In the past decade or so, researchers have come to understand how chronic inflammation underlies many of the diseases afflicting modern society like Alzheimer’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Type 2 Diabetes and COPD, to name just a few. As such, any effective supplement regimen should incorporate anti-inflammatory medicines into the mix. Medicinal mushrooms are one such way to get your daily anti-inflammatory dose.
In Terpenes We Trust
One of the most medicinally active compounds in medicinal mushrooms is known as Terpenoids. Generally speaking, terpenoids, especially triterpenes — naturally occurring organic chemicals derived from the 5-carbon compound isoprene — are anti-inflammatory and help calm an overactive immune system without suppressing its responses. As such, any medicinal mushroom with a significant triterpene content can be safely assumed to possess anti-inflammatory effects.
Triterpenoids are the most active and well researched of the terpenes. A couple triterpene powerhouses are Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum), which both produce at least 100 different triterpenoids between their mycelium and mushroom fruiting body.
The medicinal mushroom with perhaps the most powerful anti-inflammatory effect is none other than the Mushroom of Immortality, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum).
In innumerable studies, aqueous extracts of Reishi mushrooms and/or their mycelium have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects on a cellular level. Reishi mushroom extracts have also demonstrated prebiotic —stimulating the growth of beneficial microbiota in the gut — effects, helping to reduce inflammation in the gut, a major causal factor in a host of GI diseases like Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
Cordyceps mushrooms (e.g. Cordyceps militaris, Ophiocordyceps sinensis) have also shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing the production and expression of certain cells that play a role in inflammation.
And though human studies on Chaga’s (Inonotus obliquus) medicinal benefits are scarce, animal and in vitro studies have demonstrated Chaga’s potential to reduce long-term inflammation and gut damage through the stimulation of white blood cells.
Finally, there’s the king of the jungle, Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Compounds within Lion’s Mane mushrooms have demonstrated prebiotic powers that help to protect the gastrointestinal tract from inflammation and tumors.
As the ill-effects of chronic inflammation become increasingly clear, so too does the need to incorporate food and medicine into your routine that actively suppresses inflammation. Increasing your consumption of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms is a great start.