One of the hottest topics in the wellness world right now is the power of medicinal mushrooms. For centuries mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for their healing properties, and are the most scientifically researched group of superfoods today. With about 270 known species of mushrooms the span of potential health benefits is quite vast, the most popular being their anti-cancer properties, antioxidant composition, ability to fight disease and inflammation, improve energy levels, brain function, plus support hormone, immune and mental health.
The main constituents contributing to mushroom’s abilities are their polysaccharide compounds, including beta-glucans and triterpenes. In addition to the more prominent benefits, most mushrooms are also great sources of B and D vitamins, as well as minerals such as Zinc, Manganese, Copper and Choline.
With so many options out there, we’re going to look at some of the most widely known and available species of mushrooms, discussing their individual benefits and uses. Do note that some mushrooms when taken in stronger concentrations have shown to interact with other supplements and medications. If you have any existing medical conditions, discuss with a doctor or holistic health practitioner prior to using. Also, every body reacts differently to different mushrooms so some find it helpful to start a “mushroom journal” of sorts to keep track of how you feel – which is also a great way to become more in touch with your body in general! Here’s some types we believe are worth your consideration:
With a nickname like “queen healer”, this is a very powerful and widely recognized mushroom variety. Reishi can be used for general immune health and longevity but also for specific cases such as treating viral infections such as the flu, inflammatory diseases, respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis and asthma. It is especially beneficial for women, aiding in hormone regulation and lowering cortisol levels; the stress reducing properties also prove to help with cases of anxiety and unregulated sleep.
The inflammation powerhouse of the group, Chaga is jam-packed with antioxidants that help the body fight free radicals, decrease inflammatory responses and boost the immune system. It has been used in immunotherapy for cancer, treating viral infections, improving Diabetic health and treating inflammatory conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
If looking for increased energy, stamina, or athletic performance then Cordyceps are the mushroom for you. Being an adaptogen that helps balance your adrenal glands, it wards off fatigue and helps maintain consistent energy levels. By increasing cellular oxygen absorption it can help with endurance, strength and even recovery from exercise. In addition Cordyceps can be beneficial for those with asthma, bronchitis and liver disorders.
Named for its bellowing, long-stranded shape Lion’s Mane offers some incredible benefits for both brain and digestive health. By stimulating the production of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) helps improve focus, concentration, memory, creativity and overall mental clarity. Lion’s Mane also promotes proper digestion, protects the gastrointestinal tract from environmental toxins, plus can help treat conditions like gastric and duodenal ulcers and gastritis.
Otherwise known as the “multicolored mushroom”, Turkey Tails prove to be extremely effective in improving the immune system – ranging from treating viral infections to several cancers. The two powerful polysaccharides, PSP and PSK have shown to lessen side effects of treatment from esophageal, stomach and lung cancers, help treat cervical cancer, enhance the effects of radiation therapy and general enhance immune systems of those undergoing chemotherapy.
Definitely a more ‘common’ mushroom as it is widely used in Asian cuisine as well, Shiitake are great for the immune system, cardiovascular health and have cancer-fighting plus tumor-inhibiting properties.`
Magical Mushroom Tonic
With the colder weather blowing in, an enjoyable way to start incorporating Medicinal Mushrooms into your wellness routine is with a warming tonic. Alternatively, if you already have a ritual warm drink you can add them to that, say into your morning coffee for example. Below is a simple recipe we’ve concocted – but feel free to play around with it depending on your mushroom preference and desired sweetness!
1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1/2 tsp. each powdered reishi, chaga, cordyceps, Shiitake + any other mushrooms of choice OR use 1 serving of preferred mushroom powder/blend ( We recommend the products by Four Sigmatic, that can be found at Cornucopia in the tea section)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. turmeric
Pinch sea salt
1/2 – 1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. cacao powder (optional)
Sweetener: 1-2 dates, stevia or honey to taste (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth
- This may be enjoyed cold, poured over ice; or transfer blended ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer for a warming, nourishing tonic.
- If desired, top with a little drizzle of honey or sprinkle of cinnamon, sip and enjoy!