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Which Mushrooms are best for Asthma?

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns please talk to your healthcare provider. This article is underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

What is Asthma?

Over 12% of the UK population (around 8 million) has been diagnosed with asthma, a long-term disease that causes the airways to be too sensitive and make breathing difficult when triggered. An asthma attack's severity can range from mild to potentially fatal. Asthma is most common among children, although adults can also acquire the disease at a later stage.

Symptoms of Asthma

According to the NHS, Asthma’s symptoms include:


-Breathing faster

-Rapid heartbeat

-Wheezing

-Constant chest tightness

-Confusion and drowsiness

-Blue lips and fingers

-Fainting 

What Causes Asthma?

Asthma is primarily caused by swelling of the breathing tubes that circulate air in and out of our lungs. Asthma patients have sensitive tubes that tend to temporarily narrow when exposed to the following triggers:


-Smoke and various pollution

-Cold air

-Strenuous exercise

-Infections like the flu

-Allergies (pollen, animal fur, dust mites, etc.)

The Quality of Life of People with Asthma

While asthma is common enough that you can control it in multiple ways (such as avoiding triggers), it can still be a burden to those who carry it.


If not adequately controlled, asthma patients tend to experience the following:


-Chronic fatigue

-Underperformance at work or school

-Depression or anxiety

-Unplanned visits to the hospital due to a trigger, which disrupts daily life

-Delayed growth or puberty 

-Lung infections

Can Mushrooms Help with Asthma?

Most available asthma treatments revolve around steroid use, and not many people are fond of them due to potential long-term side effects such as:


-Hair loss

-High blood pressure and diabetes

-Mood changes

-Forgetfulness

-Osteoporosis

-Muscle weakness

-Weight gain

-Glaucoma and cataracts


There is a demand for a no-side effect natural alternative to asthma treatment, and studies shine the light on mushrooms, especially cordyceps and reishi.

Cordyceps for Asthma

Cordyceps is a popular healing mushroom associated with traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. This mushroom has been used to treat conditions including respiration and pulmonary diseases. 


The mushroom also possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, research suggests exposing human cells to unique compounds found in cordyceps suppresses inflammatory proteins. [1]


-Animal studies confirm that the anti-inflammatory nature of cordyceps is the driving force behind why it’s a suitable treatment alternative for asthma, especially when studies about how it can reduce airway inflammation have been published. [2]


-Specifically, cordyceps can suppress immune hypersensitivity through lowering histamine activity. Histamine is a compound that worsens asthma symptoms. [3]


-Cordyceps have also been found to support oxygen transport to the muscles. Boosting physical performance can lower the risk of an attack and is why many asthma advocates say cordyceps is an excellent pre-workout supplement. [4]

Reishi for Asthma

Reishi mushrooms possess many health benefits, including benefits for asthma symptoms. They also help with stress and fatigue, lower inflammation, assist to manage cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, and support efficient oxygen transport and lung function.


Research suggests that the reishi mushroom can strengthen respiratory function, specifically by improving oxygen utilization, which significantly reduces risks or the severity of asthma attacks.


-One animal study indicates how reishi acts as an immunomodulator (stimulates the immune system) and anti-inflammatory agent against markers of asthma. [5]


-Another study also found that taking reishi reduces inflammatory cell activity caused by asthma, which lowered airway hyperactivity, and “infiltration of inflammatory cells in lung tissue of asthmatic mice.” [6]

What Should You Look for in Cordyceps?

When searching for cordyceps, you have to consider the following:


-Cordycepin and beta-glucans content. Both cordycepin and beta-glucans are the essential compounds in the mushroom. They both strengthen immunity and are responsible for many benefits associated with cordyceps supplementation.

    -Tested for purity and pesticides. This is important, no matter if you are purchasing europe grown mushrooms or mushrooms grown in Asia. 

    -Needs water-based extraction. Water-based extraction of cordyceps mushrooms yields the highest beta-glucans content.


    See this video for a breakdown of our mushroom quality and the testing we perform.

    What Should You Look for in Reishi Supplements?

    When searching for the best cordyceps supplements, you have to consider the following:


    -Triterpenes: Triterpenes have been shown to relieve allergy symptoms, one of asthma's major triggers. Ganoderic acid, the triterpenes found in reishi, are also molecularly similar in structure to steroids and reduces allergy symptoms by mimicking antihistamines which happen to be also steroidal. [7]

    -Dual Extraction method: The active compounds are both alcohol-soluble and water-soluble. To get full spectrum support, a dual extract is needed. 

    How Do I Take Cordyceps and Reishi?

    -Powder: 3 g daily (~1/2) 

    -Capsules: 6 capsules daily – split into two doses in the morning and evening


    Serving Suggestion for Reishi:

    -Powder: 3 g daily (~1/2) 

    -Capsules: 6 capsules daily – split into two doses in the morning and evening

    Takeaway

    Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases that affects millions of people all over the world. 


    There are various ways to treat asthma symptoms or prevent an attack from happening, but many carry short- and long-term side effects. 


    Fortunately, herbal science and medicine have progressed to a point where we’re starting to take natural alternatives for asthma.


    Cordyceps and reishi both have compounds that can alleviate inflammatory markers and reduce the risks of triggers, which can lead to a higher quality of life for those diagnosed with asthma.

    References

    1. Smiderle FR, Baggio CH, Borato DG, Santana-Filho AP, Sassaki GL, Iacomini M, Van Griensven LJ. Anti-inflammatory properties of the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps militaris might be related to its linear (1→3)-β-D-glucan. PLoS One. 2014 Oct 17;9(10):e110266. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110266. PMID: 25330371; PMCID: PMC4201515.

    2. Xu YF. Effect of Polysaccharide from Cordyceps militaris (Ascomycetes) on Physical Fatigue Induced by Forced Swimming. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2016;18(12):1083-1092. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v18.i12.30. PMID: 28094746.

    3. Hsu CH, Sun HL, Sheu JN, Ku MS, Hu CM, Chan Y, Lue KH. Effects of the immunomodulatory agent Cordyceps militaris on airway inflammation in a mouse asthma model. Pediatr Neonatol. 2008 Oct;49(5):171-8. doi: 10.1016/S1875-9572(09)60004-8. PMID: 19133568.

    4. Chen J, Chan WM, Leung HY, Leong PK, Yan CTM, Ko KM. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of a Cordyceps sinensis Mycelium Culture Extract (Cs-4) on Rodent Models of Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma. Molecules. 2020 Sep 4;25(18):4051. doi: 10.3390/molecules25184051. PMID: 32899766; PMCID: PMC7570676.

    5. Li Y, Li M, Wang R, Wang B, Athari SS, Wang J. Ganoderma modulates allergic asthma pathologic features via anti-inflammatory effects. Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2022 May;299:103843. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2022.103843. Epub 2022 Jan 10. PMID: 35026480.

    6. Lu X, Xu C, Yang R, Zhang G. Ganoderic Acid A Alleviates OVA-Induced Asthma in Mice. Inflammation. 2021 Oct;44(5):1908-1915. doi: 10.1007/s10753-021-01468-1. Epub 2021 May 26. PMID: 34037898; PMCID: PMC8460586.

    7. Ryu SY, Oak MH, Yoon SK, Cho DI, Yoo GS, Kim TS, Kim KM. Anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory triterpenes from the herb of Prunella vulgaris. Planta Med. 2000 May;66(4):358-60. doi: 10.1055/s-2000-8531. PMID: 10865455.