14 Medicinal Mushrooms That Are Safe To Take While Pregnant And Breastfeeding
Supporting our overall immune health is important at all ages and stages of life. Unfortunately, the use of many familiar immune supplements is cautioned while pregnant and breastfeeding. This leaves many mothers wondering: what natural immune support is safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding? Medicinal mushrooms have a long history of being consumed as food and medicine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding and are well-known immune tonics.
Medicinal mushrooms all contain polysaccharides, most importantly beta-glucans which strengthen the immune system. Mushrooms are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Additionally, each mushroom has extra medicinal benefits that are described below.
1. Maitake aka Hen-of-the-woods aka Signorina (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake mushrooms are considered both edible and medicinal mushrooms and are eaten all over the world. In addition to their benefits for immune health, they also improve healthy stress response, blood sugar control, and weight management.
2. Reishi aka Lingzhi (Ganoderma spp.)
The reishi mushroom is one of the most revitalizing mushrooms. Traditionally, it is known as a medicine that supports a long and healthy life by strengthening the mind, body, and spirit. Research shows that along with its immune system benefits, it also protects the nervous system from damage, helps control blood sugar, and improves antioxidant status in the body.
3. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor aka. Coriolus versicolor)
Turkey tail mushrooms are known mostly for their immune-enhancing properties. They are strong antioxidants and also support gut health by acting as an effective prebiotic.
4. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Chaga mushrooms were traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal diseases; this may be due to their anti-parasitic effects. They also have positive effects on blood sugar and cholesterol. Additionally, they have antioxidant and antitumor properties. Noteworthy in 2022, chaga has anti-viral properties and is being investigated as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
5. Cordyceps (Cordyceps spp.)
Cordyceps is a prized mushroom in Traditional Chinese Medicine that has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. It is immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-aging, antitumor, antiarthritic, antioxidant, and more. It might also improve energy and libido. Cordyceps is another mushroom with therapeutic potential against COVID-19.
6. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake is a popular edible mushroom that is also used as a medicine in many parts of Asia. This mushroom is mostly known for its immune-enhancing benefits and prized as a longevity tonic. Researchers have highlighted Shiitake’s potential as a COVID-19 treatment, but it’s still awaiting clinical trials.
7. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s Mane is well known in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a popular edible and medicinal mushroom that is noteworthy for its effects on mental health. Lion’s Mane can be used to treat anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It also protects the heart, liver, kidneys, and nervous system.
8. Poria Cocos aka. Fu ling (Wolfiporia extensa)
Poria is one of the most commonly prescribed remedies in Traditional Chinese medicine. It is strongly immunomodulating and is used to treat digestive problems, asthma, eczema, and food allergies, possibly due to its ability to restore the digestive tract and the gut-brain connection.
9. Tinder Conk (Fomes fomentarius)
Tinder conk has been used as food, medicine, and as tinder in smoke rituals as far back as 5000 years. Its main beneficial effects are antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antitumor.
10. Cogumelo de sol aka. Himematsutake aka Royal Sun Mushroom (Agaricus blazei)
Royal sun is an edible mushroom that has been getting more attention lately as a functional food and/or medicine for the immune system. As with the other mushrooms on this list, royal sun mushroom is immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-cancer.
11. Mesima (Phellinus linteus )
Mesima is best known for its immune balancing properties and has been investigated as a possible eczema treatment. Like the other mushrooms, it is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In addition, it is antidiabetic and a protector of the liver and nervous system.
12. Tremella (Tremella spp.)
Tremella is another major immunomodulator that may also be a potent protector and healer of the nervous system. Its ability to treat spinal cord injury is currently being researched. It is well-known in Traditional Chinese medicine and, like the other mushrooms on this list, is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
13. Velvet foot aka enoki mushrooms (Flammulina velutipes)
You may have seen these thin white mushrooms in the grocery store. Like most mushrooms, enoki mushrooms are helpful for the immune system and may even be helpful in treating RSV (though more research is needed).
14. Zhu ling (Polyporus umbellatus)
Zhu ling is another well-known mushroom in Traditional Chinese medicine that primarily treats the kidneys and acts as a diuretic. It also strengthens the immune system, acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and protects against cancer.
The medicinal mushrooms listed here all contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory activities. Each mushroom has unique health benefits. Depending on your goals, different mushrooms may be chosen for their benefits. Together, these 14 mushrooms are believed to have approximately 125 therapeutic effects, which only some are listed here.
Safety Considerations With Medicinal Mushrooms During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:
Always speak with your personal healthcare provider before taking any supplements, especially while pregnant or breastfeeding. Medicinal mushrooms are considered safe in pregnancy because they are functional foods that have been consumed during pregnancy around the world. However, clinical studies demonstrating their safety are lacking.
Avoid foraged mushrooms while pregnant or breastfeeding. Magic mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, and poisonous mushrooms should all be avoided during pregnancy and while breastfeeding as well.
Some people who are allergic or sensitive to molds or yeasts don’t tolerate medicinal mushrooms well.
Some of these mushrooms can be used to lower blood sugar, so caution should be used with anti-diabetic medications.
Some of these mushrooms have mild blood-thinning effects, so caution should be used with blood thinners. It is also recommended to stop taking certain mushrooms 2 weeks before surgery.
Mother’s Immunity Support By Dr. Green Mom
Mother’s Immunity Support (also available in a liquid) is a product that I created because I saw that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have very few safe and effective options for immune support. For optimal safety, we formulated Mother’s Immunity Support to have doses of each of the above 14 mushrooms that more closely reflect the amount found in healthy diets rather than in supplements. The combined power of these mushrooms works synergistically to improve immune health and reduce inflammation. The reviews on the product page confirm the efficacy of our approach.
Note: Mother’s Immunity Support offers immune support to all people, including fathers, aunties, uncles, and grandparents.
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