As the world begins to recognize them as a future superfood - the potential for fully harnessing the medicinal benefits of mushrooms is fast gaining traction!
Following the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's clear to see that a majority of Americans are looking to give their bodies whatever boost they can get. Many are turning to elixirs and tinctures from superfoods (especially mushrooms) to deliver the mushroom nutrients their immune systems need.
Mushrooms are INCREDIBLE. From every angle, they are as biologically impressive as they are tasty as they are ridiculously beneficial to human health. Mushrooms are so magical in fact that the mycologist Paul Stamets, best known for the TED Talk "6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World," described mushrooms as "nature's miniature pharmaceutical factories." Moreover, closer to us than the plant kingdom, we share a few genetic features with our fungi friends!
Scientists discovered that by analyzing organisms' genetic material and internal structures, animals and fungi, like mushrooms, shared a common ancestor that held both animal and fungal features, including a more robust cell wall and sperm-like elements.
Aside from sharing genes, tasting awesome, and possessing nutritional superpowers - edible mushrooms are perfectly suited to a vegan diet and anti inflammatory diet, so can be enjoyed by all, but which mushrooms are best suited to a future of wellness?
Reishi - Cure All and Chill Out
With titles ranging from Mushroom of Immortality to Queen of Mushrooms, to Lingzhi mushroom, and Ganoderma Lucidum - you can only begin to imagine the powers this beautiful mushroom harbors within!
Used to support well-being for over 2,000 years in China and Japan - the Reishi mushroom is known as a "cure-all" of functional mushrooms, and for many years, this fungus has been a staple in Eastern medicine.
The most well-known benefits of Reishi are its ability to reduce stress and fatigue and generally help you wind-down, calm the senses and chill out.
So powerful is this wonderful fungi, that it can help you reset your body clock and maintain a productive sleep cycle which can also help with stress management.Also, used for thousands of years during pregnancy - expecting women in Asia seek Reishi as an immune builder for themselves and their growing baby. Talk of "reishi babies," babies whose mothers received Reishi throughout pregnancy depicts the children as calm, happy and focused. Traits that all new mothers would appreciate!
Reishi mushroom benefits are myriad; unfortunately, they're not the tastiest of the fungi family! However, despite being tough and bitter, many clever nutritionists, chefs and scientists have been working hard to make them palatable as well as good for you.
Something to try: Made with peanuts, dates, and a subtle hint of Himalayan pink sea salt - the SMPL Chill Bites are combined with hemp extract to keep you relaxed while maintaining focus. Crispy, chewy and delicious!
Chaga and Coriolus - Immune System Boosters
These mushrooms are known for their high antioxidant content and immune support benefits. Chaga is believed to lower blood sugar, fight inflammation, reduce blood pressure, ease arthritis, and even prevent or slow the progression of cancer. Wowee.
In one study, the extract of Chaga was able to defend biopsied liver tissue from the oxidative effects of a chemical (tertbutyl hydroperoxide) recognised for the cause of liver damage. Magic!
Chaga is rich in fiber and essential nutrients, including vitamin D, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and calcium. It's also great for keeping the skin looking young and supple.
Chaga-based products to try: Rainbo is a popular brand known for its Reishi and Chaga infused products.
Lion's Mane - Focus Boost
Lion's mane is a very important mushroom when it comes to the future of wellness. Studies show that it may have a role in nerve regeneration 'neurogenesis' for dementia and Alzheimer's patients, but this regeneration also helps generally boost focus.
In one of the few available human studies, it was proved to improve cognitive function in older adults, and in various animal studies, it increased cognition, recognition and memory.
The compounds found in Lions Mane increase levels of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain which spurs the growth and regeneration of neurons, helping the brain to form new neural pathways. These factors are essential for proper cognitive function.
These brain-boosting effects are thought to come from the two main active compounds of Lion's Mane: hericenones and diterpenoid erinacines. So, hands up who wants to be a little bit smarter, a little bit sharper and maybe a little bit laser-focused?!
The Üphoric Urth Lion's Mane tincture is meant to be taken 2-3 times a day to increase your overall mental strength and focus.
Cordyceps - Energy Boost
Known for a myriad of health benefits ranging from boosted sex drive to supporting the immune system, Cordyceps may also be the most sinister of the medicinal mushrooms!
Growing like a parasite out of the brains of unsuspecting spiders and insects - Cordyceps then takes control over the victims central nervous system, forcing their zombified bodies to relocate to a place where the conditions are perfect for the fungus to flourish. For anyone who's seen the zombie movie 'The Girl With All The Gifts', released in 2016, there are startling comparisons!
However, this amazing fungi won't be hijacking your central nervous system, only helping your body in many wonderful ways. Cordyceps mushrooms contribute to physical activity, boosting athletic performance. In 1993, in fact, Chinese track and field athletes shattered multiple world records and made worldwide headlines, a feat their coach credited to C. sinesis supplements.
Some herbalists also believe that cordyceps can boost libido, slow the ageing process, and even protect against cancer. Nice combo!
Looking for convenient ways to get a Cordyceps fix? The B.T.R. Energy Bar is great for this, because it is jam-packed with other superfoods like chicory root fiber AND tastes great with spices like cinnamon.
Tremella and Shiitake - Skin and Gut Health
Tremella and shiitake mushrooms are your go-to's for skin and gut health. They are high in vitamin D, selenium and zinc, which also help to maintain skin health. Shiitake mushrooms, in fact, are one of the most popular mushrooms worldwide.
Prized for their rich, savory taste and diverse health benefits; their compounds may help fight cancer, boost immunity, and support heart health too.
Shiitake actually contain many of the same amino acids as meat and are often used as a meaty-vegan replacement in popular dishes and snacks.
You can check out Pan's mushroom jerky to get some shiitake in your system while simultaneously enjoying their multitude of flavors. A great, natural fiber supplement.
So, what have we learned about mushrooms?
Mushrooms are an ideal vegan food and anti inflammatory food that is versatile enough to eat for any meal of the day. They are easily incorporated into both simple and sophisticated dishes and can be easily added to your diet as a simple supplement dropped under the tongue.
Whether you want to enjoy mushrooms on the go or savour the taste with loved ones, it's clear to see that there has never been a better time to increase your intake.
Harnessing the benefits of this superfood has never been easier. For tips, product ideas and mushroom recipes, visit here for more information.
Alli is an enthusiast of all things community-building, health, and mushrooms 🍄. Passionate about bringing psychedelics to the mainstream wellness conversation 🌈.