The use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes can be dated thousands of years back. Due to their uniquely adaptive health benefits, they are holistic nutrition and functional medicine that have been going mainstream in recent times. These superfoods have a resurgence of interest and we’re going to take a look at what makes them a great addition to your diet.
What is a Medical Mushroom?
Medicinal mushrooms are macroscopic fungi that are edible and are used for their health properties (a). There are approximately 20 to 30 species of mushrooms that are cultivated edible species and 15 species are wild-foraged for consumption (b). The edible mushrooms can be consumed as dietary supplements or functional foods because they are a source of nutrients like vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, and E, fibre, selenium, protein, and potassium.
Different types of mushrooms have similar as well as unique health benefits. Here are some of the edible species of mushrooms and why they are medical mushrooms.
9 Different Types of Mushrooms
There are different types of mushrooms in India and we’re going to take a look at 9 of them.
Commonly referred to as the “mushroom of immortality” or “king of mushrooms”, Reishi mushrooms help to treat and prevent various diseases (1). The polysaccharides in reishi can increase the count of beneficial bacteria (2). It reduces the occasional stress by promoting a calm mind and restful sleep. It also supports balanced levels of blood sugar, as well as respiratory health and lung. Choose your reishi mushroom from the range available at Rooted Actives now.
Maitake, also known as the Dancing Mushroom or Hen of the Woods, is a medicinal mushroom that is also used for culinary purposes. They have shown anti-cancer activity on melanoma, breast cancer, and hepatoma cells in animal studies as well as anti-viral activity against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B (3). It contains polysaccharides like beta-glucans that are linked to healthy cell turnover and growth. Get the maitake mushroom immunity booster from Rooted Actives.
Traditionally used to treat various health conditions like a common cold, Shiitake is another type of mushroom that has anticancer effects. It increases igA which is a first line of defense and a key immune cell (4). This mushroom is loaded with B vitamins and is great to cook with because it helps in modulating levels of blood sugar and supports a healthy inflammation response. Get your shiitake mushroom at Rooted Actives.
The Snow Fungus (Tremella Mushroom) is one of the mushroom varieties that promotes a youthful and healthy complexion through its potent anti-ageing properties. With its intense hydrating properties, it is quite similar to hyaluronic acid, except that they have a better rate of moisture retention and are smaller in comparison which allows them to easily penetrate the skin (5). At Rooted Actives, our tremella mushroom comes in varieties that you can choose from.
Research studies have shown that oyster mushrooms can improve the function of the immune system against respiratory infections (6). It also maintains healthy levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. This mushroom has beta-glucans, but it also has ergothioneine which has properties of cytoprotective (i.e. cell-protecting). It supports a balance in the levels of blood sugar, healthy body weight, and lipid metabolism (7). Get your oyster mushroom at Rooted Actives.
Turkey Tail Mushroom:
With a name obtained from brown and tan rings on its surface, turkey mushrooms help to boost the functions of the immune system. PBP (Protein-bound polysaccharides) compounds are found in them and they can enhance key immune cells, like T-cells (8). This safe mushroom can be used long-term when prescribed for medicinal purposes. It has been used therapeutically for cancer, fungal infections, and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) (9). Explore the range of Turkey tail mushrooms available at Rooted Actives.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom:
This type of mushroom has a white, fur-like appearance and it supports neuron generation and healthy brain function because of the presence of beta-glucans (10). Compounds like Hericenones and Erinacines can be found in this mushroom which can help to induce the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in nerve cells (11). Check out Rooted Actives for the different types of Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
This dark brown and black fungus can be found growing often on birch trees. It is also referred to as chaga conk or birch mushrooms. There are several compounds, including betulin, betulinic acid, and anti-oxidant polyphenols, that can be found in this variety of mushrooms which boosts digestion as well as clears and protects the skin (12). Rooted Actives has a collection of chaga mushrooms that come in different forms.
Cordyceps Militaris Mushroom:
Studies have shown that this mushroom can increase ATP production which is a compound that gives cells energy, in rodents. Some clinical studies show that cordyceps improves the performance in exercise of healthy, older individuals (13). Cordyceps also supports healthy kidneys in certain populations as well as improves lung capacity. Explore the range of cordyceps mushrooms at Rooted Actives.
Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Here are some of the benefits you can get from including any of the types of mushrooms in your diet. While each of these mushrooms has unique properties, most of them have similar benefits.
Protect brain health:
The effects of mushrooms on Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are still being studied. In a study carried out in Singapore, mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, etc. were eaten and participants showed a 50% lower risk of developing this precursor to Alzheimer’s disease - MCI.
Promote low cholesterol:
Research shows that mushrooms like shiitake can help lower cholesterol levels because they contain compounds that block the absorption of cholesterol, inhibit cholesterol production, and lower cholesterol in your blood.
Provide Vitamin D:
When certain mushrooms are exposed to sunlight or UV light, they increase their amount of vitamin D. This helps to build and maintain strong bones because your body absorbs calcium.
Decrease risk of cancer:
Varieties of mushrooms like maitake, oyster, and shiitake have higher amounts of ergothioneine. However, it was found by researchers that incorporating any type of mushrooms in your diet will lower your risk of cancer.
Supports the immune system:
Mushrooms support a healthy immune system because they contain macronutrients. Some of these nutrients include Vitamins B6 and D as well as Selenium.
Knowing the benefits of including mushrooms in your daily diet, we hope you do not miss out on all of these benefits and add varieties of Rooted Actives mushrooms to your diet today.
Q. How many mushrooms are medicinal?
A: There are varieties of mushrooms that are used for medicinal purposes. Some of them include Reishi, Shiitake, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Chaga, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, and more. These mushrooms have lots of health benefits that make them great for medicinal purposes.
Q. Which mushroom is best for immunity?
A: Chaga mushroom, which is also known as Chaga conk or birch mushroom, is a dark brown and black fungus that can be found oftentimes on birch trees. This type of mushroom has betulin and betulinic acid, anti-oxidant polyphenols, and more which have beneficial effects associated with anti-cancer effects.
Q. Are medicinal mushrooms safe?
A: The uses of mushrooms have been around for a long time. They have been used safely either alone or combined with other forms of treatment like radiation, etc. However just like different mushrooms have different benefits, their doses differ as well. So take the quantity recommended by the brand.