How Mushrooms Can Help Our Immune System & Stress
No longer so humble, mushrooms could well become the mighty to us all. In the wild, the mushroom fights for survival every step of its life and the compounds that help it do so are the ones which make this one of nature’s most versatile and amazing aids to strengthening and healing our bodies in our modern world.
Now it is becoming more commonly recognised that mushrooms can be an adaptogenic natural gift which can help much more than we could have imagined.
With ultra-high levels of stress-causing daily damage to our immune systems, and viral infections more common than ever, we need a little help from anything nature can offer from her earthly medicine box. So how mushrooms can help our immune system and elevate our mood?
Herbalists and healers for many centuries have been singing the praises of mushrooms for their benefits to our immune systems and they are now becoming recognised in the alternative medical world as a warrior to fight infections like colds and flu as well as actually helping relax and relieve us during times of stress and anxiety.
How Mushrooms Help Our Immune System
Mushrooms themselves need antibacterial and antiviral compounds to survive in the wild, so they naturally harbour a lot of these substances.
These can be part of the extract from them that then transfers to us to fight and survive against illness and infections. Certain mushrooms have sources of D-glucans, beta-glycosides, and other substances which can stimulate our immune system while selenium, magnesium and zinc, also present in some mushrooms can play a role in fighting influenza and other viral infections.
By adding these medicinal powerhouses to our diet we can be nutritiously fighting and building at the same time creating a stronger and more resilient body naturally.
How Mushrooms Help With Stress
We live in a world which leads to stress on all levels, and finding sources of rebalancing our levels of hormones, helping our bodies to be rested and active in a balanced way is a challenge in itself.
Some mushrooms have been researched to provide a more calming effect on us and therefore lowering some of the stressful feelings which can be very debilitating to every day life.
Mushrooms (including Cordyceps and Reishi) can also be adaptogens which support the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems, as well as the adrenals, which are in charge of stress management.
How to Use and Choose Mushrooms
Knowing your mushrooms and choosing the right ones for you, is similar to using all food supplements, that they can vary in quality and efficacy. Medicinal mushrooms have the same variation across products.
In an evaluation of a mushroom product, make sure it is organically grown and verified, whether it is available as a tincture, tea, powder or capsules. In addition, check if the company operates any third-party testing for purity and ensure they do not use any “fillers”. These checks will give the best efficacy, quality and safety in the product.
Different Types of Mushrooms
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
An edible mushroom that can easily be added to our diet, but they can also be found in tincture and dried capsule form and is good for blood sugar levels/boost immune system
Taste – rich and earthy but a bit like sweet caramel
How to use it – add to smoothies, coffee, or tea.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Chaga is known for antioxidant protection and supporting the health in our immune system – it can help to ward off the common cold, and helps to lower inflammation caused by stress. Also good for hair and skin. These black mushrooms are a powerhouse in the mushroom world, making them excellent contenders for skin ageing and bad cholesterol –they literally work inside and out.
Chaga mushroom is a type of fungus that grows mainly on the bark of birch trees in cold climates, such as Northern Europe, Siberia, Russia, Korea, Northern Canada and Alaska. Taking chaga with either warm or cold water is believed to release its medicinal properties.
Taste – it is quite bitter
How to use it – add to chai, broth, coffee or smoothies.
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Looking similar to the mane of a lion, this mushroom is good for brain health, including memory and cognition. It is packed with antioxidants and has abilities to increase the production of the nerve growth NFG and myelin (insulation around nerve fibres), both of which are important to brain health and balance.
Taste – a sweet-savoury flavour.
How to use it – add to smoothies, coffee, or your morning oatmeal.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
This ancient adaptogen has been used in China and Japan for centuries and is known as the mushroom of immortality. It helps to balance the endocrine system. It’s great for stress, sleep, immune health and lungs. High in antioxidants, it helps to regulate stress hormones and balances calm.
Taste – its bitterness is a sign of potency.
How to Use it – put in chocolate truffles, coffee, smoothies or warm milk.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
This mushroom is known for being very stimulating — for both energy and libido.
Cordyceps can help the body utilise oxygen and enhance blood flow. This can be especially helpful for athletes or those who regularly work out.
It has been shown to not only improve athletic performance but also speed up post-workout muscle recovery. These mushrooms help to boost the immune system and fight fatigue.
Taste – it is tender and pleasant.
How to Use – put in energy bars, coffee, smoothies or warm milk.
However we intend to use mushrooms in the future, they can provide a readily available natural boost in many directions as well as providing a good base for protection and helping relieve stress. All in all they could well be the answer for many in the quest for a natural, environmentally friendly, non toxic source.
Do not exceed the stated recommended daily dose. This product should not be used as a substitute for a balanced and varied diet and healthy lifestyle. If you are nursing, pregnant or considering pregnancy you should consult your healthcare practitioner prior to using these products. If you have any underlying conditions check these are safe supplements for you to use.
Learn more about mushrooms
Fantastic Fungi is a vivid journey into the mysterious subterranean world of mycelium and its fruit— the mushroom.
The film is a blueprint for what connects all humanity and the natural world. There is much to learn from the world of mycelium and Fantastic Fungi is an inspiring place to begin the process of bringing us together as interconnected creators of our world.
Fantastic Fungi is now available to rent or buy so you can watch from the comfort of your home. Available to stream in English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch and Hebrew.
“Louie Schwartzberg’s lightly informative, delightfully kooky documentary, “Fantastic Fungi,” offers nothing less than a model for planetary survival.”
~ Jeannette Catsoulis,
The New York Times
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