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Medicinal Mushrooms

MedicinalMushroomsJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Since at least 3000 BCE, traditional medical systems have utilized foods as medicines. Due to their numerous and significant health promoting properties, edible mushrooms have played a very old and continuously substantial role. Early records show that ancient Egyptian and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners used mushrooms to promote health and longevity, as well as to treat certain maladies and diseases. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), medicinal mushrooms are considered to be cardiovascular- and hepato-protective, and have been proven to possess anti-allergic, anti-cholesterol, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic and anti-tumor properties. Additionally, it is well established that mushrooms are adept at immune modulation, positively affecting hematopoietic stem cells, lymphocytes, macrophages, T cells, natural killer cells and more.

Medicinal mushrooms are high in protein, essential amino acids, and complex carbohydrates, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber and trace elements. Perhaps more significantly, mushrooms possess non-digestible, bioactive polysaccharides, or prebiotics, that can stimulate the immune system, encourage the growth of beneficial gut microbes, and depress endogenous pathogens found within the gastrointestinal tract. A Chinese study on edible mushrooms revealed that mushrooms possess substantial antioxidant and metal chelating activity due to their phenolic (natural antioxidant) composition. Numerous studies focusing on the benefits of a healthy microbiome have shown that probiotics and prebiotics, or a synbiotic combination of both, can stimulate the microbiota, enhancing immune and general health.

Studies suggest that mushrooms are probiotic foods that help strengthen the body, restore and maintain homeostasis and provide natural resistance to disease. Extremely important to overall wellbeing, the gastrointestinal system is largely responsible for critical digestive and immune functions, hormone regulation, vitamin production, toxin elimination and micronutrient absorption; as well as mood, energy regulation, and mental health. On a daily basis, the microbiome plays many key roles in promoting efficient operations of bodily processes. In a healthy body, pathogenic and symbiotic microbiota naturally coexist without causing problems. An imbalance, or dysbiosis, brought on by factors such as poor diet, illness, and medications, can lead to obesity and inflammatory conditions, leaving the body more susceptible to disease. The human microbiome is a living dynamic environment subject to constant fluctuations, dependent upon our state of health, the foods we ingest, whether or not we exercise, and a host of environmental exposures.

Supplementing with medicinal mushrooms is any easy way to support overall wellness and healthy functioning of the gastrointestinal and immune systems:

Reishi: Highly praised as the King of mushrooms, strictly medicinal Reishi mushrooms are rich in complex carbohydrates, anti-inflammatory agents, and other components that support hormonal balance, and energy production; as well as immune, cardiovascular, blood vessel, liver, and overall health. Reishi’s antioxidant compounds help protect cellular DNA and mitochondria from oxidant damage, thereby combating signs of aging.

Lion’s Mane: Like other medicinal mushrooms, Lion’s Mane contains polysaccharides and antioxidants that support immune and overall healthy function. While research continues regarding this mushroom’s effects on the brain and nervous system, studies have shown that Lion’s Mane may support cognition and concentration, as well as a healthy mood.

Maitake: In addition to anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, Maitake has been shown to have anti-diabetic constituents, helping to decrease insulin resistance and increase insulin sensitivity.

Cordyceps: Used traditionally as a health tonic and asthma treatment, Cordyceps supports increased energy levels by helping to deliver oxygen to the cells. In addition to immune modulation, Cordyceps aids athletic performance by increasing metabolic efficiency.

Turkey Tail: As one of the most extensively studied medicinal mushrooms, Turkey Tail provides a full spectrum of polysaccharides, essential for natural immune support. Research has shown that in addition to its immune boosting effects, Turkey Tail has anti-tumor and antiviral activity, as well as moderating effects on blood sugar and cholesterol.

Professional Supplement Center carries many well respected medicinal mushroom formulas:

MyCommunityMyCommunity® by Host Defense®: This unique complex of 17 potent mushroom species includes the mycelium, fruitbodies, and a diverse range of constituents to help support and balance the immune system. Gluten, contaminant and pesticide free, Non-GMO, vegetarian formulation. Certified organic mushrooms are grown and processed in the USA.

M/R/S Mushroom...M/R/S Mushroom Formula by Pure Encapsulations®: This dynamic blend of Maitake, Reishi, and Shiitake is formulated with whole plant bodies for optimal immune health and broad spectrum physiological support. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO, hypoallergenic, vegetarian formulation.

Lion's Mane Memory...Lion’s Mane by Host Defense: This certified organic formula provides the full spectrum of constituents of Lion’s Mane best known for providing support for brain, immune, and nervous system functions. Sustainably cultivated and freeze dried to preserve nutrients. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

LifeShield ReishiLifeShield® Reishi by New Chapter®: Formulated with mycelium, fruiting bodies, spores and extracellular compounds to deliver whole life cycle, activated, organic Reishi mushrooms in support of vitality and overall wellness. Guaranteed minimum 15% beta-glucans for optimal potency and benefit. Naturally gluten free, Non-GMO, vegan formulation.

MycoceuticsMycoceutics® by Douglas Laboratories®: This formula contains an array of beta-glucans and other active constituents derived from 10 species of mushrooms including Cordyceps, Reishi, Maitake and Shitake, providing support for the natural immune response. These mushrooms are cultivated under carefully monitored conditions and contain no pollutants, heavy metals or contaminants.

Cordyceps 750 mgCordyceps 750 mg by Now Foods: Traditionally used for its energizing, adaptogenic, and free radical scavenging properties, Cordyceps mushrooms have numerous bioactive constituents. Cordyceps 750 is formulated to support a healthy immune response and promote normal vascular function. Gluten, soy, and dairy free, Non-GMO, organic, kosher, vegan formulation.

Turkey TailTurkey Tail by Host Defense®: This well documented mushroom species provides a wide spectrum of beneficial properties essential for supporting natural immunity and a healthy microbiome. Gluten free, Non-GMO, organic, vegetarian formulation.

Anti-inflammatory and Immunomodulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1160565/
Amino Acid Composition of the Protein from a Mushroom. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1057970/
A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618583/
Phenolic Compounds in Food. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/bk-1992-0506.ch001
Why the Gut Microbiome is Crucial for Your Health. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health



Edible Mushrooms – Time Honored Functional Foods

edibleMushroomsSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor



Long collected and cultivated in Asian countries for their health promoting benefits, scientific studies over the last 20 years have recognized that certain cellular constituents of edible fungi can improve the quality of human health and show promise for preventing disease. Once viewed as exotics in western cultures, some varieties of mushrooms may now be found at farmer’s markets or on grocery store shelves, while less common medicinal mushrooms may be available dried, as liquid extracts or in capsule form. Of the thousands of known mushroom varieties, perhaps we are most familiar with button, cremini and Portobello mushrooms, which deliver important nutrients including antioxidants, niacin, selenium, riboflavin, vitamin D, magnesium and potassium.

To be considered functional, a food must provide benefits beyond the nutrients it contains. For their own protection, fungi have developed an arsenal of medicinal compounds. Ongoing studies and clinical trials have found or suggested that in addition to improving nutrition, medicinal mushrooms have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-tumor properties. A rapidly growing body of evidence suggests that certain mushrooms may have an immune-modulating effect on immune compromised persons. New data showed positive effects on brain health and dementia precursors, including mild cognitive impairment and beta-amyloid peptide toxicity. Multiple clinical trials have found the anti-inflammatory characteristics to be beneficial in arthritic and respiratory conditions.

Nutritional benefits of mushrooms include:

  • Mushroom consumption is associated with better quality diets and improved nutrition
  • Mushrooms are high in fiber and certain enzymes that can help balance cholesterol levels
  • Mushrooms provide a good source of highly absorbable iron
  • Mushrooms contain a significant amount of beta-glucans and conjugated linoleic acid, which have been shown to have anti-tumor effects
  • Mushrooms are known to contain compounds that support the proper functioning of the liver, pancreas and other endocrine glands
  • Mushrooms support bone health by providing vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium
  • Mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant unique to fungi that provides free radical protection along with B-Complex vitamins and vitamin C, which supports immune health
  • Mushrooms provide potassium, supporting healthy blood pressure and cognitive function
  • Mushrooms contain high a high amount of selenium, providing a good vegetarian source of this powerful antioxidant

Beneficial properties of functional medicinal mushrooms, otherwise termed mushroom nutraceuticals, include:

Antibiotic, antimicrobial and antifungal activity – Mushrooms developed their own antibiotic compounds to protect themselves in their natural environment. Mushroom compounds that have activities against multi-resistant bacterial strains have been shown to inhibit the growth of microorganisms, including specific types of staphylococcus. Certain mushrooms contain biologically active fungal metabolites and oxalic acid shown to inhibit microbial activity.

Anti-cancer – Published studies have shown that different species of medicinal mushrooms may have beneficial activity against many forms of cancer including breast, cervical, colorectal, liver, lymphoma, prostate, melanoma and others.

Antiviral – Whole extracts and isolated compounds of mushrooms, including polysaccharides, water soluble lignans, and other complex molecules, have been shown to boost immune defense, inhibiting certain viral enzymes, and increasing killer cell activity.

Immune response modulation – Certain mushrooms have compounds that act as immune stimulators, increasing T cells and natural killer cells, as well as supporting long-term immune enhancement.

Thousands of beneficial mushroom species have been identified, however many of us know some mushrooms contain toxic compounds. As toxic mushrooms may look similar to non-toxic varieties, foraging for wild mushrooms is ill-advised. Additionally, mushrooms have the ability to absorb whatever medium they are grown in. While this ability is the source of many of their benefits, mushrooms grown in natural conditions are exposed to more contamination from heavy metals, and pollutants in the ground, air and water than mushrooms that are cultivated or organically grown. For this reason, organically grown mushrooms and extracts are highly recommended.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other fine products in support of health and wellness:

MyCommunity by Host DefenseMyCommunity by Host DefenseSave 15% This certified organic comprehensive formula contains a unique combination of 17 potent species of mushroom mycelium and fruit bodies, providing a diverse and full spectrum of nutrients in support of natural immunity. Non-GMO, contaminant free, organically grown vegetarian formula.


Rei-Shi Mushrooms by Now FoodsRei-Shi Mushrooms by Now FoodsSave 30% This combination of two specialized mushroom strains is produced from live mycelial and fruiting fungi grown in a controlled, environment in support of general wellness and vitality. Gluten, soy, dairy and yeast free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.


Mycocyclin® 6 Mushroom Mycelial Complex by Allergy Research GroupMycocyclin® 6 Mushroom Mycelial Complex by Allergy Research Group – This liquid extract formula provides a blend of 6 mushrooms, harvested when active ingredients are most concentrated in support of immune and overall health. Gluten and soy free formulation.


The Science of Mushrooms & Health. http://www.mushroomsandhealth.com/mushrooms-health-report/
Nutrition Benefits.  http://www.mushroominfo.com/benefits/
Edible Mushrooms As A Source Of Valuable Nutritive Constituents. http://www.food.actapol.net/pub/1_1_2006.pdf
Mushrooms As Functional Foods. https://download.e-bookshelf.de/download/0000/5716/15/L-G-0000571615-0002358316.pdf
Stamets, Paul. MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms, MycoMedia® Productions, 2002
Health Benefits of Mushrooms. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-mushroom.html
Antimicrobial properties, antioxidant activity and bioactive compounds from six wild edible mushrooms. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140106/
The Pharmacological Potential of Mushrooms. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1193547/
Six Cancer-Fighting Medicinal Mushrooms. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nalini-chilkov/cancer-foods_b_1192207.html