Enhancing Health & Wellness With Mushrooms


The health benefits of mushrooms have been widely known for thousands of years. Our ancestors have used a plethora of varieties to treat various conditions. The practice of ingesting fungi has continued, although in western society it has been thought of as alternative medicine or supplemental to more “standard” medical care. I propose the question: what is standard medical care anyway? [This article, “Enhancing Health & Wellness With Mushrooms” was originally published in HealthXWire]

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I practiced as a nurse practitioner in the setting of family practice and came to a point where I realized that standard American medicine is just one route of achieving a common goal: wellness. In fact, what was considered fringe or alternative medicine began to make more sense to me the longer I practiced. Often, natural remedies offered the benefit of a very low risk for side effects. For example, I have had more success treating depression with vegan diets and music therapy than with “standard” serotonin modulating pharmaceuticals. So why not mushrooms?

What if mushrooms could be a step in the right direction in getting Americans off of the feedback loop of pharmaceuticals they are bound to? I have taken care of geriatric patients on upwards of 30 medications, oftentimes palliating side effects brought on by the myriad of exogenous chemicals they were ingesting by the handful in nicely packaged little tablets handed over to them by a smiling pharmacy tech in crisp scrubs. I felt as though I was chasing my tail in a lab coat, adding to a mountain of molecular chaos. There had to be a simpler way…

We are what we eat. Everything we ingest in some way impacts the body. This physical impact alters brain chemistry and thus affects everything from emotions to cognition to metabolism. The human machine is incredibly complex and has a multitude of variables which are each impacted by environment and intake of any substance. That being said, mushrooms come in countless varieties each offering a unique biochemical makeup, so simply playing the odds it is safe to say some certainly offer benefits.

Luckily, some super intelligent people have done much of the leg work for us for hundreds of years studying mushrooms and discovering the benefits and risks in ingesting various varieties. In fact, mushroom nutrition and supplements are becoming big business, and for good reason. The Harvard School of Public Health notes many varieties of mushrooms contain polysaccharides, indoles, polyphenols, and carotenoids. This chemical jargon equates to essentially a group of substances which have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects in animal studies. Science is verifying what our ancestors seemingly knew centuries ago, mushrooms are an incredibly beneficial and simple solution to contribute to overall wellness.

One company, Troop, a national leader in the field of health and wellness, has captured and concentrated this fungal super-food and is marketing it in the form of supplements and has been doing so since 2020. Troop has concentrated various varieties of mushroom into delicious gummy supplements for an effective and convenient way to enjoy all of the benefits of mushrooms. Troop sells affordable products like lion’s mane gummies for a daily brain boost and reishi gummies for de-stressing. Their products are made with pectin and are therefore vegan, the mushrooms are sourced in the U.S. and Troop supports small farms. The company is very health conscious and also focused on conservation. Troop’s founder noted that our country has “too many processed foods” and the company wanted to offer an easy way to supplement health.

In the first two months Troop sold out of their inventory, which tells me there is a serious buzz around mushroom products. The company reports they are hearing testimonials from satisfied customers regularly related to improved sleep and focus. CEO of Troop a Stephanie Moyal stated in an interview, Functional mushrooms have been used for centuries to enhance immunity and protect the body from viruses and infections, help with sleep, improve cognitive function and more. We believe you shouldn\’t have to sacrifice anything to be healthy, so we created delicious gummies that are packed with these benefits. If you are interested in discovering the benefits of amazing mushroom supplements check out Troop at trytroop.com.

I have researched and have even found various coffee alternatives made from mushrooms which claim to give a natural energy boost without the jitters that can come with caffeine. These various products just make sense to me with my clinical background. In my experience reishi tea has had a calming effect on me. I had accepted a gift of dried reishi mushrooms from a friend who is experienced in hunting mushrooms. Tony took me to the woods and explained a few tips for finding edible species. I was able to harvest a few plastic bags full of chantrelles which I later used as a meat substitute to make a delicious lasagna. But I digress, I am simply expressing that I have a fondness for mushrooms and their goodness and therefore see a bright future in medicine for the little guys.

I support any product with the ability to get individuals away from Big Pharma while improving their overall wellness. Let’s get a deeper look at the actual science behind mushrooms and why they are healthy: They are a decent source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, many of us lack sufficient exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is essential for bone health and contributes to overall feelings of wellness. Many varieties of mushroom are rich in zinc, which is needed for a healthy immune system. Mushrooms are rich in potassium, which is essential in normal functioning cells and can contribute to stable and lower blood pressures and functional muscle contractility.

Research has shown that mushrooms increase the function of macrophages. For those of us who aren’t biology majors, just know that macrophages are cells which “eat” foreign bodies. What I am saying is, research has shown mushrooms to improve immunity by boosting these clean-up cells\’ (macrophages) abilities.

Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants. Anything that cleans up free radicals is a good thing. A free radical is a molecule that contains an unpaired electron which leads to instability and therefore the molecule is highly reactive. More science jargon right? Basically, free radicals lead to cell damage because they are unstable and reactive. That is why certain superfoods are so beneficial, mushrooms being one of them. I also recommend blueberries, dark chocolate, spinach, and oranges. But this is all about mushrooms, so let’s get back on track.

Mushrooms are a source of thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and copper. Let me break down what those nutrients and minerals:

Thiamin: This is vitamin B-1. It is necessary for cellular growth and normal function. Without thiamin our cells could not generate energy. Thiamin is necessary for our cells to break down carbohydrates, thus, our metabolism is somewhat dependent on it.

Magnesium: Magnesium supports muscle and nerve function. I have always thought of magnesium and calcium as “sedatives” in practice. Too little of them and muscles become hyperactive and rigid. It is imperative to keep magnesium levels within normal range in order to prevent hypertension, coronary artery disease, type two diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Phosphorus: Phosphorus is essential for bone health. Normal phosphorus levels are necessary for energy and overall feelings of wellness. Low phosphorus levels have been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome and joint pain.

Selenium: Selenium helps our cells to produce DNA. It is also known to protect from free radicals which explains why mushrooms have antioxidant properties. Selenium contributes to overall metabolism and thyroid function.

Copper: Copper is a very important mineral in the human body as it aids in the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to various tissues in the body. Copper is also an antioxidant like selenium helping to rid free radicals.

So there is a general overview of “mushrooms” and their health benefits. Yet it is apparent that not all mushrooms are created equally. With so many varieties to choose from there has been a great expansion of specialty mushroom products. This has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Westerners are becoming more health conscious and are reaching for reasonable preventive solutions which have been well documented for years in eastern cultures. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global mushroom market was 12.74 million tons and is projected to reach

20.84 million tons by 2026. Sales are expected to be $34.3 Billion by 2024 according to Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

www.mindbodygreen.com has posted an interesting read concerning 13 varieties of mushrooms and the best ways to use them. Essentially there is a fungus for every condition it would seem. I took their list of thirteen mushrooms and decided to do my own research on each variety to learn more: Shiitake

This mushroom is native to east Asia. It is known for being high in vitamin D and also contains B Vitamins. Shiitakes have a high amount of natural copper. They are also rich in selenium.

Shiitake Mushroom Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits (verywellfit.com)


Portobello Mushrooms

These mushrooms are a great source of riboflavin or vitamin B2. Riboflavin helps to break down carbohydrates, thus increasing metabolism and energy production! They are also high in B3 which is Niacin. Niacin is commonly known to detoxify. Portobellos are also a great source of fiber which reduces the risk of colon cancer. 9 Beneficial Health Benefits of Portobello Mushrooms – DrHealthBenefits.com

Maitake (Hen of the Woods)

According to healthline, Maitake mushrooms are extraordinary for treating cancer. They are rich in antioxidants, beta-glucans, B and C vitamins, copper, potassium, fiber, minerals, and amino acids.

Maitake’s are shown to lower cholesterol in mice as per this 2013 study:

Effect of Dietary Maitake (<i>Grifola frondosa</i>) Mushrooms on Plasma Cholesterol and

Hepatic Gene Expression in Cholesterol-Fed Mice (jst.go.jp)


Reishi mushrooms have been shown to boost immunity in humans. Details a[[ear vague, however studies have shown reishi mushrooms affect genes in certain white blood cells and increase their numbers.

A 2005 study found correlation to ingesting reishi mushrooms and a positive immuno-modulating response in patients with advanced colo-rectal cancer, though the author concluded more studies certainly need to be performed:

Monitoring of immune responses to a herbal immuno-modulator in patients with advanced colorectal cancer – PubMed (nih.gov)

That being said, if there is any truth in any of these studies, reishi mushrooms may prove to be extremely beneficial to the future of medicine in the fields of oncology and rheumatology.


Crimini mushrooms (spelled cremini sometimes) are sold throughout grocery stores. They are known to boost immunity. They contain probiotics which improves digestion and immunity. More interestingly, crimini mushrooms appear to have properties similar to aromatase inhibitors. This means they block the creation of estrogen. This could be incredibly beneficial in the treatment of breast, lung, and uterine cancer. My interest was peaked when I read an article posted here: Mushrooms Are Highly Recommended For Breast Cancer | Food for Breast Cancer

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These are mushrooms I commonly see in grocery stores. They have great health benefits. The are a great source of vitamin D. Like many other mushrooms they are a source of selenium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. They also carry B vitamins. These may seem common, but could be a key super-food staple which could be added to several meals per

week: White Mushrooms: Nutrition, Benefits, and Uses (healthline.com)


Oyster mushrooms are packed with antioxidants! This 2006 article showed significant antioxidant action in rats: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov After-all, we share ¼ of our genome with rodents, so there are some serious implications here that oyster mushrooms may hold the key to reducing free radicals. This German fungi is a super food for sure. Porcini

Porcini mushrooms are known for being fat free and a great source of protein as well as fiber. They have the same antioxidant effects of many of the other mushrooms discussed and additionally they have been known to improve ulcers, inflammation, colon cancer, and have aided in weight loss: Porcini mushroom Health benefits and Side effects – foodthesis.com


Enoki mushrooms are also called winter mushrooms or golden needle mushrooms. They have an impressive appearance in my opinion. They too are rich in antioxidants. Enokis have been shown to slow cancer cell growth @vol19_no4.indb (jst.go.jp) and reduce inflammation in coronary arteries: Antioxidative Effects and Inhibition of Human Low Density Lipoprotein Oxidation In Vitro of Polyphenolic Compounds in Flammulina velutipes (Golden Needle

Mushroom) – PubMed (nih.gov)


Chantrelles are rich in vitamin D and are meaty and hearty. They contain beta-carotene which is an important precursor to vitamin A. They contain Lycopene (a chemical that gives many veggies their red color, but otherwise is useful in normalizing blood pressure and inflammation). Vitamin A, E, C, Thiamine… Chantrelles are incredibly nutritious. After seeing just how many vitamins and minerals are packed into these mushrooms I am definitely going to get back in the woods this season and find some! Check it out:

Chanterelle Mushrooms: Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Uses, Safety Information, and More (webmd.com)


Morels are commonly sought where I live in Ohio, and for good reason! They contain a high amount of antioxidants and are known to prevent type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and heart

disease. This, again, comes from the cleaning up of free radicals. These are championed as a delicacy in the rust-belt and I know several avid mushroom hunters personally who seek only morels. Look at this article on health benefits of morels:

Health Benefits of the Morel Mushroom – The Great Morel


Lobster mushrooms? I had never heard of these. It turns out they are quite nutritious. They contain vitamin D in high levels as well as phosphorus and zinc. They, like all mushrooms, are a great source of fiber and they also contain a good deal of copper to keep red blood cell production running smoothly.

Lobster mushrooms? Hmm… interesting:

The Health Benefits of Lobster Mushrooms – Blend of Bites

King Trumpet

King Trumpet mushrooms are rich in potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium.They have been shown to improve blood glucose and lipid levels in mice:

Effect of king oyster mushroom (Pleurotus eryngii) on insulin resistance and dyslipidemia in db/db mice

According to one source King Trumpet mushrooms have antimicrobial and antiviral effects as well:

King trumpet mushroom: benefits and side effects – foodthesis.com

I also want to point out the obvious, I have not mentioned psychedelics as that is for another article, but know that there have been many breakthroughs with using psilocybin to treat various conditions from depression to chronic pain. I say this because when I tell people I am writing about mushrooms I inevitably have to explain “no, not the trippy ones dude.” I have recommended it to patients in the past, which of course put me in some grey area as a clinician as psychedelic mushrooms are not yet legal. However, research is truly supporting various benefits there as well. I will discuss this in a future post.

To conclude this article, I want to simply say the future of fungiculture is staggering and seemingly limitless. There is a wealth of untapped potential growing all around us. God has provided every nuanced building block to complete a solid mind, body, spirit temple right here in the garden. It is inspirational to see others researching and discovering wellness strategies which have been sitting right in front of us for centuries. More often than not the obvious solution is overlooked, yet it is the correct one. Nature has a way of elegantly fitting together perfectly like a well thought out interdenominational puzzle. Mushrooms are just one more piece falling into place right where they need to be.


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