With today’s technology making medicinal knowledge better, more and more supplements are discovered.
Green tea, fish oil, grapeseed, and others – name it, and you can find a supplement for it.
So, it’s no wonder that medicinal mushrooms are being turned into a supplement.
In fact, the pharmacological potential of mushrooms is supported by this scientific review published in the US National Library of Medicine.
They are called medicinal mushrooms because they have been used historically for the prevention and treatment of diseases. Even ancient Egyptians believed eating mushrooms led to a longer life span.
Now here are the most commonly used medicinal mushrooms in mushroom supplements:
1. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
The chaga mushroom grows on birch trees native to the northern hemisphere. It resembles a dark clump of dirt more than a mushroom. But, it has an orange tissue that differentiates it from the rest.
A Russian study claims that Chaga Mushrooms can help treat patients with HIV. The chaga was also discovered to have antiviral properties that could protect against the virus, as well as flu and smallpox.
Among its other benefits:
- slowing the aging process
- lowering cholesterol
- preventing and fighting cancer
- lowering blood pressure
- supporting the immune system
- fighting inflammation
- lowering blood sugar
- preventing drug side effects
2. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishi is also known as Ganoderma or Lingzhi. It is one of the most popular because it has been used in Chinese medicine for almost 2000 years.
Not only do Chinese people use it, but its popularity also extends to Japanese and Korean medicine. Now it has made its way to the west.
Reishi has been proven to have anti-oxidative effects when supplemented. Additionally, it has a therapeutic effect on insulin resistance and is well known for its anti-cancer effects.
According to a study, it is able to activate natural killer cells. Ganoderma mushrooms have F3 polysaccharides which can induce antibodies to kill antigens associated with tumors or cancer cells.
Lingzhi mushrooms are focused on moderating the immune system. When the immune system is overstimulated, it reduces the system’s activity. On the other hand, it boosts the immune system when it is weakened.
3. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor)
Turkey tail is a mushroom that contains compounds known to benefit health. It is called turkey tail due to its striking colors.
Additionally, it may improve the immune functions in people with certain types of cancer.
4. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake mushrooms are good for overall health. Not only are they used for supplements, they are also for their rich and savory taste.
They are edible mushrooms native to East Asia and are tan to dark brown in color. They have that distinct umami flavor which makes them an essential in some Chinese dishes.
Shiitake mushrooms have long been used in Chinese medicine, as well as in Japan, Korea, and Eastern Russia.
Here are the benefits of shiitake mushrooms supplements:
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Improves heart health
- Boosts immune system
- Fights cancer
- Antibacterial and Antiviral Effects
- Helps strengthen the bones
5. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s mane mushrooms are also known as hou tou gu or yamabushitake. They are large, white, shaggy mushrooms that resemble a lion’s mane as they grow, hence the name.
They have both culinary and medical uses in Asian countries. They can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried or steeped as a tea. Their flavor is “seafood-like,” like crab or lobster
A study revealed that it contains two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines. It also appears to boost mental functioning.appears to boost mental functioning.
Here are other benefits of Lion’s mane:
- Protects against dementia
- Relieves mild symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Speeds up recovery from nervous system injuries
- Protects against ulcers in the digestive tract
- Reduces heart disease risk
- Helps manage diabetes symptoms
- Helps fight cancer
- Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
- Boosts the immune system
6. Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
This type of mushroom comes from a genus of parasitic fungi that grows on the larvae of insects. When these fungi attack their host, they replace its tissue. Long, slender mushroom stems grow outside the host’s body.
Interestingly, the remains of the insect and fungi are hand-collected, dried and used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is given to people suffering from fatigue, sickness, kidney disease, and low sex drive.
Other benefits of Cordyceps include:
- Boosts exercise performance
- Anti-aging properties
- Anti-tumor effects
- Helps manage type 2 diabetes
- Good for heart health
- Helps fight inflammation
There’s no doubt that mushroom is a superfood.
It has become one of the biggest and fastest growing trends in natural health and wellness today.
But before you buy a mushroom supplement, here are some things you need to know:
1. Avoid supplements with Mycelium
This is the first and most important thing you should know.
Mushroom supplements made with mycelium can never be full spectrum supplements.
Although a mushroom and its mycelium are made of similar tissues, there’s a huge difference. If it is mycelium, then it’s a sterile, lab-grown (usually in cheap plastic bags), vegetative part of the fungal organism.
It means it is grown on grains and is significantly less favorable and lacks in beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are the active, beneficial compound in medicinal mushrooms. Without this, the mushroom supplement is just trash.
So before you buy, check the labels. Even if the front label says “mushrooms,” you need to look at the Supplement Facts panel.
For example, it should say “Reishi mushroom” and not “Reishi mushroom mycelium”. You have to be careful because some companies do not source their product from actual mushrooms, but from mycelium instead.
Here’s a video that will expose the truth about mycelium:
2. Opt for a mushroom extract
Apart from avoiding mushrooms that are made with mycelium, choose concentrated extract over mushroom powders.
2000 years ago, mushroom powders were not available. In traditional Chinese Medicine, mushrooms and herbs are made into a tea for optimum consumption.
It is because tea is a simple water extract. Thousands of years ago, traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners will boil herbs for long periods of time to extract the medicinal compounds.
Especially for mushrooms, hot water extract is the best way to make them more bioavailable.
In some mushroom varieties like the Reishi and Chaga, alcohol and water is combined for the extraction since some of their compounds are not water soluble.
Sad to say, many companies will use only an alcohol extract, which makes it an inferior supplement.
When choosing a company to buy from, make sure that the labels say “hot water extracted”.
So if they don’t state it, don’t buy it.
3. Medicinal compounds must be stated on the label
The compounds found in mushrooms are what makes them potent. Aside from the beta-glucans, they also have triterpenoid compounds and active polysaccharides.
These compounds should be listed and quantified. The higher the number, the better.
But don’t be fooled by high polysaccharide numbers if the company is vague in indicating the “active” compounds.
Polysaccharides can simply be starch, which is an alpha-glucan and a major component of grain or mycelium. (see number 1)
As a potential buyer, you have all the right to know what you are buying and how they are made. Knowing these facts will help you choose the best product for your health.
Treat these truths as a guide in choosing mushroom supplements to avoid being fooled.
Because in the name of money, there will always be companies out there that mislead customers about their products and their potency.
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