Thu, Dec 31, 20
Hey there!
While the entire world is racing to find a vaccine for Covid-19, we could safely assume that a “Post-Covid” world is fast approaching. But does that mean we will be immune from other pandemics, that are yet to attack us? With the speculations of future bio-wars, climate change-induced melting of Antarctic glaciers that might release new kinds of viruses previously unknown to humankind, mutating microbes etc., it is important for us to know how to protect ourselves from these uncertainties. The answer lies with nature itself. Yes, Mushrooms! These days medicinal mushrooms are the talk of the town. There are so many varieties of mushrooms around us that are used for cooking and healing purposes. Increasing research papers on these mushrooms on their healing potentials are being published every day. Here are a few mushrooms that give us immunity, vital organ protection, neural protection and strong mental health.


Ganoderma spp. AKA Reishi is a red coloured, kidney-shaped mushroom that has been used in traditional medications for centuries. Out of its numerous health benefits, Reishi is best known for its immune-boosting properties. It has been proven that Reishi positively alters the genes in the White-Blood Cells, which are very crucial in our immune system(1). Other studies have shown that Reishi also alters the inflammation pathways in the White Blood Cells (2). Cancer research showed that molecules found in this mushroom increased the activity of the Natural Killer Cells(3). 
Asian countries like Korea, Japan and China, have been using this mushroom in their daily diets, to protect them from various diseases. And as a fact, these countries were one of the fastest to recover from the pandemic situation. Reishi can be consumed in various ways like brewing it as a tea, consuming it in capsules or making it as a liquid extract.


Cordyceps, also known as the caterpillar fungus, is a unique entomopathogenic fungus, which is predominantly found in the Tibetian plateau. This one of a kind fungus targets caterpillars and other similar insects and grows out of them, but worry not, today these fungi are cultivated in environment controlled farms, over grain media such as wheat and rice. Interestingly, their rights of consumption were once reserved for the royal families only. These days cordyceps is a widely consumed mushroom, throughout the world.
Cordyceps offers a great deal of health benefits for the vital organs of the body. Cordyceps is known as a “Lung and Kidney Tonic” in Eastern medicines. It enhances the airway of the lungs and protects the lungs from bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia. Cordyceps has been proven to positively affect renal health in patients with chronic kidney disease (4).Also, Cordyceps boasts a great deal of Cardiac wellness. In fact, Cordyceps is approved in China for the treatment of arrhythmia, a condition in which the heartbeat is too slow, too fast or irregular(5). 


Lion’s Mane is an excellent gourmet mushroom that tastes like crab and lobster. It is a white coloured, fluffy, ball-shaped mushroom, a regional favourite in Japan. These mushrooms are now widely cultivated and consumed throughout the world. What makes it stand apart from other mushrooms is its ability to protect the brain and the neural network of the body.
Apart from its excellent taste, it also keeps the brain healthy and improves the cognitive function of the brain(6). Lion’s mane is a perfect friend of the elderly people, as it prevents the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer's disease. There have been studies, which found out that Lion's mane improves the lifestyle of people with Alzheimer's (7). Another unique benefit this mushroom has to offer is its ability to cross the Blood-Brain Barrier, which induces its nerve growth factor to repair the damaged neural networks in people with stroke and Parkinson’s(8).


Though medicinal mushrooms are widely used by the larger part of Asia, the use of these mushrooms is very limited in India. The traditional Indian Medicine sparsely mentions anything about mushrooms in their texts. Off late, there has been an increasing demand for medicinal mushrooms in India, thanks to the Internet. The community should encourage the usage of these mushrooms for the greater well being of society and reduce the dependence on synthetic drugs. There are a few startups in India, focused on the cultivation of these medicinal mushrooms.

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