Your health is one of the most important aspects to your being, as your body allows you to go places, think, create, evolve and simply live. Your body is like a car, taking you places and allowing you to grow and experience. Take care of your body and life can be fuller. Ignore your health, problems develop, and your experiences can be hindered. Mushrooms are not just a food choice for some but can pack serious medicinal benefits for your body and mind, helping to rebuild your health and energy on many levels. Can medicinal mushrooms benefit you? Can they help you to not just survive but potentially thrive in a world full of challenges?
Medicinal mushrooms are often revered in the medical world and laymen’s articles as being utilized for immune support. While this is true and well supported by research, there are many other medicinal benefits which can be related to each individual mushroom species.
Depression, anxiety, digestive concerns, joint pain, back pain, fatigue, cognitive concerns and even cancer are high on the list for many people in today’s society. What’s on your list? Any concerns?
Where do medicinal mushrooms fall into play when it comes to these conditions? They are just for immune health, right? Nope. Their benefits go much deeper and in truth, they have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help support the body in a time of need and aid in rebuilding strength on many levels, including clarity of mind and spirit.
Let’s take a look!
Medicinal Mushrooms; Beyond Immune Health
In our formula, Cur-OST HU Immune Full Spectrum, we offer a blend of six well known and valued medicinal mushrooms. Now, while this blend targets immune function, helping to support your body’s resistance to invasion and recovery, the benefits go way beyond what is perceived. Given that no two medicinal mushrooms are identical, neither is their clinical value. Let’s take a look at how these mushrooms have been used in years past, when medications were not around.
In this blend, we offer six medicinal mushrooms in equal portion, mainly for synergism and also too take advantage of the individual benefits of each mushroom for overall health support. The six medicinal mushrooms that are utilized in our blend include:
- Cordyceps sinensis
- Poria cocos
- Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)
- Inonotus obliquus (Chaga)
- Coriolus versicolor (Turkey Tail)
- Grifola frondosa (Maitake)
As a side note, before we dive into each medicinal mushroom, almost every medicinal mushroom has demonstrated these following research benefits:
- Support immune health usually through inherent polysaccharides which are present in each mushroom, acting as a prebiotic to support your digestive microbiome and directly acting upon the immune response. This can have an ‘activating’ or ‘dampening’ effect upon the immune response, increasing it when needed and calming it down when overactive such as in the case of allergies.
- Act as an adaptogen, impacting your stress response and helping to balance hormonal pathways either primarily or secondarily.
- Support healthy inflammation pathways, usually by modulating and restoring balance. This can be accomplished on many levels and beneficial to many health concerns from your joints to your mind!
These three common benefits are what make medicinal mushrooms so valuable when it comes to your overall health and supportive care in cancer recovery. Aside from this, though, each mushroom has other clinical benefits.
Let’s take them one at a time and evaluate their individual benefits
Cordyceps sinensis is actually not a true mushroom but is produced out of a symbiotic relationship between a dying caterpillar and a fungus. This was one of the first medicinal mushrooms I discovered years ago when beginning research to restore and support my own health after cancer therapy. It has been utilized for centuries in alternative medicinal practices to restore and rebuild energy to the body, enhance resistance to disease, and support male health.
In looking at Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) texts, Cordyceps sinensis has these benefits:
- Tonifies kidney yang and augments jing
- Tonifies the lung, stops bleeding, and dissolves phlegm
In a traditional sense, Cordyceps sinensis is a slightly warming herb, so there is a mildly warming effect to the body, which supports circulation, digestion, and energy production. Cordyceps is an herb which also supports kidney health, specifically the yang component, and in research has been shown to benefit patients with kidney compromise on many levels. Additionally, Cordyceps is well known and research supported to support energy production in the body, which can help combat fatigue and support recovery from almost any health condition. Energy is needed by the body from immune function to healing, so Cordyceps can be of real benefit to many. Going further, Cordyceps is known in ancient texts and in research to support male health, by supporting normal testosterone production and libido. In truth, this effect can benefit both genders, male and female, and in TCM, this benefit is attributed to Cordyceps‘ kidney yang or warming effect. The kidney are connected to sexual drive and function, so any support in that direction in either gender can be of real benefit. Going further, Cordyceps helps to support “jing” in the body, which is a term used in TCM to refer to the ‘vital essence or energy’ within your body. Lastly, as with most medicinal mushrooms, Cordyceps sinensis is also research supported to benefit your immune response and likely, your digestive health due to naturally occurring beta-glucans and other polysaccharides.
Energy effect upon your body: Slightly Warming
Here is an article with more details on Cordyceps sinensis.
Poria cocos is a well-revered herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries to help support proper digestion and regulate water or fluid within the body. Poria cocos has been used alone, as an isolated mushroom supplement, but is more commonly found in combination with other herbs to aid and support proper digestion. Some herbs, especially nutritive ones (yin tonics) can be heavy on the digestive system and weigh a person down, thus Poria is added to help support digestion and reduce this effect in some formulas.
According to TCM texts, Poria cocos has the following benefits:
- promotes urination and resolves dampness or fluid accumulations within the body
- supports digestion
- calming the shen or spirit.
How does this translate into your health and well-being?
Poria cocos supports digestion on many levels, often via polysaccharides, which can act as a prebiotic of sorts and support digestion. Additionally, Poria cocos has a mild diuretic effect which provides the benefit of regulating water and fluid accumulations within your body, hence the promoting urination, which is not excessive like a medication. It is more like a gentle trickle type of effect, so you won’t be running back and forth to the bathroom. This fluid regulating effect has been known to benefit many health problems from swollen ankles and feet, to cardiovascular concerns, loose stools, and even cognitive issues which revolve around a ‘clouded mind’ type of problem. It also helps to reduce anxiety and settle your mind or spirit (shen) as an added bonus. Again, not a major effect like a sedative, but more a relaxed type of feeling.
Poria cocos, like almost all other medicinal mushrooms, has the final benefit of supporting your immune response on many levels. These benefits are believed to be associated with the polysaccharides which are present in the herb.
Energy effect upon your body: Neutral
Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)
Ganoderma lucidum or Reishi is also a well-known and heavily researched medicinal mushroom with many clinical benefits to your health. Just like most medicinal mushrooms, Ganoderma is research supported to benefit your immune response, believed to be through the polysaccharides present within the mushroom. These polysaccharides act as a prebiotic of sorts, supporting the digestive microbiome, but also stimulate and support the immune response directly.
According to TCM texts, Ganoderma lucidum touts the following benefits:
- Nourishes the heart and calms the spirit (shen)
- Stops coughing and arrests wheezing
- Tonifies Qi (energy) and nourishes blood
How does this translate to your health?
Ganoderma lucidum goes beyond just immune support. It is traditionally used to support cardiovascular health and function, calming anxiety and settling depressive moods, rebuilding energy (Qi) and nourishing the entire body for recovery and vitality.
Dependent upon the dosage of Ganoderma utilized, higher doses can have a sedative effect upon the body and are useful for some individuals to aid in settling their mind and encouraging sleep at night. These higher doses are not used in our general blend, but despite, there are still benefits to conditions such as anxiety and depression, just on a gentler level.
Energy effect upon your body: Neutral
Inonotus obliquus (Chaga)
Just as with other medicinal mushrooms, Inonotus obiquus (Chaga) is research supported to benefit your immune response, again, likely through inherent polysaccharides which are present in the herb. These can act through a prebiotic effect or directly stimulate and support your immune health.
According to TCM texts, Inonotus obliquus touts these benefits:
- Benefits energy production or Qi
- Calms the spirit (shen)
- Supports the kidneys (yang)
- Supports the liver
- Aid in detoxification
- Blood tonic (nourishes the body)
So, once again, you have a medicinal mushroom that can help to settle your mind, reduce anxiety and depressive moods, rebuild energy and reduce fatigue, while supporting healthy kidney and liver functions. All of that in addition to supporting your immune response and digestive health. Not bad for one mushroom!
Energy effect upon your body: Warming
Coriolus versicolor (Turkey Tail)
Coriolus versicolor is a well-researched herb with potent medical capabilities as demonstrated in research. It is commonly used in individuals recovery from an illness, infection, or cancer as an aid in supporting their overall health and vitality.
According to TCM texts, Coriolus versicolor touts the following benefits:
- Rebuilds energy (Qi)
- Supports digestion
- Supports fluid regulation (dampness)
- Tonifies and supports ‘jing’ or life essence
- Aids in overall detoxification
Coriolus versicolor demonstrates many clinical benefits from supporting internal energy production and reducing fatigue, to supporting digestion, regulating fluid accumulation in your body, and enhancing your immune strength. Additionally, Coriolus versicolor is the source of a chemical referred to as PSP or PSK, which has demonstrated marked anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, being used as a clinical drug in China. It is a nice overall adaptogenic mushroom that can also aid in balancing inflammation and helping you to regain balance associated with stress.
Energy effect upon your body: Cooling
Grifola frondosa (Maitake)
Grifola frondosa is a common medicinal mushroom taken by many to help boost their energy, support overall health and immune function. It is also a mushroom that can be found in the vegetable section in your grocery store and commonly placed in salads along with Shitake or other mushrooms.
According to TCM texts, Grifola frondosa has the following benefits:
- Supports digestion
- Tonifies and builds energy (Qi)
- Supports kidney and liver function
- Supports fluid regulation
- Dissipates heat from the body
- Calms the spirit (shen)
Maitake touts many clinical health benefits but is commonly used not to just support energy, digestion and immune function, but to help settle anxiety and ease depression. Additionally, Grifola frondosa is research supported for use in supporting healthy metabolism, showing clinical benefits in cases of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, impacting cholesterol, lipids, and insulin function. These benefits transfer to conditions from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.
Energy effect upon your body: Neutral
Medicinal Mushrooms; Here’s to Your Health!
Your health is important and the daily stresses that we all endure can really take a toll. For some, it is just a lack of energy and ongoing fatigue, impacting your overall desires and drive to get things done. In other people, the daily stresses have damaged their body further, impacting their immune response and digestion on various levels. Still, for others, there is a plague of anxiety or depression with sleepless nights. These are all the ill-effects of daily stress, often coupled with poor dietary and lifestyle choices.
The good news?? Medicinal mushrooms can benefit your body tremendously from mood to energy, immune function to inflammation, and even impact your digestion and joint function.
A quick word about dosing and mushrooms. Almost all medicinal mushrooms have been proven safe based on research in a wide-range of dosing. Some individuals are sensitive to mushrooms on various levels and can experience upset stomach or even allergic reactions and should not take them. A standard dose range has not been established, but for a general blend of synergistic mushrooms, the average daily intake can vary from 500 mg to 5 grams. It is dependent upon your body’s needs and may require some experimentation and monitoring for desired effects.
Take advantage of the medicinal mushrooms and help your body get on the road to recovery! They were a major benefit to me in my personal recovery and still play a large daily role in health maintenance.
Author: Tom Schell, D.V.M, CVCH, CHN