Medicinal mushrooms: Supplements to reduce inflammation in the body

Supplements to reduce inflammation in the body represent a crucial avenue of investigation for today’s medical professionals. Inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases have been linked to more than 50% of all deaths in the world. Indeed, inflammation stands as the most common symptom of many chronic and acute conditions, ranging from various cancers to cardiac events. 

When operating as normal, the human body leverages inflammation as a way to fight back against infections, diseases, and toxins. Unfortunately, chronic inflammation is an increasingly common problem in an environment influenced by the increase of free radicals, oxidization, and infection. 

Medical mushrooms represent a powerful clinical tool for the safe and controlled reduction of inflammation. These natural supplements to reduce inflammation in the body have no major side effects, unlike other common treatments such as NSAIDs. Medicinal mushrooms are immunomodulating substances, capable of adapting to the individual needs of the patient, and they are backed by extensive scientific data. 

Medical Mushrooms: The Natural Solution for Inflammation

Inflammation and chronic inflammation are two issues becoming increasingly problematic in the modern world, driven by exposure to chronic stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, pollution, obesity, and poor dietary practices. 

Inflammation is the name used to refer to a complex set of interactions happening within the human body following response to infections, trauma, and injuries. In normal cases, the body’s response to inflammatory cytokines and substances is self-limiting, through degradation of the proinflammatory protein expression and the increased expression of anti-inflammatory proteins.

Unfortunately, exposure to various irritants and environmental factors can damage the body’s natural inflammatory response, allowing for an overproduction in inflammatory mediators. 

When inflammation becomes excessive, cell damage can be a common result. Prolonged inflammation causes various inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, multiple sclerosis, bronchitis, gastritis, and atherosclerosis. Links have also been established between inflammation and cancer development. 

Traditionally, treatments for chronic inflammation has been limited. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and aspirin can deliver short-term relief from pain and inflammation, but long-term use is linked to higher risks of peptic ulcer disease and kidney problems. 

Corticosteroids can decrease inflammation and suppress the immune system response. Since the immune system is responsible for creating inflammation, this helps to reduce symptoms, but steroids can also attack healthy tissue and natural immune system responses. Long-term use of corticosteroids can frequently lead to problems like osteoporosis and high blood pressure. 

Immune Modulators for Inflammation Treatment

Traditional treatments for chronic inflammation too often focus on suppressing the immune system, rather than modulating the performance. This means that necessary inflammation and immune response is not available when needed. Supplements to reduce inflammation in the body, like medical mushrooms, take an alternative approach, by modulating the immune system. 

Medicinal mushrooms contain various bioactive compounds like lectins, steroids, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, proteoglycans, and polysaccharides. These compounds have therapeutic effects which allow them to act as inflammatory mediators, immune-modulatory solutions, and antioxidants. Medicinal mushrooms can fight against the issues causing inflammation in the body, and reduce inflammation without harming the necessary function of the immune system. 

Medicinal mushrooms like Reishi have a holistic effect, by promoting and maintaining homeostasis in the human body. Reishi terpenes, for instance, inhibit the release of proinflammatory substances, meditating pathways like AP-1. 

These mushrooms are otherwise known as BRMs (Biological Response Modifiers), which work in harmony with the body to regulate the inflammation as required by the host. Medicinal Mushrooms can be used preventatively, medicinally, and as maintenance, which means there’s no risk of over-medication. 

The therapeutic efficacy of these mushrooms depends on the structure of the supplementation. To effectively manage inflammation, mushroom supplementation must include the right balance of inflammatory mediators, including triterpenes (ganoderic acids), phenolic and indolic compounds, polysaccharides, sterols, vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Key mushrooms with higher amounts of these substances include:

  • Reishi
  • Lion’s mane
  • Cordyceps
  • Maitake
  • Shiitake

How Medicinal Mushrooms Differ from Other Supplements

Compared to other potential supplements to reduce inflammation in the body, medicinal mushrooms have unique capabilities. These products are not isolated compounds, they contain a wide range of complementary compounds to enhance overall performance and improve holistic benefits. For instance, a Reishi mushroom supplement can regulate inflammatory mediators like non-cytokine pathways, NO, and PGE2 signal, while inhibiting NF-K-B signalling. These substances can also reduce the production of Il-6, TNF-Alpha, and IFN-Gamma, alongside other inflammatory cytokines, while reducing oxidative stress. 

Medicinal mushrooms are increasingly being used to treat a variety of diseases influenced by inflammation, such as:

Terpenes in Reishi mushroom can even fight back against cancer by impeding the growth and development of cancerous cells. Triterpenes, as the most important group of  antiinflammatory bioactive compounds in medicinal mushrooms, can significantly reduce the risk of inflammation-based conditions. Additionally, fungi are the only non-animal substance which contains ergosterol- pro-vitamin D2, which is a powerful tool for fighting inflammation and helping modulation of the immune system.

As a clinical tool for treating inflammation and chronic conditions, medicinal mushrooms have been gaining more attention for several decades. Growing evidence is building on top of empirical evidence from a millennium of traditional use. The results of several studies show low risk of side effects and interactions with other supplements and medications, as well as high performance outcomes. 

Safe Supplements for Inflammation

Compared to traditional treatment options for chronic inflammation, medicinal mushrooms are an effective and safe form of anti-inflammation treatment. Rather than inhibiting the immune system, the natural compounds within medicinal mushrooms can regulate the immune system and modulate the response to various inflammation triggers. 

What’s more, these substances are proven to have minimal risks compared to other treatment options. Unlike other medicines and herbal treatments, medicinal mushroom supplements will have a very low risk of any significant interaction with existing medications. 

For example, Nature scientific report in 2016 highlights that both Ganoderma lucidum and Cordyceps sinensis are listed as the safest drug class (Class 1 Drug) in the American Herbal Products Association Botanical Safety Handbook, with no known herb-drug interactions. In fact, most human clinical trials investigating medicinal mushrooms have included safety haematological and biochemical (including hepatic and renal) biomarkers, and reported no pathological abnormalities, and no moderate, serious or severe adverse events.