There is not a single area of your body that mushrooms cannot benefit. Mycelial magic knows no bounds! Mushrooms are incredibly good for your muscles, your mind, your heart, your muscles, your blood sugar and your gut health. Edible mushrooms are high in selenium, antioxidants, zinc, vitamins, and beta-glucans, which are key nutrients for living a healthy life.
Although used for centuries in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Japanese traditional herbal medicine (Kampo); mushroom benefits are only just starting to become known within the western world.
Kampo, in particular, focuses on bringing back balance to the whole organism and Agaricus mushroom has been one of their main ingredients dating back to the mid 1800s. We can all harness the magic of this vegan food and incorporate best practices of TCM and Kampo by adding mushrooms into our diet.
What the heck is Kampo Medicine?
Practiced in Japan for more than 1500 years; Kampo medicines are traditional Japanese herbal remedies introduced from China, but now wholly integrated into the modern health care system.
Founded in medieval Chinese medical methods; practitioners prescribed Kampo Japanese Herbal formulae for the likes of "abdominal palpation, tongue inspection and pulse diagnosis."
At the dawning of the nineteenth century, the use of Kampo in Japan was for a time replaced by Western medicine as a way of modernizing the system. However, in recent decades, Kampo has made an epic comeback - and is now officially and highly regarded as a complementary medical addition to modern healthcare.
At present, scientific research on herbal ingredients and clinical practice is taking place at universities and institutes in Japan, and across the world.
Today, backing up radiotherapy or chemotherapy, some Japanese physicians use Kampo medicines for treating cancer patients—the tremendous power of natural medicine working in harmony with modern medicine in full effect. Covered by Japan's national health insurance; more than 80% of practitioners in Japan prescribe Kampo medicine. And, around 148 Kampo formulas - officially used as prescription drugs - play a part in keeping Japan's people happy and healthy.
Mushrooms as medicine
There is so much good that fantastic fungi can do for us, but which mushrooms are beneficial for which parts of the body? Let’s dive in!
When it comes to boosting your energy, mushrooms are a great choice of natural boost. Reishi, Shiitake and Cordyceps are just three examples of functional, edible mushrooms that can boost your energy levels.
Reishi mushrooms are jam-packed with essential antioxidants that can help lessen fatigue and depression. Shiitake mushrooms are loaded with B vitamins that can increase your concentration. And Cordycep mushrooms can help enhance your athletic performance and boost your mood.
These mushrooms can be easily enjoyed as supplements dropped under the tongue, as savoury jerky or even as sweet cinnamon cookie dough. The mushroom recipes available are unfathomable!
As many of us know, a vegan diet is a great way to boost your immunity naturally, but adding mushrooms to your diet is one of the most remarkable ways to increase vital nutrients within that diet.
Reishi mushrooms increase your amount of white blood cells that help fight off infections. Chaga mushrooms fight against RNA viruses. Turkey Tail mushrooms fight off illnesses. And Lion's Mane has a protein that allows healthy gut bacteria to grow.
How to enjoy these mushrooms? Drop tincture of Lion's Mane in your oatmeal during breakfast, add Chaga elixir into water or a smoothie after your breakfast, eat a Reishi Peanut Butter snack in the middle of the day, or improve your daily immunity with a Turkey Tail shot. These mushrooms make excellent natural fiber supplements, keeping your body fresh, clear and healthy.
Mushrooms can help to relax your mind, reduce your stress and balance out your nervous system to help bring more calm into your day.
Reishi mushrooms contain polypeptides that can relax your mind, and can be enjoyed in handy chocolate-chip flavour bars if you have a sweet tooth. Lion’s Mane mushrooms control neurotransmitters that can cause depression, and come in the form of a supplement that can be easily dropped under your dog for instant relaxation. Cordyceps mushrooms stimulate your adrenal glands, balancing out your nervous system. And Poria mushrooms have anti-depressant elements that can reduce your anxiety levels too.
There are so many ways to enjoy these mushrooms, from nut butter spreads to cans of cocoa latte, there’s never been so much choice when it comes to harnessing the power of mushroom nutrients.
An anti inflammatory diet can significantly help recovery, and mushrooms contain incredible natural nutrients that help to promote healing.
Shiitake mushrooms, specifically, contain a sugar molecule called lentinan. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, lentinan may help extend the survival of patients with some cancers, when used with chemotherapy. In fact, in Japan, lentinan has been approved as an adjuvant for stomach cancer since 1985.
Not only do mushrooms have the power to build your immune system to protect your body from potential damage, but it can also help your body recover from existing damage.
According to the cancer center it has antitumor effects: "Lentinan does not kill cancer cells directly. Instead, it enhances the immune system, which may aid in slowing the growth of tumors. Lentinan also kills viruses and microbes directly in laboratory studies."
Shiitake mushrooms can be enjoyed as jerky, or turmeric and matcha tea, or taken as convenient supplement capsules.
Mushrooms are packed with vitamins and nutrients that help your brain function and protect your cells from damage.
Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, Poria and Oyster are four mushrooms that can seriously improve your focus.
Lion's Mane mushrooms help improve memory and reduce brain fog. Shiitake mushrooms are packed with B vitamins that help your brain function. Poria mushrooms reduce cell death. And Oyster mushrooms have the ability to protect against damage from free radicals.
Whatever your reasons for increasing the amount of mushrooms in your diet, whether you’re looking to improve your gut health, aiding stress management, looking to increase your anti inflammatory foods, or immune system boosters, there really is a type of mushroom for everyone.
Alli is an enthusiast of all things community-building, health, and mushrooms 🍄. Passionate about bringing psychedelics to the mainstream wellness conversation 🌈.