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Antiviral Mushrooms and How to Use Them
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Antiviral Mushrooms and How to Use Them

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Even before coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, medicinal mushrooms were seeing a bit of a boom in popularity. More and more research is supporting their effectiveness as immune-boosting, antibacterial, and antiviral agents.

As more and more people decide to take control of their health, the demand for natural remedies for a variety of ails is skyrocketing. Especially as the current coronavirus pandemic situation worsens with no known treatment, people are taking action to enhance their bodies’ natural prevention mechanisms, and increase their chances of a positive outcome.

The science around medicinal mushrooms is emerging, yet promising. Here are a few mushrooms that have science behind them for their action against viruses specifically.

Shiitake mushrooms for flu and flavor.

shiitake mushrooms healing properties

Shiitake mushrooms are a common ingredient in Asian cuisine and you can easily find them in most grocery stores. Aside from adding an earthy depth to soups and stir-fries, shiitake mushrooms have medicinal superpowers. In a mouse study, a compound in shiitake mushrooms was found to reduce deaths from a virus that causes inflammation to the brain. 

Another study showed that if administered early, a polysaccharide (a sugar structure) found in shiitake mushrooms slows the replication of two types of herpes viruses, which could give the immune system a chance to fight it before it takes hold. 

How to take shiitake mushroom.

Shiitake mushrooms are easy to find in large grocery stores and international markets. You can also find shiitake mushrooms in capsule or extract form. 

Reishi mushroom as an immune booster, antioxidant, and antiviral.

Reishi mushroom as an immune booster, antioxidant, and antiviral.

Traditional healers have prized reishi mushroom for generations for its medicinal properties. Because of its earthy flavor, chefs do not typically turn to reishi mushroom as a food ingredient. Less commonly, people will add mushroom powders like reishi to food as a nutritional boost, but not as a flavor enhancer.  

A growing body of scientific evidence show’s reishi’s potential as part of a virus treatment and prevention strategy. The polysaccharides and terpenes (fragrant plant compounds that often have a biological effect) in reishi mushroom have been found to prevent hepatitis B cells from replicating by interfering with their ability to stick and enter healthy cells.

In another in vitro (test tube) study, the compounds in reishi were found to prevent and control enterovirus in an in vitro (test tube) laborotory study. Reishi was found to have liver protective properties, which is helpful during illness. 

How to take reishi mushroom.

You can simmer reishi mushroom powder or small broken pieces of reishi for 20 minutes to make a strong (bitter) tea, or take them in extract or capsule form according to package directions. You can buy these at most natural foods stores or order from well-known herbal retailers. There are also coffee blends that contain reishi.

Turkeytail mushroom for immunity and infection.

Turkeytail mushroom for immunity and infection.

Researchers are paying more attention to turkeytail mushroom than ever before. Emerging science is showing that turkeytail could boost the immune system, slow the growth of cancer, and fight infections. A review of current science lists several studies where turkeytail mushroom showed antiviral activity, and in other research it was even effective against HIV

In addition, turkeytail mushroom has been shown to boost the immune system and it may prevent viruses from replicating, which gives your immune system a chance to catch up and fight harder. 

How to take turkeytail mushroom.

Turkeytail mushroom is fairly easy to find. You can buy turkey tail mushroom in powder, extract or capsule form at health food stores or natural grocery stores. Follow package directions for the form you choose.

  • Powder. You can mix powdered turkey tail mushroom into hot or cold beverages.
  • Capsules. Look for single-ingredient turkeytail capsules, plus the capsule itself will appear on the ingredients list as vegetable cellulose or hypromellose. 
  • Extract. Turkey tail mushroom extracts should contain only turkey tail mushroom and alcohol.  

Antiviral properties of chaga mushroom.

Antiviral properties of chaga mushroom.

Traditional healers have used chaga mushroom for centuries for a variety of ails. Its bitter, earthy flavor isn’t one that chefs seek out for culinary uses, but it is starting to make its way into teas, coffee blends, and mushroom powders. 

Research shows that compounds in chaga mushroom show biological action against several types of viruses, and also prevent replication of various virus types. It even blocked strains of herpes from entering cells. 

How to take chaga mushroom.

You can steep fresh or dried chaga mushroom pieces in hot water for 3-5 minutes and sip as a tea, or you can find extracts at health food stores or natural grocery stores. You can also find chaga as an ingredient in some mushroom coffee blends.

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