Medicinal Mushrooms – A Guide to Better Health Through Mushrooms

The world of medicinal mushrooms has exploded into the public’s awareness in recent years. The global state of affairs has almost had the result of setting a rallying cry to turn our attention back to learning about the natural world. And with modern science, the rediscoveries have been nothing short of miraculous – particularly in the world of medicinal mushrooms and their benefits to human health.

Out of these mushrooms, we feel a few stand out and wanted to offer some basic information on Chaga, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and of course Psilocybin mushrooms. 

If you want to dive deeper into these mushrooms, visit the references we provide at the end of this post.

Chaga

As with other mushrooms on this list, some of the properties such as immune stimulation are present in all listed species. Where Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) stands out is primarily its positive effects on systemic inflammation and anti-aging properties.

Although the exact mechanism of action is still early in its discovery, Chaga seems to suppress the activation of several pro-inflammatory pathways, including those caused by infections which can help reduce swelling and promote faster recovery from illness or injury if used regularly as a dietary supplement.

Reishi

Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) is the dominant detoxifier on this list. This mushroom is known to have a powerful effect on systemic immune health and has been shown to be a potent liver cleanser when taken regularly as a supplement.

In addition to detoxing the liver, this mushroom, when taken orally, also plays a significant role in immune signaling, helping to turn the immune system on so it can better seek out and destroy pathogens like viruses and bacteria. 

There is also sufficient evidence to show that even our mitochondria benefit from the protection reishi provides thanks to its influence on helping coat cell walls to protect any virus from entering the cell’s power stations (the interior of the mitochondria).

Lion’s Mane

If you’re looking for a potent brain booster, then look no further than lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus).

Lion’s mane has been proven to have an elevated effect on both neural protection, and even regeneration. Tests conducted on mice have shown that this mushroom can protect neural health and continue to promote the growth of new nerve cells, even well into old age. This would improve memory, nerve function, reflexes, cognition, and even hormone health. 

There is also a vast quantity of evidence to support these same benefits are likely to occur in humans.

This could hold promise for helping to treat and improve neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s if taken as a daily essential nutrient.

Psilocybin Mushrooms

Finally, the stars of the show when it comes to mushrooms – the psychedelic mushrooms.

Psychedelic mushrooms – particularly those in the psilocybin/psilocin containing P. cubensis genus – have experienced a recent resurgence in research and publications, not seen since the late 1960s thanks to, in large part, but a handful of tenacious groups of individuals who understood the value of what they had whether it was scientific curiosity or ancient tradition in origin.

Today, there is ample documentation of the efficacy of psilocybin in the treatment of brain disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and even addiction – if the right knowledge is used with the medicine in the right context for the reason of treating one or many of the former.

How these breakthroughs are achieved is thanks in large part to the effect of psilocin on the serotonin system in the human cortex. By replacing the neurotransmitter of serotonin at the receptor site, psilocin is able to alter perception and divert blood flow patterns in the brain.

The pattern of blood flow seems to always favor boosting the function of the cortex, but quieting down the fear and inhibition centers normally regulated by the amygdala. 

It’s unclear why this happens, but the benefits to this openness and reduced fear response in wellness and therapeutic context are proving valuable in day-to-day life and in mental health care.

There are many questions left to answer when it comes to psychedelic mushrooms like why do they do what they do for example, but thankfully the benefits they offer don’t seem to require that deep of an understanding for the benefits to be felt.

Unlike the other mushrooms on this list, we urge caution with this one as it is possible to take too much. To be clear, there is no toxic risk, but there are psychological and social risks associated with it. Stick to a dose of 200mg or less in capsule form once, a few days a week for the best benefits and minimal risk to daily activities from accidentally entering a psychedelic experience.

Conclusion

Each of these mushrooms has positive impacts on overall health thanks to their unique properties, and the best part is they can be stacked together just like most vitamins and nutritional supplements can. You can take Chaga, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Psilocybin mushrooms as a mind and body stack, and in doing so, you may be surprised at how your quality of life may improve.

References

Debnath, T., et al. (2013). “Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Inonotus obliquus and germinated brown rice extracts.” Molecules 18(8): 9293-9304.

Xu, X., Zhao, W., & Shen, M. (2016). Antioxidant activity of liquid cultured Inonotus obliquus polyphenols using tween-20 as a stimulatory agent: Correlation of the activity and the phenolic profiles. Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers, 69, 41-47. doi:10.1016/j.jtice.2016.10.011

Dr, L. J. (2015). Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi Mushroom): Potential Application as Health Supplement and Cosmeceutical Ingredient. Global Journal for Research Analysis, 4(9). 

Teng, Y., Liang, H., Zhang, Z., He, Y., Pan, Y., Yuan, S., . . . Zhou, P. (2020). Biodistribution and immunomodulatory activities of a proteoglycan isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Journal of Functional Foods, 74, 104193. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.104193

Ross, S., et al. (2016). “Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) 30(12): 1165-1180.

Nichols, D., et al. (2017). “Psychedelics as Medicines: An Emerging New Paradigm.” Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 101(2): 209-219.

Johnson, M. W. and R. R. Griffiths (2017). “Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin.” Neurotherapeutics 14(3): 734-740.

Roda, E., Priori, E. C., Ratto, D., De Luca, F., Di Iorio, C., Angelone, P., . . . Rossi, P. (2021). Neuroprotective Metabolites of Hericium erinaceus Promote Neuro-Healthy Aging. Int J Mol Sci, 22(12). doi:10.3390/ijms22126379

Pp, Y., Cy, L., Ty, L., & Wc, C. (2020). Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Exerts Neuroprotective Effect in Parkinson’s Disease-in vitro and in vivo Models. Journal of Drug Research and Development, 6(1). doi:10.16966/2470-1009.150

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