In the realm of wellness, nutritional science and mycology, mushrooms have garnered significant attention for their therapeutic properties, namely the ability to modulate the immune system. However, mushrooms and fungi have more broad health applications than immune support alone. There are a wide variety of mushrooms that are perfectly suited for applications in women’s health, like mishima, shiitake and more. In this blog, we’ll focus on five mushrooms that can support women’s health at any stage of life.
Maitake Mushroom for Women's Health
Maitake mushroom is a women’s health powerhouse. Maitake supports many facets of women’s health, but one of its most fascinating benefits is supporting the reproductive system - at any age!
Maitake is known to support healthy hormones – and as an adaptogen, Maitake has the ability to change its benefits based on your unique body (that’s one of the modern miracles of fungi). That means that instead of a single effect, or one-size-fits-all mechanism of action, maitake (and mushrooms in general), are almost intelligent in their ability to modulate their benefits based on your specific biochemistry. One shining example of this phenomenon is Maitake’s ability to support feminine and women’s health.
During late adolescence and adulthood, maitake benefits the reproductive system by supporting healthy and normal menstruation, ovulation, breast health and fertility. During middle adulthood compounds from Maitake mushroom offer relief for normal symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain. We can attribute those benefits to the compounds in maitake (such as D-fraction and beta 1,3-1,6 glucan) that are great for supporting endocrine health.
During a woman’s senior years, maitake continues providing its balancing benefits and becomes valuable for yet another set of reasons. Maitake’s beta glucan content provides support for the cardiovascular system, a vital system in the body that many women struggle with during their senior years. In addition, ergothioneine which is abundant in maitake, has been shown to support healthy brain function.
Lastly, Maitake is known for supporting and balancing the metabolism which is beneficial no matter your stage in life. As an added benefit, maitake can be a valuable part of a well-rounded weight loss regimen. Many of our customers have seen great results using Maitake for weight loss.
Health Benefits of Reishi for Women
Similarly to maitake, reishi mushroom is a powerful adaptogen. In fact, reishi mushrooms have a laundry list of benefits supported by both anecdotal and research-backed data that has been compiled over the past 2000 years. One of reishi’s adaptogenic benefits is its ability to support a positive and healthy response to stressors, whether they are emotional, physical or environmental. A healthy response to stress provides the baseline for the health of many bodily systems, particularly the endocrine system.
Women of all ages can experience difficulty sleeping, but poor sleep is commonly reported by women undergoing menopause. Reishi can provide assistance to those who want support for high quality sleep. Many of reishi’s benefits are attributed to various triterpenes including sterols and ganoderic acids. One of the many benefits of reishi’s particular triterpenes are that they can greatly aid in falling asleep and sleep quality. It’s important to note that triterpenes are not water soluble, so you’ll want to use reishi in tincture-form to get these compounds. The nice thing about reishi is that as an adaptogen, you can still take this tincture any time. Those who take reishi in the morning notice a calm, collected feeling throughout the day whereas people who take reishi in the evening report easier, better sleep. That means that if you’re looking for a calming mushroom with effects similar to chamomile (but better) then reishi is a great option.
Reishi is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM as the, “Mushroom of Immortality” for a plethora of reasons, but one in particular is reishi’s affinity for supporting skin health. Extracts and serums of reishi are commonly found in K Beauty and luxury beauty ingredient panels. Reishi is one of those skin-supporters that not only provides benefits when applied topically, but also when consumed as a supplement. Topically, reishi extracts have been shown to have a positive effect on skin hydration and on transepidermal water loss. Topical reishi extracts have also been shown to be PH balancing and help with hyperpigmentation. There’s even some interesting skin healing products being created out of woven or gel-form reishi fruiting bodies after they have been extracted for supplement use. When taken internally, reishi benefits the skin through a variety of means, but primarily from reishi’s ability to soothe non-disease-related-inflammation (although this is a topical benefit as well). Reishi also supports the skin from the inside out by supporting healthy hormones, which play a huge role in oil regulation in the skin.
There are many mushrooms in the reishi (ganoderma) family and they have overlapping benefits, as well as unique benefits. We offer North American Red Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) as well as Artist’s Conk aka white reishi (Ganoderma applanatum).
Lion's Mane for Women's Health
Lion’s Mane is a phenomenal mushroom that can provide brain support for just about anyone, but women in particular should be interested in supporting their brain health. Since women tend to live longer on average, we are disproportionately affected by cognitive issues when compared to men. It's important to keep our brains as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Lion’s mane is a nootropic and as such, its primary benefits relate to the brain and nervous system - like supporting healthy focus and cognition. It also provides phenomenal mental energy, and when combined with chaga it makes a great coffee alternative. That’s not all it's good for though!
Compounds from Lion’s Mane have been studied for their ability to support a positive mood in menopausal women, reducing indefinite complaints significantly compared to the placebo group. The women noted that they had a more positive mood, and healthy concentration levels. Lion’s mane has been shown to support a positive mood (for both women and men) in several studies and it’s no wonder why. We can sum it up in a riddle, Lion’s Mane, it’s for your brain! Some customers even say it's similar to cleaning the clutter out of your brain.
Speaking of the brain, let’s talk about the gut! It’s been established for quite some time now that the brain and the gut affect each other tremendously. Lion’s Mane provides two-fold support for the gut. Firstly by providing the well known prebiotic, beta glucan. When extracted in a double extract tincture or a tea, beta glucan still acts as a great prebiotic, but without the bulk of the mushroom’s cellular material. For people who find that their prebiotic makes them feel gassy or bloated, taking prebiotics in liquid form, tincture or tea, can be a game changer. The second way that Lion’s Mane supports the gut is by supporting the brain with its nootropic properties. This way you promote your gut health from multiple angels, with a single product.
Best Mushrooms for Beauty - Honorable Mentions
Maitake, Reishi and Lion’s Mane seem almost perfectly catered to the needs of women, but I’d be missing an opportunity if I left out these two additional mushrooms. Chaga and Tremella. For women who are interested in natural beauty Chaga and Tremella are the perfect fit!
Chaga for Skin, Hail and Nails
Chaga is technically not a mushroom, it's a different part of the fungal organism called a sclerotia. Chaga is fantastic for the skin, hair and nails. Like reishi, chaga also works both inside and out to support healthy skin and hair. Chaga is rich in antioxidative compounds like fungal melanin. When applied topically, antioxidants help protect skin from pollution and other environmental damage. Chaga is also rich in beta glucan, which has been shown to be a better moisturizer than hyaluronic acid as well as support an even skin tone. Amino acids from chaga can help to support wrinkle reduction and protect the skin. As for hair, chaga has been used as a hair rinse and soak for centuries. There are incredibly promising studies showing that alcohol soluble compounds (triterpenes) from chaga can help with hair growth and quality.
Tremella Mushroom for the Skin
Tremella mushroom has been used to achieve glowing skin for centuries. You may also hear it called “Witches Butter” as it was thought to be the secret to the youthful appearance of “witches.” You’ll find tremella included in many lotions, creams and serums for its ability to moisturize and support a healthy skin barrier. It can be tough to find in the ingredients panel, as some skincare items list this mushroom as; mushroom extract, tremella sp extract, snow mushroom, silver ear mushroom, white jelly fungus and more. The polysaccharides in tremella are small enough to permeate the skin and are renowned for their benefits, supporting a youthful glow and hydration from the inside out. This one is a rarer find in our area, but an interesting mushroom for beauty nonetheless!
About The Author
Born and raised amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the Adirondack Mountains, Kaitlin Lawless developed a profound appreciation for the natural world from an early age. She is passionate about ecological preservation and permaculture, employing such practices on her homestead. Since childhood, she has studied and been taught about herbalism by the wise women in her life, field guides, and accredited scientific literature. Her expertise in the field of mycology stems from her invaluable training under the tutelage of Garrett Kopp, a licensed NYS mushroom identification expert. Kaitlin is an integral part of the Birch Boys team, as the Assistant to the President, she manages Birch Boys' customer service, B2B, copy, social media and more. This role has afforded her a deep and expansive knowledge of the effects and applications of healing mushrooms. With her broad expertise, Kaitlin has become a trusted source of information for those seeking to harness the power of nature's medicinal offerings.
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