3 MIN READ | GEORGIA SMITH
What are the benefits of medicinal mushrooms?
We often view mushrooms in terms of how they can be cooked and consumed to help us meet our nutritional needs. But beyond their nutritional value and role as a food source, many mushrooms have an extensive background and history that go beyond nutrition and more into transformative wellness.
We’re taking a look at the benefits of medicinal mushrooms, and what consuming them can mean for our minds and bodies.
WHAT ARE MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS?
Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms that are used as medicine and are reported to have numerous pharmacological properties.
As interest continues to grow around incorporating the use of natural products into wellness practices, more research on medicinal mushrooms has increased over the years to study the factors that give medicinal mushrooms their power to heal various physical and psychological conditions.
While medicinal mushrooms have quickly made their way to the forefront of wellness, their credibility can be confirmed by their rich history and background.
ANCIENT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
The use of medicinal mushrooms and their promotion of maintaining good health, strength, longevity and treating disease stems back to thousands of years ago in asian regions, particularly in China.
The medicinal properties that were observed in certain mushrooms in ancient times were closely observed and documented, and today, this growing attention and popularity continues to flourish. Medicinal mushrooms have been a large component of cancer and treatments in China and Japan for more than 30 years and are considered to be the standard in many of those treatments today.
MEDICINAL MUSHROOM BENEFITS
There are over 100 medicinal functions that medicinal mushrooms can produce. Some of these benefits include antioxidant, anticancer, immunomodulating, antiviral, antibacterial, cholesterol lowering and cardiovascular protecting properties.
We can thank medicinal mushrooms for these activities due to the many bioactive metabolites that are present within the “fruiting body” of the fungi. They have very diverse bioactivity which plays a crucial role in the prevention and treatment of various diseases.
Above all, polysaccharides in medicinal mushrooms are one of the most important compounds in the fungal cell wall. They are responsible for carrying biological information and have antitumor, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antidiabetic activity.
As for mushrooms themselves, they are rich in proteins, something that is important for us to have a substantial amount of in our diets. The proteins in medicinal mushrooms have been studied to have cytotoxic and anticancer properties as well.
WHAT TYPES OF MUSHROOMS ARE MEDICINAL?
There are quite a few species of mushrooms that are considered to be medicinal, some of which you may be familiar with already. Mushrooms like shiitake and maitake mushrooms are considered medicinal but are also a staple in many diets.
The medicinal properties of shiitake and maitake have both been studied to demonstrate potential antitumor and anticancer effects. Shiitake mushrooms in particular are widely used in Japan to treat gastric cancer due to its immunomodulatory properties.
Turkey tail is another mushroom that is considered to be the “magic herb” in many asian regions. The best known active compound in turkey tail is Polysaccharide K (PSK), which is an approved mushroom product used to treat cancer. The role of this compound has been studied in patients with stomach cancer, as well as its potential to repair immune cell damage caused by chemotherapy.
Above all, there’s one common medicinal mushroom that you may be the most familiar with—reishi. Also known as Ling Zhi, reishi is a type of mushroom that grows on live trees. It can be taken in many different forms and is notorious for strengthening the immune system.
WHERE TO BUY MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS AND HOW TO CONSUME
What’s great about medicinal mushrooms is that today, they are easier than ever to incorporate into your daily routine. Supplements, teas, powder formulas and more are a few options that allow you to reap the benefit of medicinal mushrooms easily.
With the medicinal mushroom benefits above, you may have a better direction on which fungi is the best option for you to incorporate depending on your needs.
So, if you’re wondering where to buy medicinal mushrooms, start with Zolt’s plant-powered and totally delicious superdrink mixes. A number of our varieties contain functional mushrooms – 100% organic fungi extracted from the fruiting body of the mushroom. A great product to get you started is Peak, a formulation that helps improve concentration and cognition thanks to cordyceps, lion’s mane, and reishi.
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