(Photo: Nutrition World)

Mushrooms found on salad bars are nutritious, sure, but they are nothing special. Medicinal mushrooms, however, rise above mediocrity and are on par with humans in regards to health.

For example, though humans and mushrooms share similar diseases, mushrooms have evolved in their ability to counter disease due to precise internal compounds, making them one of the healthiest plants on earth. Many older antibiotics were actually made from fungi.  

Still a natural medicine for a litany of health conditions, medicinal mushrooms increase the vitality and power of our innate immune system, our protection against serious health conditions.  Recovering from illness is practically impossible with a weakened immune system and mushrooms can be a key to remedying this situation.

Here’s a starter list for you of common therapeutic mushrooms:

—Chaga

—Maitake

—Reishi

—Cordyceps

—Enokitake

—Mesima

—Turkey Tail

—Oyster

—Lion’s Mane

—Agarikon, Shiitake

—Split Gill

Selecting these mushrooms seems a challenging task with so much bearing on the intricacies of growing, harvesting and encapsulating them for quality control. Maintaining the active ingredients in therapeutic mushrooms is a combination of skill, experience and science. As with any good thing, quality trumps price.

A company I trust is Host Defense® Mushrooms™, which was founded by Paul Stamets, a mycologist—someone who specializes in the study of fungi—with decades of experience in growing and researching the value of mushrooms.

I was fortunate to have spent time with him recently. He impressed me then and was my initial inspiration for embracing mushrooms. I remember watching his short TedMed testimonial describing how mushrooms saved his mother’s life from terminal disease. (Click here to watch a snippet of the story.)

When to embrace mushrooms

By now, you’re likely wondering if mushrooms could benefit you—a valid question. I don’t normally recommend medicinal mushrooms as a daily supplement unless there is a direct need, such as your immune system being compromised by serious health conditions or medical treatments. Often, it takes a substantial increase in dosage to secure effective results.

Before adding any therapeutic product to your health journey or tinkering with dosage amounts, I recommend checking in with your health professional, especially if you’ve already started treatment.

Likewise, if your immune system is run down and colds are a common occurrence, you could try mushrooms; it would be clear within a few weeks if these were adding value to you.

Another reason to try mushrooms: hiking where the air is thin. I put mushrooms to the test when attempting to climb a 14,400 mountain in Colorado. I knew that cordyceps vastly increased the capacity of breathing and lung health. That trip, I used large amounts of cordyceps and rarely struggled to breathe, thanks to some much needed mushroom magic.

While you may not be climbing mountains often, battling intense colds or serious health conditions, someone you know may be stuck and in need of a health boost. Sharing this knowledge with them could be just the nudge they need.

Curious to learn more? Check out what Dr. Mercola has to say on this topic. Click here to read his article on mushrooms.

If you’d rather have a conversation with someone about mushrooms, stop on by Nutrition World on July 31 for a free consumer lecture from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Click here for details.

Ed Jones is a Chattanooga holistic health expert who is passionate about natural health, holistic health, natural healing and physical fitness. He is a graduate of American Health Science University and received his associate in arts degree in 1978 from MTSU. He is also a professional member of the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit organization that helps people live healthier lives through responsible use of herbs and medicinal plants. He is constantly training in new areas, attends seminars across the country and has had personal interactions with many of today’s experts on natural health. He seeks to inspire and empower people to take control of their health through the use of holistic approaches to accomplish peak vitality and complete wellness.