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Immunity Lists

5 medicinal mushrooms to stimulate your immunity

Rich in bioactive compounds, mushrooms have been consumed for food and used medicinally for thousands of years. Read on to discover 5 medicinal mushrooms that can really boost your immune system.
Reishi and shiitake medicinal mushrooms
Certain medicinal mushrooms are well-known for improving immunity.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2020-05-11Commentaires (0)

Shiitake: the perfect antimicrobial

The shiitake has a brown, fleshy cap and gives off a pleasant aroma. With a long history of use in Asian medicine, it offers powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, as was revealed by a British study (1).

In search of alternatives to classic antibiotics, the researchers behind this study tested aqueous extracts of shiitake against a panel of 29 bacterial and 10 fungal pathogens. The results were impressive: the shiitake extracts exerted broad antimicrobial activity on more than 85% of the pathogens tested.

When fermented, shiitake produces a substance called AHCC, Active Hexose Correlated Compound. This powerful immune-stimulating compound is available in supplement form (for example AHCC).

Reishi: a multi-purpose mushroom

Relatively rare in nature, the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom is usually known by the name reishi. With multiple therapeutic properties, this mushroom is widely used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. And it fully deserves its nickname “the mushroom of immortality”: multiple studies have highlighted its various pharmaceutical effects.

Triterpenoids and polysaccharides are, in fact, the active principles in reishi. The triterpenoids are thought to be responsible for its liver-protective, anti-hypertensive and anti-histamine effects, while the polysaccharides are known to have anti-tumor properties via immune-modulation and anti-angiogenesis mechanisms. They also reduce cell damage caused by mutagenic agents. (2)

If you’d like to increase your intake of the ‘mushroom of immortality’, why not start a course of supplements (such as Reishi Extract).

Chaga: a powerful immunostimulant and antioxidant

Chaga, or polyporus obliquus, is widely used in the traditional Russian pharmacopoeia. Research conducted over the last twenty years has shown it to be an extremely active immunostimulant and valuable antioxidant.

Its antioxidant compounds are able to boost the immune system by protecting the thymus gland against aging. (3) According to one Korean study, its immunostimulant capacity means it potentially offers anti-cancer effects. (4) Other Korean research investigating chaga’s antioxidant effects concluded it is able to trap free radicals. It thus also helps protect cells from oxidative stress. (5)

If you’re keen to take full advantage of this fortifying, antioxidant mushroom, why not boost your intake of its active principles by taking a chaga supplement, such as Organic Chaga Extract.

Agaric: an excellent mushroom for improving immunity

The agaricus (or psalliota) genus of mushroom has lamellae, gill-like layers which turn from pink to black over time. In an article in The Journal of Nutrition, American and Chinese researchers noted that mushrooms like agarics, widespread in temperate regions, also offer anti-tumor, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

According to this research, agarics act in particular by increasing the activity of NK lymphocytes and the production of TNF-alpha, an anti-tumor factor.

The researchers concluded that “increased consumption of agarics may stimulate innate immunity against tumors and viruses as a result of improvements to a key element, NK activity” (6).

Maitake: an exceptional source of beta-glucan

Maitake is also known as Grifola frondosa or hen-of-the-wood. It grows at the base of chestnut, elm, maple and oak trees, at the end of summer. This coral-like mushroom can produce blooms weighing up to 11 kilos. Its Japanese name, which means “dancing mushroom”, is said to come from the fact that those who found this amazing superfood growing wild, danced with happiness.

Used for thousands of years in traditional Asian medicine, maitake is a major source of beta-glucan, a form of dietary fibre able to stimulate macrophage activity and thus boost the immune defenses. (7)

Another study also concluded that this mushroom could play a a role against cancer and diabetes. (8)


It’s worth noting that certain dietary supplements contain several of these immunostimulant mushrooms. One such product is Organic MycoComplex, which contains, amongst others, shiitake, reishi, chaga, agaric and maitake.

References

  1. Rachel Hearst, David Nelson, Graham McCollum, B. Cherie Millar, Yasunori Maeda, Colin E. Goldsmith, Paul J. Rooney, Anne Loughrey, J.R. Rao, John E. Moore, An examination of antibacterial and antifungal properties of constituents of Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Volume 15, Issue 1, February 2009, Pages 5-7.
  2. Bojana Boh, Marin Berovic, Jingsong Zhang, Lin Zhi-Bi, Ganoderma lucidum and its pharmaceutically active compounds, Biotechnology Annual Review Volume 13, 2007, Pages 265-301.
  3. Griffith AV, Venables T, Shi J, et al. Metabolic Damage and Premature Thymus Aging Caused by Stromal Catalase Deficiency. Cell Rep. 2015;12(7):1071–1079.
  4. Yong Ook Kim, Sang Bae Han, Hong Woen Lee, Hyo Jung Ahn, Yeo Dae Yoon, Joon Ki Jung, Hwan Mook Kim, Chul Soo Shin, Immuno-stimulating effect of the endo-polysaccharide produced by submerged culture of Inonotus obliquus, Life Sciences Volume 77, Issue 19, 23 September 2005, Pages 2438-2456.
  5. Yong Cui, Dong-Seok Kim, Kyoung-Chan Park, Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus, Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 96, Issues 1–2, 4 January 2005, Pages 79-85.
  6. Dayong Wu, Munkyong Pae, Zhihong Ren, Zhuyan Guo, Donald Smith, Simin Nikbin Meydani, Dietary Supplementation with White Button Mushroom Enhances Natural Killer Cell Activity in C57BL/6 Mice, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 137, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 1472–1477.
  7. Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Can maitake MD-fraction aid cancer patients?. Altern Med Rev. 2002;7(3):236‐239.
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Wendy_Weissner/publication/26248013_Maitake_mushroom_Grifola_frondosa_Systematic_review_by_the_natural_standard_research_collaboration/links/00b4953324ec239c18000000/Maitake-mushroom-Grifola-frondosa-Systematic-review-by-the-natural-standard-research-collaboration.pdf
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