Mushrooms are fleshy spore-bearing fungal growths. They are classified in the kingdom of Fungi and reproduce as spores. The fungal body can be a single cell or a structure referred to as hypha. The fruiting body grows from the hyphae and produces spores for reproduction. They usually grow on the soil or a food source. The first medicinal mushroom species was discovered in Thailand. Before the advent of modern medicine, mushrooms were of great importance for their health benefits, which then slowly regressed with a switch to modern technology. This article describes how magic mushrooms can help boost the immune system.
What are Magic Mushrooms?
According to the NAMA organization, there are over two hundred and seventy identified fungal species with therapeutic benefits. The benefits range from boosting the immune system to being anti-inflammatory, vitamin D provision, and production of antibodies into the body towards several harmful toxins. Mushrooms contain polysaccharides called beta-glucans (Alena and Guggenheim (2014). The beta-glucans have the capacity of immunopotentiating by stimulating multiple immune cells, thereby boosting immunity. Beta-glucans stimulate the production and activation of natural killer cells, interferons such interferon-gamma, B and T lymphocytes, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukins, macrophages, and granulocytes in the bone marrow. Beta-glucans also have an anti-inflammatory property. For instance, the maitake mushrooms help to reduce intestinal inflammation, which in return improves immunity by preventing entry of intestinal flora into surrounding organs. It has also been shown that it protect against various viruses and bacteria. For instance, a diet rich in mushrooms may protect against the common cold and flu during the flu season.
Popular Medicinal Mushroom Supplements for Immune-boosting:
- Lion’s Mane
- Turkey Tail
The Health Benefits of Mushroom Supplements
The result of this increase in the number of circulating immune cells is that the immune system of the body is well equipped to fight all manner of disease, causing organisms. Consequently, when there is a high titer of stimulated immune cells in circulation, the body can fight a wide range of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and protozoa. Mushrooms containing beta-glucans include; Ganoderma lucidem, Agaricus blazei murrill, grifolla frondosa, and Agaricus bisporus. The A. bisporus is known to specifically activate bone marrow macrophages, which then engulf a variety of organisms. Besides, it has anti-bacterial activity, anti-fungal activity, and is nematocidal. The mushrooms have the potential of expelling contaminants and undesirable chemicals from the body, thereby protecting against body damage.
Some magic mushrooms have anti-oxidant activity. Oxidants are free radicals produced in the body during biochemical processes. The increased amount of free radicals leads to oxidative stress. The radicals also have the potential of damaging body components such as DNA, proteins, lipids, and sugars. These radicals are involved in mutations and pathogenesis of several cancers. Mushrooms produce some chemical compounds that protect cells from damage caused by these radicals. Due to this ability, they have been incorporated into routine cancer care. They are known to cause cancer shrinkage and even some cause disappearance of cancers.
Active components in the mushrooms that confer anti-cancer potential include lentinan, lectin, krestin, polysaccharide A and B, illudin S, and psilocybin. An example is waxy cap mushroom extracts which are inhibitory to sarcoma. Schizophyllum commune produces an extract called schizophyllan, which is effective against head and neck cancer. A. bisporus produces tyrosinase extract that is an antioxidant. Another example of an antioxidant is camptothecin found in G. lucidum. Cordyceps acts as an anticancer, anti-aging, and antiasthma agent. Mushrooms exert a protective effect against chemotherapeutic myelosuppression which is commonly seen in cancer patients on chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Malnutrition is a major cause of deteriorating immunity. Mushrooms can solve the problem of malnutrition since they are nutritious. They are a good source of proteins, and they provide all the essential amino acids. An example is Agaricus bisporus. They are also a good source of carbohydrates and fats. They also have a good amount of vitamin B. Therefore, a mushroom gives a well-balanced diet that is essential in maintaining body immunity, especially vitamins which are known to be protective foods.
Supplements or extracts taken from these magic mushrooms have a higher ability to deliver all the necessary nutrients. Adding medicinal mushroom supplements to your regular die may help boost your immune system. A dash of shrooms in tea, coffee, latte, or salad every day can also help in improving your immune system.
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