(Natural News) You might have heard of the magical qualities of mushrooms, but did you know this extends far beyond the psychedelic effects that some of them produce? It turns out that mushrooms have many medicinal properties that are making them a hot commodity in the health food industry. With an impressive list of benefits that ranges from destroying cancer cells to boosting your immunity, it’s time to start incorporating more mushrooms into your diet – whether you’re a fan of their taste or not!
Nearly every type of mushroom has some nutritional benefits, but there are a few that stand out from the rest for their superior healing power. Here is a look at the top five medicinal mushrooms that can boost your health.
Perhaps the most accessible mushroom on the list, shiitakes can be found in nearly every American supermarket. As the world’s second most popular mushroom, these are full of B-vitamins and have a long list of benefits. They’ve been shown in studies to improve gut immunity, reduce inflammation, destroy cancer cells, stunt the growth of tumor cells, and even prevent weight gain in rats who were given high-fat diets.
You might know this mushroom by one of its other names: H. erinaceus, the pom-pom mushroom or the bearded tooth mushroom. It boasts strong neurogenerative effects, and it also has anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive properties. It can even help heal wounds. A 2014 scientific review found that its neurogenerative effects can help those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Reishi mushrooms are quickly becoming a household name as their popularity explodes among the natural health community. Typically ground up and taken in capsules or added to soups or teas, these mushrooms’ triterpenes and polysaccharides are responsible for their potent medicinal properties. They prevent the growth of new blood vessels, which is responsible for their anti-cancer effect. They’ve also been linked to lower cholesterol, higher immune response, and antihistamine and anti-allergy effects.
Although it looks more like a burned hunk of charcoal, this unassuming mushroom could well take the crown of being the top medicinal mushroom. It normally grows in cold areas like Alaska, Canada, and Siberia, where it helps dying trees recover in a symbiotic relationship. But it’s not just trees that this mushroom can heal; it also helps humans. Eastern Europeans consider it a cancer cure and also use it to help with lung disease and bronchitis, while the northern Canadian Ojibwe tribe uses it to cure tumors. In Europe, it has been used to cure inflammatory skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, while Koreans use it to counteract stress and help regulate energy. With so many useful benefits, this is one medicinal mushroom worth seeking.
Rounding out our list is the curious fungus known as cordyceps. Often found growing on caterpillars in the Himalayas, this parasite eventually eats its own host. According to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, cordyceps can relieve fatigue and muscle aches and improve stamina and athletic performance. Herbal medicine practitioners use it to stimulate reproductive activity in those struggling with infertility.
Many of these medicinal mushrooms are sold dried or in the form of an extract or powder. You can brew them into teas or add them to beverages or soups.
If you think you’ve come across any of these varieties growing wild, it is a good idea to consult with an expert to ensure you are not mistaking them for a poisonous variety. You can also learn more about mushrooms using the resources found on the North American Mycological Association’s official website.