When Formulating EQUI products, our quest to find the most effective natural remedies has led us to some of nature's most potent and intriguing nutrients. Among these, medicinal mushrooms stand out as a beacon of holistic health. These fungi have been cherished by ancient civilisations and modern science alike for their profound benefits. For anyone seeking to elevate your health or beauty regimens – or perhaps you are already supplementing with Wellness or Beauty Formulas – this blog holds essential insights into the world of these incredible mushrooms.
Centuries ago, in the farthest corners of the East, traditional healers recognised the potent powers embedded within mushrooms. These weren’t your average kitchen varieties but rather a group of select fungi revered for their therapeutic properties. Fast forward to today, and modern research continues to validate what these ancient cultures always knew. In a world increasingly turning to natural solutions for well-being, medicinal mushrooms have found their rightful place.
For those of you who trust in our Wellness Formula, you might be familiar with cordyceps mushroom. No ordinary fungus, cordyceps is renowned for its multifaceted benefits – from fortifying immunity to enhancing cognitive function. Imagine a naturally occurring remedy that not only bolsters your body's defences but also sharpens your mind! Such is the magic of cordyceps. On the other hand, if you’ve chosen to supplement with Beauty Formula, you’ve already been benefitting from the calming effects of reishi mushroom. Today, stress and anxiety are often unwelcome companions for many. Reishi, with its serene energy, works wonders in soothing the nerves, promoting tranquillity, and instilling a sense of balance. It’s like a deep, meditative breath for your body and soul.
But why mushrooms? And why these specific varieties? These are questions we've delved deep into, ensuring that every ingredient we introduce to our formulations meets our high standards of efficacy and harmony. As we've discovered, mushrooms like cordyceps and reishi offer a synergy of compounds that holistically support our body's myriad functions. They fit seamlessly into EQUI’s ethos of balance and wholeness. This blog is a tribute to their ancient roots, a guide to understanding their potency, and a testament to the transformative effects they can have on your wellness and beauty journey. Whether you're someone curious about natural supplementation, a wellness enthusiast, or a seasoned EQUI customer, this exploration into medicinal mushrooms promises enriching insights. Today we dive deep, uncover the mysteries, the science, and the stories of these fungi wonders.
Introduction to Medicinal Mushrooms
Over the centuries, mushrooms have been much more than just a culinary delight. Their role in traditional medicine, stretching back thousands of years, paints a picture of profound respect and reverence. With roots deep in ancient civilisations, these fungi have experienced a recent revival in the world of modern wellness, showcasing their timeless value. The initial use of mushrooms in medicine can be traced back to ancient China and India, where they were held in high esteem for their therapeutic properties. Reishi, for instance, was termed as the "Mushroom of Immortality" by Chinese Taoists and has been depicted in many ancient Chinese artworks, symbolising longevity, and health (1). Similarly, traditional Indian medicine, or Ayurveda, recognised various mushroom species for their healing attributes, especially in balancing the body's energies or 'doshas'.
Fast forward a few centuries, and we find the indigenous tribes of Mesoamerica using some mushrooms for spiritual and healing rituals. They believed that these mushrooms allowed them to communicate with gods and spirits, gaining wisdom and insight into the mysteries of existence. The journey of these humble fungi did not stop there. Their allure journeyed to the West, where modern scientists began to unlock the secrets held within. The 20th century saw the isolation of vital compounds from mushrooms, leading to breakthroughs in medicine and pharmacology. For example, penicillin, derived from the Penicillium fungus, revolutionised medicine by introducing the age of antibiotics.
Yet today, we are witnessing the meteoric rise of medicinal mushrooms in wellness routines. With the shift towards natural and holistic health solutions, mushrooms including Cordyceps and Reishi, as well as Lion's Mane, Chaga, and Turkey Tail are gaining immense popularity for their potential benefits ranging from cognitive enhancement to immune system support (2). Meanwhile, the adaptogenic properties of certain mushrooms, helping the body to combat stress, align seamlessly with EQUI’s ethos that prioritises mental well-being alongside physical health. What’s more, modern scientific studies have started validating what ancient healers inherently knew. Current research highlights that bioactive compounds in mushrooms, such as beta-glucans, have potential anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties (3). Additionally, the neuroprotective effects of certain mushroom species present promising avenues for tackling neurodegenerative diseases (4). So, we can see why medicinal mushrooms have become popular again. Integrating them into modern wellness routines is not just a trend but a testament to their ancient use and potent potential.
Cordyceps – Supporting Your Immunity & Cognitive Function
One of the wonders of traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps, has captured the attention of scientists, herbalists, and us, here at EQUI. Its reputation as a potent tonic and therapeutic fungus has roots deeply anchored in ancient practices, and modern research is only just beginning to understand the full breadth of its capabilities. So, what do we know?
Well, firstly, Cordyceps is not your typical mushroom. Native to the Himalayan region, particularly Tibet and Nepal, this fungus was originally found to live on certain caterpillars in the high mountain regions of China. This has earned it the name “caterpillar fungus.” Altitudes of over 3,800 meters are where these fungi prefer to grow, amidst the cold grassy, alpine environments.
Since then, modern science has identified several bioactive components in cordyceps that account for its reputed health benefits. The two most researched are cordycepin and beta-glucans. Firstly, cordycepin has demonstrated potential anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-tumour effects (5). It’s believed to boost cellular energy production (known as ATP), leading to increased energy and stamina. Meanwhile, beta-glucans are polysaccharides known for their immune-boosting properties. They've shown promise in enhancing the body’s defence against pathogens (6). Together, these compounds, among others found in cordyceps, can offer a multitude of health benefits, from enhancing physical performance to potentially fighting off diseases.
Wellness Formula's inclusion of Cordyceps is no accident. Our philosophy is rooted in functional medicine, and we believe that a healthy body is one that is in balance. The symbiotic relationship between our immunity and cognitive function is where medicinal mushrooms like cordyceps come into play. A fortified immune system is the body’s first line of defence against external pathogens, ensuring that every other system, including the nervous system, functions optimally. Regarding our cognitive function, some studies have suggested that cordyceps might have neuroprotective effects. These neuroprotective properties could potentially enhance brain function, memory, and concentration (7). So, the dual role of cordyceps in both immunity bolstering and cognitive enhancement is a one of the fundamental reasons we decided to include it in Wellness Formula.
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Exploring Reishi Mushroom Extract
Reishi mushroom (also known as Ganoderma lucidum) is rooted in ancient Asian medicinal practices. Known as the 'Mushroom of Immortality' in China and the 'Ten-Thousand-Year Mushroom' in Japan, Reishi has garnered deep respect for its myriad of therapeutic properties (8). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) mentions Reishi as a remedy for illness, attributing it with healing properties that span from enhancing vitality to promoting longevity. Ancient practitioners believed that regular consumption of this "spiritual mushroom" would allow those that took it to attain 'nirvana', hence it being known as a 'spirit plant'.
At the heart of Reishi's therapeutic prowess are its bioactive compounds. Modern research has identified several key compounds within this mystical mushroom, including triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans, which are believed to be responsible for its pharmacological actions. Among these, the triterpenoids are particularly powerful. These have been associated with anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic (histamine is a chemical that your immune system releases in response to certain foods or allergens), and liver-protecting effects. Moreover, they have shown potential in inducing relaxation, aiding in the reduction of stress, and even enhancing sleep quality (9). Finally, reishi also acts as a prebiotic fibre, feeding the gut microbiome, which is key in maintaining the gut-skin axis.
Today, reishi's anxiety reducing effects and adaptogenic properties are particularly sought after. The adaptogenic nature of reishi suggests that it can help the body maintain homeostasis, especially during times of physical or emotional stress. This is vital in today's fast-paced world, where chronic stress and anxiety have become all too common. Clinical studies have explored the effects of reishi on the central nervous system, finding that its beneficial compounds may enhance nerve growth factor synthesis, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health of neurons.
EQUI's decision to incorporate reishi into Beauty Formula is a testament to its timeless benefits. Since stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your skin, manifesting as premature ageing or exacerbation of conditions like acne, the calming effects of reishi serve as a protective shield. What’s more, the anxiety reducing properties of this venerable mushroom potentially counteract the ramifications of stress, ensuring that the skin, the body's largest organ, remains radiant, resilient, and reflective of inner tranquillity. Finally, emerging research over the last decade has further solidified reishi's standing in the domain of natural therapeutics thanks to its multitude of benefits including its beneficial impact on the gut microbiome. Several studies have shed light on its ability to modulate the immune system, combat oxidative stress, and act as a natural remedy for anxiety and stress.
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Cordyceps vs. Reishi – Which One Should I Go With?
Mushrooms have been used for their therapeutic properties for millennia, especially in traditional Eastern medicinal practices. Among these, cordyceps and reishi stand out, each boasting its unique benefits. Though both fall under the umbrella of medicinal mushrooms, their primary effects and optimal applications differ significantly.
Cordyceps - The Wellness Enhancer
Cordyceps, primarily recognised for its potent adaptogenic properties, is renowned for boosting vitality and endurance. Current research emphasises its role in bolstering immunity, enhancing lung function, and even offering potential cognitive benefits (10). The adaptogenic nature of cordyceps is pivotal in helping the body combat stress, both physical and mental. This makes it an essential inclusion in Wellness Formula, which aims at holistically supporting your health, targeting not just physical but also mental well-being. Cordyceps, with its multifunctional benefits, aligns perfectly with this intent. If you are seeking a holistic enhancement of your overall well-being, cordyceps within Wellness Formula stands out as a promising candidate due to its multitude of benefits.
Reishi - The Beauty Booster
On the other side of the spectrum is reishi, often referred to as the "mushroom of immortality." Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich profile lends itself perfectly to beauty regimens (11). One of the primary reasons for its incorporation into our award-winning Beauty Formula is its potential to combat oxidative stress, which is detrimental to skin health. Moreover, Reishi's calming effects have been linked to reduced stress and anxiety. As stress can accelerate the ageing process and exacerbate skin issues, the anxiety reducing properties of reishi are invaluable in a beauty-centric context. What’s more, Reishi has been identified as a promising prebiotic. Its bioactive polysaccharides play a pivotal role in promoting gut health. Recent research has spotlighted its potential in increasing the number of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut. Bifidobacteria are essential for optimal digestion and preventing the proliferation of harmful bacteria. By fostering a conducive environment for these beneficial bacteria, reishi aids in maintaining a balanced gut microbiota, crucial for skin health (12). So, Beauty Formula prioritises maintaining and enhancing skin health, including ingredients that combat oxidative stress and inflammation and support the gut-skin axis – a niche that Reishi fits aptly.
While both cordyceps and reishi offer significant health benefits, it's essential to recognise the distinctions in their therapeutic profiles. Cordyceps serves as a versatile wellness enhancer, optimising both physical and mental well-being. In contrast, reishi's protective and restorative properties make it a stellar component of beauty regimens. The tailored inclusion of these mushrooms in our Formulas ensures that you can harness their benefits most effectively.
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Incorporating Medicinal Mushrooms into Daily Life
Medicinal mushrooms, including cordyceps and reishi, have been loved for centuries. But how can we best incorporate these into our daily routine for optimal benefits? Here are our top tips to include medicinal mushrooms in your daily wellness routine:
Start with a Solid Foundation - The first step is to understand your needs. If you're looking for an energy and cognitive boost, cordyceps might be your go-to. However, if you seek relaxation, stress relief, and potential skin health benefits, reishi might better suit your requirements.
Optimal Dosages - Dosages can vary based on the individual, the product's concentration, and the purpose of consumption. This is why we have been mindful not to include too little or too much of these medicinal mushrooms in our Formulas. If you are looking to supplement further, then remember to always consult with a healthcare professional for personalised dosage recommendations.
Choose Quality Products - When selecting mushroom supplements, opt for reputable brands that offer natural, bio-available extracts. Products like Wellness and Beauty Formula are designed with just the right dosages, ensuring you receive the mushrooms' full benefits without the guesswork.
Pair with Other Nutrients - Mushrooms can have enhanced effects when combined with other nutrients. For instance, the synergy of cordyceps with antioxidants like vitamin C might bolster its immune-supporting properties, hence why Wellness Formula contains an optimal dosage of vitamin C alongside cordyceps mushroom extract. Similarly, reishi as a prebiotic, pairs well with probiotics as it provides the food needed for these beneficial bacteria strains to thrive, which is why we have also included 1.5 billion probiotics in Beauty Formula alongside reishi mushroom extract.
Consistent Integration - To witness the full spectrum of benefits, it's crucial to maintain consistency. This is where formulated products like Wellness and Beauty Formula shine. With a daily supplement routine, you seamlessly incorporate these power-packed fungi into your day. Over time, as their compounds build up in your system, you're more likely to experience their holistic benefits, from enhanced cognitive function to a calmer disposition. As with any new supplement, start with a smaller dose and observe your body's response. Gradually increase to the recommended dosage over several days.
Versatile Consumption - While formulated products offer convenience, you can also incorporate mushroom powders into foods. Mushrooms, in their natural form, can be a delicious addition to meals. Reishi, though slightly bitter, can be integrated into soups or teas. Cordyceps, with its more neutral taste, can be added to smoothies, coffee, or even sprinkled on salads. While medicinal mushrooms offer numerous benefits, they are most effective as part of a balanced diet and holistic wellness routine. Pair them with a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
Medicinal mushrooms are generally considered safe. However, some individuals might experience digestive upset, dryness of the mouth, nose, and throat, and in rare cases, allergic reactions. Always be attentive to your body's signals and discontinue use if adverse reactions occur. Consult a Nutritional Therapist or Healthcare provider should you be considering using mushrooms at higher dosages.
Wachtel-Galor, S., Yuen, J., Buswell, J. A., & Benzie, I. F. (2011). Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
Wasser, S.P. (2017). Medicinal Mushrooms in Human Clinical Studies. Part I. Anticancer, Oncoimmunological, and Immunomodulatory Activities: A Review. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 19(4).
Wasser, S.P., (2017). Medicinal mushroom science: Current perspectives, advances, evidences, and challenges. Biomedical Journal, 37(6), pp. 345-35.
Phan, C.W., David, P., Naidu, M., Wong, K.H. and Sabaratnam, V., 2015. Therapeutic potential of culinary-medicinal mushrooms for the management of neurodegenerative diseases: diversity, metabolite, and mechanism. Critical reviews in biotechnology, 35(3), pp.355-368.
Lee, H.G., et al., 2016. 'Anti-inflammatory effects of Cordycepin and its potential in treating inflammatory conditions'. Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 18(1), pp.1-10.
Wasser, S.P., 2017. 'Medicinal mushroom science: Current perspectives, advances, evidences, and challenges'. Biomedical Journal, 40(6), pp.345-356.
Zhou, X., et al., 2015. 'Neuroprotective effects of Cordyceps and its potential application in cognitive impairments'. Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, 3(2), pp.60-70.
Wachtel-Galor, S., Yuen, J., Buswell, J.A. & Benzie, I.F.F., 2011. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
Cör, D., Knez, Ž. & Knez Hrnčič, M., 2018. Antitumour, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant and Antiacetylcholinesterase Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum Terpenoids and Polysaccharides: A Review. Molecules, 23(3), p.649.
Smith, T.J., et al. (2012) 'Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs.' Chinese Medicine, 7(1), p. 3.
Chang, C.Y., et al. (2014) 'Ganoderma lucidum reduces obesity in mice by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota.' Nature Communications, 5, p. 7489.
Wang, L., Zhang, Y., Chen, J., Li, N., Chen, X., Liang, X., & Sun, Z. (2017). Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide promotes Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus growth by inducing glycosidase activity. Journal of Functional Foods, 37, pp. 532-540.