Mushrooms are Magical: Immune Support for Lifelong Health Part 1

medicinal mushrooms philadelphia

By Georgia Tetlow, MD and Jill Maddock

Mushrooms are magical! We have been using mushrooms as food and medicine for thousands of years. With a foundation in Chinese medicine as early as 200 AD, and in European Herbalist traditions since the mid 17th century, we’ve learned a lot. There are 270 mushroom species with therapeutic properties. Lise Alschuler, FABNO at the Arizona University Center for Integrative Medicine describes in her article on “Immune Enhancement with Mushrooms” how our ability to harvest more species and confirm new and existing applications for mushrooms has greatly improved.

Why are Fungi so Fantastic?

Mushrooms are extremely important to an integrative approach, and, they are fascinating! They share structural components with plants - rigid cell walls, as well as metabolic traits with animals in the method that they create energy and carbon, by breaking down organic matter from sources like wood, soil, plants and animals. Mushrooms secrete enzymes into their environment in order to digest the molecules of their substrate--i.e. what they are eating. Basically, mushrooms eat and absorb with enzymes, just like us! The fruiting bodies of mushrooms can only exist where there is substrate. This creates a beautiful interrelationship within the ecosystem.

How do Mushrooms Increase Immunity?

Mushrooms contain polysaccharides - a non-digestible carbohydrate. Our immune cells have evolved to create receptors for mushroom polysaccharides despite the constant danger of fungal pathogens.  Upon consumption, the mushroom polysaccharides are fermented by our own intestinal flora and bind to the receptors on our immune cells that are internalized and in turn trigger immune defense. They have anti-cancer abilities, can lower blood pressure, are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory! See next week’s blog for more specific information on how modern medicine takes advantage of the unique biochemistry and benefits of mushrooms.

In the meantime, check out this preview from the Fantastic Fungi Team - an video coming shroom, featuring one of our PIM guru himself, Dr. Andrew Weil!

Note: It is important that you discuss any medicinal uses of mushrooms or other supplementation with a provider.

Interested in connecting with PIM? Register for one of our upcoming events - FREE Group Classes at Cabrini College (please RSVP online) OR Nutrition Classes with our very own Rachel Hershberger, MS, CNS, LDN, tickets just $45 at sign up (limited to 8 participants for individual attention, registered participant only, no walk-ins, please).

If you or your loved one has ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, or they are suffering from a chronic illness, please consider scheduling a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Lauren Houser, MS, MSN, CRNP or Annmarie McManus, MMSc, PA-C, PT, IFMCP.


“Immune Enhancement with Mushrooms” Lise Alschuler, FABNO at the Arizona University Center for Integrative Medicine