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The Healing Power of Mushrooms

The Healing Power of Mushrooms

Mushrooms have long been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.

In recent years, medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, lion's mane, chaga, shiitake, and cordyceps,

…have become increasingly popular for their potential health benefits.

Researchers have found that these medicinal mushrooms (MM) may help with a wide range of health problems, like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and problems with the immune system

Modern pharmacological research backs up a lot of what our ancestors knew about mushrooms.

Specifically, the fact that mushrooms can be used as medicine,

…because of their antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties.

They’re also popularly used as functional foods.

These are foods that can be enjoyed knowing that they have additional health benefits.

The medicinal benefits are due to the nutrient dense properties of mushrooms.

They provide high quantities of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

This article is a summary of the many ways that mushrooms are good for human health. 

As well as our top five medicinal mushrooms that you might want to add into your daily routine.

Let’s dive in.

Are Mushrooms Really Good for You?

 Researchers have found that medicinal mushrooms help people deal with the stress and pressure of modern life by boosting both the basic and secondary immune responses of the body. More than 5,000 species of mushrooms have been found all over the world, and about 2000 of them are known to be edible. A lot of the species have not yet been looked at to see if they could be used as medicines or supplements. In other reports, researchers mention that there are actually 12,000 different types of mushrooms in the world. Mushrooms have been used in medicine since the Neolithic and Palaeolithic eras.

Medicinal mushrooms (MM) are large fungi that are used in the form of extracts or powder to prevent, or treat a number of diseases and/or to make a healthy diet more balanced. Even though mushrooms are actually fungi, they are called "vegetables" when it comes to food. They are also commonly used to replace meat in meatless dishes. That’s because they take on the flavours of the dish and some mushrooms are naturally umami. Which means they are savoury and have a hearty, meaty flavour.

 Learn more: A Guide to Mushrooms: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Best Types

An Exciting New Discovery

Scientists have discovered a compound found in mushrooms, specifically lion’s mane, that can improve memory by making nerves grow faster. A recent study published by The University of Queensland, suggests that a compound found in a type of mushroom called Lion's Mane may have potential benefits for cognitive health. The study found that consuming Lion's Mane extract led to improvements in cognitive function, such as better scores on a cognitive assessment and increased concentration levels.

 Additionally, researchers found that the extract may have a positive impact on the development of nerve cells in the brain, potentially contributing to the brain's ability to regenerate and repair itself. The findings suggest that Lion's Mane extract may have potential as a natural supplement for cognitive health, but further research is needed to fully understand its benefits. Dr. Lee, co-author of the paper concluded “This important research is unravelling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory.”

 Related: Load up on trace minerals — They’re essential to avoid weak bones, a decreased immune system and many other health problems!

Our Top 5 Medicinal Mushrooms (MM)

 1.   Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi mushrooms  have long been used in the Orient to boost immune health.  There are three main benefits that have been proven by science: boosting the immune system, fighting cancer, getting rid of fatigue, depression and reducing chronic stress levels. Reishi mushrooms might also be good for your heart and help you control your blood sugar and restore healthy cholesterol levels.

2.   Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinus edodes)

In addition to being a fantastic source of umami flavour, dried shiitake mushrooms can be used as a meat substitute because they contain nearly all of the same amino acids as meat. That's why these mushrooms are so great for vegetarians and vegans. Further, the beta-glucans, sterols, and eritadenine in shiitake mushrooms may aid in controlling blood sugar and reducing cholesterol. In one study 52 young adults consumed 5-10 g of shiitake mushrooms daily. Resulting in improved gut immunity, and lowered markers for inflammation.

3.   Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion’s mane mushrooms get their name from the shaggy mane-like appearance. Animal studies show that the lion's mane mushroom can boost the immune system. It does this by making the intestinal immune system work harder. This system protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the nose or the mouth. These effects may be caused in part by positive changes in gut bacteria that boost the immune system. In 2012, a study found that giving mice a lethal dose of Salmonella bacteria and then giving them a daily supplement of lion's mane extract made them live almost four times longer.

4.   Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus)

A group of Japanese scientists used chaga to treat mice with lung cancer. Over the course of 3 weeks, the mice were given 6 mg of chaga per day. The results showed that the size of tumours went down by 60%, and the number of nodules in metastatic mice went down by 25%. In an interesting twist, the study also showed that the mice's immune systems improved. Because of the chaga doses, the body temperature of older mice went up, but the body temperature of mice that had tumours put in after the trial stayed the same. The immune system works better when the body's temperature stays high or stays the same. This suggests that chaga can help the immune system as a whole.

5.   Cordyceps Mushroom (Ophiocordyceps)

Cordyceps mushrooms contain many bioactive compounds that can boost the immune system. Including nucleosides, sterols, flavonoids, cyclic peptides, phenolic, bioxanthracenes, polyketides, and alkaloids. In clinical studies cordyceps mushrooms have been shown to have other pharmacological effects like anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-fatigue, anti-aging, hypocholesterolemic, hypotensive, vasorelaxation, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, and kidney protection.

The Bottom Line

Incorporating medicinal mushrooms into your diet may be a great way to boost your overall health and wellbeing. Whether you're looking to improve your immune system, reduce inflammation, or enhance cognitive function, a medicinal mushroom blend could help. While buying individual mushrooms can be expensive and time-consuming, a high-quality medicinal mushroom blend can provide you with the benefits of multiple mushrooms in one convenient supplement. When purchasing a blend, be sure to choose a reputable brand that uses high-quality ingredients. By adding a medicinal mushroom blend to your daily routine, you may be able to experience the numerous health benefits that these incredible fungi have to offer. So why not give it a try and see how it can enhance your overall health and wellbeing?

Written by Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.