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Pandemic Immune Support for Mothers: 14 Medicinal Mushrooms That Are Safe To Take While Pregnant And Breastfeeding 

in Breastfeeding, Know Your Food, Pregnancy, Supplements

The importance of supporting our overall immune health has really been highlighted during the past two years of the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of the most familiar immune supplements come with controversy and caution while pregnant and breastfeeding. 

But immune health doesn’t stop being a priority just because you got pregnant! If anything, a strong and balanced immune system is even more important! There’s evidence that pregnant women are more susceptible to viral infections including COVID-19 and that there can be negative effects on the developing baby. Taking medicinal mushrooms is a safe and effective way to support the immune system through pregnancy and beyond. 

Medicinal mushrooms (and edible mushrooms) all contain polysaccharides (most importantly beta-glucans)that strengthen the immune system. You’ll also see that all the mushrooms on this list have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, each mushroom has extra medicinal benefits (see below).

We formulated Mother’s Immunity to have small doses of each of the following 14 mushrooms which work synergistically to improve immune health and inflammation.

Some of these mushrooms are even being considered as potential treatments for COVID-19, but the research is still pending.

  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 help with: healthy stress response, blood sugar control, and weight management.
  2. Reishi aka Lingzhi (Ganoderma spp.): Reishi mushrooms are one of the most revitalizing mushrooms on this whole list.  They are traditionally known as medicine that supports a long and healthy life by strengthening the mind, body, and spirit. Research shows that in addition to their benefits for the immune system, they also protect the nervous system from damage, help with blood sugar control, and improve 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 strongly antioxidant 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. In addition, they have antioxidant and antitumor properties. Importantly 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 and has also attracted a lot of research in recent years. A list of its virtues includes: immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-aging, antitumor, antiarthritic, antioxidant, and more. It might improve energy and libido. Cordyceps is another mushroom with therapeutic potential against COVID-19 and you may hear more about it in the future.
  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 known mostly for its immune-enhancing benefits and is prized as a longevity tonic. Researchers have highlighted Shiitake’s potential as a COVID-19 treatment, but we’re 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 getting a lot of attention for its effects on mental health. Lion’s Mane can be used to treat anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It’s also protective of 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 effects are antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antitumor.
  10. Cogumelo de sol aka. Himematsutake aka Royal Sun Mushroom (Agaricus blazei): Royal sun mushroom is an edible mushroom that has lately been getting more attention 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 also 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 also 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, they are helpful for the immune system and enoki mushrooms 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 is also unique and depending on what your goals are, different mushrooms may be chosen.  Together, these 14 mushrooms are believed to have approximately 125 therapeutic effects and only some of them are listed here.

 Together, these 14 mushrooms are believed to have approximately 125 therapeutic effects and only some of them are listed here.

Mother’s Immunity contains a synergistic blend of these mushrooms designed to nourish and protect mothers’ immunity at all ages and stages. Together these provide a good dose of nutrients and beta glucans to support and balance the immune system.

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 most are functional foods that have been consumed during pregnancy by many cultures throughout the world. However, clinical studies demonstrating their safety are lacking.

Avoid foraged mushrooms until you’re no longer pregnant or breastfeeding. Magic mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, and poisonous mushrooms should all be avoided during pregnancy and 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.  

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Frontiers | Susceptibility to COVID-19 in Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum Period: Immune System, Vertical Transmission, and Breastfeeding | Global Women’s Health 

 

 

 

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