As singers, we know how crucial it is that we stay healthy and functioning well for our shows and our well being. Western medicine is getting wise to the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, immune support among them.

If you tend to catch things easily, or have persistent infections, and you haven’t explored these gems, maybe it’s time!

Mushrooms have compounds that resemble a microbe and when our immune cells recognize this, they increase front-line activity, strengthening our immune systems over time.

Amazingly, certain mushrooms can support both physical and mental health, help manage stress, tame your allergies and promote overall wellness.

Let’s have a look at a couple of mushrooms commonly used for their health benefits. I bet you’ll be keen to give them a try after this, even if you were never sweet on them before.

1. Reishi

The most commonly used medicinal mushroom, reishi is used to support immune functioning. It also helps support the adrenal glands, so it’s a good one to use if you’re run down, stressed out or getting sick regularly. It’s also a fabulous mushroom for allergies and hay fever as it can reduce the histamine response to external stimuli.

2. Lion’s Mane

Best known for its neurological and mental health benefits, clinical research has shown Lion’s Mane’s efficacy for anxiety, depression and cognitive function. This is mushroom to consider for overall nervous system health! Yes please.

3. Maitake

Prized for its immune supportive properties, maitake mushrooms can be incorporated into your diet for overall immune health.

So how do you take them?

Mushrooms need to be heated for bioavailability, so making teas with them is a great way to start, using sliced or dried versions. Supplements in the form of capsules and extracts are also widely available. When looking for supplements, ensure they are organic, that the mushrooms have been heated, and that if buying a tincture, both water and alcohol are used; alcohol extracts important compounds.

If you want to try your hand at a nice tasting tea (really!), here is a recipe for Reishi Chai Tea below.

Reishi Chai Tea

In 1 quart of water add:

-2-3 slices of dried Reishi

-1/2 cinnamon stick

-5 allspice berries

-3 cardamom pods

-2 cloves

-1 peppercorn

-pinch of nutmeg

Turn heat on medium-high until the tea reaches a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain and add milk and/or sweetener of your choice. This can be chilled for an iced version.

However you choose to consume them, I hope you will benefit from the health boost you can achieve with medicinal mushrooms. Enjoy!