Medicinal Mushrooms: Food or Therapy?
This is one of the big debates in medicine for years!
So, there is a big difference between mushrooms, and from a roughly about 1.5 million mushrooms around the world there is a little bit over 300 mushrooms that have the actual health beneficial and medicinal purposes.
Interesting enough actually about half of the drugs in the world are derived from fungi-penicillin the famous antibiotic for example.
Now, in recent times with functional medicine and nutrition going mainstream, we are seeing a resurgence of interest in these amazing superfoods.
What Are the Most Common and How Are They Beneficial?
Shiitake and Maitake-Food mushrooms
In addition to immune stimulating capacity maitake is used for blood pressure control and the shiitake is also used for liver detox and cardiovascular disease.
It is easy to cook with these mushrooms and they are also loaded with B-vitamins so it will help with your energy, blood sugar levels and inflammation in the body!
This mushroom is generally used for people with anxiety, insomnia, stress due to calming effect but it also a known immunomodulator. Interestingly it also has some antifungal activity against Candida as well!
Great for workout, endurance, and physical stress due to energy boost. Also great for lung related issues like asthma or even seasonal allergies
Look for the Cordyceps militaris-commercially cultivated species since the true Cordyceps sinensis is extremely rare on our market and it is almost always myceliated grain aka high amount of fillers.
Lion’s mane-Mind Mushroom
Used for the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s type of diseases and to help with memory. Lion’s mane is rare in the fact that it helps the production of a bioprotein called Nerve Growth Factor and myelin (an insulation around nerve fibers)
Turkey tail-Fight the cancer
Turkey tail contains a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that stimulates the immune system and it is used for anti-cancer properties. Used also during chemotherapy!
What should you be looking for when it comes to mushroom supplements?
Check the amount of active compounds for the immunity and hormonal balance in each supplement.
Mushrooms need to grow on a mycelium and not rice bran and preferably in the nature not a lab for the best healing activity
Should be tested for pesticide, heavy metals, and mycotoxins (mushrooms can have their own bad mushrooms!)
Try the powders, coffees, extracts or find a recipe you like and cook with them! But do not eat the mushrooms raw because they have no bioavailability unless they are edible mushrooms like portobello-then you are eating more for the protein or the carbohydrates.
Always talk to your doctor beforehand to confirm if adding medicinal mushrooms to your diet is safe, especially if you are using certain medications or are pregnant.
So, which one are you going to try first?
To your health,
Dana Neacsu, MD