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What are medicinal mushrooms? Various mushroom species on a table.

Q&A: What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?

by Shelly Roberts

November 18, 2021

medicinal mushrooms

Mushrooms are a low-calorie, nutrient-packed food that, when consumed daily, can support a variety of health needs. But, not all mushrooms are the same. Thousands of mushroom species have been discovered over the years, and some have gained popularity for their historical medicinal use. Because of this historical use, many have asked “what are medicinal mushrooms?” and “how are they different from culinary or ‘magic’ mushrooms?” 

In this article, we’ll answer these questions—and more—regarding the use of medicinal mushrooms. 

What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Medicinal mushrooms are a kingdom of fungi that are found in various parts of the world that have been used in Traditional Chinese medicine to support health through their immunomodulatory properties. Medicinal mushrooms contain a high density of polysaccharides compared to other mushrooms and can provide a number of benefits when consumed consistently. These mushrooms can help support immune health, heart health, the body’s response to inflammation, blood sugar levels, and provide a natural way to obtain overall health and wellness. Some medicinal mushrooms are edible in their natural state or can be when processed to isolate the active metabolites to be consumed as supplements.  

How Have Medicinal Mushrooms Been Used Historically?

Medicinal mushrooms have been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years because they were believed to contain properties that provide antioxidant, immunomodulating, cardiovascular, and antibacterial effects. The beta-glucan polysaccharides found in medicinal mushrooms are what grant these species their beneficial properties. Beta-glucans help activate and potentiate the immune system. And polysaccharides are the most abundant carbohydrates that can be found in mushrooms. Those nutrients paired with bioactive compounds allow mushrooms to be used to support the body’s overall health.

How Do Medicinal Mushrooms Differ From Magic and Culinary Mushrooms?

When asking, “what are medicinal mushrooms,” magic and culinary mushrooms are often part of the discussion. Maitake, shiitake, and portobello are commonly known culinary mushrooms and are some of the few species that can be edible in their natural form. These mushrooms also provide a protein and fiber packed nutrient that can be added to various recipes for daily consumption.  

Magic mushrooms, on the other hand, are a bit different. These mushrooms are cultivated mushrooms that contain psilocybin—a hallucinogenic chemical. Though magic mushrooms may be linked to mental health support, they differ vastly from culinary and medicinal mushrooms as they are sometimes used as a recreational drug and, therefore, deemed illegal in many states. 

When compared to magic mushrooms, the perceived benefits of medicinal mushrooms occur without hallucinogenic properties, making these mushrooms safe and legal to consume when properly harvested and/or processed.

Some species of medicinal mushrooms may differ from culinary mushrooms in the way that they must be prepared for consumption. However, there is not an easy distinction between culinary and medicinal mushrooms because many of the common culinary species—such as maitake and shiitake—have therapeutic properties and several species used for health-supporting purposes are also edible.      

What Are Some Medicinal Mushroom Species?

More than 2,000 species of mushroom have been discovered, but only a select amount are commercially cultivated. Well-known medicinal mushroom species include:

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is a medicinal mushroom that supports memory and brain performance by stimulating the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), a protein that promotes the growth and normal function of nerve cells. Lion’s mane is also a culinary mushroom that can contribute a wide array of protein, carbohydrates, and bioactive compounds to your diet.

Reishi

This powerhouse medicinal mushroom contains high amounts of beta-glucans which help to support immune health, and when taken consistently, reishi can provide support for white blood cells, and promote better sleep quality. It is also an adaptogen that helps the body handle stress better.  

Cordyceps

Cordyceps improves vitality and endurance naturally by supporting respiration, oxygen delivery and ATP synthesis. This is due to an increase in ATP production, the molecule that provides energy at the cellular level. This helps to increase endurance and muscle recovery naturally.

Chaga

Known as the “king of medicinal mushrooms”, chaga is packed with a high amount of antioxidants that help to counteract tissue damage caused by oxidative stress. Chaga offers an array of beta-glucans optimal for immune support and has also been used to support healthy, skin, hair, and nails.

Turkey Tail 

As one of the most researched medicinal mushrooms, turkey tail was used in many eastern cultures as a healing mushroom that symbolizes longevity and health, spiritual attunement, and infinity. Its natural polysaccharides are what put this mushroom at the top for helping to aid the body’s natural response to inflammation and support immune health.  

Shiitake

Loaded with B vitamins and other bioactive compounds, shiitake is a great medicinal and culinary mushroom. The therapeutic properties found in the shiitake mushroom help to support the liver, cardiovascular system, and the immune system.

Maitake

Maitake is a culinary mushroom that can help support the immune system due to the high amount of beta-glucans found within. As a mushroom that can be used to cook with, this species is an easy addition to any meal and can help provide immune support naturally when taken consistently.  

Functional Mushroom Powder Blends to Support Better Health 

While the term “medicinal” has been used for centuries, at Om Mushroom, our products are referred to as “functional,” a term often used interchangeably today with “medicinal.” Many of our products contain functional mushrooms that offer tremendous benefits. We emphasize the pure whole-food, organic nature of functional mushrooms for use in everyday life. Our mushroom powder blends are designed to promote immunity, vitality, cognitive health and energy.  

Every Om single-species supplement contains 2,000mg or more of functional mushroom powder in each serving. For those looking to incorporate a mushroom supplement into their daily health routine, we have many options. 

This brain health superfood helps to support memory, focus, nerve health, creativity, and mood.

Add 1 teaspoon (2 grams) daily to a beverage or recipe of your choice.

A natural adaptogen to help balance mental and physical stress, reishi can simply be implemented into a daily routine.  

Add 1 teaspoon (2 grams) daily to a beverage or recipe of your choice. For optimal support, take 2 teaspoons (4 grams) per day. 

Cordyceps can help to optimize oxygen uptake and delivery to support vitality and endurance.  

Add 1 teaspoon (2 grams) daily to a beverage or recipe of your choice. For optimal support, take 2 teaspoons (4 grams) per day. 

This species contains powerful antioxidants that help to support immune health and promote anti-aging and youthfulness. 

Add 1 teaspoon (2 grams) daily to a beverage or recipe of your choice. For optimal support, take 2 teaspoons (4 grams) per day. 

Turkey tail mushroom powder blend offers support for immune health due to the nutrients and beta-glucans.  

Add 1 teaspoon (2 grams) daily to a beverage or recipe of your choice. For optimal support, take 2 teaspoons (4 grams) per day. 

Combined with marine collagen, biotin, and vitamin E, Om’s this drink mix contains chaga, cordyceps, king trumpet, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms to help support youthfulness.  

 

Mix 1 tablespoon of drink mix with 12 oz of water. Shake thoroughly and enjoy. 

Contains an array of beta-glucan compounds that support immune function, healthy blood-sugar levels, and insulin resistance.  

Add 1 teaspoon (2 grams) daily to a beverage or recipe of your choice. For optimal support, take 2 teaspoons (4 grams) per day. 

These are just a few of the mushroom powder blends offered at Om Mushroom that provide a natural and convenient way to incorporate a functional, superfood into your daily diet. 

If supplementing with a powder product is not your preferred method, we also offer functional mushrooms in convenient capsulated form

Om Mushroom offers products created from functional, whole food, organic mushrooms that have life-changing health benefits. If you’re looking to take advantage of the benefits of functional mushroom products, shop now or subscribe to save!

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Functional mushroom products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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