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The best mushrooms to fight against cold, flu and viruses

    Immune System

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    Medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to support immune health. Modern scientific research has validated the powerful immune-supportive properties of medicinal mushrooms. These mushrooms are rich in beta-glucanspolysaccharides, and other compounds that have been shown to support immune health. They can help to regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.

    Examples of medicinal mushrooms that may help to support immune health include Shiitake, Reishi, Maitake, Chaga, and Cordyceps. In this blog, we will focus on the synergy of Reishi and Cordyceps as immune supporters.

    Immune boosting effects with mushrooms

    There are thousands of species of mushrooms, and their purported benefits range from supporting liver and heart health to enhancing energy and more.

    One of the most potent effects of many medicinal mushrooms is their strong antiviral and immune-enhancing properties. Several mushrooms, in fact, have been shown to be effective against preventing and treating respiratory viruses like the common cold and even the flu virus, which is impressive considering the highly infectious nature of viruses and that they are notoriously difficult to prevent and treat due to their ability to easily mutate.

    Mushrooms themselves need antibacterial and antiviral compounds to survive in the wild, so they naturally harbor a lot of these substances.

    They have powerful constituents called beta-D-glucans, beta-glycosides, and other substances that have been determined in some research to significantly stimulate our innate immune system.

    Mushrooms can be a rich source of selenium, magnesium, and zinc, all of which may play a direct or indirect role in their anti-influenza properties. Research is still emerging about the power of mushrooms, but some studies show their promise—and considering that they can be added to soups, stews, sauces, and more, they couldn’t be easier to incorporate into your diet.

    Cordyceps: useful against viruses, helpful for respiratory support and fatigue

    • Cordyceps immunomodulatory action has been seen in an increase in the activity of natural killer (NK) cells in randomised clinical trials in healthy adults (Lise Alschuler et al., 2022).
    • Cordycepin, an active compound exclusive to Cordyceps, has been shown to have antiviral activity against several viruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), gamma-herpes viruses, virus latently infected host cells (Ryu E, et al., 2014), dengue virus (DENV) protein (Aussara Panya et al., 2021) as well as in vitro effects against HIV-1 (Zhu Y, et al., 2016).

    Reishi: useful for inflammation, the immune system and intestinal modulation

    • Reishi promotes balance of the innate immune system and can reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and inflammatory responses following viral infection, seen in conditions like Long COVID. Specifically, terpenes or terpenoids can stimulate the expressions of genes for coding proteins in the Nf-KB pathway, for immune functioning (Xu et al., 2021).
    • In vitro studies have demonstrated the antiviral capacity against a number of different types of viruses, such as various coronaviruses, herpes viruses, influenza A viruses, hepatitis B virus (HBV), HIV, and more (Ahmad MF et al. 2021 and Arunachalam et al. 2022).

    Beta-glucans: the key bioactive substance to help our immune system?

    • Mushrooms contain β-(1,3 and 1,6) D-glucans that are scientifically known as Biological Response Modifiers (BRM).

    • Research has established that β-(1,3 and 1,6) D-glucans can trigger various immune responses and act as efficient, safe immunomodulating agents.

    • This provides the practitioner with huge potential for clinical application in a range of health conditions. For more information on beta-glucans visit:

    How to choose the best mushroom products:

    There is a certain range of standards that high quality medicinal mushroom products should meet. The first thing to look for is a certified organic medicinal mushroom or one that is grown in a controlled environment so that you’re sure there isn’t any risk of heavy metal, mould, pesticide or other toxic combination. So the first point is: it must be a certified organic medicinal mushroom, look for UK and European organic certification on the label.

    Secondly, you actually want a guarantee of standardisation of concentration and stabilities of ingredients and the product should actually list the composition and amount of beta glucans on the label.

    Look for the maximum concentration of these active molecules so how much ganoderic acid is in your Reishi, how much grifolan is in your maitake?

    It is also important to look for a product that is suitable for vegetarians, vegans, coeliacs and lactose intolerance. Thirdly, 360º traceability of the processing and production process with Scientific evidence to demonstrate the efficacy and safety. It’s important to highlight that Hifas da Terra meets all these requirements and more for more information on what to look for visit:

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