Originally used in the East as both traditional medicine and food, many mushroom varieties have been studied intensively for their therapeutic properties over the past few decades. In fact, all edible mushrooms seem to possess both medicinal and nutritional benefits, although they must be prepared properly to release their full benefits.
Modern scientific evidence shows that medicinal mushrooms typically act to help strengthen the immune system, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help our bodies fight against free radicals, mutagens, and toxins.
These health benefits of mushrooms seem to exist mainly because of the presence of polysaccharides (complex sugar molecules) called beta glucans in their cell walls. Beta glucans are also present in cereal grains, algae, bacteria, fungi, and yeast.
Early human clinical trials with beta glucans have confirmed that they have an immune-strengthening effect and are safe to consume, with minimal to no side effects for most people.
Red reishi is another popular medicinal mushroom
Known scientifically as Ganoderma lucidum, this potent “mushroom of immortality” is known as ling zhi in Chinese and reishi in Japanese.
Reishi may help patients to beat cancer in multiple ways. First, it stimulates the immune system, helping the body fight more effectively against cancer.
Second, a bioactive compound known as canthaxanthin (and possibly others) in reishi have been shown to help slow down tumor growth. Third, beta glucan – another bioactive compound – helps immune cells to bind more effectively to tumor cells and kill them more easily.
Because of these powerful anti-cancer abilities shown by reishi in both laboratory research and clinical usage, the Japanese government officially recognizes it as an anti-cancer therapy.
However, if you’re thinking of adding a reishi supplement or extract to your daily regimen you should seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner as to the appropriate dose for your specific health condition. Doses of commercial reishi products can vary widely and may not align with the research dosages studied.
Along with boosting immunity, many of these potent mushrooms have other health benefits as a result of their actions on our bodies. Let’s take a closer look at what researchers have found:
11 health benefits of mushrooms:
- Powerful anti-cancer effects
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Protection against heart disease and stroke
- Fighting free radicals
- Managing blood sugar
- Managing stress
- Enhancing libido
- Improving exercise performance
- Antihistamine properties
- Relieving inflammation and pain
- Improving memory, concentration, and focus