Most of us are aware of how mushrooms may enhance our culinary experience and add flavor and complexity to a dish, but what about the health benefits of mushrooms? These ancient superfoods have been used as food and herbal medicine for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese Medicine has used mushrooms for thousands of years to treat various ailments, detoxify the body, and provide overall wellness.* Natural mushrooms contain polysaccharides, antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, and digestive enzymes, and most research to their wellness benefits is linked to a specific type of soluble fiber called beta-glucans.* Mushrooms can offer a wide range of health benefits including immune support, energy regulation, inflammatory support and a healthy stress response.*
Not all mushrooms are equal, however, nor is it easy to consume the different varieties of mushrooms studied for their medicinal benefits.* Supplemental mushrooms allow us to harness the benefits of mushrooms in capsule form. Here are a few of our favorite mushrooms for wellness.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is a natural adaptogen, or an herbal component that can help counteract stressors in the body.* This particular caterpillar-like fungus contains several natural bioactive components and can help defend the body against various stressors.* Most notably, cordyceps can support the production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body, which can help deliver oxygen to muscles to support exercise endurance.* Cordyceps also supports a health inflammatory response by counteracting inflammatory-causing proteins in cells to regulate inflammatory response.*
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
With a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, Lion’s Mane, also known by the Latin name Hericium erinaceus, is an edible and medicinal mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group. Originating in North America, Europe, and Asia, this mushroom is identified by its long spines and is known to contain high amounts of antioxidants, beta-glucan and polysaccharides that are extracted from the mushroom for their medicinal properties. Lion’s Mane derives its name from a white, fur-like appearance that resembles the mane of a lion. Lion's mane may help support the gut microbiota (intestinal bacteria) that play a role in healthy immune response.* Lion’s mane may also support the production of nerve growth factor and myelin (the insulating sheath that surrounds nerve cells).* This mushroom may also support cognitive health and memory as well as anxiety.*
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Native to the mountain forests of Northeastern Japan, maitake mushrooms are also known as phantom mushrooms because of their rare presence in the wild. This potent mushroom has been used traditionally for centuries as a medicinal mushroom prior to modern cultivation techniques which make this rare mushroom readily available. One of the more commonly used culinary mushrooms, maitake has a history of immune-boosting benefits. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine and is thought to act as an immunomodulator, as some of the components may have a beneficial effect on immune support.* Maitake may also protect against a variety of viruses in humans.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Another staple of traditional Chinese medicine, Shiitake mushrooms are often used to treat common immune ailments.* Shiitake mushrooms, primarily grown in Japan, are loved worldwide for their superb taste and coveted for thousands of years by those looking to boost longevity and reduce inflammation.* These potent mushrooms may also help support immune health, cell function, gastrointestinal health and inflammatory health.* Try Nature's Lab Shiitake Mushroom for 1,000 mg of organic shiitake.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishi mushrooms have a history dating back over 4,000 years, with written documentation of their benefits dating as far back as the Han Dynasty (206B.C – 8 A.D.). Also known as the lingzhi mushroom, representing a combination of spiritual potency and longevity with the words “ling” and “zhi,” this powerful mushroom is a large, dark mushroom with a glossy exterior and woody texture. While rare in the wild, Reishi mushroom has been commercially cultivated and scientifically researched since the 1960s for its potential benefits towards general wellness.* Reishi, often referred to as the “king of mushrooms,” is thought to act as an immunomodulator, as some of the components may have a beneficial effect on immune support.* Additionally, Reishi contains a compound called triterpene which appears to have beneficial effects on mood and restful sleep.* Try Nature's Lab Reishi Mushroom for 1,000 mg of this potent mushroom species.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
True to its Latin name Trametes versicolor, the turkey tail mushroom comes in many colors and various bandings which, paired with its unique spoon-like shape, makes for a mesmerizing mushroom that is still considered potent and powerful in the scope of its potential uses. Commonly found on the bases of large trees and decomposing wood, this particular species is rich in polysaccharides and beta-glucans, making this species one that is widely medically researched and highly esteemed in relation to its long history in Chinese medicine. Turkey tail contains several antioxidants including phenols and flavonoids that can support the immune system by promoting inflammatory health and stimulating the release of protective compounds.*
Himematsutake (Agaricus blazei)
The origin of the Himematsutake mushroom species stems from the mountain village of Piedade, about 60 miles north of São Paulo, Brazil. Historically, this species of mushroom was first referenced medicinally as far back as the Byzantine empire, illustrating that this potent mushroom has a long tradition of medicinal use. Himematsutake contains compounds that help support antioxidant health as as well as a healthy inflammatory response.*
Fu Ling (Wolfiporia cocos)
Considered an ancient Chinese herb, the fu ling mushroom, also known as poria mushroom, has been used medicinally for about 2,000 years. The filaments of fu ling mushrooms- where all the nutrients are stored- are harvested for their medicinal qualities and ground into powder for utilization in many natural remedies. Fu ling mushrooms contain several compounds such as polysaccharides and triterpenoids to support antioxidant health and immune health.*
Looking to incorporate more mushrooms into your diet? Try Nature's Lab Mushroom 7, a superior blend of seven mushroom species grown on organic brown rice. This blend provides wide-ranging nutritional benefits and immune-health support.* Containing biologically active folate 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) along with a spectrum of polysaccharides, Mushroom 7 supports immune function, cell health and energy regulation.*
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Nature's Lab or its affiliated brands.