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).
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-tumour 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, 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 ageing. (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.
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-tumour, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
According to this research, agarics act in particular by increasing the activity of NK (Natural Killer) lymphocytes and the production of interferon gamma and TNF-alpha, an anti-tumour factor.
The researchers concluded that “increased consumption of agarics may stimulate innate immunity against tumours and viruses as a result of improvements to a key element, NK activity” (6).
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 defences. (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.
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