Medicinal mushrooms are among the most potent botanicals known to man, but this is not news. Mushrooms have been used in Eastern societies for thousands of years to aid in treating all kinds of health issues.
Today, a growing body of scientific research confirms the immune-boosting benefits of fungi, especially the Asian mushrooms, including maitake, cordyceps, reishi, and shiitake. These mushrooms have been found to contain components that bolster your immune system, aid in the cure of numerous diseases, and promote long term vitality.
How Mushrooms Train Your Immune System
It’s not just that mushrooms strengthen your immune system; it’s how they do it in so many different ways. 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 other 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. Primarily, they prime immune cells to react appropriately to pathogens and toxins while supporting healthy cells and tissues.
This action is vital because a healthy immune system needs to be precisely tuned to provide the necessary response to fight harmful invaders and cancer cells. 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.
Other Health Benefits Of Medicinal Mushrooms
If the medicinal mushrooms’ only benefit were that they benefited your immunity, they would still be superior natural remedies. But these fungi can do much more: They provide essential alkaloids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants that support health in multiple ways.
Mushrooms have been shown to do the following:
- 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
Mushrooms are rich sources of unique health-promoting compounds. Several pharmaceutical companies are working to isolate specific components from mushrooms in attempts to create new drugs.
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 they don’t absorb toxins from the environment.
Unfortunately, many medicinal mushrooms are grown in other countries where environmental pollution is pervasive, contaminating the fungi with lead and other poisons. Organic cultivation indoors in controlled environments, and rigorous testing of the 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 that contains six species grown on a blend of immune-enhancing herbs and green tea, aiming to fortify the mushrooms with additional healing properties. This formula is called Myco-Excell.
There are 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 raising HDL (the good variety).
- Coriolus mushrooms show anti-tumor activity in several cancers. They can also help mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, boost appetite, and increase the quality of life in cancer patients. Coriolus mushrooms have been shown to lower cholesterol, treat hepatitis, respiratory infections, and benefit skin health.
- Turkey Tail mushrooms contain compounds called polysaccharopeptide (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK). PSP and PSK appear to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Turkey tail also has immune-boosting properties.
- Maitake mushrooms contain chemicals that fight tumors, stimulates the immune system, and lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid levels.
- Shiitake mushrooms boost immune function, heart health, and aid in cancer prevention.
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 health benefits, and they should be a cornerstone in any effort to support lasting health.