Medicinal Mushrooms for Immune Health
As the cooler weather descends it’s the perfect time to double down on practices that fortify our internal resilience and vitality. Our immune system is our first line of defence against pathogens and rogue cells. With the change of the seasons, it is more important than ever to keep our immune system healthy and look to ways to prevent catching a cold or speed up recovery time.
For thousands of years, medicinal mushrooms have been used across ancient cultures for their healing and regenerative properties helping to boost immune defences. Today, due to increasing scientific validation, medicinal mushrooms are becoming popular tools for the modern immune support arsenal.
How can Medicinal Mushrooms Help to Support Immunity?
Our immune system is comprised of a complex array of systems that intuitively communicate with each other to keep us in good health.
On a broad scale, our immune system can be thought of as having two parts, innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is the first responder acting quickly and non-specifically to general threats. On the other hand, adaptive immunity has a slower response time and needs to be activated. Adaptive immunity uses immunological memory to assess and learn about the invading pathogen and deploy an even greater response than innate immunity.
In more recent times medicinal mushrooms have been shown to enhance both innate and adaptive immunity with Reishi mushroom and Turkey Tail mushroom being two of the most widely used shrooms for bolstering our inner resilience.
More specifically, medicinal mushrooms have been found to be effective immune system modulators and immune cell activators.
What does this mean?
If the innate immune system identifies a perceived threat it kicks into action deploying white blood cells (like Natural Killer cells, T cells, B cells and macrophages) and increasing the activity of inflammatory cytokines. Some of the white blood cells ‘remember’ information about the unwanted invaders and deliver this to the adaptive immune response in the form of antigens. Antibodies are produced and the adaptive immune response is primed to respond to any future unwanted cells containing the same antigens.
The role of medicinal mushrooms in this process is two-fold, strengthening the production and response of Natural Killer cells, T cells, B cells, antibodies and macrophages, and modulating the response of cytokines which are both pro and anti-inflammatory messengers secreted by immune cells allowing them to work more effectively.
Immunomodulation is a term used to describe the ability of the immune system to respond intelligently to a perceived threat in the body, dialling up or dialling down the attack as necessary. Medicinal mushrooms are classed as immunomodulators. This is part of the reason medicinal mushrooms are known adaptogens, they can help the immune system adapt keeping it stable and consistent.
Out of all of the active compounds found in medicinal mushrooms, their beta-d-glucans elicit the largest impact when it comes to immune support. Beta-d-glucans are a chain of carbohydrates found in the cell walls of mushrooms. As biological response modifiers, beta-D-glucans are famed as being one of the few identified substances that can boost the immune system without pushing it to overreact.
Top Medicinal Mushrooms for Immune Health
While all medicinal mushrooms have their individual benefits, one thing they have in common is their support of the immune system to varying degrees. Reishi Mushrooms and Turkey Tail Mushrooms are two of the most well-known medicinal mushrooms when it comes to supporting immunity.
The Reishi Mushroom is regarded as a prized immune-supporting mushroom. Reishi’s beta-d-glucans are thought to stimulate and balance the immune cells in the case of a weakened immune system. Regarded as one of the best adaptogenic herbs, if the immune system is excessive, (like allergies or autoimmune conditions) Reishi Mushrooms can also have a bi-direction effect, working to bring this excess closer to a state of balance.
Turkey Tail Mushroom
The beta-d-glucans and triterpenes found in Turkey Tail Mushrooms provide its immunomodulating potential, activating and inhibiting certain types of immune cells. Particularly the compounds polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and polysaccharide krestin (PSK) have been widely studied for their immune support capacity. What’s incredible about PSK and PSP is their ability to regenerate white blood cells, and stimulate the creation of macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells, which are all essential for enabling the immune system to ward off pathogens and fight infection when they strike. Combined, these active compounds in Turkey Tail mushroom are thought to help elevate the immune response and work to regulate and support overall immune system health
Supporting Your Immune System Across the Cooler Months
Medicinal mushrooms are great tools to have on your side when looking to support your immune system but it’s always best to take a holistic approach. To fortify your inner resilience it can be a good idea to double down on warm and nourishing foods, grab some sunlight when you can, prioritise sleep, stay hydrated, keep moving and rug up against the cold.
Our Inner Atlas Reishi and Turkey Tail are:
- Highly potent, containing greater than 30% beta-D-glucans.
- Certified USDA & EU Organic.
- Fruiting body only – 100% real mushrooms with no added fillers or mycelium.
- Semi-wild cultivated and wood-grown.
- Sourced from pristine di tao locations.
- Lab-tested for purity.