What Mushrooms Can You Try for Immunity?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long recognized the potential therapeutic power of medicinal mushrooms. Touted for a broad range of wellness benefits – from promoting immune health to improving mood and reducing stress – medicinal mushrooms pack a powerful punch.

Mushrooms are a great source of essential nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin D, fiber, protein, potassium, and selenium. But medicinal mushrooms are also rich in potent bioactive compounds, such as beta-glucans, which have actions in the body that may promote good health. 

Most medicinal mushrooms contain similar beneficial compounds to enhance health and wellness. However, each species boasts unique additional compounds to produce specific effects. 

So which mushrooms for immunity are the most effective? 

 

Medicinal Mushrooms that Support Immune Health

Mushrooms have been used as nutritious foods and remedies to support general health and wellness for thousands of years. Immune support is the shining star of the many recognized benefits of medicinal mushrooms.

Medicinal mushrooms are believed to have immunomodulating effects, which means they help keep the immune system in balance. Essentially, they stimulate the immune system when there is something to fight (viruses or bacteria) and downregulate it when it becomes overactive. 

Traditionally, people brewed medicinal mushrooms into teas or broths. But in the western world, mushroom supplements have become the popular way to consume these health-promoting fungi. 

Often, manufacturers design mushroom supplements with specific health needs in mind, such as these mushroom gummies from VidaCap. Designed to support immune health, these gummies offer a fun and delicious way to use mushrooms for immunity. 

However, gummies are not the only option for mushroom supplements. Other popular choices include powders, capsules, and tinctures.

 

What Mushrooms Can You Try for Immunity?

 

What Mushrooms Are Best for the Immunity

Outlined below are five of the most powerful immune-boosting mushrooms. When specifically looking for mushrooms for immunity, these are the species to invest in.

 

What Mushrooms Can You Try for Immunity?

 

1. Reishi

Commonly referred to as the “mushroom of immortality” or the “king of mushrooms,” reishi is one of the most potent medicinal mushrooms. It’s rich in beneficial bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides and triterpenes.

Together, these compounds work to protect the body’s defense against viruses and bacteria by enhancing the body’s immune response and helping manage inflammation. 

Researchers have identified reishi as bolstering the immune system and defending against age-induced immune decline. As reported in one 2009 study, the complex active compounds in reishi help safely modulate an aging immune system.

2. Turkey Tail

In many Asian cultures, the turkey tail represents health and longevity, spiritual attunement, and infinity. It’s been used by ancient practitioners for centuries as an immunomodulator that supports the body’s immune response.

Today, researchers acknowledge the turkey tail for its antiviral and antifungal properties that help the immune system fight off infections and viruses. 

There are two types of polysaccharopeptides unique to the turkey tail that boast powerful immune-boosting properties. These are Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP). Both promote a healthy immune response by activating certain immune cells while suppressing inflammation. 

3. Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is packed with polysaccharides such as beta-glucans, digestive enzymes, and prebiotic fibers that support the immune system and promote healthy gut flora. 

Animal research shows that lion’s mane can enhance immunity by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, responsible for defending the body against pathogens that enter the gut through the nose or mouth. 

4. Shiitake

Shitake has a high content of polysaccharides like lentinans and other beta-glucans. These compounds help fight cell damage, support the immune system, and increase white blood cell production for combating microbes.

As reported in a 2015 study, after taking two shiitake a day for one month, participants’ immune markers improved, and inflammation decreased. This immune effect may be linked to shiitake’s polysaccharides content.

Additionally, similar to reishi’s effects, a mouse study found that a shiitake-derived supplement helped reverse some age-related decline in immune function.

5. Maitake

Maitake is one of the most well-researched medicinal mushrooms. It’s a powerful adaptogenic mushroom; adaptogens help the body deal with stress and maintain balance. Excessive stress can have a detrimental effect on the body. Adaptogens have many positive effects on immune health and promote better health and wellness.

One of the reasons maitake is thought to be so beneficial for immune health is because its compounds have been shown to increase white blood cell activity and production.

 

Final Thoughts on Using Mushrooms for Immunity

Medicinal mushrooms have many beneficial effects on health and wellness, one of the most significant being their ability to support immune health.

However, some mushrooms for immunity are more effective than others. As outlined above, reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane, shiitake, and maitake are five of the most powerful mushrooms in boosting immunity.

 

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