Medicinal Mushrooms – What They Are & Why You Should Take Them

Our ancestors have used mushrooms as medicine for thousands of years. The Greek physician Hippocrates, circa 450 bce, classified the amadou mushroom (Fomes fomentarius) as a potent anti-inflammatory and for cauterizing wounds….Although mushrooms have long been used by various cultures, only recently has modern science rediscovered what the ancients knew long ago—that mushrooms can be deep reservoirs of powerful medicines. (1)

There are over 50,000 species of mushroom! (That includes yeasts and fungi.) Some are psychoactive, some poisonous, and some are beneficial to our health. Some even SAVE lives! Penicillin was developed from a fungus and has saved over 200 million lives. Mushrooms have consistently shown their use at least as far back as the time of the Egyptians.

But which mushrooms should you use? Of all the mushrooms that effectively boost our health, these six are universally considered to be the most powerful and beneficial: Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Chaga, Shiitake and Maitake. Each of these mushrooms have a unique history that we’re excited to share with you. 

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Reishi

The beautiful brick red colored Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) can be found growing on various dead hardwood trees in remote mountain forests in Asia. It has perhaps the longest written record of medicinal use. Mention of them in Eastern medicine goes back millennia to ancient China, where it was referred to as the “mushroom of immortality.” Sounds kind of formidable, right? Reishi was believed to have the power to heal the body from within and revitalize its chi, contributing to longevity. Truth be told, reishi contains high levels of anti-aging nutrients.

The mushrooms are saturated with triterpenes and polysaccharides.(2) Triterpenes reduce oxidative stress and boosts vital organ functions. Polysaccharides act as prebiotics in the digestive system, they are anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and immune boosting.(3)  While it won’t make you immortal, Reishi mushrooms can help bolster the immune system and improve blood sugar levels, and may also reduce fatigue, depression, anxiety, and inflammation, and increase stamina.

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Lion's Mane

The Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) mushroom gets its name from its shaggy white appearance and can be found growing on decaying trees in North Eastern America and Canada. It was traditionally used for stomach ailments and digestive issues, while also being used as an immune system regulator. Today Lion’s Mane is most popular for how it can support brain functions, like focus and mood, and also the nervous system.

There are a couple key ingredients in Lion’s Mane that enable it to boost your cognitive skills. Part of the power comes from the terpenoid compounds hericenones and erinacines. Both groups of substances easily cross the blood-brain barrier and have been found to have neurotrophic and in some cases neuroprotective effects.(4) In other words, these compounds stimulate the Nerve Growth Factor, which plays an essential role in the protection and maintenance of nerve cells, including brain cells. 

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Cordyceps

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis or Cordyceps militaris) are an interesting mushroom. Their orange color and cylindrical shape almost makes it look like a Cheeto. But I promise, they taste nothing alike! What’s more intriguing is how they grow. Cordyceps spores attach themselves to the backs of insect larvae, ie. caterpillars and ants. As they germinate, the mycelium grows through the host body and takes over. When the time is right it will control the host, forcing it to travel to high branches in trees where they then sprout their fruiting body.

Cordyceps are high in beta-glucans and contain compounds called Cordycepin. Both of these contribute to the Cordyceps anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, and antiviral properties. Cordyceps may also help boost energy, libido, help with respiratory ailments and improve exercise performance. (5)

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Chaga

The Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) mushroom acts like a band-aid for damaged trees, growing over the wounded parts and intertwining with the tree in a mutualistic symbiosis. It grows on hardwood trees in the cold coniferous forests of North America, Siberia, and other northern latitudes. Where it has been used as far back as the 6th century by the Khanty people. They used chaga mushrooms to help digestion and detoxification, soothe skin sores, and believed it improved lung health.

Not to be confused with its eerie look alike, the “black knot fungus”, the chaga mushroom has a beautiful golden core beneath its charcoal looking exterior. The charcoal exterior of the chaga mushroom has a high concentration of antioxidants, polysaccharides, flavonoids, and betulin. These give the mushroom its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties. The soft inside contains lanostances, a bioactive compound that has anti-candida and antibacterial properties. 

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Shiitake

The Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) mushroom is named for the Shii tree it commonly grows on, but it can also be found growing on the dead wood of beech and oak and other evergreens. Hence the nicknames “sawtooth oak mushroom” and “oakwood mushroom”. It is also known to give off a savory aroma which may contribute to its uptick in culinary use- you’ll find it in miso soup, or sauteed as a side to prime dishes.

As it’s grown in popularity, shiitake has become the second most cultivated mushroom in the United States, but it’s been celebrated in Asia for over a thousand years because of its healing properties. Native to the mountains of China, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia, Shiitake is a potent source of natural copper, a mineral known to support cardiovascular health, bones, and immunity. It also contains eritadenine, which lowers blood cholesterol, and lentinan, beta-glucan that can reduce tumors through its immunostimulant properties. 

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Maitake

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) has a couple fun nicknames. It has been known as the “dancing mushroom” and also the “hen of the woods” (not to be confused with Turkey Tail- a mushroom for another time). Maitake comes from the Japanese words “mai” (to dance) and “take” (mushroom), legend has it that foragers would dance upon being able to find this mushroom because it was so sought after. It is also known to have been worth its weight in silver at one point. With these brown, pancake-looking, mushrooms growing up to 50 lbs – that’s a good amount of silver!

The Maitake mushrooms have a high concentration of antioxidants and beta-glucans which helps with immune support. Research has also shown that it may help to lower cholesterol, decrease blood pressure and help maintain or even lose weight – all of which are good for your heart.(6)

Now that you’ve met the mushrooms, it’s easy to see why we use them. Each product of the MyPure™ Mushroom collection brings you 500 mg of one of the four most powerful mushrooms. We’ve even developed an exquisite blend of all four power-mushrooms (+ 2 more: Shiitake & Chaga) to deliver the most powerful nutritional mushroom combination package- MyPure™ MYcoMune™. MYcoMune™ provides 500 mg of certified organic, whole fruiting body mushroom extracts in each capsule. Want an even stronger mushroom boost? MyPure™ MYcoMune™ 4X is over 4-times stronger.*

Each of these mushrooms have shown immune support benefits but also have their own unique flourish to help you heal the effects of age, brain, energy, and heart. Adding any of these mushrooms to your diet can be beneficial to your health, helping you heal and grow, internally and wholly.

 


  

1.  Stamets, Paul, and Heather Zwickey. “Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies Meet Modern Science.” Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.) vol. 13,1 (2014): 46-7.

2. Chiu HF et al. Triterpenoids and polysaccharide peptides-enriched Ganoderma lucidum: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its antioxidation and hepatoprotective efficacy in healthy volunteers. Pharmaceutical Biology 2017 Dec; 55(1) 1041

3. Friedman, Mendel. “Mushroom Polysaccharides: Chemistry and Antiobesity, Antidiabetes, Anticancer, and Antibiotic Properties in Cells, Rodents, and Humans.” Foods 5.4 (2016): 80. Crossref. Web. . 

4. Wong, Kah-Hui et al. “Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae).” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2011 (2011): 580752. doi:10.1093/ecam/neq062

5. https://www.realmushrooms.com/cordyceps-supplements-guide/

6. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/maitake-mushroom#how-to-use

April 15, 2021 — PureEssence Labs

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