6 Best Mushrooms for Immune Health

Brittany Kline
By: Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor  |  Brittany Kline

When most people think of mushrooms, the image in their mind is likely one of the most familiar types: the Shiitake. These are the first mushrooms you are likely to eat, and they are the ones you’ll get if you ask for them on a pizza or burger. They will smother a steak or make a delicious addition to any soup or stew. But Shiitake are not alone in the world of fungi, and mushrooms should not be relegated just to kitchen use when they are so beneficial to the entire mind and body.

Most species of what are commonly called ‘mushrooms’ are actually very different members of the much broader Fungi kingdom. The distinctions get specific and scientific very quickly, but suffice to say the largest distinction between mushroom groups is the edible and non-edible varieties. Knowing the difference between these two is the utmost importance before venturing into any kind of fungi.

In this article:

  1. Cordyceps Sinensis, aka The Caterpillar Fungus
  2. Ganoderma Lucidum, aka Reishi
  3. Lentinula Edodes, aka The Shiitake
  4. Hericium erinaceus, aka Lion’s Mane
  5. Inonotus obliquus, aka Chaga
  6. Trametes versicolor, aka The Turkey Tail
  7. How to Use this Information to Help YOU

Almost all mushrooms that fall in the edible category are rich in antioxidants, making them excellent for several health reasons. But more importantly, these six specific varieties are best known for their additional contribution to immune support health.

Cordyceps Sinensis, aka The Caterpillar Fungus

Cordyceps Sinensis, aka The Caterpillar Fungus
You’ve got sunshine in your pocket with this bright, energetic fungus.

This ancient mushroom hails from Tibet, and can be found mentioned at length in the first medical textbooks. It is also known by the aboriginal population who first discovered and began to use it as ‘yarsa gumba’. Regardless of what you call it, this citrus-colored insect-eating fungus has equally impressive health benefits, particularly for your hepatic function and immune system.

The stimulating effects of Cordyceps react with good gut bacteria to jumpstart both your energy metabolism and autoimmune regulatory systems. This helps your body use oxygen far more efficiently, resulting in increased blood flow. Naturally, athletes often seek to harness this by utilizing a spoonful of powdered Cordyceps in nutrition shakes. It also encourages your kidneys to self-clean, and assists your body in recovery processes such as resting and restoring muscles.

Ganoderma Lucidum, aka Reishi

Ganoderma Lucidum, aka Reishi
Studies have shown this fungus can help with focus and anxiety as well! Now that’s one smart fungi!

This fan-shaped fungus often goes by the more common name, Reishi. This particular mushroom contains molecules that can affect white blood cells in several positive ways. Because white blood cells are critical to your immune system function, Reishi can have an indirect but powerful effect upon it. Some forms of this mushroom, when taken orally as part of a supplement, can alter the way that veins constrict, reducing inflammation and clearing passageways ahead of those additionally produced white blood cells. This allows the body to have more combatants against any potential intruders, such as harmful bacteria.

Some research in cancer patients has found that Reishi can increase the activity of a certain type of white blood cell called “natural killer cells”. These are the cells which the human body creates specifically to fight infections and even certain types of cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.

Lentinula Edodes, aka The Shiitake

Lentinula Edodes, aka The Shiitake
This delicious and popular shroom has far more use than just as an ingredient in a tasty stir-fry!

Expert studies on Shiitake mushrooms have shown that they have a plethora of heart-healthy benefits, but did you know they have an entire array of additional bonuses? For example, thanks to their abundance of phytonutrients, Shiitakes can help the body resist the buildup of plaque in your arteries, allowing for blood to flow unencumbered and smoothly. This is key in maintaining healthy circulation, and in turn leads to increased heart health and improved blood pressure ratings. As though this delectable ingredient wasn’t useful enough, it’s also shown to significantly improve gut health and digestive conditions.

Similarly to its fungi familial cousin, Reishi, this variety of mushroom too was proven to increase the number of natural killer cells (NK-T cells, as they are also known) in the body after only a few weeks of regular consumption. *1

Hericium erinaceus, aka Lion’s Mane

Hericium erinaceus, aka Lion's Mane
The trademark pom-pom appearance of this mushroom is what eventually caused the feline-inspired nickname for this fun fungus.

This mushroom belongs to a specific classification called the ‘tooth’ group. This is due to the noodle-like ‘teeth’ which hang down from the central bulbous stalk. The Lions Mane is not only a medicinal mushroom, but an edible one as well, providing a variety of different benefits depending on the method of intake. Ingesting raw Lions Mane boosts intestinal activity and boosts immune function. 

Also notable is the high antioxidant content and the rare ability to encourage the creation of the bioprotein ‘nerve growth factor’ or NGF, as well as myelin. Together, NGF and myelin form an insulating barrier around nerve fibers. This barrier is what keeps the brain healthy, fully-functioning, and viable into late years of life. It has even been suggested that Lion’s Mane could reduce the prevalence or risk of developing Alzheimer’s or similar neurological diseases, but further research is still on-going. 

Inonotus obliquus, aka Chaga

Inonotus obliquus, aka Chaga
This parasitic fungi lives by feeding on the bark of living birch trees in specific, cold climates.

It is clear at first glance that Chaga is a bit different than the other mushrooms included in this article. It looks more like a lump of semi-burnt charcoal than a medicinal treatment, but thankfully the interior tells a different tale. Inside is a soft, fleshy, orange-ish interior which can be dried and grated into a fine powder. Subsequently, this powder can be used in almost endless applications.

Chaga is another excellent fighter in the battle against free radicals with its antioxidant prowess. This can help slow or even prevent the growth of some kinds of cancer, and has been found to improve skin health, as well as decrease general bodily inflammation. This makes Chaga not only an essential for boosting immune response, but for prolonging and encouraging maximum health.

Trametes versicolor, aka The Turkey Tail

Immunity boosting mushroom Trametes versicolor, aka The Turkey Tail
This brightly blooming array is just one example of the many potential color variants of this shroom.

While most mushrooms are helpful for fighting some type of cancer thanks to a naturally high antioxidant content, this one takes it up to another level. Turkey Tail mushrooms contain polysaccharide-K, or PSK *2. This compound is a key component in stimulating the immune system. How key?

PSK has shown to be so effective that it is approved and regulated as an anticancer prescription in Japan and other parts of the world. It has increased the survival rate of cancer patients and helped to improve immune functionality during chemotherapy. PSK has even been proven to fight leukemia cells and slow the spread. Turkey Tail contains the highest amount of PSK of nearly any fungi that scientists have uncovered thus far.

How to Use this Information about Immunity boosting Mushrooms to Help YOU:

Immunity boosting mushrooms
Mushrooms are delicious and nutritious, but what if you don’t like the taste?

Some people don’t enjoy the savoury meatiness that mushrooms can lend to a dish. Others find the chore of sourcing, cleaning, cutting, and cooking too much to bother with on a regular basis, much less daily. But there is an easy way to get the benefits of a wide variety of mushrooms without having to learn to prepare each one. There are plenty of supplements available that utilize the natural power of mushrooms to boost immune health.

Our preference is 10 Mushroom Complex, a blend of all six of these PLUS four additional brain-boosting fungi. This supplement not only sourced the best ingredients for immune and brain health, but combined them together in perfect harmony to create an extra layer of defense for your health.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Please keep checking back for more. 

*1 ) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866155
*2 ) https://bastyr.edu/news/general-news/2012/11/fda-approves-bastyr-turkey-tail-trial-cancer-patients

Brittany Kline
Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor
We sent Brittany to venture across the world in search of discovering basically the world's best products and then bringing those back to you. She has documented all her research so you can receive the most vital information and latest innovations in beauty.

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