The use of medicinal mushrooms for health is a trend that is gaining significant traction world-wide and is forecast to grow further in the coming years. The expanding global vegan population as well as growing health consciousness among consumers are thought to be some of the prime reasons driving the medicinal mushrooms market growth. This upward trend is also confirmation of the undeniable and significant health promoting properties that certain mushrooms possess.1
While many medicinal mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals, their health-boosting actions are often attributed to beta glucans. Beta glucans have been shown to support immune function by helping mobilise the body’s natural defences. They have antioxidant activity and help protect heart health, ward off infections, reduce inflammation, combat allergies, support energy levels and improve resistance to stress. Below is a look at a handful of medicinal mushrooms.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) has earned the nickname “mushroom of immortality” in traditional Chinese medicine due to its purported ability to bestow longevity and health. A review of 30 years of clinical research found that reishi possessed extensive immune-modulating effects both in vivo and in vitro, and also helped protect immune system cells from oxidative damage.2
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is a popular edible mushroom with big health benefits. It possesses antioxidant properties and is used medicinally to support immune function.3
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is a renowned immune health modulator known for its adaptogenic activity.4
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is found in the Himalayan Mountains, where traditional healers use it to enhance vigour and vitality.5
Zhuling (Polyporus umbellatus) Zhu ling is native to Europe, North America, China and Korea. This mushroom has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for swelling and to remove dampness from the body.
Silver ear fungus (Tremella fuciformis) Silver ear is an edible mushroom with a coral shape and gelatinous texture. It is commonly grown in Asia and is used in traditional Chinese medicine for health and longevity.
China root extract (Wolfiporia cocos) China root is an edible mushroom which has been used as a Chinese traditional medicine for more than 2000 years. It has a wide range of actions including immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.6
*References available on request.