When most people think of fungus, they assume it’s inherently “bad” for their health and longevity - like yeast infections. However, certain fungi are very much necessary for human survival and wellbeing (just like bacteria and other microbes).
Of particular importance for health is the fungi group known as Basidiomycota (which includes mushrooms). Not all mushrooms are inherently beneficial for humans, but the right species appear to have some incredible medicinal benefits, including:
- Reduce Triglycerides
- Blood Sugar Balancing
- Kidney and Liver Protective
- Hormone Balancing
- Aphrodisiac and Libido Enhancing
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the healthiest mushrooms that have been used in ancient medicine systems for centuries.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Ganoderma lucidum, also known as the Reishi mushroom, is a large, tough mushroom that is referred to as “Lingzhi” meaning soul or spirit. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as an herbal remedy, especially for healthy liver and immune function.1
There are over 400 bioactive compounds in this powerhouse mushroom. However, research suggests that the main substances responsible for the immune and liver protecting benefits of Reishi mushrooms are proteins and triterpenes, particularly ganodermic acids.2
Clinical studies demonstrate that ganodermic acids have an inhibitory action on the release of histamine in mast cells (meaning ganodermic acids reduce inflammatory response).3 The unique proteins found in Reishi mushrooms have also been shown to protect the liver by reducing oxidative stress.4
But the benefits of Reishi don’t stop there! A recent meta-analysis of 373 subjects demonstrated that those with cancerous tumors were 27% more likely to respond positively to chemotherapy or radiotherapy while supplementing with Reishi mushroom extract than those not consuming the mushroom as part of their treatment.5
Another study demonstrates that Reishi inhibits tumor cell proliferation by stimulating immune factors, such as TNF-a, IFN-g, and IL-1b.6 In layman’s terms, the Reishi mushroom is one of the most effective immune boosters known to humans and may assist in killing opportunistic bacteria and viruses.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
The cordyceps mushroom has been used for over six centuries in Asian cultures for energy, libido, immunity, stamina, and enhancing sleep quality.
The primary therapeutic constituents of cordyceps include cordycepin and its derivatives, polysaccharides, and ergosterol. Research continues to demonstrate that these compounds have a vast range of medicinal actions in humans, including:7
- Blood Glucose Regulation
- Enhance Blood Flow
- Supporting Heart Health
- Enhancing Kidney Function
- Stimulating Energy (ATP) Production
- Decreasing Fatigue
Cordyceps have also been shown to upregulate AMPK which helps boost muscle recovery and fat metabolism. You will look and feel great using Cordyceps militaris
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake mushrooms are native to eastern Asian countries and are now cultivated (and consumed) globally. Shiitake mushrooms are thought to have a legion of medicinal properties, thanks in part to its diverse profile of micronutrients, such as phosphorus, B vitamins, selenium and a compelling profile of health promoting polysaccharides.
One particularly potent polysaccharide present in shiitake mushrooms is lentinan (a beta-glucan). Lentinan has been shown to have anti-tumor and immune regulating properties.8 In fact, one study demonstrated that lentinan suppresses the expression of liver enzymes CYP1A which in turn decreases the risk of forming carcinogenic compounds.9
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Research has shown that Chaga mushrooms actually possess the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of any natural food on the planet, with a whopping ORAC score of 1104 units per gram!
How potent is that? For reference, the highly acclaimed acai berry has an ORAC score of 165 units per gram.
You’re probably wondering why this matters? In short, antioxidants protect your cells from highly reactive molecules known as free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) which work to incur oxidative stress in cells throughout your body. When you experiences chronic, excessive oxidative stress from things like pro-inflammatory foods and exposure to environmental toxins, you become prone to many health conditions, such as:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Type-2 Diabetes
- Rapid Ageing
- Muscle Loss
- Weight Gain
As you can see, antioxidants are absolutely crucial for your body to limit oxidative stress and keep you healthy; thankfully, the Chaga mushroom provides your body with an incredible number of antioxidants that will likely never be beaten by any other natural food.
Let the power of medicinal mushrooms help you today.
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.
- Kimura, Y., Taniguchi, M., & Baba, K. (2002). Antitumor and antimetastatic effects on liver of triterpenoid fractions of Ganoderma lucidum: mechanism of action and isolation of an active substance. Anticancer research, 22(6A), 3309-3318.
- Min, B.-S., Nakamura, N., Miyashiro, H., Bae, K.-W. & Hattori, M. (1998). Triterpenes from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum and their inhibitory activity against HIV-1 protease. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 46: 1607-1612.
- Khoda, H., Tokumoto, W., Sakamoto, K., Fujii, M., Hirai, Y., Tamasaki, K., Komoda, Y., Nakamure, H., Ishihara, S. & Uchida, M. (1985). The biologically active constituents of Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) Karst. histamine release-inhibitory triterpenes. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 33: 1367-1374
- Shi, Y., Sun, J., He, H., Guo, H., & Zhang, S. (2008). Hepatoprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum peptides against D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 117(3), 415-419.
- Jin, X., Ruiz Beguerie, J., Sze, D. M. Y., & Chan, G. C. (2012). Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 6.
- Lee, S. S., Lee, P. L., Chen, C. F., Wang, S. Y., & Chen, K. Y. (2003). Antitumor effects of polysaccharides of Ganoderma lucidum (Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst.(Ling Zhi, Reishi mushroom)(Aphyllophoromycetideae). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 5(1).
- Ng, T. B., & Wang, H. X. (2005). Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps, a prized folk medicine. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 57(12), 1509-1519.
- Ng, M. L., & Yap, A. T. (2002). Inhibition of human colon carcinoma development by lentinan from shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes). The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 8(5), 581-589.
- Okamoto, T., Kodoi, R., Nonaka, Y., Fukuda, I., Hashimoto, T., Kanazawa, K., ... & Ashida, H. (2004). Lentinan from shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes) suppresses expression of cytochrome P450 1A subfamily in the mouse liver. Biofactors, 21(1‐4), 407-409.
- Wong, J. Y., Abdulla, M. A., Raman, J., Phan, C. W., Kuppusamy, U. R., Golbabapour, S., & Sabaratnam, V. (2013). Gastroprotective effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers.(Aphyllophoromycetideae) extract against ethanol-induced ulcer in rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.
- Lai, P. L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K. H., David, R. P., Kuppusamy, U. R., ... & Malek, S. N. A. (2013). Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. International journal of medicinal mushrooms, 15(6).