Our current year has brought with it a reassessment; an understanding that we aren’t as immune to illness as we’d like to believe. This genuine fear and awareness has many people asking, “What can I do to boost my immune system and protect my health?” That’s what this article is about.
For millennia, practitioners have prescribed healing mushrooms to combat human ails. Yet, as the journal article Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies Meet Modern Science noted, “Only recently has modern science rediscovered what the ancients knew long ago — that mushrooms can be deep reservoirs of powerful medicines.”
As science looks deeper, it discovers more about the potent therapeutic benefits of mushrooms. Reishi, Maitake and Shiitake, in particular, have central roles to play in enhancing the immune system.
Also known as Ganoderma lucidum, the Reishi mushroom has captured the imaginations of both scientists and the community. This ancient mushroom has immunomodulating effects. In essence, it can modify immune function.
An article published in the Journal of Pharmacological Sciences noted that this fungi has a range of positive effects on immunity…
For example, viruses and bacteria have an identifying marker called an antigen. An antigen acts like a red flag that tells the body a foreign virus or bacteria is present and that we, therefore, face a potential threat. On recognition, an immune cell engulfs this threat like PacMan would a ghost.
The antigen and the engulfing cell form a complex called an antigen-presenting cell (APC) because it “presents” the antigen to the immune system so we can respond.
An APC also contains destructive material that can be released to destroy a foreign invader; it’s like unleashing a potent weedkiller!
Reishi mushrooms have been shown to promote APC function and enhance the weedkiller-style destruction of infection to bolster the immune response and protect the body.
Also called Grifola frondosa, the Maitake mushroom stimulates immune signaling molecules called cytokines. Cytokines “talk” to different parts of the immune system to communicate instructions and adjust responses. The Maitake mushroom encourages our PacMan-style cells to consume and lay waste to infection. This is particularly important in fighting viral infection.
As one study says, “Administration of [Maitake mushroom] to healthy individuals may serve to prevent infection.”
Shiitake mushroom, also known as Lentinula edodes or the “queen of mushrooms," is as Asian fungi with a long history of culinary and healing treasures. There’s a reason it’s referred to as an elixir of life!
Our immune system has two parts; the innate and acquired arms. The innate arm acts as a first responder; it mounts a general response when we first experience an infectious agent. When we come in contact with a previously fought threat, the acquired response is triggered. This response is targeted because this arm remembers — through its memory cells — how to respond appropriately.
Both Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms whip up both the innate and acquired immune arms, leading to a better response and improved health.
Reishi, Maitake and Shiitake mushrooms have ancient and science-backed benefits, each with an important role to play in enhancing the immune system. In our unprecedented times, with a lingering darkness over our futures, preventing infection and enhancing our immune function just makes sense.
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