How To Turbo Boost Your Immunity With Mushrooms

Immunity is top of mind for many people these days as winter and the flu season approaches, and pandemic cases are rising by the day. It’s no wonder people are considering ways to boost their immunity.

There are many approaches to enhancing immunity, but not all of them actually do what they say they will. Using targeted nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin D may enhance some aspects of your immune system, but when it comes to overall health, you want to be sure that your entire immune system is getting the help it needs.

One of the most effective ways to weed through the marketing noise of immunity supplements is to look to remedies that have been passed down through generations. By far, one of the most long-standing immune-enhancing supplements that have stood the test of time is medicinal mushrooms[1].

But which mushrooms do you choose, and where do you find them?

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why a strong immune system is crucial to overall health
  • Which mushrooms you need to add to your supplement regimen
  • The potent health-promoting activities of medicinal mushrooms
  • A simple way to get all the benefits of mushrooms every day. 

Importance Of A Strong Immune System

A strong immune system is crucial for fighting off diseases, viruses, and bacteria. Without adequate immunity, your body becomes vulnerable to attack from all angles. The intricate system that makes up your immune system works synergistically to create balance in your body month after month, season after season, and year after year.  

Aside from the well-known functions of your immune system, however, there are a host of other tasks that the cells and messengers of your immune system are responsible for. When your immunity is weak, you’re not only vulnerable to infection, but other systems in your body may suffer as well; these include:

  • Cardiovascular health[2] 
  • Emotional and mental health[3] 
  • Gut health[4] 

Mushrooms and Your Immune System

Medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years to support immunity. In fact, research shows that mushrooms support both innate and adaptive branches of your immune system[5]. 

There are several compounds in mushrooms that are responsible for their immunity-boosting effects. Most notably among these compounds are beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are a type of polysaccharide that upregulates your immune system by enhancing the activity of immune cells, increasing antibody production, and assisting in the clearance of microbes and damaged cells[31]. 

Some medicinal mushrooms are also a rich source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a crucial component of both your adaptive and innate immune system, and when vitamin D is deficient many people experience issues with immunity such as increased susceptibility to infection and autoimmune disease[32].

I do a lot of genetics testing with my clients and find that many have mutations that interfere in their liver’s ability to process carcinogenic estrogens. Because of their genetics, I advise them to eat mushrooms for their beta-glucans content that can aid in processing these carcinogenic forms of estrogens from plastics and pesticides. 

Understanding Innate and Adaptive Immunity

Your immune system has two different modes of action, innate and adaptive immunity. 

Your innate immune system is your first line of defense when foreign invaders enter the scene. It provides a quick and more general response against germs and foreign substances entering your body. This branch of your immune system offers protection via your skin and mucous membranes, along with specific immune cells and defense proteins. 

The primary immune cells associated with innate immunity include natural killer cells (NK), macrophages, dendritic cells, basophils, eosinophils, neutrophils, and mast cells. If germs get past your skin and mucous membranes, these immune cells, along with defense proteins, are activated to inhibit further infection[6]. 

If your innate immune system is unable to sufficiently fight off the germs and foreign compounds entering your body, your adaptive immune system kicks in. The adaptive immune system is a more specialized branch of immunity that works a bit slower but is much more targeted. 

Specialized cells of the adaptive immune system can target the specific foreign compound causing the infection. Once your adaptive immune system identifies a germ or foreign compound, it never forgets, which is why you can build up immunity to certain infections. 

The adaptive immune system’s primary components include T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes (which exist in the tissues between your cells), and antibodies found in the blood and other bodily fluids[6].

Immunity-Boosting Mushrooms

Along with their ability to boost adaptive and innate immunity, medicinal mushrooms also come with other health benefits like increasing exercise performance, improving heart health, lowering inflammation, and much more.

Below are six of the most potent medicinal mushrooms, along with their immunity-boosting and healing properties. 

#1 Cordyceps

Cordyceps is most well-known for stimulating blood flow and enhancing energy. Research even shows that supplementing with cordyceps may enhance your exercise and endurance capacity[7][8].

It’s primary bioactive compound, cordycepin, displays both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities and has been shown to support liver, kidney, heart, central nervous system, reproductive, and immune health[9]. 

In terms of immunity, cordyceps promote the activation of your immune system’s innate and adaptive branches. This mushroom also has a long history of use in respiratory infections, it promotes gut health (a key player in immunity), and some research suggests that cordyceps may be useful in helping your body fight autoimmune diseases[10]. 

#2 Reishi

Reishi mushrooms are best-known for their calming effect and are a rich source of bioactive compounds called triterpenes. Triterpenes are potent antioxidants and have been shown to be useful in calming inflammation[11]. 

The bioactive compounds in reishi exhibit cerebroprotective effects and can enhance mood, aiding in depression, and anxiety. What’s more, this relaxing mushroom has also been shown to improve sleep, which is a crucial component of optimal immune function[12][13][14].

#3 Agaricus

Agaricus is native to a small village in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and is believed to possess a number of health-promoting qualities. Agaricus is a source of vitamin D, which may contribute to its immune-boosting activity[29]. Traditionally this mushroom has been used to balance physical and emotional stress, support bone health, improve circulation and cholesterol markers, and enhance digestive health[15]. 

Research shows that agaricus can enhance innate immunity and is particularly helpful in calming inflammatory chemical messengers. Its properties include antioxidant, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral[16][17].

#4 Shiitake

Shiitake is a popular culinary mushroom that comes from East Asia and has been used for thousands of years in Eastern culture as both a food and medicine. Shiitake comes with a host of health benefits (antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial) and may be particularly supportive of heart health by promoting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol[18][19][20].

In addition, some research suggests that shiitake may support the aging process by enhancing the health of your gut microbiome and boosting immune functions that typically decline as you get older[21].

Along with beta-glucans, shiitake are also a rich source of vitamin D[29].

#5 Maitake

Maitake is another culinary mushroom that comes from Japan and is prized as an adaptogen in Eastern culture. Adaptogenic herbs work by helping your body adapt to stress and normalizing bodily processes in non-specific ways. In other words, an adaptogen not only helps you adapt, but its functions are adaptable to your body, depending on what you need.

Maitake assists your adaptive immunity by stimulating a response to antibodies and may be effective in fighting influenza and the common cold. What’s more, this edible mushroom also seems to exhibit blood sugar-regulating properties, making it an ideal choice for people with insulin sensitivity issues[22][23].

The potent immune-stimulating effects of maitake are believed to come from its robust beta-glucan content along with vitamin D[24][30].

#6 Turkey Tail

The turkey tail mushroom, also known as Coriolus Versicolor, is packed with antioxidants and boasts incredible immune-enhancing properties. While the other mushrooms on this list display a variety of health benefits, turkey tails strong suit is its rich bioactive compound content. Rich in quercetin, gallic acid, coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and a range of polyphenols and terpenoids, this mushroom is a powerhouse for immune function[25]. 

Turkey tail contains two particularly powerful polysaccharides; Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP). PSK and PSP have the ability to stimulate a variety of immune cells in both the innate and adaptive immune systems and display anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antimicrobial, and analgesic properties[26][27].

Research also shows that the turkey tail mushroom may improve gut health and enhance your ability to fight off harmful gut bacteria by acting as a prebiotic[28]. 

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

While it may feel like the common cold or the flu are unavoidable, there are measures you can take to boost your immunity ahead of the cold season to decrease your chances of infection. Prevention is truly the best medicine. I don’t advise to wait until you start to feel symptoms of imbalance before you begin sending nourishment to your hard-working immune system.

However, the truth is that even if you consume a relatively healthy diet, you’re probably not getting all of the foods and nutrients your immune system needs to function optimally. For this reason, I recommend my new formulation of Daily Detox with added medicinal mushrooms.

Daily Detox is a powdered superfood supplement that’s packed with health-promoting liver detox foods and herbs. And if you’re looking for a way to get all of the above-mentioned mushrooms into your diet, Daily Detox provides all six of these mushrooms, among many other superfoods.

You can think of Daily Detox as your once-a-day overall health-boosting supplement. Its ingredients will nourish you on a cellular level to support immunity, detox, metabolic function, and much more.*

Takeaway

There’s no time like the present to boost your immunity. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for whatever may come your way. Medicinal mushrooms offer a unique and time-tested way to support your immune system and help you strengthen your immunity so that it may fight off foreign compounds and infections. They are full of immune supportive beta-glucans.

Making mushrooms a staple in your daily supplement regimen may be one of the most powerful ways you can support your body. Beyond the immune-enhancing benefits, mushrooms can also support systems in your body like your cardiovascular system, central nervous system, respiratory system, and more.

If you’re looking for an easy way to reap the benefits of medicinal mushrooms and don’t know where to start, check out my new formula of Daily Detox. This supplement will provide a once-a-day hit of the most well-researched and potent mushrooms for your health.

 

*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. Lee, Kuo-Hsiung, et al. “Recent progress of research on medicinal mushrooms, foods, and other herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine.” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2.2 (2012): 1-12.

  2. Mann, Douglas L. “The emerging role of innate immunity in the heart and vascular system: for whom the cell tolls.” Circulation research 108.9 (2011): 1133-1145.

  3. D’Acquisto, Fulvio. “Affective immunology: where emotions and the immune response converge.” Dialogues in clinical neuroscience 19.1 (2017): 9.

  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet

  5. Guggenheim, Alena G., Kirsten M. Wright, and Heather L. Zwickey. “Immune modulation from five major mushrooms: application to integrative oncology.” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 13.1 (2014): 32.

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279396/

  7. Hirsch, Katie R., et al. “Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high-intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation.” Journal of dietary supplements 14.1 (2017): 42-53.

  8. Song, Jingjing, et al. “Studies on the antifatigue activities of Cordyceps militaris fruit body extract in mouse model.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).

  9. Tuli, Hardeep S., Sardul S. Sandhu, and A. K. Sharma. “Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin.” 3 Biotech 4.1 (2014): 1-12.

  10. Lin, Bao-qin, and Shao-ping Li. Cordyceps as an herbal drug. Vol. 5. chapter, 2011.

  11. Dudhgaonkar, Shailesh, Anita Thyagarajan, and Daniel Sliva. “Suppression of the inflammatory response by triterpenes isolated from the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum.” International immunopharmacology 9.11 (2009): 1272-1280.

  12. Cui, Xiang-Yu, et al. “Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 139.3 (2012): 796-800.

  13. Matsuzaki, Hirokazu, et al. “Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia in rats.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 13.1 (2013): 1-8.

  14. Besedovsky, Luciana, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born. “Sleep and immune function.” Pflügers Archiv-European Journal of Physiology 463.1 (2012): 121-137.

  15. Firenzuoli, F., L. Gori, and G. Lombardo. “The medicinal mushroom Agaricus blazei murrill: review of literature and pharmaco-toxicological problems.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 5.1 (2008): 3-15.

  16. Val, Cynthia H., et al. “Effect of mushroom Agaricus blazei on immune response and development of experimental cerebral malaria.” Malaria Journal 14.1 (2015): 1-13.

  17. Bruggemann, Rafaela, et al. “Antiviral activity of Agaricus blazei Murrill ss. Heinem extract against human and bovine herpesviruses in cell culture.” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology 37.4 (2006): 561-565.

  18. Kabir, Yearul, Mami YAMAGUCHI, and Shuichi KIMURA. “Effect of Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and Maitake (Grjfola frondosa) mushrooms on blood pressure and plasma lipids of spontaneously hypertensive rats.” Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology 33.5 (1987): 341-346.

  19. Takehara, M., K. Kuida, and K. Mori. “Antiviral activity of virus-like particles fromLentinus edodes (Shiitake).” Archives of Virology 59.3 (1979): 269-274.

  20. Hearst, Rachel, et al. “An examination of antibacterial and antifungal properties of constituents of Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 15.1 (2009): 5-7.

  21. Xu, Xiaofei, et al. “Lentinula edodes-derived polysaccharide rejuvenates mice in terms of immune responses and gut microbiota.” Food & function 6.8 (2015): 2653-2663.

  22. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi?DOI=10.1046/j.1464-5491.2001.00532-5.x

  23. Nishihira, Jun, et al. “Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) enhances antibody production in response to influenza vaccination in healthy adult volunteers concurrent with alleviation of common cold symptoms.” Functional Foods in Health and Disease 7.7 (2017): 462-482.

  24. Vetvicka, Vaclav, and Jana Vetvickova. “Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts.” Annals of translational medicine 2.2 (2014).

  25. Janjušević, Ljiljana, et al. “The lignicolous fungus Trametes versicolor (L.) Lloyd (1920): a promising natural source of antiradical and AChE inhibitory agents.” Journal of enzyme inhibition and medicinal chemistry 32.1 (2017): 355-362.

  26. Blagodatski, Artem, et al. “Medicinal mushrooms as an attractive new source of natural compounds for future cancer therapy.” Oncotarget 9.49 (2018): 29259.

  27. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/polysaccharide-peptide

  28. Pallav, Kumar, et al. “Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial.” Gut microbes 5.4 (2014): 458-467.

  29. Cardwell, Glenn, et al. “A review of mushrooms as a potential source of dietary vitamin D.” Nutrients 10.10 (2018): 1498.

  30. Phillips, Katherine M., et al. “Vitamin D 4 in mushrooms.” PloS one 7.8 (2012): e40702.

  31. Akramienė, Dalia, et al. “Effects of ß-glucans on the immune system.” Medicina 43.8 (2007): 597.

  32. Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the immune system.” Journal of investigative medicine 59.6 (2011): 881-886.

in Articles/Immune Health/Lifestyle

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!