In the realm of natural health and wellness, functional mushrooms have emerged as an intriguing and potent group of organisms. The use of mushrooms for their therapeutic properties has deep historical roots in many cultures, and modern science has begun to validate many of these ancient practices. Today, let’s delve into the top 10 functional mushrooms that have been celebrated for their potential health benefits.
Reishi: The Immune System Enhancer
Reishi, often referred to as the “Mushroom of Immortality,” has been a proponent in Eastern medicine for centuries. This mushroom is well known for its potential immunomodulatory properties. It contains active polysaccharides that may enhance the body’s immune response, thus helping protect against various diseases.
Additionally, Reishi is rich in terpenoids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects. Some studies have also suggested that Reishi can improve sleep and reduce stress by modulating the nervous system. This is the ideal mushroom for anybody suffering from lethargy, anxiety, or stress.
Lion’s Mane: The Neurological Health Promoter
Lion’s Mane mushroom stands out for its unique neuroprotective qualities aka its positive effects on the brain. It contains two unique compounds, hericenones and erinacines, which have been shown to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor, a protein that promotes the growth and normal function of nerve cells. Because of this, Lion’s Mane has been researched for its potential role in improving memory, boosting cognitive function, and slowing the progression of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Cordyceps: The Energiser
Cordyceps is renowned for its potential to boost energy and physical performance. It is believed to enhance the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for delivering energy to muscles. As a result, Cordyceps has been popular among athletes and those seeking enhanced physical performance. Additionally, studies suggest that it might improve oxygen utilisation, making it beneficial for those with respiratory issues such as asthma.
Chaga: The Antioxidant Powerhouse
Chaga mushrooms are extremely high in antioxidants, helping to fight off harmful free radicals in the body. Specifically, Chaga contains superoxide dismutase, an enzyme with powerful antioxidant properties that may protect against cellular damage. Chaga mushroom has been also been (and continues to be) explored for its potential anti-cancer properties and ability to support immune health.
Shiitake: The Heart Health Supporter
Shiitake mushrooms are best known for their potential cardiovascular benefits. They contain
eritadenine, a compound that may help lower blood cholesterol levels and improve
cardiovascular health. But that’s not all! Shiitake mushrooms are also a rich source of beta-
glucans, dietary fibres that have been associated with improved immune function and
potentially reduced cancer risk.
Maitake: The Metabolic Health Supporter
Maitake, also known as the ‘dancing mushroom,’ can potentially help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, thus proving beneficial for metabolic health. This mushroom contains a specific type of polysaccharide, called beta-glucan, which has been studied for its effects on the immune system. It’s also been researched for its potential anti-cancer properties and has been found to have a calming effect on the gut.
Turkey.T: The Immune System Fortifier
Turkey.T mushrooms are rich in polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide peptide (PSP), compounds that have been extensively researched for their potential immune-boosting effects . Some studies suggest that they might be beneficial in cancer treatment, enhancing the effects of chemotherapy and improving patients’ survival rates.
Tremella: The Skin Health Enhancer
Tremella, also known as the snow fungus, is well-known for its potential skin health benefits. It’s ultra-rich in polysaccharides, which are excellent water retainers and provide the mushroom with its jelly-like consistency. These properties make Tremella a natural skin hydrator, helping to improve skin health by locking in moisture, reducing redness, and combating signs of aging.
Agarikon: The Anti-Inflammatory & Antiviral Marvel
Agarikon is an ancient European mushroom that has been used in traditional medicine for its potent anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Its bioactive compounds, such as agaric acid, have been associated with anti-tubercular activity. Moreover, some research suggests that Agarikon may have anti-cancer properties, though more studies are needed.
Poria: The Traditional Chinese Tonic
Lastly is Poria, a mushroom revered in traditional Chinese medicine, is known for its potential to aid digestion and support kidney health. Its bioactive compounds, like polysaccharides and triterpenes, have been researched for their potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumour activities.
The exciting and ever-unfolding world of functional mushrooms is constantly surprising us with new breakthroughs! These are just 10 of our favourite functional herbs for holistic health, including the essential mushrooms for energy, immunity, focus, and strength.
Which mushroom is your mushroom match?