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7 Ways Mushroom Extract Supplements Can Boost Your Health

Mushrooms, dubbed “the elixir of life,” have been a go-to for centuries for nourishing the body and mind. From immune system support to enhancing brain function, the potential benefits are vast. It’s no surprise why mushroom extract supplements have been all the rage recently. So keep reading and discover how these supplements can boost your overall health and how to choose the right one to add to your wellness toolkit.

What are mushroom extract supplements?

Mushroom extract supplements are extracts or substances produced from different types of mushrooms, including reishi, lion’s mane, shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, and more. You can find them in various forms, such as capsules, teas, and gummies. They can contain single or multiple mushroom extracts and can be combined with other products like CBD.

You may be wondering if mushroom supplements are really necessary. After all, can’t you just eat whole, fresh mushrooms and get the same benefits?

Believe it or not, mushroom cell walls are made of chitin –- the same hard-to-digest material found in crustacean shells! However, all the beneficial compounds are stored inside these sturdy walls. So, when you eat whole mushrooms, you’re actually missing out on a lot of the nutrients and health benefits they have to offer.

To get those amazing mushroom benefits, a manufacturer should perform an extraction. That means using hot water or alcohol to break down the chitin and release all those beneficial compounds hiding inside. That way, supplements can offer concentrated doses of these compounds, making them more bioavailable and easier for your body to absorb. 

If you just grind up the mushrooms without doing an extraction, you’ll end up with a pretty basic mushroom powder. While your body can handle the fiber in that powder, you won’t be reaping all the incredible therapeutic benefits that come with an extract. 

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TCM Medicinal Use of Mushrooms

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using mushrooms to treat various ailments and promote overall health and wellness. Mushrooms are considered adaptogens, meaning they help the body adapt to stressors and restore balance. Some of the most potent types include:

  • Reishi (Ling Zhi) – calms the spirit and nourishes the heart. It relieves insomnia, palpitations, anxiety, and memory problems brought on by Heart Qi and blood deficiencies. It’s also a great remedy for coughing and wheezing from phlegm and deficiency-related conditions.
  • Lion’s mane (Hou Tou Gu) nourishes the five internal organs (liver, lung, spleen, heart, and kidneys). Its ability to support healthy digestion and boost vitality and strength has made it a popular choice in TCM.
  • Chaga (Bai Hua Rong) can balance the spirit and aid in memory and other mental processes. It also helps lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol while increasing focus and reducing fatigue. 
  • Cordyceps (Dong Chong Xia Cao) – strengthens the Kidney Yang and Lung Qi. As a result, it helps to improve both sexual and lung function. 
  • Tremella (Bai Mu Er) – is known for nourishing the Lung and Stomach Yin. In TCM, the skin is considered an extension of the lungs, and herbs that nourish lung fluids will nourish the skin. It’s also commonly used to treat dry lung conditions like dry cough or bloody sputum. 
  • Poria (Fu Ling) – drains dampness from the body. It’s highly beneficial for ailments with stagnant fluids, like edema and urinary problems. Additionally, it has a slight tonifying impact on the spleen or digestive function, making it helpful for issues like diarrhea and bloating.
  • Shiitake (Xiang Gu) –  reaches the stomach and liver meridians. It helps strengthen Qi in deficient states, such as fatigue, indigestion, and anemia. Also, it can clear phlegm and control stagnant Qi linked to high blood pressure, chronic hepatitis, and high cholesterol. 

7 Ways Mushroom Extract Supplements Work to Transform Your Health

1. Boosting immunity

A plethora of mushroom extract supplements contain beta-glucans — powerful polysaccharides that can give your immune system the kickstart it needs. These compounds work wonders by revving up your immune cells and boosting the production of cytokines, which are essential proteins that help regulate your immune response. 

2. Reducing inflammation 

A 2018 research confirms that mushrooms are rich in anti-inflammatory components, including polysaccharides, carotenoids, and vitamins. These compounds can help prevent inflammation-related diseases like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

3. Promoting brain health

Lion’s mane mushrooms have been touted for their potential neuroprotective properties, which could help safeguard your brain against damage. These shrooms are also believed to promote neuron projections, encouraging brain cell growth and improving cognitive function. 

4. Nurturing gut health

Mushrooms contain prebiotic fibers, which can help support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. These fibers can also help improve digestion and promote regular bowel movements.  They have also been shown to alleviate GI disorders and even ward off viral infections and candida that contribute to digestive issues.

5. Fighting cancer

Some types of mushroom extract supplements, including shiitake and maitake mushrooms, have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides that not only strengthen the immune system but also recognize and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

6. Improving sleep

Certain types of mushrooms, including reishi and lion’s mane, are believed to have calming properties and may help improve sleep quality. They also help reduce stress and anxiety, which can interfere with sleep. 

7. Supporting heart health

Active compounds such as triterpenoids in mushrooms can do wonders for your cardiovascular system. Oyster mushrooms, in particular, have been linked to improving glucose and fat metabolism, and reducing blood pressure. These fungi also contain mevinolin, which can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and other related conditions. 

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4 Tips: Choosing the Best Mushroom Extract Supplements

1. Opt for mushroom supplements crafted from fruiting bodies.

Mushroom supplements from fruiting bodies contain the highest concentration of bioactive compounds. They are derived from mushrooms grown on native hardwood to mimic the natural environment in which wild mushrooms flourish, allowing for the production of a wide range of active compounds. However, some mushroom supplements utilize mycelium (the root component) instead, often grown in labs on grain-based substrates like rice, which can dilute their potency with filler material.

2. Explore the extraction process.

The extraction process determines the concentration and purity of the active compounds in the supplement. Look for supplements that use advanced extraction methods, such as hot water or dual extraction, to ensure maximum potency and bioavailability. 

3. Check for concentration.

The best brands go the extra mile to provide specific labels detailing the exact amount of beta-glucans and other beneficial compounds you’ll get per serving. Without this crucial information, you’re left in the dark about what you’re really getting. 

4. Look for third-party tested supplements. 

Third-party testing ensures that the supplement has been independently verified for purity, potency, and quality. Look for supplements that have been certified by reputable third-party organizations such as NSF International to ensure that you are getting a safe and effective product. 

The Bottom Line

As the popularity of mushroom supplements continues to soar, so does the number of brands offering them. Thus, finding the right product for your specific needs can be daunting. Don’t leave your wellness routine up to chance — get the expert advice you need to make informed decisions. Speaking with a licensed healthcare provider ensures you get the most out of mushroom extract supplements.