Mushrooms for wellness
You may have heard about the fascinating discovery that trees can communicate with each other. What’s the secret? The mycelia - tiny strands of fungus - in the soil form a vast underground network through which trees send chemical signals to their neighbors.
The mycelia differs from the fruiting body of the mushroom, which is the reproductive component that contains spores and is thought to be higher in Beta Glucans.
If fungus can do that for trees, what benefits can we as humans get from mushrooms? Mushroom teas and other fungal supplements have become more widespread and mostly used for boosting the immune system.*
Lucky for us in the Pacific Northwest, we have access to some of the best mushrooms in the country - in fact, many of the mushroom products we offer are wild-crafted right here in Oregon!
Below is a list of some of the most common medicinal mushrooms and the benefits they may offer to the individual.
As with all supplements, check with your doctor before you start using any medicinal mushroom products. Some mushrooms may have adverse interactions with other medicine, or come with unwanted side effects.
This mushroom has been revered for centuries in Asia. Historically it is a very rare mushroom to find in the wild - scientists estimate that out of every 10,000 trees where reishi could grow, you’ll only find three specimens. Thankfully, the mushroom can now be cultivated on a larger scale using organic substrates.
Generally, reishi is considered an immune system booster and provides overall wellness support*, promoting cardiovascular system health* and the body's ability to adapt to stress*.
Raw or dried reishi can be boiled into a tea. Most reishi supplements come in a tea, tincture or powder (encapsulated or loose) form.
Chaga may not be the most beautiful mushroom on this list, but it has one of the oldest histories. Chaga is mostly found growing on birch trees (which is why it has such a long history in Russia), though it grows on other types of trees, as a big ‘conk’ growth on the outside of the tree. Commercial cultivation of chaga has been successful; however there have been chemical differences observed between wild and cultivated varieties.
Generally, chaga is known to be filled with antioxidants and is an overall immune system booster*.
Chaga is powdered and taken as a tea (the taste is often compared to an earthy coffee), or consumed in a capsule or tincture form.
This is the most ‘sci-fi’ of all the mushrooms: several of the 400+ species are actually parasitic. Some modern cordyceps cultivation is a vegan process without needing any living hosts. Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) has been traditionally used in Asia for strenuous, high altitude activities and as an immune tonic.* Physical fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes have discovered that cordyceps may have the effect of increased oxygen uptake, supporting higher endurance levels.* People have also found that cordyceps supports healthy libido* and kidney function*.
Cordyceps is consumed traditionally as a raw, dried supplement to soups or stews. In powdered form it is taken as a tea, or in capsules or tincture form.
This is one of the most unique looking mushrooms: long tendrils hang from the main fruiting body, creating hundreds of mushroom 'icicles.' This bushy appearance gives the mushroom its common name.
Lion’s mane has been found to be helpful in the following ways: mental clarity, focus and memory in aiding overall cognitive function*; provides immune and nervous system support.*
Lion’s mane is most often consumed as a powder in tea or capsule form, or in a concentrated, standardized extract.
This pretty mushroom is named after the resemblance of the fruiting body to a wild turkey’s tail. Research shows this mushroom has been used medicinally since around 1368 by the Ming Dynasty.
Turkey Tail is an excellent source of cellular nutrients*, providing immune system support.*
Turkey tail is edible but quite chewy; most often it is consumed as a tea, or powdered capsule form.
Other beneficial mushrooms worth exploring:
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
More Co-op News
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The first giveaway runs 1/16-1/22, so sign up below.
As part of the Rogue Co-ops, a group of Rogue Valley cooperative businesses that includes Ashland Food Co-op, Grange Co-op, Medford Food Co-op, and Rogue Credit Union, we're excited to offer a scholarship opportunity to local high school students planning on attending college.
The Rogue Co-ops have collectively funded a $2,000 scholarship (and Grange Co-op offers an additional eight $1,500 scholarships) for students (in public, private or home school settings) who meet the following requirements:
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