MUSHROOMS HEALTH BENEFITS
Medicinal mushrooms have been used for their healing properties for thousands of years. Egyptian considered mushrooms the “plant of immortality” as they were primarily eaten by pharaohs and royalty. Chinese medicine has been using medicinal mushrooms since 100 BC and they were an important part of Mesoamerican cultures such as the Maya, Inca, Aztecs and Olmecs.
Scientists and the western world are finally starting to discover the amazing health benefits of medicinal mushrooms and that they are often safer and better tolerated, with fewer side-effects, than modern pharmaceuticals.
Known to have a variety of health benefits, mushrooms are classified as “adaptogens”. Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals that help the body adapt and resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical or biological. Stress can cause physical changes including harming our vital systems (immune, digestive, neurological, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, and reproductive systems). Adaptogens help to create and maintain homeostasis (balance) between the body’s vital systems.
Besides medicinal mushrooms other known adaptogens include green tea, ginseng, ashwagandha, tumeric, elderberry and licorice to name a few.
For example antioxidants are a type of adaptogen that fight oxidative stress (imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals), caused by factors such as diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, pharmaceuticals, exposure to pollution, pesticides, radiation and chemicals.
Free radicals are molecules with an odd number of electrons that makes them unbalanced and unstable. This instability is also what allows them to easily connect and steal electrons from stable molecules, thereby turning the once stable molecule into a free radical. This injuries the cells and can damage DNA, leading to mutated cells and chronic health problems.
Fortunately, our bodies produce its own antioxidants but also requires additional antioxidants which can be sourced naturally from mushrooms. Mushrooms are unique in that they provide 2 super antioxidants, Ergothioneine and Glutathione.
Ergothioneine, the “Superhero Antioxidant”, is a bioactive amino-acid that functions as a “master antioxidant”, is found in all human tissues but is prioritized to vital organs and cells that are exposed to high levels of oxidative stress such as the liver, kidney, red blood cells and eye tissue. In 2010 researchers at Pennsylvania State University found Ergothioneine levels in the late 1920’s to be nearly double from current levels which might explain the increase in diseases like diabetes, arthritis, neurodegenerative conditions and other inflammatory diseases may be due in part to the deficiencies of Ergothioneine in our diets.
Glutathione, “The Protector”, also found in every cell in the body, is unique in that it deals directly with the causes of oxidative stress by neutralizing and removing internal and external toxins, chemicals and pollutants before they can form into damaging free radicals. Our liver naturally produces glutathione but that production decreases with age. Researchers have found links between low glutathione levels and age-related conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s and loss of hearing.
In addition to being adaptogens with powerful antioxidants medicinal mushrooms also provide a rich source of bioactive elements including Polysaccharides, beta-glucans, amino acids, enzymes, prebiotics, vitamins and minerals that work together to protect and improve health.
10 MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS
Used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries because of its wide range of benefits including immune boosting, anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, neuroprotective to just name a few.
It’s also known to help fatigue, increase physical performance, improve brain function, improve kidney and liver function, increase sex drive and lower cholesterol. Research suggests the bioactive compounds found in Cordyceps demonstrate anti-cancer and anti-tumor activity by regulating the immune system and promoting cell apoptosis (death).
Known as the “mushroom of immortality” Reishi mushrooms can increase the activity of white blood cells called “natural killer cells” which are known to boost the immune system, fight infections and inflammation in the body.
Lab studies suggest the bioactive beta-glucans, found in Reishi and other medicinal mushrooms, activate the immune system to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Research has shown Reishi mushrooms may also, reduces chest pain and shortness of breath in people with clogged arteries, reduce the hepatitis B virus in the body and improve liver function.
Contains bioactive compounds with substantial benefits especially to the brain, stomach and immune system. Studies have found Lion’s Mane mushrooms can increase brain cell growth which protects against Dementia, boosts mental functions and prevents neuronal damage caused by Alzheimer’s.
Lion’s Mane may inhibit stomach ulcers and help inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease by reducing inflammation and prevent intestinal tissue damage. In addition, it can increase the intestinal immune system which protects against pathogens that enter through the gut, mouth or nose.
These amazing immune boosting mushrooms are packed with B and D vitamins and contain all 8 essential amino acids plus Linoleic, an essential fatty acid that promote weight loss, muscle and bone growth and improves digestion. Their bioactive compounds reduce free radicals and increase antioxidants which has been shown to heal damage caused by cancer treatments, reduce cholesterol levels and support cardiovascular health.
A 2015 study found that Shiitake Mushrooms may reduce inflammation, boost the immune system and help fight disease by providing essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes that increase cell reaction and improved gut immunity.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses Turkey Tail medicinal mushrooms as a treatment for respiratory conditions and as a complementary treatment for cancer due to its impressive immune boosting properties. Turkey Tail medicinal mushrooms contain the bioactive compound, Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) and Polysaccharide-K (PSK) that appear to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, stimulate the immune system, balance gut (stomach) bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Packed with Antioxidants like pheols and flavonoids that promote immune system health by reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds that help fight against bacteria and viruses.
KING TRUMPET (King Oyster)
These superfoods have an excellent source of protein, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, copper, dietary fiber, thiamin and antioxidants that promotes immune system health by reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds that help fight against bacteria and viruses.
In addition King Trumpet and other medicinal mushrooms are packed with Ergothioneine, the “Superhero Antioxidant” that lasts in the body for around 30 days. It is transported to the liver, kidneys, red blood cells and eye tissue to fight toxic free radicals, protect cells from damage and has shown potential for Kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
As an adaptogen Maitake medicinal mushrooms fight both mental or physical stress and helps maintain homeostasis (balance) between the body’s vital systems. Research has show Maitake medicinal mushrooms offer a wide range of health benefits including preventing tumor growth and boosting overall immunity to illness and disease by activating important immune cells (natural killer cells and T-cells).
Lab studies found Maitake medicinal mushrooms help manage cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose and improve insulin resistance thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
AGARICUS BLAZEI (Royal Sun Agaricus)
Known as the “Almond Mushroom”, Agaricus Blazei medicinal mushrooms contains bioactive compounds believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-tumor, and hypoglycemic effects that may help certain conditions such as hepatitis, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
Studies suggest the anti-tumor properties appear to active apoptosis (programmed cell death) in certain cancer cells responsible for leukemia, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and myeloma tumors.
Used in Chinese herbal medicine to treat hypertension, abdominal pain and asthma but is best known for its liver protective properties including treatment of liver diseases such as hepatitis, fibrosis and necrosis. Multiple studies have shown the bioactive compounds found in Antrodia medicinal mushrooms may inhibit cancer cell growth and promote cell death (apoptosis) in various cancers including breast, prostate, liver, bladder, cervical and oral cancer.
In addition their bioactive compounds possess strong antioxidant activity and have traditionally been used to treat cardiovascular disease as it inhibit the thickening of blood vessel walls and promote vasodilation.
Packed with antioxidants, Chaga is a super mushroom that may help reduce oxidative stress, protect DNA and boost immune system. Used for centuries by traditional healers throughout Asia, North America and Europe for chronic inflammation, blood sugar management, cholesterol, heart disease and more.
In various animal studies Chaga mushrooms have shown to increase physical endurance, reduce inflammation, reduce blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and fight tumor growth.