Medicinal Mushrooms Info-Guide!
MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS: NATURE’S IMMUNE MODULATOR
You might notice that many of my recipes call for “medicinal mushrooms.” What are these, and why are they important?
Medicinal mushrooms are not the typical white button mushroom found on a salad bar, or even the common Portobello and cremini mushrooms. These mushrooms actually have been shown to contain natural carcinogens, which degrade with high temperature cooking. Regardless, I would recommend avoiding those types and focusing on the many species that have strong anticancer and immunomodulatory benefits. The beneficial varietals include the more colorful, large, and oddly shaped species including shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, reishi, cordyceps, chanterelle, Lion’s mane, and enoki mushrooms.
The shiitake, maitake, chanterelle, and enoki mushrooms are palatable and a good addition culinary medicine recipes. They have anti-cancer effects, slowing tumor growth and boosting the immune system, improving the body’s natural defenses. Maitake mushrooms in particular are powerful at modulating the immune response to be an appropriate, strong response without aggravating autoimmune conditions. For flavor, the yellow chanterelle mushroom is my favorite.
In a strictly medicinal role, reishi, turkey tail, and Lion’s mane varietals shine. Reishi is bitter on its own but can be tolerated in teas or in capsules. Along with tumor fighting and immune modulating properties, reishi has an anti-inflammatory effect that I particularly like for folks struggling with autoimmune disorders. Lion’s mane is believed to stimulate nerve growth, and a small Japanese study showed cognitive improvement with Lion’s mane supplementation. Turkey tail mushrooms, which resemble a beautiful turkey tail in appearance, are another mushroom with proven anti-cancer effects.
Many of these mushrooms are commercially available in health food stores today, and powders and teas are also starting to enter the marketplace. I think medicinal mushrooms are worth adding on a daily basis.
Here are just a few of the most common medicinal mushrooms:
Full of antioxidants & anti-inflammatory compounds
Regulate the hormonal system
Lower cortisol levels
Enhance quality and quantity of sleep
Natural brain booster
Helps with concentration and improves mental clarity.
Supports adrenal glands
Fights fatigue and boost strength
Helps maintain consistent energy levels
Improves exercise performance
Lowers body inflammation
Full of antioxidants
Regulates immune system
Helps fight off viral infections and possibly even cancer