Archive for August, 2019

Adaptogens for Immune System Balance, Overall Health, and Wellbeing

August 13, 2019
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Anyone else noticing mushroom coffees and other such products showing up everywhere? Certain mushrooms bring some amazing health benefits and it is really starting to catch on! I am not talking about psychedelics (although interestingly those are also being researched for their specific uses). I am referring to medicinal mushrooms which are considered “adaptogens” and have been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Indigenous cultures used these special mushrooms in teas, soups, and more. Now some manufacturers are making it easier for us to benefit from this amazing fungus, as adaptogenic mushrooms are currently available in a variety of forms: drinks, powder, capsules, extracts, and whole foods (on a side-note some are higher quality than others).

What does adaptogenic mean? Online searches basically state that an adaptogenic substance (or adaptogen) is a natural non-toxic material (often derived from a plant), used in herbal medicine to help the body adapt to stress and restore normal balanced bodily functioning. Even though Western medicine does not yet officially acknowledge adaptogens, supporters say they effectively improve and maintain health without the potentially harmful side effects of synthetic pharmaceuticals.

Mushrooms are actually one of the most researched superfoods. Studies show that medicinal mushrooms have incredible benefits for the immune system, brain, hormones, energy levels, memory, mood, and more. Therefore, it is definitely worth a look! I will focus here on one specific popular adaptogenic mushroom as I have had personal experience with the powerful effect it can have on health and healing.

Reishi (formally known as Ganoderma lucidum) is like a natural form of Xanax. Called the “queen of mushrooms”, it has powerful adaptogenic effects on the body and mind. Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, reishi has been used for thousands of years for immune health and longevity. It can help in regulating hormones and decreasing cortisol levels, therefore can be perfect for relaxation. It is also beneficial for sleep as it has been shown to enhance both the quality and quantity, promoting deep restorative sleep. Studies are also showing it to be helpful in lowering blood sugar and decreasing excess fat storage. It is used for immune system health, stress relief, decreasing anxiety, obtaining a feeling of balance, and again deepening sleep. I have experienced multiple autoimmune conditions throughout my life (not to mention the fast-approaching menopause) and I have tried countless treatments. Most of the natural and alternative interventions have helped (some much more than others). As far as supplementation goes, reishi is definitely at the top of my list! It somehow knows where my system needs to be tamped down and where it needs to be stepped up. It helps with fighting off invaders while at the same time not over-reacting to everything encountered within the environment (including stress and diet). I feel balanced and energized, also experiencing more restorative sleep. On a side-note, I do not need to take as many other supplements now due to the continual use of reishi~ money-saver!

There are several other types of medicinal mushrooms that are considered adaptogens, each seeming to have their specific strengths as far as for what conditions they are best used. Some examples of these adaptogenic mushrooms are: Lion’s mane, shiitake (can also be used in cooking), turkey tail, and chaga. Herbal adaptogens of the non-mushroom type also exist (examples: panax ginseng, milk thistle, licorice root, and ashwagandha).

As with all supplements, it is usually best to start your dosages “low and slow”. Be sure to always do your research, including consultation with your healthcare provider. Feel free to ask me any questions. I truly love helping people navigate through their holistic healing journeys!

Gina Spielman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Hypnotist with 30 years of healthcare experience. She is also Certified in Natural Holistic Remedies and is a Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider. A personal journey with autoimmunity has given first-hand knowledge of her own healing ability. The experience with her own healthcare, and all of the service providers and healers she has learned from over the years, has helped solidify her knowledge of holistic healing. All of that background, along with extensive research, has merged to create the life-changing book “The Blueprint for Vibrant Health: A Guide to Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit” (Amazon).  Gina practices in Illinois which includes consultation via videoconference. Website: www.ginaspielman.com  

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