They are rising up from our ancestral, shamanic and herbal memory to reclaim their rightful place in our human diet. Medicinal mushrooms, such as chaga, reishi, lion’s mane etc., grow on both decaying wood and living trees and they are touted in the Daoist ancient herbal systems for their unmatched capacity to aid the body in constructing a powerful immune system, promoting hormonal adaptability and generally bringing the body back to a state of homeostasis. Our bodies are constantly fighting against stress, anything to help bring us back to homeostasis is vital! The kingdom of fungi is weird and wonderful, and the wood-dwelling medicinal mushrooms (often called the ‘noble representatives of the fungi kingdom’) are no exception. Here are four things you may not know about mushrooms in relation to their relevance for human health and nutrition.
1. You are hard-wired for medicinal mushroom nutrition
You have immune receptors in your body that are purely designed to receive the polysaccharides from medicinal mushrooms, and nothing else. The existence of these receptors suggests that humans have symbiotically evolved alongside the fungal kingdom, and the reality is that humans should be consuming medicinal mushrooms for maximum immunological functioning. As these receptor sites are filled with the medicinal mushroom’s polysaccharides, the immune system signals the body’s immune components to become fully active, causing greater T-cell, macrophage, natural killer cell, and neutrophil activity. The ‘queen’ of medicinal mushrooms, reishi, is especially helpful as an immune system rebuilder and activator.
2. Mushrooms act as prebiotic to your gut’s beneficial bacteria
Prebiotics are food substances which stimulate the growth and development of the beneficial microorganisms in the gut, promoting immunity, digestive health, and adaptability. Studies have found that the essential long-chain sugars in medicinal mushrooms, known as polysaccharides, feed the bacteria in your digestive tract to ensure they are able to continue to flourish and deliver you superior health. Chaga in particular is great for supporting gut health and complements this by toning then spleen.
3. Mushrooms are nature’s natural pesticide (with no negative impact on human health)
The is an increasing shift in popular consciousness away from pesticide-laden conventional produce and chemical agriculture, and the answer for farmers may lie with mushrooms. Paul Stamets, the world’s leading mycologist (mushroom researcher), filed a patent in 2001 for a mushroom that can replace pesticides, negating the need for chemical intervention. The entomopathogenic fungi (fungi that oppose insects) utilized in his work are specifically developed to create an environment within the crop that is not suitable for insects that would normally be controlled by harmful pesticides, and therefore can be used preventatively by farmers to ensure the health of their crop and the end consumer.
4. Mushrooms can suppress yeast and fungal overgrowth in your body
Yeast and fungal overgrowth (for example, Candida albicans) in the body is a critical health issue being faced by many. So much so, that I recorded an entire podcast episode on Candida and Medicinal Mushrooms. Much of the time these yeast and fungal conditions are expressed in the body due to a lack of gut health, immune function and an inability to detoxify pathogens. It is assumed by many that all edible mushrooms contribute further to this issue, however this is a misconception when it comes to the medicinal mushrooms. By reestablishing a strong, efficient and intelligent immune system, you dramatically enhance your capacity to bring that infection under control. Medicinal mushrooms are the most efficient food source of the building blocks of your immune system, and they contribute to this by boosting bone marrow secretion rates, enhancing natural killer cell function, contributing to immunological adaptability and feeding systemic immunity via the high polysaccharide content of medicinal mushrooms. Time and time again reishi, chaga and cordyceps have proven a powerful addition for my clients when overcoming candida overgrowth.
I highly recommend that you step onto the path of health discovery and evolution that emerges from including these medicinal mushrooms into your diet. As you continue to take them over the months and years, they accumulate their immunity, hormonal balancing and energy increasing benefits in the body. You can learn heaps more about this from our free online course offering, Tonic Herbalism 101. This course will expand your knowledge of these ancient tonic herbs and explores how you can integrate them into your life.