“All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once.” – Terry Pratchett
For hundreds of years, mushrooms have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for healing purposes. Used in tinctures, powders and teas made from dried fungi, medicinal mushrooms were believed to support the immune system, protect heart health and promote longevity.
It turns out that these traditional healers were onto something. Not only are mushrooms packed with vitamin B and minerals like copper, selenium and zinc, they’re also an excellent source of antioxidants – substances that protect against cell damage from free radicals. That makes mushrooms great for fighting inflammation in the body and boosting your immunity.
What’s more, studies have found that medicinal mushrooms indeed contain powerful compounds that enhance your health. Although more research is needed, each mushroom seems to have their own unique benefits:
- Shiitake support a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol in mice.
- Reishi help your body adjust to physical and psychological stress, making it a natural remedy for anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.
- Cordyceps are known for their energy-boosting powers. This mushroom fights fatigue and boosts athletic performance by enhancing cellular energy.
- Chaga mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, helping you reduce disease-promoting inflammation in your body.
- Maitake contain beta-glucans, which stimulate the immune system. In animal studies, maitake have been shown to reduce tumor growth and increase the number of cells fighting tumors.
Of course the most pleasurable way to get the benefits from these medicinal mushrooms is to add them to your diet. Because of their meaty texture and earthy flavors, mushrooms lend themselves really well for vegetarian dishes.
If you do want to take supplements, powders or tinctures, please check with your doctor for the right dosage, unwanted side effects and possible drug interactions. It’s also best not to eat mushrooms raw – and don’t forage them in the wild without expertise.
Include some medicinal mushroom magic in your meals with these 11 fungi recipes.