Move over, Echinacea. A new herbal remedy for cold and flu season has made its debut. The mighty mushroom is raising its rounded head as a powerful health defender against the viral blues. “There are some good studies about mushrooms as another way, another angle, to boost the immune system,” says Lauren Vigna, MD, a family practice physician in Highland who has been known to prescribe fungi to cold-prone patients.
Not just any mushrooms, but shiitake, maitake, and reishi top Vigna’s list of immune-stimulating allies. To get the highest concentration of these mushrooms’ healthful beta-glucans, ingest them as supplements. Herb Pharm sells mushroom tinctures, while New Chapter has formulated a capsule for immune system defense.
“Here’s a wacky fact,” says Vigna. “Mushrooms have about 90 percent the same DNA as humans.” Who knew we had so much in common with fungi? The correlation has led to a wave of exciting new research about mushrooms for not just cold and flu defense but also infection prevention and cancer therapy. So the next time you have a scratchy throat, see what the once-lowly toadstool can do for you.
Image of shiitake mushrooms courtesy of Bigstock.com