Herbal Medicine and Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
I have been meaning to write about Medicinal Mushrooms for a very long time but didn’t know how to approach it from an Ayurvedic perspective. Ayurveda does not recommend too many mushrooms in your diet as it is a “tamasic” food. In Ayurveda, tamasic foods are described as dry, old, foul, or unpalatable foods. They are thought to promote pessimism, ignorance, laziness, criminal tendencies, and doubt. However, we also need “Tamas” for sleep, rest, and to stay grounded.
I do not want to disappoint my readers. Therefore, I would like to add my own thoughts to it. Like any healing science or tradition, there are many foods, herbs, and spices that have not been explored or researched in Ayurveda. Mushrooms are one of them, Modern scientific research we have come to know how medicinal mushrooms positively impact our health and contain benefits.
What are Medicinal Mushrooms?
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dating back thousands of years. Many medicinal mushrooms are being studied today for their therapeutic value. Most of the Medicinal Mushrooms grow in trees such as Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail, etc. In Ayurveda, possibly only the ground mushrooms were discussed and these tree mushrooms were not yet discovered.
Top Reasons WHY they are considered Medicinal Mushrooms
I do not claim that these Medicinal Mushrooms can miraculously eliminate diseases and also agree that more clinical trials need to be conducted to gather more scientific evidence that matches the empirical claims. However, in the past 8 years of me using mushrooms I cannot deny the benefits I have received and how beautifully these earthen gems can support healing and health when combines with an otherwise healthy lifestyle.
- Mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D.
- Strong impact on the immune system.
- Contains Polylactides and Beta-Glucan – which provide many benefits.
- Medicinal Mushrooms also work as an adaptogen.
- Terpenoids found in the mushroom make it a good anti-inflammatory.
- High Antioxidant levels and fights free radicals. Antioxidants such as glutathione and ergothioneine protect cells from damages that can be created from cancer.
- Medicinal Mushrooms protect the liver.
- They also have an antimicrobial effect.
- The high fiber content in the Medicinal Mushrooms makes it an ideal prebiotic.
- Medicinal mushrooms are cardioprotective as it lowers cholesterol when combined with a healthy diet.
- They are also energy boosters.
- Medicinal mushrooms protect brain health.
Medicinal Mushrooms in Western Herbalism
Western Herbalists are also showing great enthusiasm when speaking about Medicinal Mushrooms. Mushroom broths are made quite popular amongst holistic practitioners even here in Canada. A few names come to mind when going through literature on Medicinal Mushrooms, such as Paul Stamet’s from Fungi.com and Dr. Christopher Hobb (fourth generation Herbalist).
Popular Mushrooms Found in Canada
If you love mushrooms or just started to learn about them, you may want to consider looking for wild mushrooms on your nature walk or herb walk. I live in Ontario Canada, therefore many parks have tree mushrooms growing such as Reishi, Apricot Jelly, Bear’s Head Tooth, Chicken of the Woods, and Chanterelle.
There are Canadians Herbalists and companies who are doing a great job bringing medicinal mushrooms to healthy food stores. One such company is known as Harmonic Arts. There is also Botanica (7 medicinal mushrooms), and Four Sigmatic.
Trees to Know for Foraging Mushrooms
Mushrooms typically grow on hemlock, oak, birch, beech, elm, pine, and spruce trees. There are mushrooms that grow on dead trees or logs.
Popular Medicinal Mushrooms
The most common medicinal mushrooms that health care practitioners love to talk about are Reishi, Chaga, Shiitake, Maitake, Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps, and Agaricus.
From an Ayurvedic perspective when considering culinary mushrooms in your diet ensure that it is cooked properly and only a small amount is consumed. When consuming medicinal mushrooms – hot water extraction or decoction is the best form of medicine.
Brands I prefer for Medicinal Mushrooms:
I started taking mushrooms in tinctures in the beginning. I also tried Paul Stamet’s brand Host Defense. During Covid time I took Stamet’s 7, a blend of Agaricus, Cordyceps, Reishi, Maitake, Lions Mane, Mesima, and Chaga. A wonderful blend for the immune system. I also tried MycoShield which is a mushroom blend extract in a spray bottle that is easy to carry. From the professional brand, I have tried Immune Builder from JHS Natural Products as they do hot water extraction. Over the years I supported clients with immune-compromised conditions with Medicinal Mushrooms including adding mushroom powder blend in smoothies.
Mushrooms and Health Focus
Cognitive Health: Lions Mane, Reishi & Cordyceps
Immune Health: Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, Turkey Tail. Shiitake and Maitake.
Digestive Health: Reishi and Turkey Tail
Stress Relief: Reishi, Cordyceps and Lions Mane
Energy and Stamina: Cordyceps, Reishi and Chaga