Over the last few weeks I’ve been pretty obsessed with functional uses of mushrooms. They can be delicious in cooking, but I’ve discovered they have many amazing medicinal uses. My introduction to this Kingdom of life was through using Four Sigmatic mushroom coffees and elixirs. The company’s creator, Tero Isokauppila, has been spreading the word about how rad ‘shrooms are.
One of the attractive qualities of mushrooms is that they’ve been nature’s medicine for so long, and don’t generally bring great risks. Mushrooms offer a lot of potential benefits, but I don’t want to use too much at once, nor do I want to risk over-stimulating my already over-active immune system. There’s conflicting information about whether they can increase immune activity to a dangerous point for those of us with autoimmune issues. My doctor has suggested incorporating them and keeping an eye on how my body responds, but not to go overboard. However, incorporating functional mushrooms could be worthwhile if you wish to boost your immune system to fight off viruses and infections. Here’s 4 mushrooms and some of their many amazing qualities.
The tipping point for my deep-dive into this world was my discovery that Lion’s Mane mushroom has been studied for its ability to re-grow the myelin sheath in the central nervous system. Myelin is what is destroyed in multiple sclerosis, so this information was incredibly exciting for me. I’ve experienced myelin loss, and I’m not willing to accept permanent damage without putting up a fight. I should mention that Lion’s Mane probably does not provide the building blocks for myelin. It sends a signal to the body to repair by increasing nerve growth factors, so a nutritious diet is still vital to providing the necessary components for the body to heal.
Before finding out about Lion’s Mane, I was very intrigued by Reishi for it’s ability to calm the nervous system and balance the immune system. It is known as the “Queen of Mushrooms” and has been used for thousands of years as the “Mushroom of Immortality”. I think the Reishi has provided a calming effect and has helped me get longer, deeper sleep.
The other 2 mushrooms I’ve been experimenting with are Chaga and Cordyceps. Chaga is known as the King of Mushrooms. One benefit that stands out is that this medicinal mushroom has been shown in studies to decrease cancer growth. It may also have the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidants control the free radicals in our body that cause damage if not controlled. Chaga generally acts as a potent anti-inflammatory to calm the inflammation that contributes to most diseases. Finally, it can help with digestive issues, which are commonly associated with autoimmune activity.
Cordyceps is known to improve physical performance and ATP production. It’s been used by Olympic athletes to set world records. Pharmaceutical companies have extracted a compound from Cordyceps for a drug to treat multiple sclerosis. The drug is called Gilenya. In fact, mushrooms are very widely used in pharmaceutical drugs (Perhaps 40% of the drugs on the market).
Lion’s Mane Medical Research Links
In the Central Nervous System:
In the Peripheral Nervous System:
Extra Links for the Curious
Let me know if you have any thoughts on using medicinal mushrooms. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for reading!
And a huge thank you to Mary Keane for her adorable, brilliant illustrations.
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