Mushrooms are Magical: Immune Support for Lifelong Health Part 3

medicinal mushroom

By Georgia Tetlow, MD and Jill Maddock

Types of Purely Medicinal Mushrooms and Uses

Learning about the therapeutic uses of mushrooms as a natural remedy can be overwhelming as there is so much to learn! While this wellness blog series (see part 1 and part 2)  is focused mainly on medicinal mushrooms and their uses, in general, we recommend that you do not consume large amounts of raw cultivated white button mushrooms found in supermarkets. Many everyday foods may actually contain natural carcinogens. It is best to eat organic foods.  Alternatively, cooking these mushrooms at high heat can destroy the toxins and keep you safe while still providing great nutritional benefit. Here’s a look at at the most common medicinal mushrooms:

1. Coriolus versicolor (Turkey Tails)

This multicolored, strictly medicinal mushroom grows on fallen hardwood and grows into wavy rosettes, hence the nickname. Medicinal benefits include cardiovascular (lowers cholesterol),  anti-cancer action (cervical, esophageal, lung and stomach cancer) and immune support to inhibit infections as serious as HIV.

2. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)

This visually striking, strictly medicinal mushroom has a shiny skin and hardy wood-like texture. Uses include enhanced blood oxygenation (athletic performance and altitude sickness), cardiovascular health (lowers cholesterol and blood pressure), immune enhancement (decreases inflammation that may lead to tumors through TNF and interleukin levels), and respiratory health (regenerates lining of the bronchial tract and clinical improvement of asthma).

3. Polyporus umbellatus

This white and gray mushroom, strictly medicinal mushroom grows in dense rosettes on tree stumps and roots. Uses include anti-cancer (lung, chemotherapy side effects), immune enhancement (IgM and monocytes) and liver health (chronic hepatitis, improves cirrhosis).

4. Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane)

This white, strictly medicinal  fungus composed of icicle-like spines that cascade downward grows on dead or dying trees. Uses include anti-cancer (may extend life span of those with gastric and esophageal), digestive support (effective against ulcers and gastritis), immune enhancement (protect GI tract, inflammation, tumor formation, increase T and B lymphocytes).

5. Shiitake

These flavorful and meaty edible mushrooms are easily found dried in Asian and specialty grocery stores. They encourage your body to process cholesterol, hence lowering the amount in your blood with a substance called eritadenine. Uses also include anti-cancer.

6. Maitake (Hen of the Woods)

This clustered, edible mushroom is available dried and fresh in markets or medicinally as extracts. Uses include lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, antiviral, anti-cancer, and immune enhancement.

Note: It is important that you discuss any medicinal uses of mushrooms or other supplementation with your Philadelphia Integrative Medicine provider or other knowledgeable healthcare professional.

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