Less must-do. More want-to. | Spring 2023
Mushrooms as Medicine
Note: This article is for informational purposes only. Duncaster does not endorse the use of mushrooms or other supplements. You should always consult your health care provider before you start taking supplements or medications of any kind.
Mushrooms have long been a part of traditional Chinese medicine and have recently been gaining popularity in Western cultures as nutrient-rich sources that provide a plethora of health benefits. Supplements and mushroom powders are commercially avilable and they’re even being added to coffees and protein bars. Referred to as functional mushrooms, the most common ones praised for their wellness powers are reishi, cordyceps, chaga, lion’s mane, shiitake and turkey tail. They’re not all edible and most are taken as supplements. Each has its own unique benefits, but in general, functional mushrooms are used to increase immunity, boost energy levels and support digestion.
For many functional mushrooms, most testing has only been done on animals. Further studies are needed to confirm these claims and determine the true effectiveness of specific varieties. But, studies are showing positive health benefits for people. Some of these benefits include:
- Enhanced cognitive function: There’s preliminary evidence that functional mushrooms can improve mild cognitive impairment and it’s possible that one day, they may be used to treat Alzheimer’s.
- Cancer Prevention: Early studies have indicated that functional mushrooms have cancer fighting properties and they may prove to be a useful addition to traditional cancer treatments.
- Anti-aging properties.
- Enhanced lung, liver and kidney function.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Blood sugar control: They can reduce inflammation which has been linked to insulin resistance.
- The ability to lower cortisol levels which helps the body better cope with stress.
- Enhanced athletic endurance: They have shown to help athletes fight weakness and fatigue.
- Enhanced immunity: Compounds in certain mushrooms are know to modify the body’s immune system response, possibly helping to fight infection.
- Improved digestive function.
Functional mushrooms are generally considered to be safe and major side effects from taking them have not been reported. But it’s possible to experience negative effects such as nausea. You should always consult with your doctor before beginning to take supplements to ensure that you will be getting the maximum benefit without any harmful side effects.
A few words of caution:
Do not take functional mushrooms if you:
- Have an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or celiac disease.
- Are planning to have surgery.
- Take blood-thinning medications.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist on how the supplement may interact with other medications you may be taking.
When buying products, be mindful of quality.
Carrie Dennett, a Pacific Northwest-based registered dietician nutritionist says: ”…we still have much to learn about all the compounds found in the mushroom, including those that are potentially toxic. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t closely regulate the supplement industry. Manufacturers aren’t required to prove that their products are safe and effective before selling them, meaning the burden is on the consumer to sleuth out reputable products.” It’s recommended that you look for products that have a USP or NSF seal. This means the supplement has been reviewed and approved by a private organization.
Living in a Life Plan community offers many health benefits as well. Learn more about them when you visit us for a personal tour. Call Lisa Greene, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, at (860) 380-5006 to schedule yours today.
U.S. News & World Report; National Institutes of Health; Harvard Health Publishing
Healthline.com; The Botanical Institute;