Today, approximately 90% of American adults consume caffeine in some form each day (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc). While many are probably reaching for caffeine to obtain the boost of energy it provides, most know that caffeine can also have its downsides if consumed in excess amounts.
Caffeine can have an effect on the body when it comes to acidity, digestion, energy crashes, brain fog, and several other factors. As it turns out, adding chaga extract to coffee has the potential to offset many of the potential downsides.
Here is how chaga extract can balance out many of the unwanted side effects:
Chaga offers a natural way to protect and support healthy digestive functions. Its anti-inflammatory effects are useful for helping to alleviate inflammation in the stomach or intestines, which could otherwise impede digestion and limit nutrient absorption.
It also helps to stimulate the liver, prompting it to create digestive bile. This helps the digestive system to better break down foods, especially proteins. Chaga also contains beneficial constituents important for digestion, including manganese, thiamin and digestive enzymes. (Show Study)
Chaga is high in alkaline minerals. Minerals such as potassium, cesium and rhodium work to counteract acidity which causes a PH imbalance leading to disease. (source)
Chaga is rich in antioxidants, which are chemicals that help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals or oxidants. When the body is unable to produce enough antioxidants to prevent this damage, oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress can cause cancer and a host of other health problems. (Show Study1, Show Study2)
A recent study in obese, diabetic mice observed that chaga extract reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance compared to diabetic mice who did not receive the supplement (Show Study3).
In another study in diabetic mice, chaga supplements led to a 31% decrease in blood sugar levels over three weeks (Show Study4).
Inflammation is a natural response of your immune system that can protect against disease. However, long-term inflammation is linked to conditions like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis (Show Study1).
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that chaga extract can positively impact immunity by reducing long-term inflammation and fighting harmful bacteria and viruses.
Chaga may fight off harmful bacteria or viruses by increasing the formation of beneficial cytokines and stimulating white blood cells (Show Study2, Show Study3). As a result, this mushroom could help fight infections — from minor colds to serious illnesses.
Several animal and test-tube studies show that chaga may prevent and slow cancer growth (Show Study1).
In a study in mice with cancer, chaga supplements resulted in a 60% reduction in tumor size (Show Study2).
In a test-tube study, chaga extract prevented the growth of cancer in human liver cells. Similar results were observed with cancer cells of the lung, breast, prostate and colon (Show Study3, Show Study4, Show Study5, Show Study6).
In particular, chaga contains the antioxidant triterpene. Test-tube studies reveal that very concentrated triterpene extract can help kill cancer cells (Show Study8).
Chaga extract may also benefit cholesterol levels, reducing risk of heart disease.
In an eight-week study in rats with high cholesterol, chaga extract reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing antioxidant levels (Show Study1).
Researchers believe that the antioxidants present in chaga are responsible for its effects on cholesterol.
A positive side effect of the ability of Chaga to stop the growth of cancer cells is its anti-aging capabilities. Experiments done in the Laboratory of Stem Cell and Tumor Biology, Seoul National University in South Korea reported that: “the Chaga mushroom extracts… prevented the inhibition of GJIC (gap junctional intercellular communication) through the blocking of Cx43 phosphorylation. …GJIC has an important function in maintaining tissue homeostasis through regulation of cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis and adaptive functions of differentiated cells. Thus, Chaga mushrooms may… prevent the inhibition of GJIC through inactivation of ERK1/2 and p38 MAP kinase.”.
By inhibiting the actions of certain substances that affect the demise of our cells, Chaga effectively functions as an anti-aging agent.
Due to Chaga’s high melanin content and its antioxidant properties, this mushroom is especially beneficial for healthy and youthful skin.
Melanin is a compound that our bodies produce that affects the color of eyes, hair, and skin. In addition, melanin protects the skin from damaging effects of the sun (ultraviolet radiation).
This study has examined such effects of chaga on skin. (Show Study1)
Chaga has betulonic acid which is necessary for regeneration of skin, and healing of wounds. (Show Study2)
Several new studies show that Chaga mushroom has benefits in connection with Herpes Simplex (HSV). According to a study, no viral cells were detected in a group treated with the Chaga mushroom extract. In another study, the extract of Chaga proved to inhibit viral membrane fusion, providing a new treatment option to usual nucleoside analog anti-herpetics. (Show Study1, Show Study2)
A report submitted by Prof. E. A. Dosychev, V.N. in May 1973 in the journal Vestnik Dermatologii I Venerologii tells how Chaga was used in treating psoriasis in 48 patients with concurrent chronic inflammatory diseases. The treatments lasted from 3 months to 2 years. Psoriasis completely disappeared in 38 patients and 8 patients showed definite signs of improvement. Together with the disappearance of psoriasis, their concurrent inflammatory diseases were healed as well.
In animal studies, this mushroom has significantly improved physical endurance.
One study published in 2015 found that when mice were given chaga mushroom polysaccharides (beta-D-glucans), the mice were able to swim longer, the glycogen (fuel) content of both muscles and liver increased, while lactic acid levels in the bloodstream decreased. (Show Study)
Put that all together and it’s a recipe for less fatigue and better endurance.
Asian herbalists believe that Chaga preserves youthfulness, promotes health, and encourages longevity. Because of its potent protective qualities and high degree of safety, it is relegated as a “superior herb.”
It is categorized as a Qi tonic, like Reishi mushroom. It is also considered to be a superb kidney, liver and heart tonic. In addition, Chaga may be used as a Shen tonic, and as an immune modulating (strengthening, balancing, supportive and regulating) tonic of the highest order.
Cordyceps is thought to increase the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for delivering energy to the muscles.
In one study, researchers tested their effects on exercise capacity in 30 healthy older adults using a stationary bike. Participants received either 3 grams per day of a synthetic strain of Cordyceps called CS-4 or a placebo pill for six weeks.
By the end of the study, VO2 max had increased by 7% in participants who had taken CS-4, while participants given the placebo pill showed no change (Source2).
VO2 max is a measurement used to determine fitness level (Show Study2).
In a similar study, 20 healthy older adults received either 1 gram of CS-4 or a placebo pill for 12 weeks (Show Study3).
While researchers found no change in VO2 max in either group, participants given CS-4 improved other measures of exercise performance.
One study also tested the effects of a Cordyceps-containing mushroom blend on exercise performance in younger adults (Show Study4).
After three weeks, participants’ VO2 max had increased by 11%, compared to a placebo.
Traditionally, people of both sexes took tonics made from cordyceps to enhance libido and improve reproductive function. Based on animal models, it appears that cordyceps supplements can help the body utilize oxygen more efficiently and improve blood flow, which is important for physical health and sexual function. (Show Study)
Improved endurance, increased energy and lower levels of inflammation are several other reasons that cordyceps may improve fertility and libido. Thus, cordyceps may be used as a natural treatment for infertility as well as a natural remedy for impotence.
The elderly have traditionally used Cordyceps to reduce fatigue and boost strength and sex drive.
Researchers believe their antioxidant content may explain their anti-aging potential (Show Study1).
One study found that mice that were given Cordyceps lived several months longer than mice given a placebo (Source).
Another study found that Cordyceps extended the lives of fruit flies, further supporting the belief that they have anti-aging benefits (Show Study8).
Cordyceps’ potential to slow the growth of tumors has generated significant interest in recent years.
Researchers believe the fungi may exert anti-tumor effects in several ways.
In test-tube studies, Cordyceps have been shown to inhibit the growth (apoptosis) of many types of human cancer cells, including lung, colon, skin and liver cancers (Show Study1, Show Study2, Show Study3, Show Study4).
Cordyceps may also reverse the side effects associated with many forms of cancer therapy including chemotherapy and radiation. One of these side effects is leukopenia.
Not to be confused with the cancer leukemia, leukopenia is a condition in which the number of white blood cells (leukocytes) decreases, lowering the body’s defenses and increasing the risk of infection (Show Study).
One study tested the effects of Cordyceps on mice that developed leukopenia after radiation and treatments with Taxol, a common chemotherapy drug (Show Study2).
Interestingly, Cordyceps reversed the leukopenia. These results suggest the fungi may help reduce complications associated with some cancer treatments.
Cordyceps contain a special type of sugar that may help treat diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body either does not produce or respond to the hormone insulin, which normally transports the sugar glucose into your cells for energy.
When your body does not produce enough insulin or respond well to it, glucose cannot enter the cells, so it stays in the blood. Over time, having too much glucose in the blood can cause serious health problems.
Therefore, it’s important for people with diabetes to make sure their blood sugar levels are well controlled.
Interestingly, Cordyceps may keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range by mimicking the action of insulin.
Some evidence suggests that they may also protect against kidney disease, a common complication of diabetes.
In a review of 22 studies including 1,746 people with chronic kidney disease, those who took Cordyceps supplements experienced improved kidney function (Show Study4).
As research emerges on the effects of Cordyceps on heart health, the benefits of the fungi are becoming increasingly apparent.
In fact, Cordyceps are approved in China for the treatment of arrhythmia, a condition in which the heartbeat is too slow, too fast or irregular (Show Study1).
A study found that Cordyceps significantly reduced heart injuries in rats with chronic kidney disease. Injuries to the heart from chronic kidney disease are thought to increase the risk of heart failure, so reducing these injuries may help avoid this outcome (Show Study2).
The researchers attributed these findings to the adenosine content of Cordyceps. Adenosine is a naturally occurring compound that has heart-protective effects (Show Study3).
Cordyceps may also have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.
LDL can raise your risk of heart disease by leading to the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries.
Similarly, Cordyceps have been shown to decrease triglyceride levels in mice (Show Study6).
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. High levels are linked to a greater risk of heart disease (Show Study7).
Cordyceps is said to help fight inflammation in the body.
Although some inflammation is good, too much can lead to diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Thanks to these potential effects, researchers believe Cordyceps may serve as a useful anti-inflammatory supplement or drug (Show Study5).
In fact, Cordyceps have been shown to reduce inflammation in the airways of mice, making them a potential therapy for asthma. However, the fungi appear to be less effective than commonly prescribed drugs used to provide relief for inflamed areas of the body (Show Study6).
Cordyceps may also have topical uses. One study found it reduced skin inflammation when applied topically in mice, further demonstrating its anti-inflammatory properties (Show Study7).
Cordyceps are considered a time-honored superfood that first originated in Traditional Chinese Medicine at least 5,000 years ago. Their medicinal uses were described in old Chinese medical books, and traditional holistic healers have been using them to cure dozens of diseases without the use of chemical medications for generations. Local folk healers were said to use cordyceps extract either alone or in combination with other TCM herbal treatments to fight more than 20 different ailments, ranging from bronchitis to heart disease.
For example, it has long been used to support reproductive and sexual function, enhance libido, and maintain sexual and cognitive health, especially in older decades of life as a remedy for fatigue, asthenia, or following a long illness.
Traditional uses also include the treatment and prevention of cancer and infections (e.g., leukemia), chronic allergic and inflammatory diseases of the lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, and heart, and protection against their long-term sequelae through balancing blood sugar (e.g., diabetes), lipids, and inflammatory processes (e.g. vasculitis).
For all of these traditional indications, cordyceps extract is often classified as an adaptogen, an agent capable of improving resistance to physical, chemical, and nervous stressors in numerous non-specific and tonifying ways, and has become popular in the last several decades for improving stamina and athletic performance after Chinese track and field athletes broke several world records reportedly using the fungi as non-steroidal supplement.
In addition, cordyceps and other medicinal plants have long been used in Chinese, Christian and Hindu religious ceremonies and are believed to be linked to longevity and immortality. In Ayurvedic medicine, for example, mushrooms are said to be beneficial for enhancing “vigor and vitality.”(Show Study
Traditional healers in Sikkim recommended medicinal mushrooms, including cordyceps, “for all illnesses as a tonic, because they claimed that it improved energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance, and sleeping patterns.” (source)
A strong immune system protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens.
On the other hand, a weak immune system puts the body at a higher risk of developing infectious diseases.
Animal research shows that lion’s mane mushroom can boost immunity by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, which protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the mouth or nose (Show Study).
These effects may partly be due to beneficial changes in gut bacteria that stimulate the immune system (Show Study).
One study even found that supplementing with lion’s mane extract daily nearly quadrupled the lifespan of mice injected with a lethal dose of salmonella bacteria (Show Study).
The brain’s ability to grow and form new connections typically declines with age, which may explain why mental functioning gets worse in many older adults (Show Study).
Studies have found that lion’s mane mushrooms contain two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines (Show Study).
Additionally, animal studies have found that lion’s mane may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that causes progressive memory loss.
In fact, lion’s mane mushroom and its extracts have been shown to reduce symptoms of memory loss in mice, as well as prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease (Show Study1, Show Study2, Show Study3, Show Study4).
While no studies have analyzed whether lion’s mane mushroom is beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease in humans, it appears to boost mental functioning.
A study in older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that consuming 3 grams of powdered lion’s mane mushroom daily for four months significantly improved mental functioning, but these benefits disappeared when supplementation stopped (Show Study).
The ability of lion’s mane mushroom to promote nerve growth and protect the brain from Alzheimer’s-related damage may explain some of its beneficial effects on brain health.
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and other nerves that travel throughout the body. These components work together to send and transmit signals that control almost every bodily function.
Injuries to the brain or spinal cord can be devastating. They often cause paralysis or loss of mental functions and can take a long time to heal.
However, research has found that lion’s mane mushroom extract may help speed recovery from these types of injuries by stimulating the growth and repair of nerve cells (Show Study1, Show Study2, Show Study3).
In fact, lion’s mane mushroom extract has been shown to reduce recovery time by 23–41% when given to rats with nervous system injuries (Show Study).
Lion’s mane extract may also help reduce the severity of brain damage after a stroke.
In one study, high doses of lion’s mane mushroom extract given to rats immediately after a stroke helped decrease inflammation and reduce the size of stroke-related brain injury by 44% (Show Study).
Ulcers are capable of forming anywhere along the digestive tract, including the stomach, small intestine and large intestine.
Stomach ulcers are often caused by two major factors: overgrowth of a bacteria called H. pylori and damage to the mucous layer of the stomach that’s often due to long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (Show Study).
Several studies have found that lion’s mane extract can prevent the growth of H. pylori in a test tube, but no studies have tested whether they have the same effects inside the stomach. (Show Study1, Show Study2).
Additionally, an animal study found that lion’s mane extract was more effective at preventing alcohol-induced stomach ulcers than traditional acid-lowering drugs — and without any negative side effects (Show Study).
Lion’s mane extract can also reduce inflammation and prevent tissue damage in other areas of the intestines. In fact, they may help treat inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (Show Study1, Show Study2, Show Study3).
One study in people with ulcerative colitis found that taking a mushroom supplement containing 14% lion’s mane extract significantly reduced symptoms and improved quality of life after three weeks (Show Study).
Major risk factors for heart disease include obesity, high triglycerides, large amounts of oxidized cholesterol and an increased tendency to get blood clots.
Research shows that lion’s mane extract can influence some of these factors and thereby may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies in rats and mice have found that lion’s mane mushroom extract improves fat metabolism and lowers triglyceride levels (Show Study).
One study in rats fed a high-fat diet and given daily doses of lion’s mane extract observed 27% lower triglyceride levels and 42% less weight gain after 28 days (Show Study).
Since obesity and high triglycerides are both considered risk factors for heart disease, this is one way that lion’s mane mushrooms contribute to heart health.
Test-tube studies have also found that lion’s mane extract can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream (Show Study).
Oxidized cholesterol molecules tend to attach to the walls of arteries, causing them to harden and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, reducing oxidation is beneficial for heart health.
What’s more, lion’s mane mushrooms contain a compound called hericenone B, which can decrease the rate of blood clotting and may lower the risk of heart attack or stroke (Show Study).
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body loses the ability to control blood sugar levels. As a result, levels are consistently elevated.
Chronically high blood sugar levels eventually cause complications like kidney disease, nerve damage in the hands and feet and vision loss.
Lion’s mane mushroom may be beneficial for diabetes management by improving blood sugar control and reducing some of these side effects.
Several animal studies have shown that lion’s mane can cause significantly lower blood sugar levels in both normal and diabetic mice, even at daily dosages as low as 2.7 mg per pound (6 mg per kg) of body weight (Show Study1, Show Study2).
One way that lion’s mane lowers blood sugars is by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which breaks down carbs in the small intestine (Show Study).
When this enzyme is blocked, the body is unable to digest and absorb carbs as effectively, which results in lower blood sugar levels.
In addition to lowering blood sugars, lion’s mane extract may reduce diabetic nerve pain in the hands and feet.
In mice with diabetic nerve damage, six weeks of daily lion’s mushroom extract significantly reduced pain, lowered blood sugar levels and even increased antioxidant levels (Show Study).
Cancer occurs when DNA becomes damaged and causes cells to divide and replicate out of control.
In fact, when lion’s mane extract is mixed with human cancer cells in a test tube, they cause the cancer cells to die at a faster rate (apoptosis). This has been demonstrated with several types of cancer cells, including liver, colon, stomach and blood cancer cells (Show Study1, Show Study2, Show Study3).
In addition to killing cancer cells, lion’s mane extract has also been shown to slow the spread of cancer. One study in mice with colon cancer found that taking lion’s mane extract reduced the spread of cancer to the lungs by 69% (Show Study).
Another study found that lion’s mane extract was more effective than traditional cancer medications at slowing tumor growth in mice, in addition to having fewer side effects (Show Study).
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are believed to be at the root of many modern illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders (Show Study).
Research shows that lion’s mane mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help reduce the impact of these illnesses (Show Study).
In fact, one study examining the antioxidant abilities of 14 different mushroom species found that lion’s mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity and recommended it be considered a good dietary source of antioxidants (Show Study).
Several animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in rodents and may be especially useful in the management of inflammatory bowel disease, liver damage and stroke (Show Study1, Show Study2, Show Study3, Show Study4).
Lion’s mane mushrooms may also help reduce some of the health risks associated with obesity, as they have been shown to decrease the amount of inflammation released by fat tissue (Show Study).
Up to one-third of people living in developed countries experience symptoms of anxiety and depression (Show Study).
While there are many causes of anxiety and depression, chronic inflammation could be a major contributing factor.
Other animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract can also help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses (Show Study1, Show Study2).
Researchers believe that improved functioning of the hippocampus may explain the reductions in anxious and depressive behaviors in mice given these extracts.
While these animal studies are promising, there is very little research in humans.
One small study in menopausal women found that eating cookies containing lion’s mane mushrooms daily for one month helped reduce self-reported feelings of irritation and anxiety (Show Study).
Lipofuscin is a waste product of human and animal aging metabolism. It is constantly accumulating in as cells age, contributing to cell atrophy (wasting). In both mice and flies, lion’s mane polysaccharides significantly reduced lipofuscin content [Show Study].
On the other hand, superoxide dismutase (an enzyme that converts reactive oxygen species O- into oxygen or O2) decreases significantly with age. Lion’s mane polysaccharides increased the activity of superoxide dismutase in the brain and the liver of animals [Show Study].
Lion’s mane also reduced markers of aging in human cell cultures [Show Study].
Lion’s mane has anti-aging effects on the skin. Polysaccharides found in this mushroom enhance antioxidant enzyme activities and increase collagen levels in aged rat skin [Show Study].
Lion’s mane mushrooms have been used for centuries as a food source and herbal medicine in several Asian countries. In the last 10 years or so, this medicinal mushroom has attracted considerable attention because of its potential therapeutic capabilities in neurodegenerative diseases.
In the East, reverence for fungi dates back many centuries, with fungi known as “spirit plants” that were believed to provide longevity and spiritual potency. According to research published in the Journal of Restorative Medicine, in Chinese and Japanese medical systems, lion’s mane extract has traditionally been used to nourish the gut, fortify the spleen and also as an anticancer agent. In traditional medicine, it’s said to be nutritive to our five internal organs — the lung, heart, spleen, kidney and liver, and it’s used to promote good digestion, strength and general vigor. (Show Study)
One of the most important effects of the reishi mushroom is that it can boost your immune system (Show Study).
What’s more, these studies have found that some forms of reishi may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells (Show Study).
Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells (Show Study).
Natural killer cells fight infections and cancer in the body (Show Study).
Another study found that reishi can increase the number of other white blood cells (lymphocytes) in those with colorectal cancer (Show Study).
Although most immune system benefits of reishi mushroom have been seen in those who are ill, some evidence has shown that it can help healthy people, too.
Reishi mushrooms are considered natural antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal substances thanks to the active compounds that they contain. For example, aside from relieving allergies, triterpenes offer protection against microbial, viral and fungal infections.
Triterpenes can be found in many plant foods that taste somewhat bitter, a sign that they’re protective in nature and defend the plant against predators. (Show Study1)
Because reishi mushrooms can improve blood circulation and lower inflammation, they can help resolve infections more quickly, reduce pain and fight fatigue.
According to a study of 61 patients with gum disease testing positive for oral HPV, 88% of the 41 patients who received both turkey tail and reishi mushrooms showed positive results after only two months of treatment. (Show Study4, Show Study5)
In fact, one study of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors found that around 59% consumed reishi mushroom (Show Study).
Some research showed that one year of treatment with reishi decreased the number and size of tumors in the large intestine (Show Study).
What’s more, a detailed report of multiple studies indicated that the mushroom can beneficially affect cancer patients (Show Study).
These benefits included increasing the activity of the body’s white blood cells, which help fight cancer, and improving quality of life in cancer patients.
However, researchers state that reishi should be administered in combination with traditional treatment rather than replacing it (Show Study).
Reishi’s effects on the immune system are often most emphasized, but it has other potential advantages as well.
These include reduced fatigue and depression, as well as improved quality of life.
One study examined its effects in 132 people with neurasthenia, a condition associated with aches, pains, dizziness, headaches and irritability (Show Study).
The researchers found that fatigue was reduced and well-being was improved after 8 weeks of taking the supplements.
Another study found that fatigue was reduced and quality of life was improved after 4 weeks of taking reishi extract powder in a group of 48 breast cancer survivors (Show Study).
In addition, the people in the study also experienced less anxiety and depression.
Reishi mushrooms work as adaptogens. They can help your body cope with stress more efficiently and help regulate hormone levels to optimize your health.
Some studies indicate that reishi mushroom extract could help normalize levels of certain receptor hormones, which may be beneficial in the treatment of cancer. (Show Study1)
Other studies show that it can protect and positively impact the endocrine system, which encompasses the glands throughout the body that are responsible for the production of hormones.
This could have far-reaching effects on many aspects of health, as the endocrine system has a direct impact on metabolism, growth, sleep, mood and sexual function. (Show Study2)
When consumed in continuous, small doses, reishi may help to support the body’s sleep cycles (Source).
The triterpenes found in the reishi mushroom may have blood pressure-lowering abilities as well as benefits for blood-clotting and cholesterol. This is likely because they help lower inflammation within blood vessels and arteries while also restoring hormonal balance. (Show Study1)
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can sometimes be caused by hormonal issues, including thyroid disorders or high amounts of stress. Reishi mushrooms help restore optimal hormonal levels to strengthen the cardiovascular system. (Show Study2, Show Study3)
In addition to lowering blood pressure, reishi mushroom extract can improve overall circulation, lower inflammation that worsens heart problems and prevent clogged arteries by keeping cholesterol under control. (Show Study4)
One 12-week study of 26 people showed that reishi mushroom may increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease triglycerides and as a result improve cardiovascular health (Show Study5).
The liver is one of the most vital organs in the body. It is responsible for aiding in detoxification and helping clean, process, store and circulate healthy blood and nutrients.
Reishi mushrooms work as adaptogens to help improve liver function and prevent liver disease. They allow your body to flush out toxins and bacteria more efficiently and improve immunity against diseases that can develop over time.
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that reishi induces hepatoprotective effects on acute liver injury because it contains antioxidant properties and fights harmful immune responses that slow down liver function. (Show Study)
Sustaining high levels of blood sugar can bring detrimental effects to overall health, causing symptoms like fatigue, unintentional weight loss and frequent urination. Some research shows that reishi mushrooms may have anti-diabetic properties, helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels to prevent adverse side effects.
For example, studies showed that reishi mushrooms were able to decrease levels of both blood sugar and insulin in mice. They also helped modify levels of certain enzymes involved in blood sugar control and improved the way that the body uses insulin to transport sugar from the bloodstream to the tissues to be used as fuel. (Show Study1, Show Study2, Show Study3)
Some preliminary research in humans reported similar findings (Source).
Triterpenes are active ingredients in reishi mushrooms. They are a type of ganoderic acid tied to a reduction in allergies and histamine reactions associated with asthma. For this reason, the reishi mushroom is often used as a safe and effective asthma natural remedy. (Show Study1)
Triterpenes are capable of lowering allergic reactions because of the way they affect the immune system, strengthen the digestive organs, protect the gut lining, lower inflammation, inhibit a histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions. (Show Study2)
Antioxidants are molecules that can help prevent damage to your cells (31).
Because of this important function, there is substantial interest in foods and supplements that can enhance antioxidant status in the body.
Reishi’s antioxidant properties are the important foundation of its immune-boosting benefits.
Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals. These “free radicals” are rogue cells that cause chronic inflammation. If this type of inflammation is left unchecked, it can lead to a wide range of diseases and health problems.
Antioxidants play an important role in anti-aging, clearing brain fog, apoptosis (important function in fighting cancer), promoting healthy inflammatory response, etc.
Most notably used in China by Taoist monks to promote calmness, as well as enhance their meditative practices. It has even been used by Chinese royalty who sought longevity and held reishi or “the mushroom of immortality” in high esteem. Reishi was listed the most cherished among the superior herbs, that are considered to prolong life, prevent aging, boost qi, and make the body light.
Antioxidants are compounds that help inhibit or reduce damage caused by oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress results from an imbalance between antioxidants and unstable molecules known as free radicals. This can result in cellular damage and chronic inflammation. (Show Study1)
Thankfully, eating foods rich in antioxidants or supplementing with these powerful compounds can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. (Show Study4)
Turkey tail contains an impressive array of antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids. (Show Study5)
In fact, one study detected over 35 different phenolic compounds in a sample of turkey tail mushroom extract, along with the flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and baicalein. (Show Study6)
Phenol and flavonoid antioxidants promote immune system health by reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds. (Show Study7)
For example, quercetin has been shown to promote the release of immunoprotective proteins like interferon-y, while inhibiting the release of the pro-inflammatory enzymes cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX). (Show Study8)
Turkey tail is loaded with antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenols that may reduce inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to chronic diseases, such as diabetes and certain cancers. (Show Study)
The turkey tail mushroom has long been known to stave off any infection, including those associated with the common cold or flu. It helps your immune system become more resilient against ill-causing germs.
The turkey tail mushroom has been shown to modulate the immune system, helping fight infections, illness and diseases. (Show Study1)
In addition, turkey tail contains immune-boosting PSK and PSP:
Polysaccharopeptides are protein-bound polysaccharides (carbohydrates) that are found in, for example, turkey tail mushroom extract.
Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) are two types of polysaccharopeptides found in turkey tails. (Show Study2)
Both PSK and PSP possess powerful immune-boosting properties. They promote immune response by both activating and inhibiting specific types of immune cells and by suppressing inflammation.
For instance, test-tube studies have demonstrated that PSP increases monocytes, which are types of white blood cells that fight infection and boost immunity. (Show Study3)
PSK stimulates dendritic cells that promote immunity to toxins and regulate the immune response. In addition, PSK activates specialized white blood cells called macrophages, which protect your body against harmful substances like certain bacteria. (Show Study4)
Due to their ability to naturally strengthen the immune system, PSP and PSK are commonly used as anticancer agents in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation in countries like Japan and China. (Show Study5)
Research has demonstrated that turkey tail mushrooms may have anti-tumor properties, thought to be related to its immune-boosting effects.
One test-tube study found that PSK, the polysaccharopeptide found in turkey tail mushrooms, inhibited the growth and spread of human colon cancer cells. (Show Study1)
What’s more, a certain type of polysaccharide found in turkey tail mushrooms called Coriolus versicolor glucan (CVG) may suppress certain tumors.
A study in tumor-bearing mice found that treatment with 45.5 and 90.9 mg per pound (100 and 200 mg per kg) of body weight of CVG extracted from turkey tail mushrooms daily significantly reduced tumor size. (Show Study2)
Researchers attributed this development to enhanced immune response. (Show Study3)
Another study demonstrated that daily treatment with 45.5 mg per pound (100 mg per kg) of body weight of turkey tail mushroom extract significantly slowed the spread of cancer cells and improved survival times in dogs with highly aggressive cancer (hemangiosarcoma). (Show Study4)
However, the most impressive evidence regarding the anticancer benefits of turkey tail mushroom is when it’s used in combination with more traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. (Show Study5, Show Study6, Show Study7)
Due to the many beneficial compounds it contains, turkey tail is commonly used in tandem with traditional treatments like chemotherapy as a natural way to fight certain cancers.
A review of 13 studies found that patients given 1–3.6 grams of turkey tail mushroom per day along with conventional treatment had a significant survival advantage.
The study showed that people with breast cancer, gastric cancer or colorectal cancer treated with turkey tail and chemotherapy experienced a 9% reduction in 5-year mortality compared to chemotherapy alone. (Show Study1)
Another review of 8 studies in over 8,000 people with stomach cancers demonstrated that those who were given chemotherapy along with PSK lived longer after surgery than individuals given chemotherapy without PSK. (Show Study2)
A study in 11 women with breast cancer found that those who were given 6–9 grams of turkey tail powder per day following radiation therapy experienced an increase in cancer-fighting cells in the immune system, such as natural killer cells and lymphocytes. (Show Study3)
Turkey tail contains a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that stimulates the immune system. PSK is so effective that it’s an approved anticancer prescription drug in Japan. Turkey tail has been shown to improve the survival rate of people with certain cancers, fight leukemia cells, and improve the immune system of people receiving chemotherapy. (Show Study4, Show Study5, Show Study6)
Keeping a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut is critical for maintaining a strong immune system.
Your gut bacteria interact with immune cells and directly impact your immune response. (Show Study1)
Turkey tail contains prebiotics, which help nourish these helpful bacteria
An 8-week study in 24 healthy people found that consuming 3,600 mg of PSP extracted from turkey tail mushrooms per day led to beneficial changes in gut bacteria and suppressed the growth of the possibly problematic E. coli and Shigella bacteria. (Show Study2)
A test-tube study found that turkey tail extract modified gut bacteria composition by increasing populations of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus while reducing potentially harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium and Staphylococcus. (Show Study3)
Having healthy levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria has been linked to improved intestinal symptoms like diarrhea, enhanced immune system, reduced cholesterol levels, lower risks of certain cancers and improved digestion. (Show Study4)
Mushrooms, in particular the turkey tail mushroom, may help heal infections, such as an oral strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
According to a study of 61 patients with gum disease testing positive for oral HPV, 88% of the 41 patients who received both turkey tail and reishi mushrooms showed positive results after only two months of treatment. (Show Study1, Show Study2)
In a study turkey tail was found to have a high therapeutic index, and may be a promising material for the pharmaceutical industry as an anti-influenza and antiherpetic agent with low toxicity. (Show Study)
Studies reveal that the use of turkey tail mushroom, in conjunction with other wild medicinal East African mushrooms, may be useful in treating patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma, a skin cancer often affecting those with HIV/AIDS. The same product has also benefited those with HIV/AIDS even without the sarcoma.
Turkey tail has antibacterial and antioxidant properties; therefore, an extract of the turkey tail mushroom may be helpful. An extract, called PSP, has been studied in vitro, noting it as an antiviral agent that may prevent the replication of the HIV virus. (Show Study)
A mouse study showed that turkey tail extract improved exercise performance and reduced fatigue. Plus, the mice treated with turkey tail experienced lower blood sugar levels at rest and post-exercise. (Show Study)
In a test-tube study, turkey tail extract inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella enterica, bacteria that can cause illness and infection. (Show Study)
Turkey tail extract has been consumed for centuries in Asia as part of a traditional diet and has been used medicinally. (Show Study1)
Folklore remedies of turkey tail include the treatment of lung and liver infections. In China, turkey tail has been used as a preventive and curative agent for liver infections and liver cancer.
In Japan, it is considered a panacea for a variety of cancers. Overall, the mycelium and fruiting body of the mushroom are considered to have immune stimulatory and anticarcinogenic activities. Clinical research with PSK began around 1970 and has focused on its immunotherapeutic efficacy in stomach, colorectal, esophageal, nasopharyngeal, lung, and breast cancers.
In Japan, it has been approved as a pharmaceutical-grade medicine for cancer treatment and used for more than 30 years with consistent clinical efficacy. (Show Study2, Show Study3, Show Study4, Show Study5)
In Chinese medicine, C. versicolor is characterized as being slightly cold and enters the meridians of the liver, spleen, and lung. It is predominantly used to treat cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia, and bronchitis. (Show Study6)
It has also been used for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antihyperlipidemic, and antiatherosclerotic effects. (Show Study7)