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Marvelous Medicinal Mushrooms

You see them when you’re hiking in the woods growing out of tree trunks and tree stumps, in the pasture growing out of cow manure, and maybe even in your own backyard. You enjoy them on your pizza, in your favorite dish, and even eaten alone as a main dish. Many cultures use them in sacred ceremonies and they’ve been linked to medicinal uses for thousands of years. Of course, I’m referring to the mighty mushroom.

Estimates on the number of mushroom species varies. One estimate states there are around half a million to 10 million species of mushrooms, and in one extreme case even a sizable portion of the spectacular number of 1 trillion. Another concludes a commonly cited estimate of 1.5 million species is conservative and that the actual range is properly estimated at 2.2 to 3.8 million. With 120,000 currently accepted species, it appears that at best just 8%, and in the worst case scenario just 3%, are named so far. [1]

Medicinal Mushrooms

What exactly are medicinal mushrooms and how long have they been in use?

Medicinal mushrooms are simply mushrooms that are used in medicine. A longer, more specific definition states that medicinal mushrooms can be defined as macroscopic fungi, mostly higher Basidiomycetes, which are used in the form of extracts or powder for prevention, alleviation, or healing of diseases and/or for nutritional reasons.[2] 

The use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes can be traced back thousands of years to ancient China where the Yangshao culture 6000-7000 years ago in the Neolithic period used cordyceps and other mushrooms were used for medicinal purposes. 

Ancient Egyptians regarded mushrooms as plants of immortality given to people by the god Osiris. They were a food reserved only for Egyptian royalty. The Greek physician Hippocrates, (450 bce) classified the amadou mushroom (Fomes fomentarius) as a potent anti-inflammatory and useful for cauterizing wounds.

But it wasn’t until 1928 that fungi found its use in modern Western medicine with the discovery of penicillin. New discoveries continue to happen. Purified bioactive compounds derived from medicinal mushrooms are a potentially important new source of anti-cancer agents, as reported by Johns Hopkins University Press.[3]

About six percent of edible mushrooms possess medicinal properties, which can help prevent diseases and boost our immune system.

Mushrooms Are Functional Foods

Mushrooms are also regarded as functional foods. You can find them in health food stores, online, and even on your grocers shelves. Their use in  complementary and alternative medicine formulations is growing. More and more attention is being given to their very real health qualities.

The term “functional food” is something new to many people. The term is broadly used to describe food that delivers health benefits extending beyond mere survival. That definition could be applied many foods including seeds, nuts, blueberries, sauerkraut, oat bran, and many more.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, “Minimally processed, whole foods along with fortified, enriched or enhanced foods, can all be functional foods. Generally, these foods have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed on a regular basis and at certain levels.”

Consumers are becoming more aware of the role functional foods has in disease risk management and quality of life. Consumers, perhaps because of their advancing average age, are becoming increasingly interested in the relationship between food and quality of life. A fairly recent poll conducted in the United States found that 95% of the population believed that food possessed the potential to improve health by doing more than just providing nutrients. Most of the individuals questioned were also interested in learning more about foods with functional abilities.[4]

Adaptogenic vs. Medicinal Mushrooms

If you think the term “medicinal” applies to a select number of mushrooms, and “functional” as applied to mushrooms has a broader meaning, here’s something else to consider when it comes to mushrooms. Some mushrooms are said to be “adaptogenic”. What does this term mean? 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, adaptogens are “active ingredients in certain plants and mushrooms that may impact how your body deals with stress, anxiety and fatigue.” Research into the isolation and structure elucidation of active constituents of adaptogenic plants is classified as phytochemistry.

So, adaptogenic mushrooms can be functional as well. And certain medicinal mushrooms can be functional and adaptogenic. But, mushrooms that are known to have related physiological effects can be medicinal, but not adaptogenic. Let’s look at this a different way.

Consider the 130 mushrooms with known medicinal qualities to be functional and within this group of functional mushrooms there are about 15 medicinal and adaptogenic mushrooms. One species, cordyceps, is considered adaptogenic and one other species may be adaptogenic, but hasn’t been thoroughly tested to be so. That simply means they have active ingredients that have been researched and proven to be adaptogenic. It all seems confusing, but what isn’t confusing is how beneficial medicinal mushrooms are to health and wellbeing.

An Abundance of Vitamins and Minerals

Mushrooms are well-known for their bioactive compounds (types of chemicals found in small amounts in mushrooms). These compounds include lectins, polysaccharides (β-glucans), polysaccharide-peptides, polysaccharide-protein complexes and several other bioactive molecules which are responsible for different biological and therapeutic activities.

Mushrooms are also a great natural source of vitamins and minerals. Following is an overview of some of the more than a dozen vitamins and minerals found in mushrooms.

B vitamins (B2, B3, folate, B5): These vitamins help a variety of enzymes do their jobs. Enzymes help speed up chemical reactions in our bodies. 

Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus which are critical for building bone. Lab studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth. Mushrooms are one of few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. 

Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a major source element important to bones, teeth, and cell membranes. It is a building block or our genes.

Selenium: A trace mineral, selenium is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins helps make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections.

Copper: Another trace element, copper carries out many important functions such as making energy, connective tissues, and blood vessels. It is also important for brain development and helps maintain the nervous and immune systems.

Potassium: Potassium is a mineral that helps muscles contract, helps regulate fluid and mineral balance in and out of body cells, and helps maintain normal blood pressure. It may also reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and bone loss as we age.

Benefits of Mushroom/CBD Combos

Given the many nutritional benefits of medicinal mushrooms, combining them with CBD makes perfect sense, especially when you consider their ability to help your body maintain homeostasis and support a healthy response to stress. When combined with the many benefits of CBD (you can read about the many benefits of CBD) the pairing of medicinal mushrooms and CBD provides several health benefits. 

Besides both growing from Mother Earth, mushrooms and CBD share some of the same qualities. Both are thought to help with anxiety, inflammation, sleep, the immune system, and pain. Taken in combination, they can reinforce these benefits. They also complement each other. There are qualities that CBD has that mushrooms don’t, and conversely there are qualities that mushrooms have the CBD doesn’t.

Common Properties
Let’s say you want help with your insomnia. Reishi, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, and Chaga are thought to support restorative sleep. Trilogy Fungi’s “Lion’s Mind” is formulated with Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi mushrooms. Nirvalla’s 3000mg Full Spectrum tincture is formulated with a cannabinoid called CBN (cannabigerol). CBN has sedative qualities that promote sleep. Since the Lion’s Mind mushroom/CBD combination has both of these products, it’s a surefire way of helping you get the sleep you need and deserve.

Individual Properties
Besides the minerals and vitamins mushrooms have, they offer some individual qualities. For instance, Cordyceps have been associated with having anti-aging qualities, potential anti-tumor qualities, and Type 2 diabetes management. CBD may reduce chronic pain that isn’t associated with inflammation. 
Chronic pain is a common symptom in rheumatic diseases, and the patient with pain and no signs of inflammation poses a challenge to the physician. Notably, all rheumatic diseases have components of non-inflammatory pain and a higher prevalence of fibromyalgia compared to the overall population.[5]

Below is a table with a general list of benefits that identifies common qualities of mushrooms and CBD along with their individual qualities. 

cbd_mushroom-chart2

We Did The Work For You

Before we decided to create mushroom/CBD combos, we analyzed the marketplace. We consulted with experts. We considered the type of products we wanted to pair up. We decided a sublingual delivery method (under the tongue) would be best because that gets CBD into the bloodstream fast with high bioavailability. Ultimately, we put together 3 unique tincture combos using premium quality products that will address important health and wellness needs of our customers.

As we always do we will put the needs of our customers first. If enough customers want mushroom gummies, powders, capsules, teas, hot beverages, or other forms of mushroom products we’ll find a way to get them into our product mix. Meanwhile, we encourage you to give our specially-priced mushroom/CBD combos a try. And remember, just as it is with all CBD products, give yourself enough time to determine the dose that will work for your needs. 

Citations

[1] Hawksworth DL, Lücking R. Fungal Diversity Revisited: 2.2 to 3.8 Million Species. Microbiol Spectr. 2017 Jul;5(4). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0052-2016. PMID: 28752818.

[2]  2014; 2014: 806180. Published online 2014 Jun  24. doi: 10.1155/2014/806180

[3] Sullivan, Richard, et al. “Medicinal Mushrooms and Cancer Therapy: translating a traditional practice into Western medicine.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol. 49 no. 2, 2006, p. 159-170. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/pbm.2006.0034.

[4] Jones PJ. Clinical nutrition: 7. Functional foods–more than just nutrition. CMAJ. 2002 Jun 11;166(12):1555-63. PMID: 12074125; PMCID: PMC113804.

[5] Jon Lampa Dept of Medicine, Rheumatology Unit, Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM), Karolinska Institute, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden https://doi.org/10.1016/j.berh.2019.101439 Available online 6 September 2019, Version of Record 5 November 2019.

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