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Healing With Medicinal Mushrooms

Step into the wild world of powerful medicinal mushrooms that’ll support your energy, build immunity, and sustain cognitive function.

| November/December 2019

Photo by Adobe Stock/oilslo

‘Shrooms are in, man. I’m not talking about the psychedelic mushrooms that can take you on otherworldly trips, but the ones that can bolster your health. Modern cultures across the globe are reviving a medicinal mushroom culture to treat numerous different conditions, and today mushrooms are making their way into our kitchens and supplement cabinets. Personally, I find mushrooms to be downright fascinating for so many reasons. They have an entire biological kingdom (Fungi) to themselves. They’re neither plants nor animals, though, surprisingly, they’re more closely related to the latter. Thousands of different fungi exist in the world. Of these thousands, there are edible, glow-in-the-dark, medicinal, and poisonous fungi. For our purposes, we’ll focus on the 3 to 4 percent of the Fungi kingdom that we can call upon to boost our health and well-being.

A Fungal Foundation

Important for the ecological balance of our planet, mushrooms primarily feed on organic or decaying matter; these are called saprophytic mushrooms. Parasitic mushrooms, such as cordyceps, attach to living plant or animal hosts. And still others form interdependent, symbiotic relationships with other species.

Photo by Getty Images/jjjroy

What we usually consider the mushroom is actually the fruiting body of the fungus, sometimes simply known as the fungal fruit, which emerges aboveground to reproduce. Mushrooms are attached to a living, breathing, underground network, called the mycelium. When compared to a plant, the mushroom is like the flower, and the mycelium like the roots. Mycelium is thought to be nature’s worldwide web, stretching for miles, connecting all manner of living things in a vast communication matrix. Although this part of the fungus plays a vital role in the wild, the fruit is where most medicinal properties are concentrated. For this reason, it’s a good idea to look for mushroom supplements made from the fruiting body of the fungus only, with no added mycelium.

Fascinating Fungi

Nearly all mushrooms offer health benefits, even the white button mushrooms in grocery stores. But the following fungi take their healing powers to the next level.

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