The world of medicinal mushrooms is vast, and one which is currently entering the forefront of the health and nutrition industry. The immense benefit that mushrooms hold have been acknowledged for centuries, used in traditional medicine’s and fundamental to many healing practices. Today, the research on these health benefits is only increasing and the many applications of such mushrooms are being discovered daily!
Mushrooms are generally high in antioxidants and depending on the species, have various other health benefits. The main medicinal mushrooms that we see at the health food store are: Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga and Lion’s Mane. They each hold their own unique nutritional composition and are useful for a variety of health concerns.
Reishi was named the mushroom of immortality. Reishi is highlighted for its defence against the immune system, providing antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Reishi is also an adaptogenic herb, and balances the hormonal system to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. In relation to this, Reishi helps to relieve nervousness, increase energy and improve sleep quality. Reishi is also known to help with arthritis, cholesterol, blood sugar and heart health. There are many strains of reishi, Japanese red reishi being one of the most potent, most effectively cultivated and extracted. The process includes cultivating the mushrooms in dense soil for over a year and extracting the benefits of the fruiting body using hot water, which extracts the nutrients and polysaccharides leaving behind the unnecessary fibre and undigestible parts.
Cordyceps is another adaptogenic mushroom and helps to balance energy levels throughout the day. Cordyceps work to increase ATP, which are the coenzymes that transport energy into the cells, which means more energy overall. Cordyceps also increase oxygen level intake and can help with those who have respiratory conditions and high performance athletes.
Chaga is also an adaptogen, helping the body adapt and react appropriately to stress. It is also known as an “anti-cancer” herb, and is used as a potent anti-oxidant. Another natural immune booster, chaga also helps to improve the immune system, fight bacterial and viral infections and works to nourish hair, skin and nails.
Lion’s main is a great natural brain-boosting mushroom. It has been shown to increase cognitive function, memory, creativity and helps to improve concentration. The active ingredient in Lion’s Man stimulates NGF ( Nerve Growth Factors), which are important for neural and overall brain functioning.
Mushrooms are a great way to provide the body with extra support. No matter what your health goals are, mushrooms are a great addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle and a wonderful way to optimize wellness!