Mushrooms for Our Health

The scientific study of mushrooms is mycology. If you are a mushroom enthusiast then you are a mycophile. My interest stems from the healthy benefits I get when eating or supplementing with them. I feel their magical little powers! In the previous article, I covered some mushroom basics. Here we will learn the benefits of specific mushrooms for our health and well-being. 

Chaga – Grown naturally in the northern hemisphere on trees instead of in the ground. It contains nutrients like potassium, zinc calcium, antioxidants and B vitamins. So in addition to nutritional benefits, it also aids in digestion, supports blood sugar levels and helps to balance the immune system. People use it for autoimmune disease and weight management. It’s been used for years in different cultures as a drink or tea. Nowadays it can be found in powder form as tea or to add to shakes and drinks.

Reishi – The Elixir of Life as it is commonly called in Eastern medicine and has been used for thousands of years as a tonic for many maladies. Because it modulates the immune system, Reishi can be used for allergies, colds and overall immune health as well as autoimmune disease.  Rich in vitamins and nutrients, researchers have also discovered it contains over 400 bio active compounds to benefit health. It also is used for hormonal balance and to support the adrenal system. It shows much promise for the cardiovascular system too and more studies are emerging. It is sometimes combined with other mushrooms for more impact. Wild Reishi is rare so it is cultivated. It has a slightly bitter taste so as a powder supplement it may be preferable to mix it with something else like juice or in a smoothie.

Cordyceps – The athlete’s mushroom. Properties include vitality, endurance and stamina. It improves availability of oxygen in the blood. It’s a clean source of energy for athletes, exercise enthusiasts or for people who need a little air in their tires…busy moms, working stiffs and people on the go. That may be everyone! But it also may be beneficial for sufferers of fatigue, the elderly or people with respiratory issues. Sometimes it’s blended with other mushrooms or you can buy it by itself and reap the rewards it has to offer…energy!

Lion’s Mane – The “pom pom” mushroom is receiving tons of attention because of its cognitive powers. Positive mood, focus and alertness are only some of its benefits. 

Lion’s Mane, affectionately called the “smart” mushroom because of its capacity toward brain function. Not only is Lion’s Mane a superfood but it’s a culinary treat beloved by chefs and people around the globe and can be found in supermarkets who carry a variety of mushrooms. But it is also found in supplemental form because it contains compounds which are nootropic or beneficial to the brain. Promising research is showing benefits such as regeneration of neurons, healing nerve damage, cognitive function and healing effects on brain injuries. Japanese research also had promising results on menopausal symptoms too. All this plus antioxidant, immune and nutritional benefits as well. Lots to roar about here.

Turkey Tail – This is one beautiful mushroom and looks like a turkey’s tail when its all puffed up. Along with its many colors, it has many health benefits too. TT is one of the most studied mushrooms and has been used for thousands of years in Asia for immune health. It’s packed with phenols and flavonoids which combat oxidative stress.  It also has been studied to show improvement with colitis in labs, contains compounds good for gut health and to prevent inflammation. You can also eat this one but its more of an Earthy flavor so people tend to supplement with it. It’s common to find it in teas, powders or pill form.

King Trumpet – Growing in popularity, you can find these in supermarkets to be added to soups and stews or to make veggie sammies because they have a meaty texture and a savory flavor. Studies show these babies have lots of nutritious benefits and also help lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, show promise with breast and prostate cancer and help fight viruses. They also contain collagen which helps maintain the skins elasticity. Find them at the market or in supplemental form in powders and pill form.

There are dozens of mushrooms with crazy names and amazing benefits including ongoing psilocybin studies with hallucinogenic mushrooms to aid in depression, anxiety and trauma. It’s a continuum of what researchers began to discover in the 1960’s.

The world of mushrooms is accessible, promising and magical for all.

Photo by Monique Laats on

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