What Might Mushrooms do for You?

Mushroom image

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For years I’ve been a fan of using natural remedies when possible. I typically avoid taking any type of typical western medicine because of all the potential side effects.  On this quest for beneficial natural plants/herbs I discovered medicinal/functional mushrooms, not to be confused with the “magic” psychedelic mushrooms.

I learned that for thousands of years mushrooms had been used to promote health and alleviate symptoms.  There are many fungi considered functional or medicinal. This is certainly not a comprehensive list, just a small selection of those which have become incorporated in my daily life or in the daily life of those close to me.

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First, we have lion’s mane also known as pom-pom.  It has a unique shaggy appearance.  This mushroom has been shown to support nerve health. (1)  Nerve health is essential for our cognitive function and transmission of information from one end of our bodies to the other.  Studies have also indicated lion’s mane can help maintain heart and digestive health as well by reducing inflammation. (2)

My father has suffered from peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy for years (number here years to be exact).  We had come to a point where the prescription medications he was taking were only somewhat helping (typically pain stayed at a tolerable level but he had almost no feeling in his hands and feet). If he missed a dose, he would end up in the recliner in pain waiting for it to get back in his system enough to help the pain subside to a tolerable level. 

The side effects of the medication were also not helping his quality of life and at times made it quite miserable, not to mention the nearly continual lack of him being in a good mood which wasn’t pleasant for anyone.  He’d also started complaining about his memory not working and that he couldn’t think clearly which was further frustrating him and definitely not improving his mood. 

After learning about lion’s mane and the potential benefits it could offer, we decided to give it a try.  He stopped taking the prescription medication and allowed time for it to get out of his system.  (Those were several miserable days and he was essentially out of commission for doing much.)  Then, he started taking the recommended dose of lion’s mane capsules on the label for general support which was 1 gram per day.  We had researched and learned that a higher dose is often taken by chemo patients but wanted to start small and slow to evaluate any potential changes over the course of several weeks.

A few days in his pain was substantially lessened and he felt like resuming his normal activities.  Within a few weeks he was in better health overall (a combination of very little pain and general improvement including in mood). 

As I write this, it has been about 8 months since that first day with lion’s mane and dad is still going strong.  He has little by little increased the amount he’s taking to 3 grams a day and the last time I asked he said with the prescription medication his bad days had his pain at a level 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst, and now with mushrooms his worst days are a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.  I’ve noticed a delightful improvement in his mood also – he’s like himself, a generally happy man.  And I’ve not heard a complaint in these 8 months about his memory or thinking ability. 😊  He’s also become a great advocate for lion’s mane to the point it makes me smile thinking he’d get everyone to take it if he could. 

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Several mushrooms, including chaga, reishi, shiitake, maitake, turkey tail (3)(4)(6)(7)(8). Have been shown to help support overall health.  I’ve found a blend of these – the 5 defenders blend and have noticed that they do seem to help my overall well-being.  It’s nothing specific I can name but I feel better with them than without them.  I’ve also noticed I have fewer mornings where I feel sluggish getting the day started.  I’ve asked my dad to try this blend with his regimen as well and he has given me the same response that he’s better with them than without them, so he’s kept them in.  He was not often unwell/sick before but seems to get sick even less often now which is excellent.

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Cordyceps has been shown to help performance.  Studies have shown it boosts cellular energy. (5)  I’ve added this powder to my 5-defenders blend hot chocolate in the mornings when I’m not overly motivated to get up yet or go to work and about 30 minutes after I take this, I notice that I’m focused and ready to work on whatever comes my way.  Since this seemed to help me, it was another item I asked my dad to try.  He’s been taking the capsules for a few weeks now and believes it helps with his overall energy and is keeping them in the regimen as well.

If you decide to try any of these items from RealMushrooms use code SEANYMPH at checkout for 15% off.  If you are a first-time buyer with RealMushrooms try their first-time program for 25% off!

References and further reading:

(1) Sabaratnam, Vikineswary et al. “Neuronal health – can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help?.” Journal of traditional and complementary medicine vol. 3,1 (2013): 62-8. doi:10.4103/2225-4110.106549

(2) Diling, Chen et al. “Extracts from Hericium erinaceus relieve inflammatory bowel disease by regulating immunity and gut microbiota.” Oncotarget vol. 8,49 85838-85857. 6 Sep. 2017, doi:10.18632/oncotarget.20689

(3) Szychowski, Konrad A et al. “Inonotus obliquus – from folk medicine to clinical use.” Journal of traditional and complementary medicine vol. 11,4 293-302. 22 Aug. 2020, doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2020.08.003

(4) Liu, Changda et al. “Anti-inflammatory Effects of Ganoderma lucidum Triterpenoid in Human Crohn’s Disease Associated with Downregulation of NF-κB Signaling.” Inflammatory bowel diseases vol. 21,8 (2015): 1918-25. doi:10.1097/MIB.0000000000000439

(5) Choi, Eunhyun et al. “Beneficial Effect of Cordyceps militaris on Exercise Performance via Promoting Cellular Energy Production.” Mycobiology vol. 48,6 512-517. 9 Nov. 2020, doi:10.1080/12298093.2020.1831135

(6) Balakrishnan, Biju et al. “Combining the Anticancer and Immunomodulatory Effects of Astragalus and Shiitake as an Integrated Therapeutic Approach.” Nutrients vol. 13,8 2564. 27 Jul. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13082564

(7) Wu, Jian-Yong et al. “Bioactive Ingredients and Medicinal Values of Grifola frondosa (Maitake).” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 10,1 95. 5 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/foods10010095

(8) PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®): Health Professional Version. 2021 Jul 14. In: PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US); 2002-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK401261/