People are turning to natural supplements to help with numerous aspects of their health, including their energy, sleep, libido, immune system, and skin health - just to name a few. The truth is, we can harvest the healing power of nature through the use of herbal medicines, food choices, and spending time in nature. Adopting a holistic, natural approach to health and well-being is becoming more and more prevalent today.
Since nature has provided us with so many medicinal herbs to help improve health and well-being, it only makes sense to include them in your self-care routine. Today you can find herbal and nutritional supplements to address almost any health concern you can think of. Although this is generally a good thing, it can also make choosing the best supplement confusing. The more you understand about particular herbs and natural ingredients, the easier it is to choose a supplement with the health benefits you are seeking.
Mushroom supplements are of particular interest to people wishing to improve their health as they have a long history of use, dating back thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and they have potent health benefits. They have truly stood the test of time. In other words, they proved themselves to be beneficial in helping to optimize people's health. There are several different types of mushrooms, which each have various health benefits. Here are the top five mushroom supplements you should know about.
Great for: Younger people who wish to optimize their memory and mental stamina, and older people who want to prevent age-related cognitive decline.
- Brain Health & Memory
Brain Health & Memory
Lion's Mane has a potent effect on memory and brain health. It is becoming one of the leading herbs to support cognitive function as well as protect the brain from the adverse effects of aging. This medicinal mushroom works through several mechanisms.
One way that Lion's Mane benefits the brain is through promoting the growth of new neurons and preventing the death of neurons. The way Lion's Mane does this is through two constituents; it contains Hericenones and Erinacines. These natural constituents can cross the blood-brain-barrier (the protective membrane around your brain) and increase nerve growth factors (NGF). NGF then protects neurons and promotes new growth.
An increase in NGF is beneficial for both people suffering from (or wish to prevent) age-related cognitive decline, or younger individuals who want to optimize their cognitive abilities and memory forming capacity.
Lion's Mane also acts as an antioxidant to the brain, which means it protects the brain from inflammatory stress and damage. Since inflammation can cause damage to neurons, including neurodegenerative disease, which prevents brain cells from being able to function correctly, ensuring that enough antioxidants (such as those found in Lion's Mane), are available to the brain is vital.
Lastly, Lion's Mane can help to stabilize blood sugar, which, believe it or not, is an integral part of brain health. High blood sugar can lead to blood vessel damage and, ultimately, neuronal damage as well - not good!
If you are looking to protect your brain, support your memory and mental stamina, Lion's Mane is one of the top supplements to achieve this. It supports brain health in a handful of ways, which work together to prevent neuron damage and stimulate neuronal growth and health.
Lion's Mane, like most medicinal mushrooms, has a strong influence on immune function through its beta-glucan content. Beta-glucans are starches found in mushrooms, which, when taken orally, can increase the number of immune cells your body creates, such as TNF-alpha, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes. This means that the body is better able to fight viruses, colds, cases of flu, and even cancer cells. There has been emerging research that suggests that Lion's Mane may be useful in certain types of cancer, such as esophageal cancer, stomach/intestinal cancer, and pancreatic cancers. Keep in mind more research is needed, and you should always consult your physician before making any changes to your current treatment for cancer or other conditions.
Great for: People suffering from chronic disease, including autoimmune conditions, who wish to increase their energy and support their immune system or for use during cold and flu season to prevent/shorten the duration of illness.
- Immunity & cancer
Reishi is a mushroom that has been used for over 4,000 years. It is known as the "spirit plant" as well as the "plant of immortality" - which are big names to live up to! In Chinese medicine, Reishi is used for a variety of health concerns such as insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, low appetite, asthma, and shortness of breath. Overall it is an excellent adaptogen, which means it helps the body to overcome stress and promotes energy and vitality.
Reishi helps to energize the body, especially for people suffering from chronic disease. Also, Reishi can help to revitalize the immune system, which is typically either over or under active in chronic disease. Because of its effect on the immune system, it is a go-to herb for chronic infections, colds, cases of flu, and autoimmune conditions.
Immunity & Cancer
One of the most common uses for Reishi is for immunity. Reishi contains high levels of beta-glucans - a plant constituent that modulates the immune system. This means, Reishi is helpful for both low immune function and autoimmuity. For example, the beta-glucans in Reishi increase many different immune cells, such as B cells T cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells. The job of these immune cells is to fight off bacteria and viruses as well as create antibodies to prevent future infections.
Another very important function of Reishi mushroom is in cancer. Extracts of Reishi have been shown in research to stimulate parts of the immune system, such as TNF-alpha, which are involved in the destruction and elimination of cancer cells. Although it is too early to make any conclusions about Reishi mushroom and cancer treatment, the future looks promising! Always speak with your physician before beginning any new therapies, or changing your current treatment plan.
Great for: People struggling with low immunity, low energy, and a broken down constitution who are looking for a full-body tonic.
- Immunity & cancer
- Energy & Stamina
Cordyceps is an extraordinary medicinal mushroom. Aside from the vast array of health benefits it has, it is grown in a very unique way. Cordyceps is a fungus that grows on the larva of caterpillars. It is actually considered a parasite to the caterpillars because as it grows and develops, it eventually kills and replaces all caterpillar tissue.
While Cordyceps may be a parasite to the poor caterpillars, it is has a wonderful medicinal effect for us as humans. One of the main benefits of Cordyceps is the immune system.
Immunity & Cancer
In laboratory and animal studies, Cordyceps has been shown to kill cancer cells and reduce tumor size. Its potential effect on cancer is through it's stimulating effect on the immune system. Cordyceps increases the body's creation of many immune cells, such as natural killer cells and TNF-alpha, which alert the immune system to foreign invaders, including cancer cells, viruses, and bacteria. It has also been shown in animal research to stimulate the production of signaling molecules, known as cytokines, which prevent tumors from spreading.
Energy & Stamina
Aside from its effect on the immune system, Cordyceps may also help to increase a person's energy and stamina, especially during intense exercise. In China, Cordyceps is commonly recommended to increase a person's strength. During intense exercise, Cordyceps has been shown to increase a person's performance and tolerance to high-intensity physical activity. Also, Cordyceps can help to balance blood sugar and fat metabolism, which are both involved in energy, physical activity ability, and metabolism.
Overall, Cordyceps can help a person to feel more vital, strong, energized, and healthy. It supports multiple systems of the body and being energy and vitality back into a person’s system.
Great for: A person wanting to support their cardiovascular health or prevent colds and flu as well as recover from them faster.
- Inflammation & Heart Health
- Immunity & Gut Health
Shiitake mushrooms are a common culinary mushroom, which are used in a variety of Asian and American dishes. You might have purchased these mushrooms from your local grocery store to put into stir-fries, soups, and other dishes and enjoyed the savory taste without evening knowing all of the health benefits!
Inflammation & Heart Health
Shiitake mushrooms have a great benefit to cardiovascular health. In research, they have been shown to lower inflammation levels, as well as potentially prevent plaque build-up in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Both inflammation and arterial plaque are two major risk factors for heart disease. Also, eating Shiitake mushrooms with a high cholesterol meal, either as a food or as a supplement, may help decrease the amount of cholesterol a person absorbs. As you can see, there are several ways Shiitake can help promote cardiovascular health and reduce risk factors for heart disease.
The anti-inflammatory ability of Shiitake may also be beneficial for people's immune function. Studies have shown that using Shiitake long-term can improve immunity, including the protection of the digestive tract. This is important because the gastrointestinal tract is one of our first lines of defense against foreign invaders - such as bacteria and viruses we consume on food. Plus, many of our immune cells are created in the digestive tract.
The benefits for the digestive tract don’t stop there. The constituent Lentinan, which is found in Shiitake, may help support tumor reduction in stomach cancer. Some early studies have found that used along with chemotherapy, Shiitake extracts enhance tumor clearance in gastric cancer. Keep in mind there is still more research needed on Shiitake in cancer.
As a food or as a supplement, Shiitake is a beneficial medical mushroom for the heart, immune system and the digestive tract. It helps to reduce risks for heart disease while increasing immune function and resistance to colds and the flu.
Great for: People who struggle with allergies, frequent colds, and flu, and wish to support cancer prevention.
- Immunity & Allergies
- Gut Health
Turkey Tail got its name from its uncanny resemblance to the appearance of a turkey's tail. As a medicinal mushroom, it has several health benefits, although the most impressive is it's effect on the immune system.
Immune System & Allergies
Turkey Tail is packed full of antioxidants, such as polyphenols, quercetin, and flavonoids. Antioxidants play a vital role in quenching inflammation, which, when left unchecked, can lead to cellular damage. Also, quercetin stimulates the breakdown of some immune cells, such as histamine, which is one of the cytokines that are responsible for allergic symptoms such as a runny nose, hives, and itching.
Quercetin also helps to modulate the immune response, so a person's immune system is better able to destroy and eliminate foreign invaders without over-responding. Because of this, Turkey Tail is helpful in allergies, autoimmunity, and frequent colds and other infections.
Aside from helping to regulate allergies and prevent colds and flu, Turkey Tail has a potent anti-tumor ability. Research has shown that two constituents found in Turkey Tail, Krestin, and Polysaccharide Peptide, increase the body's output of the cancer-fighting immune cells, natural killer cells, B-cells, and monocytes. This means Turkey Tail may have the potential in future treatment approaches to cancer.
Turkey Tail can support the immune system in a big way. Taking Turkey Tail can encourage greater immunity against illness and decrease allergic symptoms. It may also be used to support the body in clearing cancer cells.
Medicinal Mushrooms are growing in popularity - and for good reason! Each medicinal mushroom has its own characteristics and health benefits. Understanding which mushrooms are best suited to your health concerns can help you to pick out the best supplements to help you feel healthier and better than ever. Hopefully learning about our top five mushroom supplements helps you to make your decision on which mushrooms are best for your health an wellness needs.