The magical world of medicinal mushrooms

Katy Sunshine

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If you weren't raised in a holistic health household like I was, you might be looking at this post title and start to get a little skeptical; maybe you'll think I'm a hippy. In all actuality, medicinal mushrooms have soared in popularity over the past few years, becoming an extremely well-developed and valid way of solving many of our health (both physical and mental) problems.

I grew up in a household with a mother who encouraged and supported the relationship between nature and our health. After all, we grew up vegan. We always attempted to find natural remedies first instead of resorting to medicine, so I tended to already be pretty open to alternative remedies.

So when mushrooms started taking off, it really intrigued me. They come in the form of powders, drops, capsules -- just like any other supplements that our culture has already been conditioned to believe in. So why does the word "mushroom" scare you off?

Mushrooms have been used in Eastern and indigenous cultures for centuries, to alleviate problems and elevate standards of living. Mushrooms have been dated to almost a billion years ago, meaning that they're enormously biologically resilient -- for a reason.

ScienceDirect, a medical database boasting a variety of published and peer-reviewed articles and research, defines medicinal mushrooms as the following:

Medicinal mushrooms (MM) can be defined as macroscopic fungi that are used in the form of extracts or powder for prevention, alleviation, or healing of multiple diseases, and/or in balancing a healthy diet.

As a whole, mushrooms can be extremely good for you. But did you know there are many different types of mushrooms all with extremely different benefits?

THE BREAKDOWN

Mushrooms also have a number of other properties, including antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and tumor attenuating. Each mushroom has different characteristics. -Science Direct

Reishi mushrooms: Reishi mushrooms can help with weight loss, with anxiety, and with your immune system. The reishi mushroom naturally has anti-inflammatory and calming properties. I have a friend who uses this type of mushroom to sleep and it’s helped her a lot, as she had really chronic insomnia for a while.

Lion's mane: Move over, Adderall. If you’re struggling with brain fog or lack of focus during the day, lion's mane can assist your brain chemistry to allow you to focus in a better way. It fosters the production of the bioprotein nerve growth factor (NFG) and myelin (an insulation around nerve fibers). I wrote a blog post a while ago about the relationship between food and mental health, and the necessity of assisting your brain chemistry in every way you can. Knowing I can utilize mushrooms for this purpose has done so much for my control over my health and wellness.

Chaga mushrooms: The gut health mushroom. Its anti-inflammatory properties are extremely useful, and it can in many ways assist and slow the spread of aging while boosting your immune system. It can alleviate gastrointestinal disorders, positively alter bacterial flora, and help present viral infections (which sounds pretty good right now!)

Shiitake mushrooms: Hair, skin, and nails -- the beauty 'shroom. Many people also already cook with shiitake mushrooms, which we’ve always used just for flavor, but they’re actually really good for your heart -- they can supplement and fortify many aspects of your body. If you need to lower your cholesterol, this mushroom is for you.

Turkey tail: These contain a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that stimulates the immune system. PSK is so effective that it’s an approved anticancer prescription drug in Japan.

Cordyceps: the mushroom you need for an energy boost. This one makes a great pre-workout! It's extremely stimulating, and allows you to naturally feel more energetic and vibrant.

While using mushrooms to increase your natural health, you should be aware of any allergies you may have as well as to never consume them whole. You should more likely just add them as powders or drops to whatever you happen to already be making up!

Check out some of my smoothie recipes; you can easily add mushroom powders or extracts to your morning smoothie for a brain and body boost.

IN CONCLUSION

Skeptical? You shouldn't be. These medicinal mushrooms operate similarly to vitamins; with a myriad of health benefits that can tremendously include your quality of life.

Have you ever tried medicinal mushroom extracts? Leave a comment below!

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I write about mental health, holistic living, and how to find joy and meaning in your life.

Honolulu, HI
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