The human immune system is a complex balancing act. When we have an infection or disease to fight, our immune system “upregulates” (becomes stronger) to battle the infection. Too much immune activity, however, can lead to an overactive immune system — which is the case in autoimmune conditions.
Medicinal mushrooms (not to be confused with mind-altering magic mushrooms) have been shown to have immunomodulating effects, meaning they help keep the immune system in balance — stimulating it when there’s something to fight (such as cancer) and downregulating it when it’s overactive.
Note: Mushrooms may not be right for your particular condition. When dealing with a serious illness or diagnosis, always consult your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.
Mushrooms and the Immune System
Helping to regulate the immune system is one of the greatest known superpowers of all medicinal mushrooms. Every medicinal mushroom covered in my book, The Rebel’s Apothecary, has been shown in studies to have potent immunomodulating effects, and mushrooms have been celebrated as immune enhancers throughout all of history.
All medicinal mushrooms contain powerful polysaccharides called beta-glucans, which have been found to help fight inflammation and balance the immune system. “Beta-glucans attach themselves to the receptor sites on the immune cells and activate them, allowing them to recognize cancer cells as ‘foreign’ and create a higher level of response,” says Robert Rogers in The Fungal Pharmacy.
It’s tough to pick one medicinal mushroom as the most powerful for immunity — they all have tremendous benefits to the immune system, so taking a medicinal mushroom blend is a powerful choice. Many mushroom supplement companies have “immunity” blends that include all seven of the mushrooms mentioned in my book. Three of my favorite spots to buy from are Catskill Fungi, Four Sigmatic and SuperFeast.
And, as with the “entourage effect” seen in cannabis, taking multiple mushrooms together may be more effective than taking just one.
How to Use Medicinal Mushrooms to Support the Immune System:
Add a blend of medicinal mushrooms to your daily regimen. Chaga, reishi, turkey tail, shiitake, maitake, lion’s mane and cordyceps have all been shown to have immune-balancing effects and antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body. You can find blends in tincture or powder form to add to a daily smoothie or tea and you can also find mushroom blends in capsules.
If you’re coming down with a cold, take a chaga or reishi tincture (or drink chaga or reishi tea) every day. Chaga and reishi are both powerhouses for immunity and their potent medicinal properties can ward off sickness and boost you back to vitality.
Cook with medicinal mushrooms, especially shiitake and maitake. Lentinan, the active compound in shiitake mushrooms, has been widely studied for its immune system–enhancing effects. A compound in maitake mushrooms called D-fraction has been shown to support the immune system and fight cancer cells. To add an extra immune system boost to your daily life, add shiitake and maitake to your cooking wherever you’d normally use any culinary mushroom!
Use Ndulge Immunity Booster Supplement for daily immune support.