Mushrooms come in a wide variety, and most people understand that some are good to eat, some are poisonous, and some psychedelic. But there is another type of mushroom that is underutilized in western cultures: medicinal mushrooms. They have a lengthy history of medicinal use in Japanese, Chinese, and Eastern European cultures as adaptogens. Western medicine is just now catching on to the health benefits of mushrooms.
Mushrooms support your immune system, and they accomplish this in a way that is normalizing to your immune system rather than acting as a stimulant. They can help address a variety of issues including:
- Chronic or persistent infections
- Certain autoimmune disorders
- Lowered resistance and “catching things” easily
Mushrooms contain compounds that resemble a microbe. Your immune cells recognize this and respond by increasing the innate immune activity, which is your front-line defense. This puts the immune system on alert and gives it a “workout,” which makes the system stronger over time. Many mushrooms provide this response including common varieties like Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms.
Mushrooms help support other functions as well like the liver, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and others. Let’s look at some specific species and how they are used for their health benefits.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
This is a gourmet mushroom known for its immune-supportive properties. It contains a compound known as D-fraction that has been extensively researched for cancer treatment. Maitake may also help address common cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and even blood sugar issues. Maitake mushrooms can be incorporated into your diet for year-round immune health. Tincture doses are 5 ml 3 times daily for active immune boosting, or 2 ml twice daily for maintenance.
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