A Beginner's Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms

From immune boosting soups to energy enhancing elixirs, it seems Medicinal Mushrooms are taking the natural health world by storm in all sorts of new and delicious ways. Touted for their wide range of therapeutic properties, Medicinal Mushrooms have been shown to do everything from regulate the immune system to improve vitality. If you’ve ever wondered what all the hype is about, read on to learn how Medicinal Mushrooms, like those sold here at Evoke, could become a welcome addition to your wellness routine.

What are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Medicinal Mushrooms aren’t just your average culinary mushrooms found at the grocery store; rather, they are a group of fungi containing distinct therapeutic compounds used for hundreds of years across the globe. Among the most notable of active compounds are “Mushroom Polysaccharides” (aka “Proteoglycans”). These chemicals have the remarkable ability to activate and interact with cells of the immune system, which makes them ideal supportive nutrients in cases of autoimmune disease, allergic disorders, and a multitude of inflammatory conditions.

While you’ve likely seen mushrooms such as Reishi or Chaga sold individually, often times Medicinal Mushrooms are available in multi-blends like Harmonic Art’s “14 Mushroom Blend”, or NFH’s “Mushroom Complex SAP”. This is because mushrooms are believed to work synergistically (i.e. they have a more powerful therapeutic effect when used together rather than alone). In order to familiarize yourself with the incredible healing properties that these fabulous fungi offer, let’s take a closer look at the following five trending Medicinal Mushrooms:

Reishi

Reishi is likely the most famous ‘shroom of the bunch. Used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Reishi packs an enormous number of Mushroom Polysaccharides with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. Conventionally used for longevity, Reishi is thought to nourish both the cardiovascular system and the nervous system. Its use has also been implicated in cases of allergies and inflammatory conditions, thanks to its ability to support the immune system and inhibit histamine release (histamine being the chemical responsible for weepy eyes and a runny nose).

Chaga

Chaga is a hard, bark-like mushroom that comes from the forests of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Northern Canada. Often referred to as “Black Gold”, Chaga ranks as one of the top anti-oxidant containing foods available. Chaga’s main therapeutic compound is “Betulinic Acid”, a chemical believed to prevent the growth and replication of damaged cells in the body. Other health benefits associated with Chaga include boosting athletic endurance, warding off viral infection, and significantly reducing inflammation.

Maitaki

Maitaki is a gourmet mushroom from Japan, best known for its nutrient density. Packed with B Vitamins, Zinc, and Potassium, this mushroom makes for a delicious addition to any soup, salad, or stir fry. Aside from its impressive nutrient profile, Maitaki has also been shown to be effective in balancing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol levels, and even regulating blood pressure. In addition, Maitaki can be instrumental in enhancing immune functioning, and balancing hormones.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps have been employed traditionally as an anti-aging supplement, with studies pointing to increased oxygen uptake and resistance to fatigue when used among the elderly. Use of this fungus has also grown in popularity among athletes, given its nourishing effects on the cardiovascular system, and association with increased endurance and stamina. Thanks to its powerful ability to improve blood-flow, Cordyceps is believed to enhance reproductive health; moreover, it may be particularly helpful in cases of lowered sex drive or erectile dysfunction.

Lion's Mane

Lion’s Mane is sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Nutrient for Neurons” in the natural health world. There is a growing body of research demonstrating this mushroom’s ability to improve brain health and functioning, and possibly even repair damaged nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. While it contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, improved sleep & enhanced mood have also been reported as just some of the beneficial effects that this mushroom has on the body.