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  • Annie-Eliza Stevens

The Science Behind Medicinal Mushroom Magic

No, not that kind of magic mushroom.

The life-enhancing properties of medicinal mushrooms may seem magical — Lengthening youth? Aiding in diabetes management? Even helping chemo patients with the side effects of treatment? Too good to be true!



While medicinal mushrooms are not a cure, they are proven superfoods with the ability to boost the immune system and activate cells that fight against disease.


Many physicians who practice a holistic treatment approach recommend medicinal mushrooms as supplements to patients.


And while modern advances in medicine should never be dismissed, mushrooms have been used as health aides for centuries.


Thousands of years ago, people in Eastern Asia found that mushrooms were not only delicious, but certain types were healing for many different ailments.


Most recently, medicinal mushroom products have been on trend in health food stores and natural medicine stores, and their benefits are backed by modern scientific studies.


Many come in very palatable varieties now, such as supplements, teas, powders, and even as replacements for your morning coffee fix.


The common factor in most of these medicinal mushroom varieties is the presence of triterpenoids such as Ganoderic acid (GAA).


GAA is defensive molecular compound known to activate cells in our bodies that fight many conditions, diseases and ailments!


Three popular mushrooms used in wellness products are reishi, cordyceps, and shiitake (remember that mushroom you put in your favorite stir-fry?).


Read on to see what these ‘shroom powerhouses can do for you, and for a few recommendations to try!


Reishi


Packed with antioxidants, the reishi mushroom is also called the lingzhi mushroom.

It was known as the mushroom of immortality for 2,000 years for its assumed anti-aging properties and it was only available to royalty!


It grows wild on logs in coastal areas of China, but is now cultivated worldwide.

Reishi helps fight fatigue, reduce stress and depression symptoms. It can be used as part of treatment plans for asthma, high cholesterol, and even in supporting cancer treatment!


While this mushroom cannot claim to cure cancer or actually make a person immortal, it has been said to activate specific lymphocytes, natural killer cells, and other immune-boosting cells that keep an immune system up and running.


Cordyceps


Cordyceps were also reserved for emperors in ancient China because they were (and are still) hard to find.


This type of fungi grows in tubular shapes and is often referred to as the caterpillar fungus.

The Cs-4 extract is derived from the cordyceps mushroom, and is one of the highest classes of medicinal herbs!


It has been used to increase stamina, physical endurance and energy — so it’s great for athletes!


Also, like the reishi mushroom, cordyceps can also help with balancing stress and as a boost to your immune system. It is also known for its anti-aging and anti-tumor properties.


Not bad, little caterpillar, not bad.


Shiitake


Shiitake mushrooms are most commonly known for their popularity in cuisine, but did you know that this delicious fungus has been used as a healing aid in Chinese culture for thousands of years?


Wild shiitake were originally found growing in mountainous regions of Asia and thrive in warm, wet climates.


Studies suggest that these mushrooms contain compounds which support bone health, a strong heart, and boost your immune system.


In addition, like our other previously discussed fungi, the shiitake mushroom may aid in activating cancer-fighting compounds in the body!


Nothing is More Important Than Health


Whatever you decide to try in the world of magical and medicinal mushrooms, make sure it is a company that cares about quality.


For example, Four Sigmatic has a wide variety of mixes. They are fairly accessible in health food stores but are available to purchase online as well.


The properties of these mushrooms are expensive to extract, which is why it can be costly for consumers. Shop around a little first.


If you want to compare brands, many websites have variety and will give you a discount for purchasing with them, such as Thrive Market. The health benefits of mushrooms are certainly worth it!



Have you tried any medicinal mushrooms? If so, what benefits did it bring?


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.


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