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:
MyCommunity® 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 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 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® 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.
Mycoceutics® 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 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 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