Are Mushrooms Good For You?

Mushrooms are extremely powerful! These are highly overlooked by most people and I believe a lot of illnesses could be avoided purely by consuming mushrooms on a daily basis. I consider mushrooms as a type of herb because of their amazing healing properties. Although not a plant necessarily, but a fungi, mushrooms act like herbs in that they are not only natural, but extremely beneficial for us. They are of great value. The only difference? Mushrooms are actually quite a bit better than herbs in healing and in treatment. Like herbs they are loaded with antioxidants and cancer fighting minerals and nutrients, but much more than some herbs. In fact, I try and eat mushroom powder daily to keep in good health. Mushroom coffee is actually one of my favorite ways to prepare the powder.

“Mushrooms also have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine . Their legendary effects on promoting good health and vitality and increasing your body’s adaptive abilities have been supported by recent studies. These studies suggest that Mushrooms are probiotic – they help our body strengthen itself and fight off illness by maintaining physiological homeostasis – restoring our bodies balance and natural resistance to disease. The compounds they contain have been classified as Host Defense Potentiators (HDP) which can have immune system enhancement properties. That is one of the reasons they are currently used as adjuncts to cancer treatments in Japan and China.” http://www.gmushrooms.com/health/nmh.html

It can be intimidating when you start out buying mushrooms, however, as there are so many mushrooms to choose from. So the question remains, what are these mushrooms and which mushrooms are good for what? I’m going to outline some of what I think are the best mushrooms out there and why I think they are so great. This is in no way a complete list, and I think you’ll find that there is an entire world out there of mushrooms with a host of benefits, but I’ve narrowed down four mushrooms that I think are the best. In lieu of this, you should also check out Turkey Tail, Maitake, Mesima, and Agarikon. Maybe I’ll do another blog on those at a later time. 😉

 

CHAGA MUSHROOM

 While an ugly mushroom, this mushroom has amazing properties. Embraced by the Eurasians for centuries and found throughout the boreal forests, it grows primarily on birch trees (hence the white bark in the picture above). It is a focus of recent and ongoing scientific research as it has health-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Chaga is also anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-malarial, anti-candida, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, and even anti-aging. So you can see why this mushroom has been widely prized around the world.

Chaga increases the body’s ability to adapt to stress, fatigue, anxiety, and stress. It repairs cells and acts as a blood purifier. It rids the body of free radicals and treats arthritis, cancer, prostrate problems, corneal ulcers, burn injuries, inflammatory diseases, bowel disease, and long-term damage from exposure to smoke and radiation making it the perfect mushroom for those undergoing chemotherapy.

Chaga can reduce facial wrinkles, scar tissue, heal wounds and burns, and protect against UV rays. It maintains healthy skin and hair. Chaga can increase energy and maintain healthy bone structure. It lowers cholesterol and aids in digestion. Chaga can treat diabetes, resistance to infections, skin disorders, respiratory, and heart problems. It alleviates asthma, hair loss, and stress. Chaga can treat bronchitis, Crohn’s disease, tuberculosis, colitis, stomach ailments, worms and parasites, hepatitis, influenza, and Hodgkin’s disease.

You’ll be amazed at everything Chaga contains: Melanin, Lanosterol, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Inotodiol, Geranium, Flavonoids, Enzymes, Fiber, Copper, Calcium, Chloride, Betulinic Acid, Pantothenic Acid, Phenols, Phosphorus, Amino Acids, Selenium, Saponins, Potassium, Polysaccharides, Phytonutrients, Sodium, Tramatenolic Acids, Sterols, Tritepids, Triterpenes, Vanillic Acid, Vitamins A, B1-B3, D2, K, and Zinc.

How to Use Chaga: If making Chaga tea, please keep in mind to brew with not too hot of water or it will taste burnt. I recommend taking Chaga as a tea or mixing 1-2 tsp ground Chaga with your coffee grinds and brewing that way. If making tea, 2 tsp per 1 cup hot water (not boiling), let stand 15 minutes, strain grounds and drink 1-3 cups daily to improve and maintain health. You can brew the tea in your coffee machine! Just put 1-2 TBSP powder in your coffee filter per 12 cups of water. Keep in mind you can re-brew the powder 2-3 times after the first time by adding more water and simmering an additional 20-30 minutes. If you are wanting to brew a lot you can brew 3 TBSP to 2 quarts of water or 1 TBSP to a quart and remember you can brew the tea 2-3 times afterwards. It actually makes for a delicious and refreshing tea especially when refrigerated and with added fresh lemon juice.  Chaga can even be added to food if you would like. Sprinkle some on salad for added benefit!  You’ll also feel it in your lungs as they will start to open up. It is a powerful mushroom.

For minor afflictions: 1 tsp per day then increase 2X a day for support.

Major therapies: Use 3x a day for 3 days and taper after that.

REISHI MUSHROOM

This is by far one of my favorite mushrooms. The powder has a chocolate like taste making it exceptional in hot coffee or tea as an added bonus. Unlike the Chaga, I don’t recommend to brew this mushroom, but rather add a tsp to a warm/hot cup of coffee or tea and mix well before drinking. Reishi grows throughout the world and is found primarily on hardwood trees. Known in Asia as the “Mushroom of Immortality”, it is well known for being a tonic in supporting wellness and vitality.

Reishi helps the organs to function normally. It stimulates liver function and supports heart healthy function and the integrity of the vascular system. Reishi is anti-viral, anti-tumor, and anti-cancer. Reishi reduces insomnia and promotes healthy brain chemistry, memory, and concentration aiding in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s. It improves blood circulation and reduces anxiety and panic attacks. Reishi alleviates common allergies, chronic fatigue, and can regulate and tune the immune system fighting off infections and viruses. Reishi reduces occurrence of uncontrolled cellular division and mutation aiding in cancer treatment.

It prevents bronchitis because Reishi regenerates bronchial epithliom. So if you are a smoker or former smoker, this is one mushroom you will want to be taking.

It is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial against staph, strep, and pneumonia. It is an antioxidant and eliminates hydroxyl free radicals.  Reishi can even help promote long and restful sleep, lower blood pressure, treat hepatitis, HIV, and AIDS. It enhances bone marrow cell proliferation and improves adrenocortical function.

Reishi Contains: Copper, Calcium, Niacin, Folate, Potassium, Vitamin C, D, B Vitamin Complex-including Pantothenic Acid, which is essential to the adrenal glands and for the nervous system, Proteins, Amino acids, Polysaccharides, Triterpeniods, Iron, and Phosphorus.

How To Use Reishi: Red Reishi powder is the most potent variety of Reishi so I’d recommend buying red. To prepare, take 1 tsp powder and mix with warm/hot water beverage. Drink on an empty stomach in the morning or infuse with tea or coffee grinds. I like to make a pot of coffee and add a tsp of Reishi mushroom powder to this. It adds a nice chocolate taste to it. 🙂

LION’S MANE

This is a beautiful mushroom and actually doesn’t look quite like a mushroom at all. It is a beautiful species appearing as a white waterfall of icicles. It is found on broad leaf trees and logs. This mushroom is a brain booster and is renowned for it.

Lion’s Mane also has antibiotic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic (and might be useful in managing diabetes), anti-fatigue, anti-hypertensive, anti-hyperlipodemic, and anti-aging properties. It protects the cardiac system and is also hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, nueroprotective improving anxiety, cognitive function, and depression. Lion’s Mane regenerates damaged cells from peripheral nerve injury relating to brain and spinal cord. It fights Parkinson’s Disease and is extremely significant in treating the following cancers: leukemia, stomach cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, colon, cancer, and breast cancer. Lion’s Mane supports the heart and circulatory system. It reduces cholesterol and chance of stroke. It improves digestive health and shrinks and protects from ulcers. Lion’s Mane improves gastritis and inflammatory bowel disease because it reduces inflammation within the body. Doing so it also aids in the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as Hashimoto’s Disease, arthritis, joint and muscle pain. This includes inflammation in fatty tissue so the mushroom is effective at fighting heart disease as well.

Lion’s Mane fights free radicals and helps relieve oxidative stress caused by poor nutrition and exposure to chemicals in the environment. It slows the aging of skin and improves sleep. Lion’s Mane can adjust the circadian rhythm back to normal. It speeds up the healing of wounds, boosts the immune system, and prevents osteoporosis. It protects from alcohol-induced liver damage. Living up to its name as a brain booster, this mushroom treats dementia, anxiety, and mental health related issues.

Lion’s Mane Contains: 70 actual and potential bioactive compounds, including hericernones, erincines, hericerins, resorcinols, steroids, and mono- and diterpenes. nerve regenerating hericenones and erinacines, Vitamin B-12, proteins, carbohydrates, and beta-glucan polysaccharides.

How to Use Lion’s Mane: Powdered mushroom can be taken orally 1 tsp a day or you can mix 1 tsp powdered mushroom with 1 cup hot coffee or beverage and drink. The mushroom itself is common in Chinese vegetarian dishes and oftentimes will be a meat substitute.

CORDYCEPS

A mushroom born in the Himalayans, it has been used to enhance performance during strenuous, high altitude activities. I’ve saved this mushroom for last because it is a complete tonic. This mushroom has cardio enhancing effects of increased oxygen uptake supporting higher endurance levels. Cordyceps, also known as the “Caterpillar Fungus” grows at high altitudes of at least 14,000 to 21,000 feet in the Himalayas, China and Tibet.”  The reason it is called the “Caterpillar fungus”? That’s because the mushroom feeds off of caterpillars and grows over them. Cordyceps doubles the oxygen intake of a person within six weeks of taking it and increases blood flow. It is also considered an aphrodisiac as it has been found to enhance sexual functioning.

“The right species of Cordyceps can be a powerful stimulant for macrophage activity, strengthening your immune system’s ability to fight against bacterial and viral infection. Human clinical studies indicate that Cordyceps can be effective for treatment of high cholesterol, poor libido/impotence, arrhythmia, lung cancer, and chronic kidney failure. It is also reported that Cordyceps causes smooth muscle relaxation. This can make it especially helpful for treating chronic coughs, asthma, and other bronchial conditions. ” http://www.gmushrooms.com/health/nmh.html

Cordyceps is an antioxidant and can fight aging, stress, colds, liver damage, and respiratory disorders while increasing energy levels and supporting the immune system. Cordyceps has been proven to reduce the size of tumors so is a powerful cancer fighting agent. “Cordyceps can help control autoimmune disorders, excessive inflammation and tissue damage while speeding up healing time.” Dr. Axe

Cordyceps Contains: Amino acids, Vitamins E, K, B1, B2, B12, fatty acids, Ezymes including COq10, Proteins, Peptides, Polyamines, Sterols, Nucleosides, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Selenium, Silicon, Nickel, and Vanadium

How to Use Cordyceps: Powdered mushroom can be mixed with a hot beverage such as plain water to make a tea or in coffee. Take 1 tsp powdered mushroom with 1 cup hot coffee or beverage and drink. You do not want the beverage or water boiling but hot. I find Cordyceps to have a vanilla like taste. It is very good with other teas as well as coffee. I highly suggest experimenting with both. You can eat this orally as well, 1-2 tsp a day. 5-10 grams daily is the recommended amount for dosage if taking by pill form.

Cautions: Pregnant or breast feeding women should not take mushrooms. They are safe for children. If using as a tea, do NOT brew with too hot of water as it will take on a burnt taste. If you are diabetic and using insulin, you will want to monitor blood sugar levels as most mushrooms naturally lower or raise blood sugar. Don’t use mushrooms with blood thinners. If you have a known blood clot or bleeding disorder, please consult your doctor before taking mushrooms and do not take two weeks prior to any surgery. Mushrooms that help autoimmune disorders may interfere with medications being taken for this, so I would highly advise you consult your doctor before taking mushrooms if you have an autoimmune disorder and are on medications. Extremely rare reports of contact dermatitis and respiratory disease have been known with Lion’s Mane – if you experience burning/itching of skin, inability to breathe, and/or swollen lips, discontinue use and consult a doctor.

Pill vs. Powdered

I like to take the pill variety at times because it is quicker, but I also enjoy the flavor of some of these mushrooms so would prefer to drink it as a powder in my coffee or tea. There’s not much difference, although pill varieties come pre-formulated and oftentimes contain different varieties of mushrooms. Pill varieties may also contain other ingredients not so good for you so you will want to watch the labels when you buy. You can buy the powdered version with multiple varieties of mushroom as well. I prefer the powdered because I like the taste of the mushrooms. I think you’ll find mushrooms are pretty delicious. Although sometimes they don’t mix well so you have to keep stirring as you sip. It definitely adds a nice flavor to coffee!

Storage

Store mushrooms in fridge or freezer to keep longer. You want the powder to stay in a cool, dark, dry place so a moist environment is not ideal and definitely not exposed to sunlight.

Studies Done on Mushrooms

Many scientific studies performed in universities and medical facilities have produced volumes of studies on the medicinal effects of mushrooms on many different ailments affecting humans. Click Here for Medicinal Mushrooms – Readings and References.

Where to Buy

I’m recommending the following sites based on potency and pureness of the mushrooms. These companies test their products for impurities and heavy metals and I can assure you are the best.

If you are looking to buy powdered mushroom, may I suggest the following:
Starwest Botanicals Inc.
Health Ranger Store

If you are looking to buy the pill form, I highly, highly recommend HOST DEFENSE. They have amazing products. I cured pneumonia solely by taking their “Comprehensive Immune Support” mushroom mix. It is powerful stuff. If you have a Pioneer Co-Op near you like I do, you can get it there, but it might be more expensive. Best place to buy online:
Vita Springs

Sources:
http://www.gmushrooms.com/Healthref.html#book
https://draxe.com/cordyceps/

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