Applications of Medicinal Mushrooms in Modern Medicine and Healthcare
Medicinal mushrooms have been a staple in Eastern Medicine for centuries and are slowly gaining popularity in other strands of medicine. Consumption of the right set of mushrooms can help boost immunity, maintain hormonal balance and help the brain, among others. However, studies into the advantages of mushrooms are a relatively new area in modern medicine. Therefore, mushrooms can be treated like supplements or mini-vaccines against cancer, inflammation and stress, and not actual medicine.
Lion’s Mane mushroom has a feather-like surface resembling a lion’s mane, hence the name. It is filled with antioxidants, and consuming it helps strengthen the immune system. However, Lion’s Mane produces the NFG (Nerve Factor Growth) bioprotein and myelin, which acts as an insulation for nerve fibres.
NFG and myelin are vital to the brain’s health. An imbalance in their levels can lead to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. The mushroom is known to improve cognition, alleviate irritability and anxiety and increase concentration.
Chaga Mushrooms are called antioxidant powerhouses, making them an effective remedy against inflammation. These mushrooms fight against oxidative stress linked to ageing of the skin, slow down or prevent cancer growth, and cut down the production of bad cholesterol in the body.
Shiitake mushrooms are known to help the heart. This is attributed to phytonutrients that prevent plaque build-up and maintain healthy blood pressure levels and blood circulation. They also contain compounds that cut the production and absorption of cholesterol in the liver.
Turkey Tail mushroom, like other medicinal mushrooms, contains high levels of antioxidants that have anti-cancerous properties. However, this mushroom contains polysaccharide-K, also known as PSK. PSK stimulates the immune system and is an approved anti-cancer prescription drug used in Japan. The mushroom also increases the survival rate of patients with certain types of cancer, improves the immune system of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and fights leukaemia cells.
Cordyceps are mushrooms that help enhance the efficiency of the body in utilising oxygen and improving blood flow. It is a good supplement before hitting the gym and is preferred by athletes and gym enthusiasts. The mushroom helps in improving exercise, enhancing athletic performance and speed up muscle recovery after working out. A spoonful of Cordyceps in the pre-workout or post-workout diet ensures better results.
Reishi, scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum, is a well-known herb used in traditional Asian medicine to treat numerous diseases for over 2000 years. It is among the most popular types of medicinal mushrooms primarily because of its multiple advantages- it can help in weight loss, boost immunity, sharpen focus and fight against cancerous cells.
This mushroom is known for its calming properties, which is attributable to the compound triterpene. Triterpene is a mood-boosting compound that eases depression, alleviates anxiety and encourages better sleep. The mushroom also contains polysaccharides, which along with triterpenes have antioxidant, anti-tumour growth, anti-inflammation, and anti-liver disorder properties. Recent studies have shown that Reishi and its extracts work against kidney issues like chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury.