Mushrooms to enhance superpowers? You bet. Especially this time of year when colds and flus are running rampant. Eastern medical practitioners have known for more than 5,000 years that mushrooms contain powerful immune-boosting compounds and protective properties—today we can see the proof in an abundance of conventional scientific research.
Mushrooms contain powerful compounds that enhance and balance your body’s ability to fight disease and stay healthy. These fancy fungi are jam-packed with healing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that destroy infections, slow down aging, and regenerate nerve cells. How? These natural protective ingredients work together to fight cancer, viruses, and inflammation to super-charge your immune system. How? First, they modify cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers that can suppress white blood cells and make you more susceptible to getting sick (think colds and flu). Next, mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides, which help bolster and maintain the structure of your cells (essential in having a healthy immune system). These same ingredients also appear to complement conventional cancer treatments by increasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation, and reducing side effects such as fatigue, brain fog, and nausea. Another serious side effect of chemotherapy is bone marrow suppression, a decrease in the production of cells responsible for providing immunity, carrying fresh oxygen, and for normal blood clotting. Mushrooms reduce this type of suppression, and have also been shown to shrink tumors.
Another benefit of mushrooms—they are delicious in stir fries, added to soups, used in making broth, and to top off your pizza. Here are the most powerful varieties, what they do, and where to find them:
- Shiitake mushrooms contain eritadenine, which helps your body absorb cholesterol and lower its amount in your bloodstream, and also has antiviral and anticancer Lentinan, a compound found in Shitake, is used as an IV anti-cancer drug that has been shown to shrink tumors – clinical studies show that it improves survival rate, quality of life, and lower recurrence of disease. You can buy these mushrooms dried and fresh at many grocery stores and health food stores. These are delicious and flavorful in stir fries and soups—or sauté them and throw on top of your Friday night pizza.
- Maitake: Also called, Hen of the woods, this Japanese mushroom has anticancer, antiviral, and immune-system enhancing effects that reduce blood pressure and balance your body’s blood sugar. Both actions, thanks to maitake antioxidants, help your body fight infections and enhances immunity by protecting your cells and reducing inflammation. These add richness to soup stock, and can also be sautéed up and added to omelets or stir fries.
- Cordyceps: This mushroom, also called caterpillar mushroom, has been used by folk healers to cure cancer, asthma, diabetes symptoms, and cough and colds. It has also been shown in scientific studies to improve athletic performance. Good in soups or stews, or drink tea made from powdered mushroom that you can find in health food stores.
- Turkey Tail: This mushroom, so named because it looks like the tail of our Thanksgiving Tom, appears to help your body’s own killer cells to attack cancer cells. Turkey Tail mushrooms act as an immune modulator and stimulator, and has been shown to shrink tumors and reduce side effects of conventional cancer treatment. This is a purely medicinal strain that is best taken in a daily tincture, tea, or capsule.
If you’re looking to get all your immune boosting fungi benefits in one convenient location, consider a complex mushroom supplement.