Not to be confused with magic mushrooms, mushrooms of the medicinal variety are popular in the wellness industry due to a variety of benefits. From Chaga to lion’s mane, you’ll find these ingredients in anything from coffee products to hot chocolate. Some studies show they’re great at boosting immunity, while other evidence boasts their antiviral properties. But what makes a medicinal mushroom different from the regular mushrooms you get at the store? Are they actually good for you, and are they safe to eat? These are just some of the most common questions you’ll come across surrounding the medicinal mushroom. Learn all about it on this page.
What is a medicinal mushroom?
The great kingdom of fungi has many varieties, and mushrooms are just one of the most well-known. Medicinal mushrooms are types of mushrooms with properties that potentially benefit human medicine as opposed to just being healthy and full of antioxidants. Due to a higher number of polysaccharides or triterpenes, they are consumed for the purpose of improving different bodily functions.
Are they good for you?
Most of the time, a medicinal mushroom is used for a different purpose as opposed to just regular consumption. Some studies show that these mushrooms can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the body. Others have been used to alter gut bacteria. Some mushrooms are even consumed to improve a person’s immune system. There are few studies conducted on humans, but so far, scientific evidence has been positive and in favor of the medicinal mushroom. Some mushrooms, like maitake and shiitake, are even prescribed by doctors in Japan to help treat cancer. Of course, regular mushrooms (also known as “culinary mushrooms”) are also proven to be good for you. This is because culinary varieties naturally contain vitamin D and are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and essential B vitamins.
Is it safe to eat a medicinal mushroom?
When you eat any dietary supplement, you should always consult your doctor first. Plenty of varieties of medicinal mushrooms are actually difficult to consume because they’re tough and bitter, unlike your average button mushroom. That’s why companies like Eons do the task of harvesting it properly, grinding it up into a powder or a mushroom extract to make it easier to consume for its medicinal properties. It takes a lot of experience to identify which mushrooms are actually safe to eat. So, you shouldn’t just forage these on your own and expect to find varieties that are safe and edible.
What makes a medicinal mushroom different from a regular mushroom?
The edible mushrooms you see at the grocery store are often referred to as “culinary mushrooms.” These differ from the medicinal variety because they are consumed and prepared differently. The typical culinary mushroom can usually just be eaten after it’s harvested or cultivated. Meanwhile, the typical medicinal mushroom has to be prepared in order to be consumed. This is because it is usually composed differently. Some mushrooms resemble clumps of dirt as opposed to the typical stem and cap with gills underneath.
When it comes to mushrooms, there are different varieties that cater to your needs. If you’re just looking for a gourmet addition to your pasta, then perhaps a king oyster mushroom to mimic scallops will do. But if you’re looking for medical benefits out of an ingredient that’s both natural and full of antioxidants, then you may want to consider the medicinal kind. When making any additions to your diet and taking any dietary supplements, remember to consult the advice of a health care professional or see your primary care doctor to ensure that you’re doing what’s best for your health.