Getting started in the world of medicinal mushrooms is no easy feat. Newcomers have to get over the idea that mushrooms are only good for food or that the medicinal variety causes a high.
Instead, there are actually a huge variety of medicinal mushrooms out there that can offer all kinds of benefits.
However, there is almost too much choice when it comes to the world of mushroom supplements; to help get started, here is a simple guide to medicinal mushrooms.
How Do You Take Medicinal Mushrooms?
While the idea of pounding together some chewy, raw mushrooms to feel their effects might feel homey and quaint, there are actually a lot of easier ways to enjoy the benefits of medicinal mushrooms.
Nowadays, most medicinal mushrooms are available in the form of mushroom capsules. These pills contain all of the useful active ingredients within mushrooms, making it really easy to enjoy medicinal mushrooms without having to deal with the mushrooms themselves.
There are, however, a few types of medicinal mushrooms that can be enjoyed in a conventional way. Mushrooms like shiitake or the famous lion’s mane mushroom can be found fresh, cooked, and eaten, still allowing you to enjoy their medicinal effects.
Some tea alternatives are basically just powdered, dried mushrooms – you can use them to make a traditional east Asian tea or use them as a base for a flavorful soup.
The different methods available for imbibing medicinal mushrooms all cater to different needs and intensity levels, so always check any provided instructions regarding the recommended amount to take.
So, what is it about mushrooms that makes them functional? What are the specific properties of medicinal mushrooms?
What’s Inside Medicinal Mushrooms That Makes Them Useful?
Medicinal mushrooms are not only popular for their unique tastes, but because of their specific compounds, found in varying concentrations across different species.
For example, one of the most well-known, unique properties of medicinal mushrooms is the high concentrations of beta-glucans.
These chains of complex carbohydrates are basically an advanced form of polysaccharides – while this might sound complicated, remember that the starch found in potatoes, or the cellulose that makes up plant walls, are also polysaccharides.
Beta-glucans are seemingly very unique among polysaccharides, at least when it comes to their effects on humans.
Various studies, such as this one by Vetvicka et al. for the Journal of Molecules, have observed that beta-glucans act strongly as an immunostimulant. This means that they can boost the immune system and are also incredibly easy to digest thanks to their water solubility.
It doesn’t stop there, though; other compounds like terpenoids, the aromatic compounds in plants, exist in high concentrations in medicinal mushrooms and can have innumerable effects.
There is a reason why people take lavender supplements and rosehip oils for therapeutic benefits – it is the terpenes within these plants that create their associated effects. While not every medicinal mushroom is exactly alike, there are plenty of terpenes found within mushrooms that can create similar, interesting effects.
Medicinal mushrooms are thus quite a lot like many other plant-based health supplements, filled with naturally occurring compounds that can have a myriad of different effects depending on the chosen variety.
Medicinal mushrooms have become so popular in recent years because of the sheer concentration of these valuable compounds.
Where to Find Medicinal Mushrooms & How to Get Started
Medicinal mushrooms are still somewhat in their early days of acceptance. While other natural health supplements, like plant oils and even marijuana, are becoming widely accepted and understood, medicinal mushrooms still have a little way to go.
You might find it a bit of a challenge if you want to get started with medicinal mushrooms. The first place to go would be to browse health food stores and online retailers specializing in mushrooms. Stores like VidaCap offer easy-to-use and straightforward mushroom supplements geared towards specific effects, making it super easy to get started.
Of course, for those with a bit of foraging knowledge and an understanding of mushrooms, prospective users could always try foraging for mushrooms themselves. Species like lion’s mane mushrooms are certainly easy to spot in the wild.
However, due to the risks of mushroom hunting, thanks to the presence of potentially poisonous and deadly fungi out there, it is usually better to stick to online retailers.
It is probably better to trust the experts and buy them online.