Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Mushrooms have been eaten for thousands of years in Asian countries for their health-promoting benefits. More and more research is being conducted to explore the active constituents of certain mushrooms in order to understand their full potential to improve health.
Polysaccharides (a specialized type of carbohydrate) are thought to be the primary active constituents within mushrooms. Researchers believe that mushroom polysaccharide activity results in increased action of specialized immune cells such as natural killer (NK) cells, lymphocyte-activated killer (LAK) cells, lymphocytes, and other subsets.
Mushrooms may also help normalize reduced immune cell counts, such as in patients receiving chemotherapy, and improve immune surveillance, by which NK and LAK cells “seek out and destroy” tumor cells. This may help prevent cancer in those at high risk or help prevent cancer recurrence. In addition, specific mushrooms have been shown to tonify, or strengthen, other aspects of bodily function.
Although some of these mushrooms are available in an edible form, the mushrooms introduced below are in a supplement form.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) has been used for centuries in Siberia and other parts of Asia to boost immunity and improve overall health, energy and endurance. In addition to its potent immune stimulating properties, chaga also provides powerful antioxidant protection. Chaga contains polysaccharide components, as well as betulinic acid, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal, breast and lung cancer cells.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) mushrooms have a long history of use for helping with aging, boosting strength and reducing fatigue. Research shows that cordyceps may increase energy and endurance, support healthy blood sugar levels, promote a healthy inflammatory response, support liver health, and help the body manage stress.
Known as the “mushroom of immortality,” reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a premier adaptogen. Reishi has many health benefits, including supporting a balanced stress response, promoting cardiovascular, liver, and cognitive health, supporting hormone balance, and increasing energy and stamina.
Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) mushroom is one of the best-documented mushrooms in scientific research. It is famous for its role in supporting immune health and has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Native American herbalism. Turkey tail is rich in nutrients that support the body’s innate immune response, provide powerful antioxidant protection, and nourish beneficial bacteria.
Lion’s mane mushroom shows exciting promise for supporting neural and mental health. Studies show that compounds in this mushroom induce the synthesis of proteins called nerve growth factors, which promote nerve survival and proliferation. Additional studies show that lion’s mane has the ability to improve cognitive function as well as uplift mood.
Mushroom Immune Support
Using mushrooms to support a healthy immune response is a tradition that goes back for thousands of years. Research shows that as many as 300 types of mushrooms may play an important role in how we respond to toxins, illness, or abnormal cell formation. Our Mushroom Immune Support provides a synergistic blend of nine organic mushrooms (mycelium and fruiting bodies) to provide a full spectrum of myco-nutrients. This powerful formula is designed to maximize the body’s defenses and help the mind and body adapt to physical, mental and environmental stressors.
If you are considering taking mushrooms as part of a cancer protocol, it is strongly advised to consult a licensed naturopathic doctor to determine if mushrooms are an appropriate treatment in your individual case.
For more information on mushrooms and their many uses and benefits, visit Village Green Apothecary.
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Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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