What You Need To Know About Medicinal Mushrooms
What You Need To Know About Medicinal Mushrooms

What You Need To Know About Medicinal Mushrooms

Forget green juice or even CBD – medicinal mushrooms are the latest trend to hit the wellness scene. And whether you stir them into your coffee as a powder, take them in a tincture or use them to unwind at night, the good news is there are multiple ways you can reap the benefits. Here, we asked the experts why they’re so good for us and how to get involved.
By Tor West

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Why are mushrooms so healing?

“Medicinal mushrooms are a superfood fungi that fall under the adaptogen umbrella, i.e. they help the body adapt to stress and bring it back into balance. They carry many of the nutritious benefits of regular mushrooms – for example, they are rich in vitamin D and selenium – but they also contain bioactive compounds that keep the body in a natural state of balance. Studies suggest they also have far-reaching benefits such as supporting the immune system, hormone regulation and cognitive function.” – Zoey Henderson, founder of Fungtn

What’s the science behind them?

“The use of medicinal mushrooms dates back thousands of years – they are a time-tested healing method. They contain a vast array of healing compounds, including beta-glucans, immune-supporting molecules that have been shown to support the immune system’s response to viral and bacterial infection; triterpenes, powerful anti-inflammatories that neutralise damage in the body caused by free radicals; and polyphenols, which play an important role in protecting the body from stress, toxins and inflammation. They have exceptional health benefits, and many people report increased energy levels, a stronger immune system, and a feeling of resonating at a higher frequency when taking them.” – Sara Rooney, medical herbalist at Adaptogenic Apothecary 

Mushrooms have FAR-REACHING BENEFITS – from supporting the immune system to hormone regulation.

Do all mushrooms have the same healing properties?

Different varieties of mushroom could help to ease different health concerns…

For Stress Relief: “Reishi supports the adrenal glands, which is where our stress hormones are made, and has a positive effect on mental health. Reishi is also a great mushroom for women, especially if you are prone to PMS and period pain. In the week before your period and during your bleed, reishi can soothe and relax the nervous system and provide relief. Lion’s mane is also fantastic for brain fog, low energy and fuzzy thinking, a common symptom for many people that’s often caused by chronic stress. Taking lion’s mane in the morning can support cognitive health and leave you feeling more energised and positive.” – Sara 

For Energy: “A traditional Chinese tonic used for over 2,000 years, maitake can help with chronic fatigue. It’s a great source of B vitamins – which help your body make energy from the food you eat – as well as amino acids, copper, potassium and selenium. Maitake has also been linked to lowering blood cholesterol levels for better heart health.” – Dr Simoné Laubscher, nutritionist & WelleCo formulator 

For Deep Sleep: “Reishi has been proven to significantly increase total sleep time and the quality of your REM – deep – sleep. Unlike some sedatives, reishi doesn’t cause drowsiness, and instead promotes a feeling of peace and tranquillity, and relaxes the nervous system. For the best results, take it as a powder 30 minutes before bed, added to a hot drink.” – Sara 

For Athletic Performance: “Cordyceps is a tonic for physical stamina and endurance. In fact, it became better known in the West after the Chinese used it as part of their training protocol for the 1992 Olympics, when its female team won six out of nine golds in track and field and broke many world records. Cordyceps supercharges the supply of oxygen to the muscles, which increases energy and endurance. It also supports post-exercise recovery.” – Sara 

For Immunity: “All medicinal mushrooms support the immune system, but turkey tail and chaga are particularly potent. Turkey tail is great when you are feeling run down and in a depleted state, and contains probiotics – food for our good bacteria that are important for a healthy gut. Chaga, meanwhile, is rich in antioxidants to neutralise toxins in the body, and is very rich in minerals and vitamins.” – Sara 

For Hormones: “Maitake can stimulate ovulation, even in women with PCOS, while reishi is great for hormone modulation and regulating the stress response, making it useful for both fertility and perimenopause. Cordyceps, meanwhile, can regulate all endocrine functions when it comes to fertility – from egg maturation to ovulation, fertilisation and implantation. Cordyceps can also support healthy sperm count, a growing concern as male fertility declines with decreasing sperm counts reported each year.” – Sophie Barrett, medical herbalist & naturopath at Hifas da Terra 

For Metabolism Support: “Shiitake mushrooms contain all eight essential amino acids and a particular essential fatty acid called linoleum acid, which helps with weight loss and supports lean muscle. They also have bone-building benefits, support digestion and can reduce food sensitivities.” – Simoné

For Brain Health: “Turkey tail and lion’s mane have a powerful effect on neuro-regeneration. They are currently undergoing clinical studies for helping the brain to combat degenerate diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.” – Zoey 

Reishi promotes a feeling of PEACE and TRANQUILITY, and aids deep sleep.

Are there some people that could particularly benefit from taking mushrooms?

“Pretty much everyone can benefit from adding medicinal mushrooms to their supplement routine – from women with PCOS to athletes and those experiencing perimenopausal symptoms. However, avoid them if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there are no long-term studies to guarantee their safety. At the same time, if you have a chronic condition and are taking prescribed medication, always check with your doctor.” – Sara 

How quickly will you notice the benefits?

“It depends on the medicinal mushroom, but as a rough guide, you’ll see the effect of cordyceps almost immediately – it’s quite amazing. With other mushrooms, like lion’s mane and reishi, the results are cumulative, and may not become apparent until a week or so later. Immune modulators like turkey tail take a little longer – two weeks to a month.” – Sara 

Any tips for taking them?

“Mushrooms build up efficacy over time, so you need to take them continually, but they can be seasonal, and it can be beneficial to take them for certain months throughout the year with breaks in between. For example, I take chaga throughout the winter months to ward off coughs and colds, and switch to reishi in the spring and summer to help with hay fever. It’s always a good idea to have seasonal changes and rest periods as your body works in cycles. Your responses may differ throughout the year, and even monthly with your cycle. We all react differently to herbal and botanical products, so listen and watch your body’s reaction, and act accordingly.” – Zoey 

What should you look for in a supplement?

“The most important thing to look for when choosing a medicinal mushroom supplement is that it is certified organic – ideally 100% organic mushroom fruiting body or grain-free mycelium in vegetable capsules. It’s also vital to know the quality and production processes are standardised and certified. There are many 100% organic medicinal mushroom products on the market, but unless these products have standardised levels of terpenes or beta-glucans, you won’t see the benefits.” – Sophie 

“Also look at where the mushrooms have been grown. Wild-harvested mushrooms are best as they contain a greater number of active compounds. Mushrooms grown on trees and logs (similar to how they grow in the wild but cultivated for larger-scale production) are the next best thing, so are perfect if you’re looking for a superior quality but more affordable supplement. Steer clear of mushroom formulas that have been cultivated on grain – this isn’t mushrooms’ natural food, meaning the mushrooms won’t have the same concentration of active ingredients.” – Clarissa Berry, nutritionist for DIRTEA


DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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