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The Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms support health, vitality, and longevity

Medicinal mushrooms have been supporting health, vitality, and longevity for thousands of years in China and Japan, but the trend is just heating up here in West. With new scientific research surfacing on the amazing benefits of mushrooms, many people are rushing to get their fungus fix – and there’s good reason!

Medicinal mushrooms are proving to be beneficial for immune support, healthy aging, digestive health, and even cancer prevention. Whether you are fighting infection, struggling with a chronic disease, or just want to preserve your good health, there is a mushroom for you. Read on to learn about the most popular of these magnificent mushrooms and how they can help you start living your healthiest life.

Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma Lingzhi)

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Reishi mushroom, or Ganoderma Lingzhi, is one of the most popular medicinal mushrooms. Sometimes called the “Queen of Mushrooms,” reishi is the perfect choice for overall health and vitality. Chinese and Japanese herbalists have used this mushroom for longevity, beauty, and wellness for millennia. Today, we are catching on to the amazing benefits of reishi and soon it will become a household name.

Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi is Best Known for Stress Relief, Great Sleep, and Longevity

Reishi is a true tonic, or adaptogen – it helps to restore the body to a state of wellness without side effects or addiction. One of the most helpful things about reishi is its power to relieve stress and tension. As an adaptogen, reishi makes our bodies stronger in the presence of stress or changing circumstances. It relaxes our bodies and calms the mind. Regular intake of reishi will help to reduce the negative effects of chronic stress while also training our bodies and brains to react to stress better in the first place.

Reishi is also a power player when it comes to fixing our sleep habits. Insomnia and restless sleep are often the result of a stressful lifestyle, and a lack of sleep only makes matters worse. Reishi helps us to relax and enhances the quality of our sleep without the harsh side effects of sleep aids or other sedatives.

In addition to improving our stress response and sleep, reishi contains many antioxidants and beta-glucans to help support our immune system. Taking reishi regularly can help ward off cold and flus and potentially prevent against more serious conditions like cancer.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Trametes Versicolor)

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Turkey Tail Mushrooms or Trametes Versicolor is aptly named with its autumnal colors and fan-like shape. The benefits of this mushroom, however, quickly make up for its funny name and appearance. Turkey tail has been used since the Ming Dynasty as a general longevity tonic, as well as for spiritual attunement. These days, turkey tail is found widely anywhere that trees grow, and you might even stumble upon some yourself during a nice hike in the woods.

Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms:

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are best known for Strong Immune Support and Antiviral Effects

Many medicinal mushrooms support the immune system and help fight disease. In fact, many of our most commonly used prescription medications contain some form of fungus. Turkey tail specifically is not only a great mushroom for immune support but has antiviral properties as well. This makes it particularly useful for issues like cold and flus, as well as the oral strain of HPV. In one study, improvement of HPV reached 88% with the use of turkey tail mushroom against the control group. Preliminary studies have also shown turkey tail to have the ability to stop replication of the HIV virus.

Cancer is another area where turkey tail is being highly researched. Researchers believe the anti-cancer properties of turkey tail lie in the presence of polysaccharide-K, or PSK. PSK has shown to increase the survival rate, amount of relapse-free years, and general wellness during treatment.

Cordyceps-M Mushrooms (Cordyceps Militaris)

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Quite the curious fungus, Cordyceps-M, or Cordyceps Militaris is sometimes considered a parasite! The spores of the cordyceps grow on a type of caterpillar, eventually consuming its unfortunate host. With that kind of lifestyle, it’s no wonder that cordyceps is one of the best medicinals to improve strength, endurance, and performance. It has even been used to enhance athletic performance and increase the reproductive capabilities of livestock. Along with its performance boosting functions, cordyceps fights free radicals, inflammation, infection, respiratory illness, cancer, among many other conditions.

Health Benefits of Cordyceps Mushrooms:

Cordyceps is Best Known for Performance, Vitality, and Strength

Although Chinese medicine has made use of this fungus for thousands of years, only recently have we discovered its huge potential in the biomedical world. One reason cordyceps is so beneficial is its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. By fighting free-radicals and reducing inflammation, cordyceps helps to defend against infections, cancers, premature aging, and other inflammatory conditions like asthma, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and leaky gut syndrome.

While boosting the immune system and promoting longevity, cordyceps also has the power to greatly enhance energy, endurance, stamina, and strength in athletes. When taken regularly, cordyceps can prevent fatigue and muscle weakness by increasing the production of ATP, allowing athletes to train longer and harder.

Lion's Mane Mushrooms (Hericium Erinaceus)

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Lion’s Mane, or Hericium Erinaceus is no stranger to Chinese herbal medicine and is now considered a medicinal mushroom in mainstream medicine as well. This mushroom is known for its high antioxidant and beta glucan content. Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber that helps to improve cholesterol levels and general heart health.

Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushrooms

Lion’s Mane is Best Known for Improving Brain Function and Boosting Mood

Lion’s mane has shown to have neuroprotective abilities, making it a great supplement for older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Interestingly, lion’s mane has also shown to protect against the buildup of amyloid beta – the plaque that is seen in those with Alzheimer’s disease. These findings have yet to be proven in human studies, but the results have been promising for using lion’s mane to help prevent and ease AD.

On a more general level, lion’s mane is a wonderful mushroom for improving overall mood, easing anxiety, and lifting depression. Daily ingestion of lion’s mane has shown to minimize irritability, anxiety, and even help with concentration.

Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus Obliquus)

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Chaga, or Inonotus Obliquus is one of the most revered medicinal mushrooms in many different ancient healing cultures including Chinese medicine and Russian folk medicine. It typically grows in northern regions of the US, Candada, Asia, and Europe, notably in areas where life is cold and severe. Because of its strong ability to withstand these harsh climates, it is known in our modern times to be a great adaptogen. Chaga contains special substances such as polysaccharides, betulin, betulinic acid, and inotodiol – all of which have antioxidant properties and are important in cancer prevention.

Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms:

Chaga is Best Known for Digestive Health, Anti-Cancer Properties, Immune Function

Due to the strong antioxidants present in chaga mushroom, this hearty medicinal is well-suited for enhancing and supporting the immune system, detoxing the liver, and preventing or improving cancer. Its ability to reduce inflammation in the body has been noted most specifically in studies on inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Perhaps the most exciting potential of chaga is in cancer treatment and prevention. Cancer affects nearly 40% of men and women in the United States at some point in their lives. Researchers are studying the effects of chaga in different cancer and have found that some may respond beneficially to chaga supplementation. In mice trials, chaga selectively killed cancer cells while boosting the immune system. Lung cancer tumors were also significantly shrunk with chaga supplementation.

Best Chinese Medicine's Mushroom Picks

We source our trusty medicinal mushroom products from Real Mushrooms and carry both powdered and encapsulated forms. We love that Real Mushroom products are 100% organic, pure, high quality, and ethically sourced. Check out our selection and enrich your health with mushrooms today!

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About the Author

Kaitlan Downes, MSAOM, L.AC

Kaitlan Downes, MSAOM, L.AC

Kate Downes is a Chinese medicine practitioner with a passion for herbal medicine. In fact, it was her love for plant and earth medicine that first drew her to study Chinese medicine.

Kate has a MSAOM (Master of Science, Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine) certification and practiced acupuncture in Indianapolis, IN for five years before packing her bags to roam the world. In order to stay in touch with the wellness community and continue to help others thrive with herbal medicine, she transformed her work from face-to-face patient care to spreading wellness through words. Her life as a remote herbalist and writer has allowed her to work with a variety of wellness brands, health pioneers, and her wonderful clients. She has a special interest in working with women’s health.

Kate thoroughly enjoys writing educational and useful pieces for Best Chinese Medicine. Her goal is to help the public gain a better understanding of the wonders of Chinese herbal medicine so they can be empowered in their own quest for natural, vibrant health.

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