Gut health. The term might sound like a fabrication or marketing speak, but gut health is a real thing, and the consequences of poor gut health are potentially dangerous. People commonly seek out medicinal mushrooms for gut health but if you’re an average consumer who doesn’t pay attention to the latest medical research, you’re probably wondering why it matters.
Our gut health is linked to our physical and mental energy, the health of our heart, immune function, digestion and wellbeing. There’s actually some evidence to support the idea that poor gut health might function as a complicating factor for illnesses such as fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions and autoimmune diseases.
Treating gut health often requires dramatic changes in diet such as eliminating gluten and dairy products, and eating only organic meat. Fortunately, you don’t need to do something drastic to improve your gut. What you need is adaptogenic mushrooms, also referred to as medicinal mushrooms.
Gut Microbiome: How Bacteria Help Your Body Function
Your gut microbiome is made up of a group of helpful bacteria, microorganisms, fungi and viruses that live in your large intestine. While this may sound like a problem, these microorganisms are incredibly important to your digestion and your body cannot function as intended if the balance is askew.
The best medicinal mushrooms can help your body to establish a healthy gut microbiome by adding diversity to your system, and this in turn can have positive effects on your brain.
Gut Health And Mental Health
The vagus nerve forms the connection between your brain and your gut and is an essential piece of our bodies’ autonomic nervous system, regulating digestion as well as several autonomic functions such as breathing. This connection forms the gut-brain axis and is now the focus of many research studies and innovative therapies relating to a variety of mental illnesses.
Gut health isn’t only important to those with chronic conditions and mental illness; there are growing indications that an unhealthy intestinal tract can send signals up to your brain triggering anxiety, pain, and depression. So, keeping your gut healthy can actually keep your brain healthy.
How To Improve Gut Health Naturally With Medicinal Mushrooms
There’s significant demand for products that can improve gut health naturally, and medicinal mushrooms are as natural as it gets; these fungi have existed in traditional medicines for thousands of years and they grow naturally in the wild all over the world.
Incorporating a new wellness product into your lifestyle is sometimes a challenge, more so for people who follow a strict daily routine. But adding medicinal mushrooms to your lifestyle is easy because these products are designed for effortless ingestion — you can add medicinal mushroom powder to your morning coffee or purchase coffee grounds that come pre-mixed. Likewise, blending mushroom powder into a smoothie doesn’t alter the taste in any way and can give your gut the microorganisms needed to improve your health.
The unique compounds contained in medicinal mushrooms are shown to improve diversity of your gut microbiome, and while all adaptogenic mushrooms will likely aid your gut health, some forms are better than others when it comes to improving digestion and overall physical and mental health.
The Best Medicinal Mushrooms For Gut Health
Medicinal mushrooms are diverse as are the effects they offer. Choosing the right medicinal mushrooms for your needs will ultimately determine whether you receive the desired benefits. Of the various medicinal mushrooms available in wellness products online, these are the most common gut health improving adaptogenic mushrooms.
Chaga mushrooms are practically brimming with antioxidants and compounds that support gut health and immune function. Antioxidants also play a role in gut health because they feature anti-inflammatory properties and inflammation in the intestine can lead to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Chaga also contains magnesium, vitamin D, fiber, zinc, potassium and more — many of these nutrients also support healthy immune function. Chaga grows naturally in many parts of the northern hemisphere and is commonly found in birch forests.
Lion’s Mane is believed to have a number of wellness benefits. These mushrooms have anti-cancer properties and research has shown that Lion’s Mane mushrooms inhibit the growth of ulcers in the intestinal tract by preventing infection caused by helicobacter pylori. Much like Chaga, Lion’s Mane is anti-inflammatory, and its effects can reduce inflammation in the intestines as well as elsewhere in the body.
Reishi mushrooms are among the most desirable of all medicinal mushrooms; these fungi are currently used as an adjutant treatment in Japan and parts of China for various forms of cancer. Some people take Reishi for help in managing high-blood pressure and for combatting stress or fatigue. The beta-glucans contained in Reishi mushrooms foster the growth of valuable probiotic bacteria, essential for proper digestion. When given to mice, Reishi mushrooms worked to reduce obesity.
Anybody who enjoys mushrooms in culinary dishes has tried Shiitake mushrooms, but these popular shrooms are in fact doing more than adding flavor to your favorite stir fry. Shiitake mushrooms are immune boosting mushrooms and much of your immune function is contained in your gut wall. By improving immune function, you also improve gut health.
Turkey Tail is packed with beta-glucans. Because our immune system and gut health are inextricably tied, stimulating immune function will work in conjunction with improving gut health. Turkey tail is a popular inclusion in many medicinal mushroom powders and coffees, so consumers shouldn’t have issues finding an appropriate product.
Medicinal Mushroom Products: Which Can You Buy?
As medicinal mushrooms become more popular the product catalogs expand. Initially, most mushroom products were sold as raw mushrooms or as powder, but you can find a multitude of innovative products to suit your goals and lifestyle.
- Mushroom Powder: Medicinal mushrooms powders are easy to add to foods when cooking, to mix in a smoothie, or drop a scoop into a cup of coffee. Mushroom powder has an earthy taste but is easily masked by fruity flavors or rich caffeinated beverages.
- Mushroom Coffee: People who experience anxiety or jitters from drinking caffeine swear by the benefits of mushroom coffee. Mushroom coffee is sold as instant coffee packs, ground coffee, disposable pods, and whole beans.
- Mushroom Capsules: Capsules contain mushroom powder. The advantage to taking mushroom capsules is that they don’t have any earth taste and there’s no flavoring whatsoever. As well, you’ll always receive the same dose of medicinal mushrooms.
- Mushroom Tinctures: Tinctures combine mushroom extract with an oil for ingestion. These products are typically taken using an oil dropper.
- Mushroom Broths: Medicinal mushroom broths offer the perfect base for making soups at home.
Conclusion: The Best Medicinal Mushrooms for Gut Health
Balance is important in all aspects of life and that includes when buying and using medicinal mushrooms. Choosing a number of beneficial mushrooms will provide better results than just picking one type — aim for products that feature multiple beneficial mushrooms rather than a single mushroom formula.
Much of the evidence supporting medicinal mushrooms as a tool for improving gut health suggest that these compounds perform better when taken consistently over long periods of time. Which is to say, that you cannot improve your gut health in a single day of taking these supplements and you shouldn’t anticipate immediate results.
The best way to make certain that you take the products consistently each and every day is to choose a product that meshes with your lifestyle and goals — whether mushroom coffee or an organic powder.
Frequently Asked Question About Medicinal Mushrooms
Where to buy medicinal mushrooms?
Shopping online makes medicinal mushrooms accessible and offers lower prices than local stores. Some supplement suppliers or natural food stores sell medicinal mushrooms but don’t expect a large selection.
Which mushrooms are medicinal?
In some countries there are other forms of mushrooms that are considered medicinal — such as “Magic Mushrooms” containing psilocybin, a psychoactive compound. However, by and large, medicinal mushrooms refer to adaptogenic mushrooms of which there are a number of species:
- King Trumpet
- Lion’s Mane
- Turkey Tail
How long does it take for medicinal mushrooms to work?
On average, it takes roughly 2 weeks of taking mushrooms every day before you’ll begin to notice the benefits.
- Cheung, M. K., Yue, G. G. L., Chiu, P. W. Y., & Lau, C. B. S. (2020, May 15). A review of the effects of natural compounds, medicinal plants, and mushrooms on the gut microbiota in colitis and cancer. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2020.00744/full
- Jayachandran, M., Xiao, J., & Xu, B. (2017, September 8). A critical review on health promoting benefits of edible mushrooms through gut microbiota. International journal of molecular sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618583/
- Robertson, R. (2017, June 27). Why the gut microbiome is crucial for your health. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health
- Solano-Aguilar, G. I., Jang, S., Lakshman, S., Gupta, R., Beshah, E., Sikaroodi, M., Vinyard, B., Molokin, A., Gillevet, P. M., & Urban, J. F. (2018, November 9). The effect of dietary mushroom Agaricus bisporus on intestinal microbiota composition and host immunological function. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/11/1721/htm