The Role of Mushrooms in Immunity
24th December 2018 / Health
The Role of Mushrooms in Immunity
Mushrooms seem to be the quiet achievers of the health supplement industry. In this article we want to showcase their immune-boosting capabilities - particularly relevant at this time of year. Mushrooms have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Egyptian medicine, with the Ancient Egyptians even including mushrooms as a speciality dish in their royal family as they were believed to have immortality-inducing powers. Although nowadays we know that mushrooms won’t make you immortal, there is evidence to suggest that those ancient beliefs did in fact have some substance. The four mushrooms focused on in this article are the adaptogenic mushrooms contained in our Mushroom Plus blend - Reishi (have a read of our Mushroom Guide Part 1: Reishi blog), Cordyceps (Mushroom Guide Part 2: Cordyceps), Lions Mane, and Chaga.
What is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens can be defined as a unique group of herbal substances commonly used in traditional and alternative medicine for their ‘claimed stabilisation of physiological processes’ and ‘promotion of homeostasis’. They demonstrate an ability to adapt their function dependent on the body’s needs. In simpler terms, adaptogens help your body to stay at a healthy equilibrium; regulating energy levels, minimising fatigue and helping your body adapt to different stresses, both mentally and physically - hence the name “adaptogen”.
The general criteria for an adaptogenic substance are:
- Non-specific effects on the body, not limited to one organ or body part function
- It helps to maintain a healthy equilibrium
The adaptogenic mushrooms contained in our Mushroom Plus blend are, of course, not the same mushrooms that we’d find in a cream of mushroom soup. The mushrooms we use contain a high number of active components, the key ones being polysaccharides.
Polysaccharides are long chain carbohydrates with various molecular structures ranging from very simple to more complex. Reishi mushrooms are known for possessing high quantities of polysaccharides. Polysaccharides have numerous roles in the mushroom. For example, chitin forms the cell walls of many fungi, whereas beta-glucans have been found to demonstrate significant immuno-enhancing properties. These immuno-enhancing powers may have the potential to activate macrophages, splenocytes and thymocytes - all of which are involved in the body’s immune defenses.
A scientific study conducted in 2016 investigating the activity of ‘Mushroom Polysaccharides in Chemistry and Antiobesity, Antidiabetes, Anticancer, and Antibiotic Properties in Cells, Rodents, and Humans’ found that a mushroom preparation containing Lions Mane mushroom as well as two other medicinal mushroom species mediated their immune-boosting effects via the activation of various immune cells including ‘monocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells…’
Our Mushroom Plus blend is completely natural and 100% free from binders, fillers, additives and any preservatives. This makes it the perfect addition to any health supplement regime for an added immune boost. Each capsule is topped up with turmeric powder, a proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. We recommend taking our Mushroom Plus complex and Vitamin C boost together for dual-acting immuno-protection.
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