Out of an estimated 5.1 million species of mushrooms, 270 species are classified as having medicinal properties. Out of those 270, some of the most researched and best mushroom supplements include cordyceps, lion’s mane, reishi and turkey tail mushrooms. Used for centuries all around the world, each of these mushrooms have unique medicinal properties and are becoming more widely accepted as legitimate natural supplements in western society.
Cordyceps is a genus of fungi that includes more than 400 different species found throughout the world. The most well-researched cordyceps fungus, Cordyceps sinensis, is harvested in high mountain regions including parts of the Himalayas. Since wild cordyceps are extremely difficult to harvest and cultivate, true cordyceps mushrooms have an exceptionally high price tag of about $20,000 per kilogram, making it the most expensive mushroom in the world.
Subsequently, nearly all cordyceps supplements do not contain this wild fungi, but rather contain cordyceps anamorphs, mycelium cultures that are unable to produce a fruiting body. Through extensive studies, these anamorphs are found to produce similar benefits as true cordyceps fungus, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and energizing benefits.
One of the most well-known effects of cordyceps is its ability to enhance athletic performance. After the 1993 Beijing Olympic games—when several Chinese runners broke various world records and attributed their success to cordyceps—researchers found that the consumption of this mushroom can improve the body’s ability to absorb oxygen and, thus, increase the oxygenation and flow of the blood.
In addition, researchers discovered that cordyceps can also increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule responsible for delivering energy to the muscles. Together these effects not only help power the body for ultimate exercise performance, but also help the body recover during restoration.
Other potential benefits of cordyceps include anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties. Since cordyceps are high in antioxidants, this mushroom can help improve memory, boost sex drive and combat disease. On the other hand, its potent anti-inflammatory properties may improve high blood pressure and treat moderate to severe asthma.
Lion’s mane is a type of medicinal mushroom that truly resembles the mane of a lion, with long, shaggy, cascading white spines. Native to North America, Asia and Europe, lion’s mane mushrooms are a unique, culinary dish and resembles a texture similar to that of crab or scallops. This mushroom is as flavorful as it is healthy.
Like many other medicinal mushrooms, lion’s mane has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries as a tonic for supporting overall health and longevity. Some major benefits of lion’s mane include reducing anxiety, depression and inflammation as well as the ability to significantly improve all cognitive and neurological functions.
In various clinical studies in mice, researchers found that lion’s mane supplements increase the levels of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the hippocampus—a protein that regulates growth, development and the regeneration of neurons. The production of NGF is vital to keeping neurons strong and healthy and, when various neurological disorders occur, the brain is unable to produce its own source of NGF. Since lion’s main can increase and maintain healthy levels of NGF, it is the perfect supplement for those with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
As a result of this mushroom’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties, lion’s mane can also improve focus and concentration. Reduced inflammation improves blood flow which provides the brain with more oxygen, thus allowing the brain to perform better cognitively.
These anti-inflammatory properties may also especially be useful in the management of various diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, liver damage and stroke. A combination of anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties may also help reduce anxiety and depression.
Infamously known as the “mushroom of immortality” or “sacred mushrooms,” reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries to improve overall health and well-being. According to the Shen Nong’s Ben Cao Jing, one of the oldest Chinese Materia Medicas, “Long term consumption of Reishi mushroom will lighten the body and prevent aging, extend one’s life, and make one an immortal.” That said, reishi mushrooms are well known for its ability to enhance the immune system, reduce stress, aid sleep, and improve the quality of life.
Reishi mushrooms have powerful adaptogenic properties, which helps the body adapt to stress and better maintain homeostasis. A combination of these adaptogenic properties along with beta glucans (complex sugars) give reishi mushrooms super immune-boosting powers.
More specifically, reishi can enhance immune function through its effects on white blood cells which help fight infection and cancer. In fact, reishi is widely used in Asian cultures as an immunostimulant for patients with HIV and cancer.
The adaptogenic qualities of this mushroom may also facilitate deep and restful sleep, reduce stress, resolve hormonal imbalances, and improve memory and concentration.
Turkey tail mushrooms are a fungus with a disc-like shape and varying colors that bear a resemblance to that of a turkey tail. These mushrooms grow in wet, shady areas and can be found in temperate forests in Asia, North America and Europe.
Unlike lion’s mane, turkey tail mushrooms are tough and leathery, meaning they are not the most delicious or palatable mushroom. Nonetheless, they still provide loads of medicinal benefits. Specifically, turkey tail mushrooms contain compounds known to significantly enhance the health of the immune system.
These mushrooms are jam-packed with antioxidants—compounds that help inhibit or reduce damage caused by oxidative stress. Turkey tail contains a wide array of antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids which are known to promote immune system health by reducing chronic inflammation. Thus, turkey tail mushrooms have the potential to inhibit the development of a multitude of diseases and health conditions.
Not only are these mushrooms high in antioxidants, but they also contain immune-boosting polysaccharopeptides—protein-bound polysaccharides. Turkey tail contains two polysaccharopeptides including Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) and polysaccharopeptide (PSP). These two compounds have been used as chemoimmunotherapy agents throughout Asia in the treatment of cancers for decades.
A combination of turkey tail and reishi allows for the ultimate cancer-fighting mushroom treatment.
Why Choose Vera Herbals Mushroom Supplements?
Vera Herbals carries all four of these medicinal mushrooms, which we believe are some of the best mushroom supplements on the market. Vera Herbals’ mushrooms are:
- Organic— All of our mushrooms are gown organically, meaning our mushrooms are grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- Grown on wood— Active compounds extracted from mushrooms cultivated on wood are far more bio-active than those cultivated on grain.
- Sustainable— Sustainable business practices are our number one priority, so we only source our mushrooms from farms that utilize sustainable farming practices.
- Vegan— Because, why not?
While these super mushrooms have been widely embedded throughout Asian cultures for centuries, western society is just now recognizing their medicinal potential. From reducing anxiety, depression and inflammation to improving memory, endurance and overall health, these medicinal mushrooms may be the answer for treating today’s most common ailments. So why not add these mushrooms to your dietary routine if it only means you will become stronger, smarter and healthier?