Medicinal mushrooms occupy a central place in the materia medica of Traditional Chinese Medicine for an endless list of health conditions. Paul Stamets explains that the components in mycellium present a whole new repertoire of active molecules that interface and potentiate modern medicine in unexpected ways.
Not only that, our human physiological response to mushrooms demonstrates a magnitude and diversity of effects that appears far greater than the responses we have to plants.1 It is like we are made for each other. Here at Reishi we certainly feel that way.
The immune supportive properties are the most well established and widely researched attributes common among medicinal mushrooms. This is due to three unique factors:
Beta-D-Glucans are the best known bioactive components in mushrooms.2,3 Well researched in both in vitro and in vivo studies, this polysaccharide is an immunologically active compound that increases cytokine production, the TH1 response as well as Natural Killer and macrophage cell production.4,5 Meaning it switches on the immune system to both identify and attack foreign invaders.
2. Immuno-Modulation Behaviour
Humans and fungi are closely related in the evolutionary-genetic tree. Our human physiology over time developed receptors called pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that bind specifically to nonhuman derived carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and glucans. The magic happens when our PRRs bind with mushroom produced ß-D-glucans; it causes a stimulation or regulatory response in the immune system.5 This effect is both expressed in fighting bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells!
3. Stress Physiology Reduction
High stress levels whether mental-emotional or physical cause an environment of chronic inflammation in the body as well as a suppressive effect on the immune system.6 Prolonged stress levels disrupt the immune system’s ability to identify and fight off antigens as well as build or replenish the white blood cell supply to strengthen its immune army. The science now shows that this can ultimately lead Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and autoimmune disorders.
Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi and Lion’s Mane have stress reducing, anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects. They also help reduce adrenal fatigue.7-10 The Chaga mushroom is a major antioxidant source and is used to boost energy levels and vitality.11,12
Bioactive Profile: β-D-glucan and GLPS, Ganoderic acid, Danoderiol, Danderenic acid, Lucidenic acid
…the most widely known and researched medicinal mushroom, used for millennia in the East for an unending list of health issues…
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is called Ling Zhi in Chinese which literally means Herb of Spiritual Potency. Among the various medicinal mushrooms it is one of the most versatile in its health applications and is often referred to as the Mushroom of Immortality in ancient Chinese medical texts.
Numerous scientific studies confirm the unique polysaccharide β-D-glucan, GLPS and ganoderic acid components present in reishi mushrooms that activate the immune system to combat cancer cells and metastasis.5 Other studies show potent antioxidant, anti-aging13 as well as antiviral14 properties, even against HIV.15 In Traditional Chinese Medicine reishi mushrooms are considered to have unique adaptogenic effects; the ability to modulate, harmonize and bring balance back to the body and spirit during conditions of deficiency and excess.
Bioactive Profile: Hericenones, Erinacines, β-glucans
…known for its Neurotrophic Factors that enhance memory, cognition and even stimulate repair of nerve tissue…
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is best known for its neuroprotective and generative effects on the brain, nervous system and adrenal glands. This has made its use popular in Asia for treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia. Additionally its beta-glucans exert a similar effect on stimulating the immune system, especially through Dendritic Cells (DC) which are the most important antigen presenting cells.16
Bioactive Profile: Polysaccharides PSP and PSK
…recently the subject of intensive research on stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize and respond to cancer…
Therapeutic use of Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) mushrooms dates back to the Ming Dynasty in 15th century China whereas the indigenous peoples of North America and other cultures have long used them to treat a variety of health conditions. Turkey Tail’s two unique polysaccharides PSK and Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) have been the subject of cancer research involving activation of the immune system to better fight cancer.17,18 Its efficacy in activating immune cells such as Natural Killer cells, monocytes/macrophages, bone marrow cells, B and T lymphocytes as Interleukins 2 and 6 as well as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) has been demonstrated in vitro.19
As an antimicrobial and antiviral, Turkey Tail mushrooms exhibit a broad spectrum of antibacterial and antifungal activity against pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Klebsiella pneumonia, Listeria monocytogenes, Streptococcus pneumonia19, Influenza Type A20, herpes and Human Papilloma Virus.21
Prebiotic and Microbiome supportive – Turkey Tail mushrooms also have a prebiotic effect on the gastrointestinal system positively affecting the composition of the gut microbiome, a major component of the human immune system.22,23
Bioactive Profile: β-D-glucan , Betulin and Betulinic acid, Melanin
…one of the most anti-aging foods yet discovered due its extremely high antioxidant count…
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) may be one of the most important anti-aging foods yet discovered. This is due to its extremely high ORAC value (antioxidant properties), similar to that of blueberry extracts. Health benefits associated with Chaga are due to its its renowned active compounds including melanin, betulin, betulinic acid, triterpenes and non-linear complex polysaccharides.
Currrent research on Chaga research demonstrates a broad array of health properties including being a major antioxidant and anti-aging compound;24 having an immunomodulative role against cancer5,25 and protective role against chemotherapy induced radiation;26 and having anti-herpetic27 and hepatitis C supportive effects.28 Beyond its immune supporting capacity, Chaga’s anti-stress29 effect on the body is paramount in immune health promotion.
If preparing a mug, then all you need to use is about 1/3 of a tsp and add hot water. It dissolves instantly and has that subtle sweet-bitter woody taste.
Likewise prepping a thermos for the workplace is a great day-long approach way to go.
If you are a coffee drinker…we are sympathetic to the cause- add 1/3 tsp of the Super Mushroom Blend to you mug. Whether espresso, cappuccino or however, it will blend beautifully. That’s actually how we get our grandparents to use these special gifts of nature.
Disclaimer. The information represented in this article is meant to provide concepts from evidence based research. It is not intended to treat or diagnose any health condition. For appropriate treatment methods please contact your healthcare provider.
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