Mushroom Benefits for Women

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Have you ventured into the world of medicinal mushrooms?

Perhaps you’ve been wondering about medicinal mushroom benefits for women?

What are medicinal mushrooms anyway and are their potential health benefits proven?

Which medicinal mushroom is the healthiest and how do you know what to buy?

Keep reading to learn which medicinal mushrooms are best and what they can do for your body and overall health.

After all, it’s only a quick 10 min read!

This article may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase, we may get a commission at no cost to you. This helps us provide high-quality information.

What Are Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are the fleshy above-ground spore-bearing fruiting bodies of certain fungi.

In other words, it’s the part you might see on your lawn or the produce section of your grocery store.

But mushrooms grow out of a larger underground system of roots, called the mycelium.

Although more than 14,000 different varieties have been identified, only a sliver is grown and eaten in the US daily.

And since mushroom consumption is on the rise, you might have tried eating mushrooms such as:

  • White button mushroom (baby)*
  • Cremini mushrooms (juvenile)*
  • Portabella mushroom (adult)*
  • Enoki mushroom
  • Oyster mushroom

*White button, Cremini, and Portabellas are all the same mushrooms, albeit at different life stages. 

But you can also purchase a selection of fresh wild mushrooms in local and online stores.

To that end, you may find the edible mushrooms chanterelles, black trumpets, yellow foot trumpets, and truffles.

However, in this article, we’re going to talk about another group of mushrooms called functional mushrooms.

What Are Functional Mushrooms?

Functional mushrooms have important health benefits beyond their nutritional value.

Most importantly, they’re high in certain metabolites and bioactive compounds that have disease-fighting properties.  

Furthermore, a functional mushroom can be:

– and/or-

From now on, we’ll refer to them as medicinal mushrooms, unless otherwise noted.

So how long have medicinal mushrooms been used?

Well, the National Cancer Institute states they’ve been used for centuries in Asian countries. 

There, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine used them to treat infections, lung diseases, and cancer.

Today, the most common ones that are all considered adaptogens include:

  • Chaga mushroom
  • Cordyceps
  • Lion’s mane
  • Maitake
  • Reishi
  • Turkey tail

Of note, medicinal mushrooms aren’t to be confused with those that are mind-altering and contain psilocybin.

In other words, no mushrooms in this article are mind-altering or contain psilocybin.

Rather, they’re packed with compounds that fight stress and disease.

Nutritional Content of Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms are naturally low-sodium, fat-free, and cholesterol-free.

At only 15 calories per cup, they pack fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds.

The most significant ones are:

NUTRIENTS/BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDSHEALTH PROPERTIES/FUNCTIONS
Antioxidants (polyphenols & polysaccharides)Protects cells from free radical attacks, helps the immune system
Beta-glucan (polysaccharide & soluble fiber)Important for normalizing blood sugar levels and controlling cholesterol, has anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties
B-vitamins (B2, B3 & B5)Involved in energy production
CopperAssists in energy production and making red blood cells
IronNeeded for the production of hemoglobin and DNA
Melanin (dark pigment)Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helps the immune system, and protects against radiation
Nucleoside compounds (cordycepin)Anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and controls diabetes
PotassiumCritical for muscle contraction and can lower blood pressure
SeleniumEssential for DNA production, and protects against free radicals and infection
Terpenoids (bioactive compounds)Fights cancer, infections, and neurogenerative diseases, and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties
ZincHelps fight infection and makes DNA
Vitamin D (if wild or grown under UV light)Needed for muscles and nerves, and fights infection
Source: Lysakowska Molecules Journal 2023, Soltani Fungal Biol 2019.

10 Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms have numerous health benefits.

However, these are potential health benefits, meaning, they may protect against disease. 

But the evidence isn’t that strong in some cases.

Nevertheless, the most noteworthy potential medical benefits of mushrooms include:

  1. Fighting inflammation
  2. Maintaining a healthy immune system
  3. Lowering oxidative stress and preventing cell damage
  4. Combating infection
  5. Helping to digest food
  6. Normalizing blood sugars
  7. Controlling cholesterol and fighting heart disease
  8. Fighting mild cognitive impairment and supporting brain health
  9. Protecting against cancer
  10. Reducing stress and moodiness/depression

Next, we’ll cover which mushroom does what below.

Benefits of Mushrooms

Chaga Mushroom Benefits

Chaga or Ionotus obliquus is a type of fungus that grows on birch trees that has powerful antioxidant properties.

The main active components in Chaga mushrooms are:

  • Beta-glucans
  • Polysaccharides
  • Polyphenols
  • Triterpenoids such as betulinic acid and inotodiol
  • Melanin

Thus, Chaga mushrooms may :

  • Boost the immune system
  • Fight inflammation and infection
  • Prevent cell damage
  • Have anti-tumor effects on liver, lung, colon, and cervical cancer cells
  • Lower blood sugars
  • Control cholesterol levels

However, these benefits are shown in test tubes and animal studies.

So, to make strong conclusions, further clinical studies in humans are needed. 

Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Commercially grown Cordyceps or Cordyceps militaris thrive on rice and soy substrate.

They contain high amounts of beta-glucans, the nucleoside cordycepin, and the non-protein amino acid ergothioneine.

Consequently, cordyceps mushrooms may:

  • Limit the growth of microorganisms
  • Have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Boost the immune system
  • Suppress tumor cells
  • Lower blood sugars and cholesterol levels
  • Affect strength and stamina

The potent bioactive metabolite cordycepin in particular has great therapeutic potential.

However, human clinical studies are needed for strong conclusions regarding effects and dosing.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits

In their natural environment, Lion’s mane or Hericium erinaceus grows on hardwood logs.

Lion’s mane mushrooms contain beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and the bioactive compounds hericerin, and erinacin.

Thus, Lion’s mane mushrooms may:

  • Protect cells against free radical attacks
  • Support the immune system
  • Stimulate the nervous system
  • Fight cancer
  • Lower blood sugars and cholesterol

Nonetheless, more human studies are needed to develop strong recommendations for Lion’s Mane.

Maitake Mushroom Benefits

The maitake mushroom, or Grifola frondosa, is both a culinary and medicinal mushroom that grows on hardwood logs.

It contains a large number of polysaccharides, most being beta-glucans and fractions thereof.

These fractions have well-documented immune-protective and antitumor properties.

Thus, some have been developed into drugs for diabetes and breast cancer.

Consequently, benefits of maitake mushrooms may include:

  • Diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure management
  • Stimulation of the immune system
  • Prevention of cancer

Reishi Mushroom Benefits

Reishi or Ganoderma lucidum is the most used medicinal mushroom and is typically grown on hardwood logs.

Bioactive compounds commonly found in reishi include:

  • Polysaccharides
  • Antioxidants (phenols)
  • Triterpenoids
  • Nucleotides

Consequently, Reishi may have the following benefits:

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
  • Supports immune function
  • Fights cancer
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Protects the liver

Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits

Last but not least, turkey tail mushrooms!

Turkey tail or Trametes versicolor is the most researched medicinal mushroom.

It’s found in abundance in the wild on decaying trees and the main components in turkey tail include:

  • Polysaccharides (PSP and PSK)
  • Beta-glucans
  • Polyphenols

And those components can provide:

  • Protection from free radicals
  • Natural immune support
  • Antitumor efforts
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

Which Mushroom is the Healthiest?

All medicinal mushrooms are low-calorie and packed with nutrients, and one isn’t necessarily healthier than the other.

However, if you’re looking at benefits from clinical trials, then reishi mushroom extract or turkey tail might be a good choice.

Furthermore, mushrooms exposed to UV light may be higher in vitamin D than those grown in darkness.

And since vitamin D deficiency is a global public health issue, consumption may become more important.

As with any nutrition recommendation, moderation and variety are key.

So, we didn’t just look for the best turkey tail supplement for cancer.

Instead, it might be better to mix up your mushrooms! 

Mushroom Benefits for Women

Although the above research doesn’t specifically address mushroom benefits for women, they certainly apply to women.  

Consequently, it’s important to seek out well-researched mushroom benefits for women and not listen to trends.

Nevertheless, women may seek out mushroom benefits for skin or mushroom benefits for hair.

Or look for mushroom benefits for weight loss, hormonal balance, and depression and anxiety.

However, these aren’t well-researched, that is they haven’t shown to be effective in a clinical trial.

Rather, they’re based on preliminary associations and mostly done on animals.

Only one study used a small group of women and that’s not enough for safety and dosing concerns.

Mushroom Benefits for Men

So, regarding health benefits for men, you may look at Maitake, Reishi, and Cordyceps.

But keep in mind that although some studies show promise, most of these benefits aren’t strongly established.

A substance in Maitake called ergothioneine may protect against prostate cancer

Reishi may be able to help with urinary flow, and lower urinary tract symptoms and infections.

And antioxidants in Cordyceps may boost memory and sexual function in mice.

In addition, Cordyceps may improve tolerance to high-intensity exercise and boost athletic activity.

However, any mushroom benefits for sperm count and boosting testosterone are unproven.

Finding a Quality Mushroom Product

Mushroom lovers will attest to the pleasant texture, rich flavor, and lovely aroma that we associate with fresh mushrooms.

And a fresh edible mushroom should be just that, fresh.

Medicinal mushrooms on the other hand usually come in high-potency powders or capsules, which require quality criteria.

To recap, they can help support your health more effectively, whether your goal is fighting inflammation or normalizing blood sugars.

But how do you find a quality medicinal mushroom product?

And what should you look for?

Ideally, you would look for:

  • Use of real whole organic mushrooms only (i.e. the above-ground fruiting bodies) not the underground mycelium (or root system)
  • High content of beta-glucans (around 30%)
  • Dual extraction of nutrients (with hot water and/or alcohol)
  • 3rd party testing for micros, heavy metals, pesticides, allergens, and active compounds
  • A distinct earthy smell, a rich musty somewhat bitter taste, and a deep dark color

Anecdotally, there’s some controversy about whether adding mycelium to a mushroom powder affects quality.

According to proponents, mycelium contains immune system boosters such as alpha glucan which enhances quality.

Opponents, on the other hand, say that the mycelium is less nutrient-dense which dilutes product quality.

And based on that, the powders in this article are made using whole mushrooms only, not the mycelium.

Best Organic Mushroom Powder

So which powder is best, what should you choose?

Well, we’ve done the research and poured through the many uses of mushrooms, and here’s our winner:

FreshCap Ultimate Mushrooms (free shipping with this link!)

We particularly like it because they use:

  • A mix of real organic non-GMO whole mushrooms
  • No mycelium or grain fillers
  • High-potency dual extraction of nutrients
  • Extensive and 3rd party testing
  • Specs meeting European Commission for Food and exceeding USP standards

Plus, you can add the deep earthy powder to any food, smoothie, or beverage which makes it very user-friendly.

Who Should Not Use Medicinal Mushroom Supplements?

Mushroom benefits and disadvantages should be considered for both culinary and medicinal mushrooms.

For example, white button mushroom benefits and side effects include:

  • Benefits: High in antioxidants
  • Side Effects: Can cause nausea and vomiting

However, since medicinal supplements are more concentrated, caution is appropriate for some people.

General disadvantages of eating mushroom products can include nausea and insomnia.

But according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, you should be careful with medicinal mushroom supplements, if you’re:

  • Receiving chemotherapy or radiation
  • Pregnant or lactating
  • Very young or very old
  • Allergic to mushrooms
  • Prone to bleeding, having/just had surgery, or taking blood thinners
  • Taking medication to lower blood sugar levels
  • Diagnosed with liver or kidney disease

Furthermore, medicinal mushrooms should be only used in addition to healthy foods and should not replace healthy eating.

Please note that we don’t provide medical advice, please see your primary care healthcare provider for individualized professional medical advice.

Final Thoughts

The most common medicinal mushrooms are Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s mane, Maitake, Reishi, and Turkey tail. 

And they’re called medicinal because they have important mushroom benefits for women beyond their nutritional value.

Most importantly, they’re high in certain metabolites and bioactive compounds that have disease-fighting properties. 

Such compounds include mushroom polysaccharides, beta-glucan, nucleosides, and terpenoids.

Hence, they may fight inflammation and cancer, support the immune system, normalize blood glucose, and support brain health.

A quality product will specify the type of mushroom substrate, its beta-glucan content, extraction process, and testing methods.

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