Ah, mushrooms. Those bulbous umbrellas sizzling on the top of salads or growing in your front yard. Mushrooms are everywhere and loaded with nutrients, making them a great addition to any meal. But what if you skipped eating them all together and drank them instead? (And no, we’re not talking about the hallucinogenic kind).
Sounds cool! But. Um. What?
That’s right. Mushroom tea is all the rage in Los Angeles and other health-nut cities, touting a multitude of benefits like reduced stress and fatigue, along with supporting the immune system.
Consuming medicinal mushrooms is far from new, however. Mushrooms consumption for health benefits has been recorded in early Eastern cultures, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine. Ancient Egyptian culture viewed mushrooms fit for only the Pharaoh and his guests, discouraging commoners from eating them.
But in modern times, anyone can enjoy a nice spore-filled meal or drink. Teas are arguably the easiest way to consume them since you can just pour the powder into a cup, add hot water, and go about your day.
Okay, so what exactly do medicinal mushrooms do?
Long story short: A lot of great things.
Long story long: Medicinal mushrooms are adaptogens, meaning that they help regulate the body’s processes and promote homeostasis.
In particular, adaptogens help reduce the body’s negative responses to chronic overstimulation, the kind caused by a busy workload or raising kids. It can help smooth over anything that stresses the body, like a workout or anxiety.
The National Institute of Health states that adaptogens (like the mushrooms used in mushroom tea) are neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, anti-depressive, and stimulate the central nervous system.
The anti-fatigue effect increases an over-stressed person’s mental capacity, tolerance for mental exhaustion, and enhanced attention.
So there’s strong support affirming mushrooms as stars of the health field. But let’s get down to the particular teas you can drink. The top three you’ll see around will be Reishi, Chaga, and Cordyceps, each with their own unique health benefits.
Referenced as the most popular and most studied mushroom, Reishi’s two main active ingredients are triterpenoids and polysaccharides. According to a study from the
According to a study from theBiotechnical Annual Review, these two properties have been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.
A specific polysaccharide, beta-d-glucans, is anti-tumor and mitigate free radicals. Reishi also protects the liver, promoting detoxification in the body and preventing liver disease. The mushroom helps regulate the body’s hormones and diabetes, as well as fighting allergies and symptoms associated with asthma.
Also known by its scientific name Inonotus obliquus, Chaga is popular in Russia and Siberia, and for good reason. Chaga provides immune support, aids in digestion, reduces inflammation, and balance mood.
It is also known to hinder cancer cells through its anti-mutagenic properties and scavenges for any free radicals that may be floating around inside you, which slows aging and improves skin health.
A study in the Journal of Bioengineering and Informatics also found that Chaga reduces LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol in patients who consumed it regularly for eight weeks. Chaga also improves ulcers and gastritis in eastern cultures, as well as protect against DNA damage, and has some antiviral compounds in it. Pretty cool stuff if you want a squeaky clean body.
A very informative study by Zhu, Halpern, and Jones (1998) describes the various health effects of Cordyceps in the lungs, kidneys, and heart.
It has been used to treat respiratory ailments like chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis, and other respiratory ailments.
Cordyceps improves symptoms associated with kidney diseases such as chronic nephritis or chronic renal dysfunction. Not only that, but it has been shown to improve cardiovascular functioning as well, particularly with arrhythmia.
It dilates arteries and improves the circulation of nutritive blood flow to organs and extremities. Cordyceps mushrooms also increase energy and improve your immune system, improve liver health, reduce inflammation, and reduce risks for cancer.
There are some other notable medicinal mushrooms out there to take note of:
Lion’s Mane mushrooms boost the nervous system, treat anxiety and improvs cognitive abilities. It also protects neural functioning, enhances memory, promotes nerve growth, and has been shown to treat depression and anxiety.
When it’s not doing massive good for the brain, it also treats stomach problems and regulates blood sugar and cholesterol as well.
Shiitake mushroom is good for anti-inflammation, a healthy source of copper, and prevents unwanted blood vessel constrictions. This mushroom also helps stave off obesity through its satiation effects, meaning that when you drink Shiitake tea you will feel full after eating a meal quicker and are thus less likely to overeat. Shiitake also helps promote a healthy complexion, is a good source of vitamin D, and boosts energy and brain functioning.
Turkey Tail mushrooms fight cancer and promote longevity. In conjunction with fighting cancer, this mushroom can help aid the efficiency of radiation treatment and lessen its side effects on other tissues like the heart or lungs. It lowers cholesterol and promotes immune health as well.
Tremella mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D, promotes a healthy complexion and skin health, and overall facial and body health. It’s also high in fiber!
Maitake does wonders for the immune system, preventing you from getting a cold as well as fighting cancer. It has also been shown to prevent diabetes by breaking down starch and sugars in the body and making them easier to absorb.
So what do all these mushrooms have in common? They’re good for you. Every mushroom will have its own slew of robust properties, giving you a great deal of health benefits at a relatively low cost. And there are rarely, if any, side effects associated with consuming them. Even in high dosages, people have not had any complaints.
We’re not saying that drinking mushroom tea will be the next cure-all for your ailments, but it’s a good way to enhance your body, brain, and mood throughout the day –with a good bit of research out there supporting it too. So next time you want to brew a fresh cup of coffee for your early morning pick-me-up, try reaching for the fungi instead.