Medicinal mushrooms have a long history of treating serious disorders that are challenging to resolve. These incredible plant powerhouses contain phytonutrients that support the process of repair. Learn how to take medicinal mushrooms for pain relief from fibromyalgia and autoimmune disorders, plus for help with cancer, depression and inflammatory diseases.
I’ve said it before, but I truly am amazed and thankful for the abundance of natural remedies available on this beautiful earth. And especially in this time of worldwide health concerns, I’m even more grateful!
When it comes to chronic or even serious ailments that people suffer from, regardless of how many medications they try, it’s really a wonder that the natural world provides some astonishing remedies.
That brings us to the subject of medicinal mushrooms… of the thousands of mushroom varieties known around the world, the fantastic news is that a few hundred of them have some amount of medicinal value! Although many have been used for millennia in Asia, particularly in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this knowledge has only gradually made its way westward. We now see an upsurge of information around the world, and medicinal mushroom products are now much more widely available.
So much so, that they’re almost becoming a trend or fad.
But really, these 100% natural superfoods are so much more than the latest health novelty to try out for a while. Particularly, if you, or loved ones, suffer from a condition that is difficult to treat and cure, like fibromyalgia and auto-immune disorders – it’s high time that you learn about the real and lasting power of medicinal mushrooms.
Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about “magic” psychedelic mushrooms! (That subject would take an article all on its own.)
I’m talking about those varieties of mushrooms (also known as fungi) that have particular curative properties. As such, they are not the common culinary mushrooms that we love to eat, although those also contain important nutrients and provide excellent health benefits – which we’ll get to later in this article.
Not all medicinal mushrooms are particularly flavorful, nor are they readily available in food quantities that you would need to consume for health results. Some are actually inedible in their whole mushroom form. So, packing your meals with these ‘shrooms will probably not do the trick. The best way to gain benefits from medicinal mushrooms would be by taking them in capsule form or in extracts, or by adding mushroom powder to foods, like smoothies or soups.
These are powerful plant medicinals, so we’ll explain how they work and which troubling health issues they help to treat.
NOTE: If you do suffer from a complicated debilitating illness, it might be a good idea to consult a naturopath practitioner to determine suggested amounts of medicinal mushrooms for your particular situation – everyone is different!
Which Ailments Can Be Treated With Medicinal Mushrooms?
Medicinal mushrooms work to treat several ailments that modern medicine struggles to treat and cure. All too many people are disappointed and frustrated when their medical practitioner either dismisses their not-easy-to-categorize symptoms, or simply does not have any effective treatment protocols to offer.
You might notice that some of these categories overlap each other… for example, many inflammatory diseases are actually caused by auto-immune issues… and fibromyalgia is often thought of as an auto-Immune disorder, but sometimes put into a category of its own… so I have separated them in the list below just for simplicity.
Medical mushrooms can help those suffering from:
2. Auto-Immune Disorders – such as AIDS, Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac Disease, Lupus
3. Neurological Disorders – such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Depression
4. Inflammatory Disorders – such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease
5. Cancer – Breast cancer, stomach (gastric) cancer, among others
Medicinal Mushrooms and the Ailments They Treat
1. Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum)
Whenever reishi mushrooms are mentioned, they are always referred to as the “Mushroom of Immortality” and for good reason! These lovely brownish flower or fan shaped mushrooms are well known in eastern cultures as symbols of health, vitality and longevity. There are several major benefits of reishi mushrooms due to their curative properties:
- Immune Boosting – Reishi mushrooms contain potent elements that combat oxidative stress and inflammation. They are therefore quite useful in treating auto-immune disorders, such as Type 1 (and possibly Type 2) diabetes, and fibromyalgia, as well as treating fatigue, sleeplessness and depression.
- Anti-Cancer – Ganoderic acid present in reishi mushrooms is also known to inhibit cancer cell growth by suppressing tumor development and by destroying existing cancer cells. Reishi is known to strengthen the immune systems of cancer patients, particularly while taking treatments such as chemotherapy and/or radiation.
- Anti-Inflammatory – Reishi is known for its anti-inflammatory actions that aid in weight loss and in reducing inflammation, thus high cholesterol levels. And, as mentioned above, inflammation is a primary cause for some serious illnesses, such as cancer, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and more.
2. Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are primarily found in Asia and have been used in TCM for thousands of years to treat several diseases. This beautiful white mushroom has long, wavy “spines” that flow downward, resembling a lion’s mane, hence its name. They can be eaten, (some say they have a texture and taste similar to lobster) but the best way to take them is probably as a powdered supplement.
- Neuro-Protective – Lion’s Mane contains compounds that aid in cognitive functioning, so these mushrooms are often referred to as powerful “brain boosters” when consumed on a regular basis as a supplement. Those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease experience improvement over time, as compounds in Lion’s Mane aid in rebuilding neuronal pathways and aid neuronal functioning. Additionally, cognitive improvement is seen in healthy people, so Lion’s Mane can be taken as a preventative to boost memory, creativity and overall mental clarity.
- Anti-Inflammatory – Lion’s Mane mushrooms can aid those with inflammatory bowel syndrome, by reducing colon tissue damage and improving gut microbe quality. They also help to treat other inflammatory conditions.
- Anti-Cancer – Lion’s Mane is shown to inhibit tumor cell growth.
3. Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus)
These woody and fibrous little fungi grow symbiotically on birch trees in the cold climes of the far north. Siberian and other northern cultures have benefited from taken chaga for health since their recorded history. These fascinating little mushrooms (which actually don’t resemble other mushrooms at all!) have a wide variety of health applications. They cannot be eaten on their own, so are taken as supplements.
- Anti-Aging – Chaga mushrooms contain powerful anti-oxidants that deter cellular degeneration, thus are historically known to increase lifespan. These anti-oxidants also aid in keeping skin youthful and in treating skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis from the inside, as well as topically.
- Brain Boosting – Chaga’s high polysaccarides levels contribute to its anti-aging effects, such as slowing down brain deterioration. Improvements in overall brain functioning that result from taking chaga include cognitive abilities and memory in those people impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Immune-Boosting – Chaga’s natural chemical compounds aid the body in creating cytokines, which are necessary to stimulate our white blood cells that fight infection and viruses. Incredibly, chaga has the dual function of assisting in cytokine stimulation, and at the same time, disallowing the body to have an over-reaction of defensive cytokine action, known as a dangerous cytokine storm.
- Anti-Inflammatory – The high level of anti-oxidants present in chaga helps to combat damage from free radicals in the body. Free radicals left unchecked lead to inflammation that can cause havoc and create disease. For those suffering from inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or who suffer from the pain of fibromyalgia, chaga can provide much relief if used regularly over time.
Note: Chaga gets its powerful curative compounds from the birch tree upon which it grows. Chaga that is lab-produced will not have the curative effects desired, so please make sure that you source Chaga from a reputable supplier.
4. Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)
This beautiful mushroom, resembles a “turkey tail” due to its variegated colored concentric bands, in a variety of colors such as browns, grays, blacks and white. This medicinal mushroom has numerous uses, although it is most widely known today for its anti-cancer properties.
- Anti-Cancer – Turkey Tail mushrooms contain the powerful chemical compounds polysaccharopeptide (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK), which are known to identify and also destroy cancer cells.
- Immune-Boosting – Another astounding benefit of turkey tail mushrooms is the immune strengthening that they provide. Particularly in the case of those taking modern cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, turkey tail mushroom compounds counteract the often debilitating effect those treatments have on the immune system. Japan and China both offer a drug based on turkey tail components to cancer patients taking cancer treatments.
- Anti-Viral, Anti-Microbial – Turkey tail is known to aid in creating cytokines, which stimulate our bodies to create more infection fighting cells. This is important to fight colds and flus, fungal infections and viral infections, including the Human Papilloma Virus(HPV), HIV and AIDS.
- Anti-Inflammatory – Turkey tail mushrooms contain a high percentage of anti-inflammatory compounds. This makes this mushroom a powerful supplement for anyone seeking relief from any chronic condition that has its basis in inflammation, such as fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease and various skin conditions.
Culinary Mushrooms With Medicinal Benefits
In addition to the incredible medicinal mushrooms listed above, we shouldn’t leave out the various culinary mushrooms that also have excellent and profound health benefits. We in the Enchanted SpiceBox always say that “Food is medicine!” so its important to include those foods that are not only delicious but are also good for health. These mushrooms can also be taken as a supplement.
1. Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus)
These tasty white mushrooms are anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-cancer due to their high polysaccharides count.
2. Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinula edodes)
These yummy mushrooms are high in anti-inflammatory compounds and also have anti-tumor properties. They support immune strength, and effectively protect against colds and flu.
3. Maitake Mushrooms (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake mushrooms are high in beta-glucans, which provide immuno-modulation – this means that it is useful to either suppress or enhance the immune system’s responses according to need. They have also been shown have anti-cancer properties and to aid in hormonal imbalances, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in women.
4. Portabello Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)
High in anti-oxidants and full of plant-based protein, these large, hearty and tasty brown mushrooms (also sold as Portabella mushrooms) have anti-cancer properties, as they are shown to inhibit tumor growth and replication. Specifically, this is due to their high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). They are also anti-inflammatory and contain phytonutrients that combat joint pain and fatigue, while balancing hormone levels.
5. White Button Mushrooms – (Agaricus bisporus, immature)
And before you think to write off our old standby, the common white button mushroom, we’ll remind you that these delicious favorites are actually the baby version of the large brown Portabellos that get so much more culinary clout these days!
And the more grown up, yet still immature light brown Cremini mushrooms are really just the teenagers of the same mushroom family. 🙂
White button mushrooms are high in minerals, vitamins and nutrients that regulate cholesterol (thus helping to avoid stroke and high blood pressure), help control blood sugar, strengthen the immune system, and relieve stress among other helpful health benefits.
What To Look For When Shopping For Medicinal Mushrooms
Buying medicinal mushrooms can be a bit daunting, as there are many choices out there and not all products are equal. It’s important to know that for medicinal mushroom products to be effective, they should be made from the fruiting body of the mushroom, that is, the part that grows above ground. If the product also contains the spores, that’s even better (although not often available). The underground part, or root, known as the mycelium, does not contain the powerful medicinal value that you need in a medicinal mushroom.
This is so important that the FDA issued a ruling that mushroom products made from the mycelium must contain that information on their labels… but the labels don’t have to explain that the medicinal value of the fruiting body (mushroom part) of the fungus is what’s most effective for treating disease – not the mycelium! So you need to understand what that means.
Also, medicinal mushrooms that grow in their natural conditions on trees and plants or are symbiotically parasitic, receive many of their medicinal healing nutrients from the host plant. Because wild crafting of medicinal mushrooms is not a mass production business, there are companies that have decided to reproduce mushroom mycelium in labs or on farms, by growing them on grain hosts (rather than the original tree or plant hosts that the mushroom grows on in the wild).
They do not allow the mycelium to grow long enough to produce fruiting bodies and therefore, ground mycelium products are not capable of offering the nearly magical biochemical components that mushroom fruiting bodies and/or mushroom spores contain.
Please read carefully before purchasing a medicinal mushroom product to know what you are getting.
Here are a few medicinal mushroom products that are made using the fruiting body – the real mushroom:
Reishi Mushroom Powder ✓
Mix of 10 Medicinal Mushrooms Powder ✓
Turkey Tail Mushroom Capsules ✓
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Capsules ✓
Chaga Mushroom Capsules ✓
For more info, you could also read this article that explains about counterfeit medicinal mushrooms written by Nicole Apelian, an herbalist who manages her MS with the help of medicinal mushrooms (in addition to dietary restrictions and other natural healing modalities over time)
Medicinal mushrooms have been prized over milennia for their curative properties and more recently, modern societies (and science) have come to understand their medicinal value. It’s important to know that these powerful natural fungi are available for our health benefit.
The main point to take away from this article is that there truly is hope for those who suffer from debilitating and often confusing chronic conditions. There is so much more information available that can be gleaned about how medicinal mushrooms can help your specific issues – far more information than is reasonable to include in this article. But it’s out there, if you take the time to do some deep Internet searching .
There are many, many anecdotal articles out there that explain the personal health journeys of those who came before you and who have discovered natural ways to regain their health. – in particular, through the use of medicinal mushrooms along with other natural protocols.
There is no “one-size-fits-all’ formula for healing your body, but every little bit of information can be a piece to complete your own personal health puzzle. I do hope that you will give medicinal mushrooms a try for your own benefit!
Thank you for reading! If this post has piqued your interest… or if you find it useful, inspiring or otherwise magical, please pin it and share it… And we’re always happy to hear from you via the Contact page.
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom image courtesy of Wikimedia.org, LIcense 3.0