6 Medicinal Mushrooms to Protect Your Liver

Medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years across all cultures for their potent healing capacities. While these remedies were considered folk medicines for a long time, today’s research is uncovering how powerful mushrooms actually are for regenerating the body[1].

Among the many benefits associated with medicinal mushrooms, the promotion of liver function is one of the most heavily supported by research.

With the rising popularity of mushrooms, there’s still a lot of confusion about which ones to take and how they support the body.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why keeping your liver healthy and happy is crucial to overall health
  • The amazing benefits of medicinal mushrooms for liver detox and function
  • Which mushrooms you should be taking daily to support liver health
  • The simple way to get all the benefits of mushrooms in daily

Importance Of Healthy Liver Function

The importance of caring for your liver extends far beyond the immediate functions that this organ carries out, like nutrient breakdown and detox. In fact, your liver is responsible for over 500 vital functions in your body.

Just a handful of roles that your liver plays include[2]:

  • Production of cholesterol
  • Detox of metals, chemicals and pesticides
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Resisting infections by enhancing immune function
  • Bile secretion and production, and therefore the subsequent breakdown of fats in your digestive tract
  • Production of blood proteins
  • Conversion of glucose to glycogen for storage
  • Regulation of amino acids
  • Conversion of ammonia to urea (ammonia is a toxic metabolite) 
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Removing bacteria from the bloodstream
  • Supporting kidney function

While there are certainly good arguments for caring for organs like your heart and brain, your liver ties into the health of every other organ, so it’s truly the best place to start. 

However, the crucial role that your liver plays in detoxification is at the top of the list when it comes to supporting your entire body. When toxins accumulate in your body, your liver has to jump into action to help remove them from your body. As you can imagine, this is a pretty big job.

That’s where liver-supportive nutrients come in to assist your liver in its essential jobs and help keep your detoxification pathways working seamlessly. 

The Liver-Supportive Role Of Mushrooms 

Your liver has to deal with toxic insults from the environment every day. While managing toxins is part of your liver’s job description, the level of toxicity in the world today is enough to overwhelm even the healthiest liver.

The way that mushrooms grow and develop results in the accumulation of a variety of bioactive compounds. These compounds such as phenolic acids, terpenes, polysaccharides, and proteins impart beneficial effects on the tissues and organs in your body — and specifically, your liver.

From antioxidant activities to inflammation and hepatoprotection, medicinal mushrooms act on your liver from all angles assisting with proper function as well as defenses against damage[3].

Not all mushrooms are created equal, however, and it’s important to distinguish which ones are crucial components for liver health. According to research, there are six mushroom varieties that exhibit targeted liver-supportive activity. 

6 Medicinal Mushrooms To Incorporate Into Your Liver-Love Routine

Cordyceps

One of the primary concerns when it comes to liver health is cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis occurs when your liver is injured either due to toxic overload or liver disease. The first stage of liver cirrhosis is fibrosis, a process that thickens your liver’s connective tissues. 

As fibrosis continues, it can turn into cirrhosis, which is a late stage of scarring that can’t be reversed. At that point, a liver transplant may be necessary for your body to continue functioning correctly[4].

As you can imagine, this magnitude of liver injury could result in detrimental effects throughout your body, affecting not just your liver but the health of your other organs and tissues.

Research shows that cordyceps mushrooms can halt the process of fibrosis by intervening with collagen deposition. During fibrosis, collagen deposits in your tissues and builds up; this is the process that can lead to scarring. The more scarring, the less optimal your liver is able to function. Therefore, cordyceps may provide hepatoprotective effects against liver injury[5].

Research also shows that the protective effects of cordyceps may also extend to kidney disease, which often results in liver dysfunction as well[6].

Reishi

Reishi has been shown to protect liver cells from injury against toxic compounds due to its potent antioxidant capacity.

In one trial, mice were treated with amatoxin (an incredibly toxic compound found in some fungi) and then subsequently given reishi extracts to assess the mushroom’s ability to protect the liver. Both liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) initially soared with amatoxin treatment, indicating toxicity and liver damage.

Once administered the reishi extract, however, ALT and AST significantly dropped, and the acute liver injury that would typically be caused by amatoxin was halted[7]. 

Agaricus

Painkillers may be the go-to when you’re injured or recovering from surgery, but these medications (along with many more) have a detrimental impact on your liver health. In fact, pain killers are one of the common causes of liver injury[8].

Research shows that extracts of the agaricus mushroom can provide protection against the drug-induced liver injury often seen by painkillers. In one trial, agaricus significantly decreased the levels of liver enzymes seen in the plasma after administration of pain killers. Elevated liver enzymes are a common marker for liver dysfunction, indicating that the mushroom extract was able to protect the liver tissue against injury.

What’s more, it appeared that agaricus provided an antioxidant effect as well, inhibiting lipid peroxidation which can lead to the breakdown of cellular membranes[9]. 

Shiitake

Shiitake mushrooms are used throughout Asia in culinary dishes, but their benefits far surpass their delightful savory flavor.

When your liver is overloaded by toxic assault, one of the first signs will be inflammation. While inflammation in small doses can actually be beneficial, if your liver becomes chronically inflamed or has to deal with large doses of inflammation, it can disrupt its normal function.

Research shows that shiitake mushrooms may help to protect your liver against inflammation caused by toxic insults. It appears the shiitake may inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome, which is a component of your innate immune system that secretes pro-inflammatory chemicals.

By inhibiting this inflammasome, shiitake assists in protecting your liver against potential inflammatory damage[10].

Some research also suggests that shiitake may play an important role in fat metabolism.

It appears that this mushroom increases the uptake of fatty acids by the liver, which you can think of as the Grand Central Station of your body for energy production. All nutrients — carbohydrates, fat, and protein, must first be sent to your liver in order to be converted to the fuel that your cells can use as energy.

While in many cases fatty acids are diverted to adipose tissue (fat tissue) to be stored as fat, in the presence of shiitake, it appears that more fat is shuttled to your liver. Researchers suggest that this may be a mechanism by which shiitake mushrooms assist in the fight against obesity[11].

Since obesity is one of the contributing factors for liver dysfunction, this research indicates that shiitake may aid in liver health through multiple mechanisms[12]. 

Maitake

Maitake may be one of the most beneficial plants out there for heavy metal toxicity. Heavy metals, just like any other toxin, can cause a significant burden on your liver as it works hard to eliminate these dangerous compounds from your body.

Mercury, in particular, is considered a “global pollutant” and due to its long history of use is of concern worldwide. Once mercury enters your body, it can be distributed to all of your tissues and organs but tends to accumulate in your brain, liver, and kidney — impeding the proper function of these vital organs.

Research shows that when rats are exposed to mercury, the administration of maitake mushrooms can reduce the toxic load in their blood by 50% in just one day. The proposed mechanism by which maitake works is adsorption — binding to the mercury and therefore neutralizing its toxic impact[13].

Therefore, maitake may reduce the toxic load of this heavy metal on your liver and in your body.

Turkey Tail

The turkey tail mushroom is one of the most well-studied medicinal mushrooms to date. There is a wealth of research supporting the role of turkey tail in enhancing immunity, but this inedible fungus is also an all-star at detoxification.

Research shows that turkey tail can help fight off other fungi that can enter your body like candida and mold. While it would typically fall under the purview of your liver to remove these toxins, turkey tail can assist in ridding your body of these unwanted compounds[14]. 

What’s more, turkey tail has been used in several trials for the elimination of toxins in different systems, including liquid and solid mediums due to its adsorbent capacity. Some research even shows that turkey tail can significantly remove pesticides from biomass[15][16].

Get Your Daily Dose Of Mushrooms

While it may be fun to throw some shiitake mushrooms into a stir-fry now and then, if you really want to reap the benefits of medicinal mushrooms, you need to be getting them in frequently, and ideally, daily.

Liver health is at the crux of all other functions in your body. When your liver isn’t working optimally, its downstream effects can impact pretty much every other system. Therefore, getting your daily dose of mushrooms can support your liver in doing its job, and as a result, may enhance your overall health.

While there are many mushroom supplements on the market to choose from, I formulated Daily Detox to contain not only the above-mentioned mushrooms but a plethora of other liver-supportive foods and herbs as well.

Taking Daily Detox once a day is the simplest and most effective way to get all the comprehensive benefits of mushrooms at once.* In addition, this formula contains nutrients that support metabolism and digestion. 

Takeaway

Although you may not have a serious liver disease or liver injury, supporting this vital organ’s health is crucial for your overall and long-term health. Among the foods and herbs touted for their liver-supportive benefits, medicinal mushrooms have stood the test of time and are backed by troves of research.

Adding mushrooms to your supplement regimen may provide a range of supportive properties to your liver. They not only decrease oxidation and support a healthy inflammatory response, they assist in the detoxification of toxins like heavy metals, chemicals, and the pollutants. 

If you haven’t already tried adding mushrooms to your diet, Daily Detox  may be the game-changer you’ve been waiting for.

*These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA​. ​Daily Detox is a dietary supplement that is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please talk to your doctor before beginning any new supplement regimen.

Click Here for References+

  1. Stamets, Paul, and Heather Zwickey. “Medicinal mushrooms: ancient remedies meet modern science.” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 13.1 (2014): 46.
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/liver-anatomy-and-functions
  3. Soares, Andréia Assunço, et al. “Hepatoprotective effects of mushrooms.” Molecules 18.7 (2013): 7609-7630.
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351487#:~:text=Cirrhosis%20is%20a%20late%20stage,it%20tries%20to%20repair%20itself
  5. Liu, Yu-Kan, and Wei Shen. “Inhibitive effect of Cordyceps sinensis on experimental hepatic fibrosis and its possible mechanism.” World Journal of Gastroenterology 9.3 (2003): 529.
  6. Liu, Xia, et al. “Cordyceps sinensis protects against liver and heart injuries in a rat model of chronic kidney disease: a metabolomic analysis.” Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 35.5 (2014): 697-706.
  7. Wu, Xin, et al. “Hepatoprotective effects of aqueous extract from lingzhi or reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher basidiomycetes) on α-Amanitin− induced liver injury in mice.” International journal of medicinal mushrooms 15.4 (2013).
  8. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000226.htm
  9. Soares, Andréia A., et al. “Effects of an Agaricus blazei aqueous extract pretreatment on paracetamol-induced brain and liver injury in rats.” BioMed research international 2013 (2013).
  10. Liu, Baolong, et al. “Protective Role of Shiitake Mushroom-Derived Exosome-Like Nanoparticles in D-Galactosamine and Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Acute Liver Injury in Mice.” Nutrients 12.2 (2020): 477.
  11. Handayani, Dian, et al. “A high-dose shiitake mushroom increases hepatic accumulation of triacylglycerol in rats fed a high-fat diet: underlying mechanism.” Nutrients 6.2 (2014): 650-662.
  12. Fabbrini, Elisa, Shelby Sullivan, and Samuel Klein. “Obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: biochemical, metabolic, and clinical implications.” Hepatology 51.2 (2010): 679-689.
  13. Zhang, Weiwei, et al. “A polysaccharide-peptide with mercury clearance activity from dried fruiting bodies of maitake mushroom Grifola frondosa.” Scientific Reports 8.1 (2018): 1-9.
  14. Knežević, Aleksandar, et al. “Antioxidative, antifungal, cytotoxic and antineurodegenerative activity of selected Trametes species from Serbia.” PloS one 13.8 (2018): e0203064.
  15. Kapoor, Rajeev Kumar, Kalavathy Rajan, and Danielle Julie Carrier. “Applications of Trametes versicolor crude culture filtrates in detoxification of biomass pretreatment hydrolyzates.” Bioresource Technology 189 (2015): 99-106.
  16. Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Carlos E., et al. “Removal of carbamates and detoxification potential in a biomixture: Fungal bioaugmentation versus traditional use.” Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 135 (2017): 252-258.

 

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Wendy Myers, FDN-P, is a detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist, NES Bioenergetic Practitioner, and founder of Myersdetox.com. She is the #1 bestselling author of Limitless Energy: How to Detox Toxic Metals to End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue . Additionally, Wendy is the host of The Heavy Metals Summit, the Myers Detox Podcast, and the Supercharged Podcast. Passionate about the importance of detox to live a long and healthy life, she created the revolutionary Myers Detox Protocol , and Mitochondria Detox kit after working with thousands of clients, as well as a range of supplements to help you detox from everyday living and maintain a healthy lifestyle!