallen trees, branches and stumps.
Turkey tail mushroom is known to fight infections including those associated with the common cold or flu. It helps modulate the immune system and build it up to become more resilient against ill-causing germs or infections.
As the cold and flu season approaches you may want to start supplementing daily with the medicinal mushroom turkey tail!
When many people hear “mushrooms” they usually think one of two things:
“Are these psychedelic ‘shrooms?”
“Do they taste like culinary mushrooms?”
The easy answer to both of these questions is No.
Superfood mushrooms don’t contain psilocybin or any of the active ingredients found in “magic mushrooms”. You won’t experience any hallucinations.
As for taste, medicinal mushrooms are generally earthy and don’t have the “shroomy” taste like found in cooking mushrooms.
How to Add Medicinal Mushrooms Into Your Diet
Unless you plan to go forging the forest for medicinal mushrooms, they are not very easy to consume or get your hands on. So, the easiest way is in supplement form. I recommend taking them in a powder like Biofy Limitless Greens, in special coffee, tea or sprinkled into soups, stews and various other recipes.
Most people can benefit from medicinal mushrooms however those who are pregnant, lactating, and/or have ongoing health conditions should consult a doctor since some mushrooms may clash with certain medications.
Superfood mushrooms are truly magical and contain a wide range of health benefits from boosting immunity, to uplifting energy and improving digestion. I’ve been supplementing with medicinal mushrooms for over 5 years and have noticed a profound difference in my energy, vitality and overall health. If you haven’t tried medicinal mushrooms yet, I strongly recommend you give them a try!
Not sure where to start?
Biofy Limitless Greens is your doctor recommended superfood mushroom drink designed to uplift energy, support healthy weight loss and improve digestion in one daily scoop. Try the delicious taste of Biofy Limitless Greens today!