By Julian Mitchell, Co-founder of Life Cykel.
Medicinal mushrooms are taking off in global popularity touted as the superfood of 2018. Health-conscious consumers are demanding alternatives to the highly processed, sugar-laden options provided by the mass-produced food industry. As a natural evolution the consumers are finding solutions in natural and ancient wisdom, and rediscovering medicinal mushrooms to upgrade their coffees, smoothies and other drinks with mushroom powders; there’s no turning back.
For over 2000 years medicinal mushrooms have been recognised by Chinese medical professionals as a valuable remedy. The power of mushrooms is now being uncovered by western cultures in both prescription medications and through thousands of research papers confirming their benefits. Although one can have contradictory feelings towards the pharmaceutical industry, these multi-billionaire businesses have been using mushrooms as medicine for decades, and are helping to make medicinal mushrooms the most studied superfood in the world.
According to the University of Sydney’s School of Biological Sciences, at the start of the 21st century, fungi was used in 10 out of the 20 most profitable medicines including anti-cholesterol drugs, the antibiotic penicillin and the immunosuppressant cyclosporin. More recently, cordyceps mushrooms have been used in a drug to assist in treatment with the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis.
Which ones are medicinal mushrooms?
Of course the Button, Portobello, Swiss Brown & Field mushrooms are healthy but the ones you are sure to hear about in the next 12 months are Reishi, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps & Oyster mushrooms. The names make them sound like the new age ninja turtles, which given their superpowers it’s a fair mistake. So let’s unpack each one and understand why they have been researched so much.
Reishi: Is a popular mushroom for promoting sleep and relaxation as it has immunomodulating effects meaning it boosts immunity and lowers cortisol. Reishi is often used to heal the liver and lower inflammation in the body with its impressive anti-inflammatory properties. It’s recommended to take it in the afternoon or evening to help relax and boost immunity.
Chaga: Is not grown in Australia as it grows only on birch trees in very cold climates such as Russia, where it has been used to treat many different ailments including cardiovascular disease, diabetes & gastrointestinal cancer since the 16th century. The polyphenols (antioxidants) found in 1 serve of chaga is equivalent to 5 large cups of blueberries. Due to its high mineral count it is the second most alkaline food in the world. Recommended as a morning addition to your coffee smoothing out the acidity and giving you the boost you need for a productive day.
Cordyceps: known as the Tibetan Viagra, is found in the high altitudes of the Himalayas where yaks and Sherpas have been known to use it as a key source of energy. Research has shown its positive effect in improving VO2 max endurance in athletes by stabilising blood sugar and increasing oxygen uptake to the cells. It’s a natural pre-workout and /or another great addition to your morning beverage.
Lion’s Mane: The most well-known benefit of consuming Lion’s Mane mushroom is the potential ability to prevent or protect the spread of neurodegenerative diseases in the brain such as Alzheimer’s, by promoting overall nerve growth. Lion’s Mane has also shown to have immune-enhancing properties by regulating the gut microbiome to produce and activate immunity cells. Drinking Lion’s Mane each day can give you greater mental clarity, better memory recall and improved focus.