Humans have used mushrooms for their medicinal properties for thousands of years. Roughly 2,000 of the estimated 14,000 species of mushrooms are considered to be edible. Of those 2,000 edible mushrooms, about 270 species have therapeutic properties or preventative agents that contribute to the overall health and wellness of the human body. Many people cook with mushrooms to add an earthy flavor to meals, but more and more people are gravitating toward the medicinal use of mushrooms.
The Power Of Fungi
This list of medicinal mushroom benefits is a lengthy one, which is why they have been regularly prescribed in Eastern Medicine. They are not intended to be eaten raw or in whole form; rather, they should be consumed in the form of a powder or extract. While mushrooms have not been deemed cures for any condition, they can be sidekicks for the immune system, reduce inflammation, decrease cancer risk, assist with balancing hormones, and boost brain health. So let’s explore the magical world of mushrooms to help you better understand the healing properties they possess.
Fill Up On Chaga For The Most Antioxidants
Chaga mushrooms have been researched for their ability to fight free radicals, reduce inflammation, and their incredible antioxidant content. Chaga’s antioxidants work to lower LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol), fight oxidative stress, and slow the growth of certain cancer cells. Many people enjoy consuming chaga mushrooms because of their ability to improve skin health and reduce wrinkles.
Lion’s Mane For Brain Health
The neurohealth properties of lion’s mane mushrooms have become increasingly popular, to the point where fancy coffee shops offer lion’s mane infused coffee. Many studies have found that this mushroom may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease-induced cell death. This means that lion’s mane may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, in addition to improving memory, focus, and overall cognitive function.
Fight Cancer With Turkey Tail
Resembling a fanned out turkey tail, the turkey tail mushroom ranks high on the list of medicinal mushrooms. Known for its potent anticancer properties, turkey tail mushrooms contain a compound known as polysaccharide-K (PSK), which enhances immune function. In fact, PSK has been approved as an anticancer prescription drug in Japan. Preliminary research has shown that turkey tail mushrooms can fight leukemia cells, improve the immune system of chemotherapy patients, and improve the survival rate of people with certain cancers.
More Maitake For Improved Blood Sugar
Maitake translates to “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, attributed to the fact that samurai had to forage for these deep in the mountains and forests of Japan. Upon finding them, they would dance for joy. Maitake is a mushroom that should be in your medicinal mushroom cabinet, and not just for the immunomodulating properties. Matiake contains SX-fraction, a water-soluble compound that can help counteract metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X. SX-fraction is known for its ability to help reduce blood glucose levels and blood pressure. Acting as an adaptogen, SX-fraction works to balance the blood sugar levels for those with either hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
Cordyceps For An Energy Boost
If you need a pick-me-up, then cordyceps is the fungus for you. Known for its ability to reduce fatigue and increase energy, cordyceps has been a mainstay in Chinese medicine for over 1,300 years. Cordyceps were quite valuable in Ancient China because they only grew in the Himalayas at 12,000 feet above sea level. Harvesting this original strain was challenging, making them expensive for traders and vendors. Even though other strains of cordyceps now grow in other parts of the world, the strain that is still harvested in the Himalayas can fetch $500 to $1,300 per ounce. The beta-glucans in cordyceps help deliver oxygen to the body on a cellular level, increasing energy and stamina. This mushroom also helps to increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels in the body, and ATP is essentially the body’s primary energy supply and is necessary for all cellular processes.