Medicinal mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular but before you rush out and spend your hard-earned cash on a mushy supplement, let's give you all the info so you can make an informed decision.
In this blog today, we will be covering:
- What are Medicinal Mushrooms?
- What are the Mushrooms in the Perfect Mushroom Immunity?
- What are their reported benefits?
- What are Beta-Glucans?
- What are Fruiting Bodies?
- Not all Mushrooms are Created Equally
- Why does Lab-testing matter more than some other factors?
- Summary of Benefits
What are Medicinal Mushrooms?
Firstly, we will tell you what they are not. Medicinal mushrooms are not psychedelic or mind-altering and are 100% legal. They are a fungi type, neither a plant nor an animal.
Fungi are in their kingdom.
There are over 38,000 various species of mushroom (fungus) that have medicinal properties. Still, for this blog, we will be discussing just three.
Perfect Supplements Organic Mushroom Immunity Blend contains all three! Chaga, Reishi and Turkey tail.
Get ready to settle in and be wowed. Mushrooms are taking the world by storm (and we don't mean the supermarket variety)!
Known for Their Healing Benefits
Medicinal mushrooms are known for their many healing benefits.
They've been used and loved in Eastern medicine for thousands of years.
Medicinal mushrooms are popular in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). You will often see information about their use in herbalism textbooks. Chinese people, in particular, have enjoyed them for centuries.
You may be astounded by how many uses these fungi have?
In more recent years, their popularity has risen in western societies. As we, too, discover the fantastic benefits these fungi can have and how they can improve our wellbeing.
Many studies reveal reported benefits such as immune-regulation and immune support, anti-ageing, better sleep and relief from insomnia, antioxidant support, anti-metastatic, cardio-protective, liver-supportive, obesity management, gut health and much more!
What are the Benefits?
Each fungus (mushroom) has unique benefits, and some share the same benefits (reportedly).
In this article, we will discuss each mushroom in Perfect Supplements' Mushroom Immunity' so that you can understand how this product may work for you.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus that grows on birch, beech, alder, poplar and oak trees. They grow in Canada, Eastern and Northern Europe, Korea, Mongolia, Russia and Siberia.
Chaga certainly doesn't resemble a mushroom. It looks like a big black mass on the side of the tree and is tar-like in its appearance.
Clinical studies (on Chaga) show its anti-cancer effects.
These studies verify its immunomodulatory, antiviral, anti-diabetic and antioxidant qualities.
Research has shown Chaga to have apoptotic effects on hepatoma cell lines (HepG2 and Hep3B).
This study (conducted and published by Wonkwang University in Jeonbuk, South Korea) showed that the Chaga extract does two things:
- Inhibits hepatoma cell growth
- Encouraged apoptosis (programmed cell death) to tumour cells
Potentially, this makes it very promising for the field of cancer, especially liver cancer.
Chaga is promising for diabetes also. Research has shown in a different Korean study the effects that Chaga has on glucose, insulin and liquid peroxidation levels in rats with diabetes.
Rat studies (where the rats were given Chaga) showed two things:
- The rats had a lower lipid peroxidation
- The rats had a higher concentration of glutathione
Chaga has been studied for its antioxidant effects as well.
The Journal of Ethnopharmacology published the findings.
The study showed positive effects from Chaga against oxidative stress and a protective effect on the cells.
Consuming Chaga (extract) in the form of a powder or tea is known to help regulate the immune system. It does so via the stimulation of white blood cells and its ability to form unique immune-regulating proteins. These proteins are known as beneficial cytokines.
Other studies show that Chaga may prevent harmful cytokines (there are both beneficial and detrimental cytokines).
Other Chaga (potential) benefits include disease-protection, anti-ageing, help for arthritis and anti-inflammatory.
Reishi mushrooms are the king (or queen, if you prefer)? Of all the mushrooms and Chinese tonic herbs.
This fungus (also known as Ganoderma lucidum) is prevalent amongst TCM practitioners and herbalists.
Reishi is highly regarded, not just for its many reported health benefits but also for the fact that it is said to balance jing, qi and shen.
Jing is a person's essence and one's primal life energy. The amount of jing a person has will determine their lifespan.
Qi is vitality (in Chinese Philosophy) and encompasses 'all energy.'
Shen is a person's spirit or higher consciousness. Shen is said to reside in our hearts.
Reishi is one of the only tonic herbs to possess all 3 "treasures" - jing, qi and shen, so it is one of China's most loved and used herbs.
It's been said that taking reishi can enhance one's spiritual practice and even deepen one's spirituality.
Reishi is known as "the mushroom of spiritual potency."
Also, reishi shows excellent promise as an immune modulator rather than an immune-stimulator.
To explain 'immune modulation' in simple terms;
Immune modulation means that if the immune system is in excess (autoimmune disease and allergies), it will be bought back into balance.
Reishi contains compounds such as triterpenoids, peptidoglycans and polysaccharides.
The triterpenoids are especially interesting as they may be mighty for the immune system. They may also help to inhibit histamine release!
Triterpenes are anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-tumour.
Medicinal mushrooms also contain a compound called ergosterol, which has anti-tumour and antioxidant properties and is a precursor to Vitamin D2.
The reishi mushroom has a broad range of (reported) benefits and is used widely in Asia for:
- Cardiovascular support*
- Antioxidant support*
- Used to treat and prevent hardened arteries*
- To rebuild the immune system*
- Reducing chemotherapy and radiation side effects*
In Japan and China, reishi is prescribed for things like chronic bronchitis, loss of memory, insomnia, and degeneration.
Reishi is known to be a powerful anti-stress herb as well! In these stressful modern times, we could probably all do with a bit of de-stressing?
There's also a belief (amongst monks and Daoists) that reishi calms the mind, eases tension, strengthens nerve function and the nerves themselves, helps improve memory and much more.
We cannot claim any of these things to be accurate, but it does invite enquiry and your investigation.
*This information can all be found in Ron Teeguarden's book 'The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs.' I highly recommend this book as a resource to dive deep into Chinese Tonic herbalism.
The Turkey tail mushroom gets its name because it kind of looks like the tail of a turkey! It is beautiful to look at turkey tail mushrooms in the wild.
Its scientific name is Trametes versicolor.
Turkey tail is known to protect one's immune system in many ways, such as:
Packed with Antioxidants
Turkey tail mushroom is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress: less oxidative stress = less inflammation.
One antioxidant in particular (found in Turkey tail) is quercetin.
Quercetin shows excellent promise for the immune system. That is because quercetin may promote the release of immunoprotective proteins such as interferon-y.
Quercetin may also inhibit the release of COX and LOX (cyclooxygenase) and lipoxygenase).
The phenol and flavonoid antioxidants in Turkey tail may help to calm the immune system by calming down the inflammation.
Packed with Immune-Supporting Polysaccharides
PSK (krestin) and PSP (polysaccharide peptide) are found in the turkey tail mushroom. These polysaccharides have been shown to have a positive effect on immunity.
May Improve a Cancer Patient's Response to Cancer Medications?
Many online publications speak about people's uses of Turkey tail's benefits, and one of those publications is WebMD.
On WebMD (link in references), they mention that people use Turkey tail to improve their response to cancer medicines. We aren't saying that; however, many people are.
WebMD also says that people use Turkey tail to improve muscle strength, fatigue, and UTIs (urinary tract infections).
These reports seem anecdotal rather than scientific, but anecdotal evidence is real human beings' experience, so I don't think it should be dismissed?
If these fungi work well in traditional medicine (Chinese and Native American), that might be enough conviction for some folks?
Have you probably heard this term used in rolled oats commercials?
Rolled oats contain beta-glucans but so do medicinal mushrooms!
What are beta-glucans, I hear you say?
Beta-glucans are soluble fibres in certain plants (like oats), bacteria, fungi and yeasts. They are known to help many aspects of wellbeing, such as:
- The immune system
- Gut health
- Heart health
- Managing blood sugar
- Decreasing inflammation
Medicinal mushrooms (especially Turkey tail) are rich in beta-glucans and may help to improve gut health and healing.
Let's Talk about Fruiting Bodies
What is the "fruiting body" of the mushroom/fungus?
I'm glad you asked because it's essential to understand this, and we will get to mycelium soon...
The 'fruiting body' is the part of the fungo organism you see above the ground or growing on a substrate such as wood, a tree or grains.
The fruiting body is the mushroom you see and is connected to the mycelium (root system), which we will discuss more soon...
The fruiting body is the part of the mushroom you want to consume; this includes supplements too!
You would never eat raw the fruiting body (of a medicinal mushroom); it has to be consumed in extract form.
Not All Mushroom Supplements are Created Equally
Not all mushroom supplements are created equally is a critical point to mention. We are not here to pull down any other companies or name names, but we can tell you a few things (when you consider what mushroom product will suit you best).
- Is the mushroom product made with fruiting bodies or mycelium? A mushroom product that uses mycelium is inferior in every way (we will discuss mycelium soon)
- Does the product have lab testing?
- Is the product free from GMOs, pesticides, fillers, flow agents and additives?
- Is the product certified organic?
- Is the product extracted (hot water/alcohol extracted), or is it raw?
These are all critical questions to ask when choosing the right mushroom supplement.
Before we get into mycelium, we can tell you that Perfect Mushroom Immunity ticks all the boxes!
✅ Made with fruiting bodies, Mycelium and Biomass (mostly fruiting bodies)
✅ Certified Organic
✅ Contains NO pesticides or other nasties
✅ Contains NO fillers, additives or flow agents
✅ Is hot water extracted (no need for dual extraction)
✅ Rich in Beta-Glucans
✅ Is Lab tested (this matters most of all)
The other brand we stock (Evolution Botanicals) is also excellent, so you may wish to check them out also?
If you are still with us reading this article, thank you, that is quite the effort.
Mycelium are a fascinating organism. Here are some mycelium facts:
- Mycelium are like a root system for the fruiting body of the mushroom and they give the mushroom (fruiting body) nutrients
- Mycelium give nutrients to other plants too
- A mycelium network covers around 80% of the earth underneath the ground
- This mycelium network is a communication network where plants and mushrooms talk to each other
Fruiting bodies, mycelium and how mushrooms are grown can be such a confusing topic, so we hope to make it less confusing today!
People get into heated debates about whether mycelium should be in a mushroom supplement or not?
We sure aren't here to debate anyone, only to offer the information and let you decide for yourself.
The data does not seem to support mycelium having the same health benefits as the fruiting body, and data matters. It does have some benefit though and is included in the Perfect Mushroom Immunity.
As I am not a mycelium expert, and it goes beyond the scope of this article, I will let you further investigate if you wish to? Please see the article link below, written by North Spore.
Why Does Lab Testing Matter?
Anybody can make claims of quality and say mycelium matters or does not matter but what matters the most is laboratory testing.
Perfect Supplements test all of their products and this new product (Mushroom Immunity) is no exception.
The product is tested for moisture content, Beta-glucans, alpha-glucans, proteins, total glucans and total polysaccharides.
Their products are free from all nasties such as fillers, flow agents, additives, pesticides and GMOs.
Summary of Potential Benefits
(For Chaga, Reishi and Turkey Tail)
- Arterial health*
- Auto-immune issues*
- Enhances Jing, Qi and Shen
- Gut Health*
- Obesity management*
- Oxidative stress*
Well done for making it to the end of this in-depth article! It was a long one, that's for sure.
I hope you better understand medicinal mushrooms now and feel more confident about deciding on the best one for you.
There is a wide variety available, and we stock a few others also (which I will link in related products).
As we always say, if you are unsure whether mushrooms suit you and your unique system, check with your trusted health practitioner.
*Disclaimer: This article/post is for informational purposes only and not to be taken as advice. These statements haven't been evaluated by the therapeutic goods administration. They are not designed to treat, cure or prevent any illness. It is always recommended to seek professional medical advice from your trusted health practitioner.