This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 10/15/2012. 

By Marcie Bower, Lic.Ac.

When I was 2 years old, mushrooms were my favorite food. Weird taste for a 2 year old, yes, but a wise one! Mushrooms are increasingly shown to have numerous health benefits, from boosting immunity to fighting cancer to balancing the emotions.

In Chinese Medicine, each food has particular properties that govern how it acts in the body. Foods have affinities for certain energy systems and exert their influence more strongly on some systems than others. Depending on the variety, mushrooms range from neutral to cooling innate temperatures, which make them ideal for ridding the body of heat toxins. Toxic heat is a term that encompasses most viral diseases and cancers today. Mushrooms are said to have a sweet flavor, which makes them nourishing to our body’s natural defense systems. These two factors together make mushrooms a dynamite immunity-building food.

The common button variety of mushrooms have been shown to boost white blood cell counts, have antibiotic and antimicrobial properties, improve recovery time from disease, and have anti-neoplastic properties. (They fight cancer.)  Research has shown that a diet high in mushrooms can slow the development of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Common mushrooms also can help the body expel a cold and relieve phlegm in the respiratory system.

Shiitake mushrooms are also able to induce an immune response against cancer and viral diseases, in particular those affecting the stomach or cervix. All mushrooms decrease fat and cholesterol levels in the blood and neutralize some of the toxins in meat (perhaps this is why mushrooms taste so good with steak?)

We use mushrooms a lot in Chinese Herbal Medicine for their natural healing properties. Ling Zhi, commonly called Reishi Mushroom, has been well-studied for its cancer-fighting potential, with promising results in preliminary bench science studies. It has been used in China for thousands of years to boost “qi” (immunity).

Mushrooms also usually enter the Heart energetic system, and thereby exert their influence on the emotions, as well. Mushrooms have a very calming effect on the mind and spirit and can be excellent supportive treatments for anxiety, panic disorders, depression, or getting us through highly stressful times.

So load up your plate with a wide variety of these natural immune-boosting powerhouses of fungi. You’ll reap the benefits for years to come.