Medicinal mushrooms have been studied and used in some form for centuries, from traditional Chinese medicine to Ayurvedic medicine. Medicinal mushrooms, sometimes called bioactive mushrooms, possess properties beyond just being delicious or useful in culinary dishes. While medicinal mushrooms were traditionally brewed into teas and tinctures, today, they are extracted and turned into powders that can be placed into capsules.
Medicinal mushrooms may provide a wide range of potential benefits to your cognitive and physical health.
How Medicinal Mushroom Capsules Work
In most medicinal mushrooms, the main mechanism of action involves beta glucans. Beta glucans are a carbohydrate and soluble fiber that cannot be produced naturally in the human body. Lengthy studies have found that beta glucans are immunomodulator agents. This means that they can regulate your immune system, allowing for improved and more efficient immunities. Beta glucans specifically stimulate macrophages, which are versatile immune cells that trigger other immune cells to attack while neutralizing invading pathogens. Beta glucans have also been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure while helping to manage blood sugar levels.
Medicinal mushrooms may also contain flavonoids, triterpenoids, and other compounds that have a synergistic effect with beta glucans or provide other potential benefits.
Medicinal Mushroom Uses and Benefits
Medicinal mushroom benefits differ from mushroom to mushroom, person to person. Used in traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps originally boasted anti-aging properties and reinvigoration. Cordyceps is actually a genus of over 400 parasitic fungi often found in mountainous regions throughout Tibet and China. In studies, cordyceps has been used to potentially enhance the immune system and as an adaptogen. Adaptogens refer to any natura substance that may help your body adapt to stress and prevent any physiological damage caused by stress. Lab studies also suggest that cordyceps may offer potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may act as a powerful neuroprotective agent.
Lion’s mane has traditionally been used as an alternative to a wide range of diseases affecting the heart, stomach, kidneys, spleen, and liver. Studies suggest that lion’s mane contains at least 32 active nutrients and minerals. One of its most studied effects involves increased levels of nerve growth factor in the brain. Nerve growth factor is a hormone that is associated with improved growth in the neurons, particularly in the myelin sheath. This allows for more efficient communication between nerves. This suggests that lion’s mane may increase thought processing and memory formation and recall. More nerve growth factor may also point to greater fluid intelligence and neuroplasticity.
Ongoing research suggests that lion’s mane may be a potential alternative for certain nerve disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis. Some studies also suggest that lion’s mane may be an effective alternative for ADHD and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Along with nerve and brain benefits, lion’s mane may present benefits to physical health. Some studies show that lion’s mane may regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels while boosting white blood cell count and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Red reishi is the most commonly used of the reishi mushroom varietal and have been shown to have a high concentration of active phytonutrients. Red reishi has been shown to act on various systems throughout the body, leading to the traditional belief that the mushroom offers general benefits to longevity and vigor. Studies on animals suggest that red reishi may support cardiovascular health, protect the lungs, improve immunities, and regulate functions in the endocrine system. Some animal studies also show that some components within red reishi may present anti-tumor effects.