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Can Mushrooms Supercharge Immunity? with Dr. Josh Axe

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In Dr. Josh Axe’s upcoming book “Ancient Remedies”, he takes an in-depth look at many of the time-tested foods and nutrients that have been used in traditional healing. One of these groups of food, mushrooms, has recently cycled back into the public consciousness in a huge way. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen and Dr. Axe discuss the types of mushrooms that can give you a major immune system boost.

For more info on Dr. Axe’s new book, “Ancient Remedies”, visit https://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Remedies-Essential-Powerful-Medicine/dp/0316496456

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalized treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Welcome back. We are still here with Dr. Josh Axe, and he’s just one of our favorite guests to have. And we’re talking about ancient remedies, and we left off in the last episode with mushrooms. So we have to touch on mushrooms because we big fans of mushrooms.

Dr. Josh Axe:

And we’re not talking about magic mushrooms.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Happy mushrooms. I keep wanting to call it a happy mushrooms, but it’s not happy mushrooms.

Daniel Amen, MD:

But mushrooms, in fact, can make you happy. Yeah. So Josh, tell us your experience with mushrooms and how should people think about this?

Dr. Josh Axe:

Yeah, so I got turned on to what are often called adaptogen mushrooms or medicinal mushrooms when actually my mom was struggling with a health issue. Many years ago, she had cancer and I was looking at all the natural ways to support her body and strengthen her immune system. And as I was searching all the things about Japanese medicine, Chinese medicine, ancient forms, herbals, I came across all of these studies on mushrooms that were used in Asian medicine and Israeli medicine specifically.

And so I came across one, the first one was reishi, and reishi, they actually called it the mushroom of the mortality. And it was known for really supporting the adrenals, the immune system and the liver, those three organ systems. And there were clinical studies showing that there was a lot of promising research on it, increasing lifespan, and also really helping just generally strengthen your immune system.

So I started using mushrooms myself. I gave those to my mom to take, the reishi specifically. So I think reishi is one, especially if you want to… Because all these mushrooms, they have some similar benefits, but some of them are going to be different. In fact, I’ll say this, in Chinese medicine, they kind of talk about… Like we talked about vegetables, like eat as many as you can. A lot of different colors, a lot of different types. In China, they say the same thing about mushrooms. Get as many different types of mushrooms as you can and eat them on a regular basis.

So reishi is really good for those who are looking to strengthen their adrenals and their immune system over a long period of time. This is one you can take every day.

Another great one is lion’s mane. Lion’s mane was known to help support the gut brain connection and be really, really powerful for the brain. In fact, a lot of studies show it’s for something called nervine growth factor or supporting any type of regeneration of nerve tissue. So lion’s mane is typically take today for supporting brain and neurology. Something obviously we’ve got the world’s leading expert here, Dr. Amen knows a thing or two about that.

The other few ones here I want to mention are one for today for fighting viruses is called turkey tail mushroom. It’s a beautiful color. If you look at it, it is purple and orange and white and blue and green, and you can just go online and actually just search some of these turkey tail mushroom. It’s this mushroom that has all of these antiviral properties and it’s known for fighting viruses, parasites, bad bacteria, Lyme disease, all of these different foreign invaders. That’s a powerful one.

Cordycep mushrooms. Yeah, cordyceps. I mean, if somebody is looking to strengthen their endurance and their adrenal and their lung health, it was actually putting a lot of formulas for actually, I would say the two that are probably most prescribed today in China for something like COVID is probably cordyceps and turkey tail. Turkey tail for its antiviral properties, but cordyceps is because it helps strengthen the lungs. One of the things a lot of people are susceptible to today is lung issues and cordyceps even in studies have shown to increase endurance in athletes and respiratory health. So that’s another favorite one.

Chaga, which is a little bit of a different one. It’s more of a… Anyways, it’s still part of the fungi family, but that’s known for reducing inflammation and supporting heart health. So chaga’s a great one.

And there’s a lot of others. Maitake also has some anti-cancer properties, but those are some of my favorites that I’ve used on a regular basis. And even just cooking, like I’ll go to the grocery store and buy shiitake and maitake mushrooms and any type of wild mushroom, throw those in soups with beans or chicken or whatever and vegetables. But again, mushrooms across the board though, they’re all good for the immune system and for supporting your adrenal glands.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Our general manager for BrainMD or supplement company, Jim Springer, he worked for me and then he went away for three years and worked for a mushroom company. So now I have this great product called Smart Mushrooms.

Dr. Josh Axe:

Love it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And in it is lion’s mane, that’s what makes you smart. Turkey tail, cordyceps, reishi, and shiitake.

Dr. Josh Axe:

Yeah. Fantastic.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I’m so excited. You talked about that. And I put it in our shake every day.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, and I remember when I was going through my last treatment for thyroid cancer, unfortunately the way my chemo, if you will, is they keep me on very high dose thyroid, which makes my heart rate kind of crazy. And I have to be careful if I’m an athlete. And so they wanted me to quit doing what I do, which I did not want to do. So one thing I read some of the studies on cordyceps, and I felt the difference because it actually is supposed to help increase VO2 max, increase cardiac output, increase your strength, and I felt better taking it. So it really helped me during that critical time. I mention now in our supplement. But yeah.

Dr. Josh Axe:

Incredible.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah.

Dr. Josh Axe:

I love that.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And what’s the difference? What do you tell people, supplementation versus getting these mushrooms in the store and making them part of your food or both?

Dr. Josh Axe:

Yeah, so here’s what I would say is a lot of times when we buy mushrooms today in the store, it’s button mushrooms and portobellos and they don’t actually have as great of benefits as a lot of the mushrooms we’re talking about. And we’re typically talking about, when you go to the grocery store, you typically buy the top of the mushroom. When you’re buying mushroom in supplements… And by the way, I think we should get both. That’s my answer. But I want to say, especially shiitaki and maitaki and some of these other just cool looking mushrooms that you might find at your health food store or a specialty store, sometimes even major grocery stores now are carrying things like shiitaki. But definitely do those in soups so the top of that mushroom has all of these benefits.

But also most of the time in supplements, they’re using something called the mushroom mycelia, which is actually more of the root of the mushroom. That bottom part that’s more chewy that sometimes you’re not even getting when you buy them in the store. So I do think getting a great quality mushroom supplement that has many of the ones you just shared there. I think that’s what I would look at. So I take a lot of times a multi-mushroom supplement or sometimes singles.

And I cover this even more in my book, Ancient Nutrition, but all the different mushrooms for all of the different organ systems and what to use there. There’s a compounding mushroom called beta glucans. And these things are really, really powerful immune boosters. That’s what makes them so powerful for our immune systems. And so again, and you can look these up. Beta glucans, but there are just so many benefits of these in mushrooms. But I do think, hey, try to use them in your cooking. But I think on a daily basis taking a supplement, like the one you mentioned that you produced Dr. Amen, and that’s a great thing for people to do long-term.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Let’s also talk a little bit about probiotics. There has been just such wonderful research in the last 10 years about the gut brain connection. We talk about it a lot. It’s why in large part food is so important. The microbiome is a hundred trillion organisms. And if they’re not healthy, odds are you’re not going to be healthy. Talk to us about that.

Dr. Josh Axe:

Yeah. So there’s two important things I think for everyone to think about when it comes to your… And here’s what I’ve said Dr. Amen too, and you’ve probably said something similar with brain health. But it’s immune health starts with gut health. I think that’s an important thing to remember. We’ve heard these quotes 70% of your immune system lives in your gut. When they’re talking about that, it tends to be that gut lining and all of those probiotics in microorganisms that line that gut lining. I think of their gut lining as sort of that fortress wall that’s protecting the inner city of your body. And then you have all of the soldiers lining the wall. Those soldiers are essentially probiotics and you need a healthy gut integrity. And you need those little warriors that are fighting for you that are part of your immune system. They’re on the outside.

When it comes to probiotics, I feel really similarly. We should be getting a lot of these different types of probiotics in our diet. Eating sauerkraut, kimchi, and other forms of fermented vegetables. There’s a fermented vegetable beverage called [Cabos [00:09:43], which is great. You have the fermented soybeans that’s used in Japanese medicine today, like miso and natto are used frequently. In fact, they have a really unique probiotic called bacillus subtilis, which has been shown to clear out candida and yeast and those sorts of things out of the body, which is great.

And then there are other probiotic, rich foods, of course, yogurt and kefir. If you don’t tolerate dairy well today, there’s so many great options for coconut kefir, coconut yogurt, those sort of options. So I think those are some good things we should be trying to get in our body. And even apple cider vinegar to a degree has organic acids that support the growth of probiotics within our system.

So probiotics are really important for several reasons. One big one is they support nutrient absorption. We’ve heard the principle, you are what you eat, but truly you are what you digest. And if you’re not digesting well, if you have an issue like leaky gut, in fact, there’s studies that show that a lot of people have new nutritional deficiencies because they’re eating foods that aren’t prepared properly. For instance, if somebody is eating a raw nut or seed, or a lot of raw grains that have not been cooked or they’re not sprouted, there are something called phytates that sort of keep you from fully absorbing those. So that’s another thing, but probiotics help break some of those down to help you better than absorb nutrients like iron and zinc. And some of these other nutrients that are so important for us. So I think that’s a big thing there with probiotics is that they help you absorb your nutrients.

They actually create enzymes, which help you break down your food. So it’s more easy on your digestive system. They clear out bad bacteria like candida and yeast and fungal infections and those sort of things that are good for that as well. So the big thing is they bolster your immune system and your digestion just as much or more than anything. So I think probiotics are good for that reason.

I want to mention this are really two big types of probiotics we should be getting. There’s food based that are in things like yogurt and sauerkraut, but there’s also something called soil based organisms that are found in our soil and other certain fermented foods like miso today or natto has a soil based organism called bacillus subtilis.

But these types of probiotics that are known as SBO probiotics, they’re heat resistant, they’re acid resistant, and they make it from our mouth all the way through our colon. And so I think really getting both of those… Our ancient ancestors got them. For instance, if you went to your local farmer’s market or had a garden, you go and pick up carrots and beets. And even when you wash them off, there’s still a little brown specks embedded in there. Those are actually soil based organisms and studies have shown out of Japan that they actually help you better break down and digest your food.

And so anyways, and you can look this up, I’ve written about this online. You could look up SBO probiotics, Dr. Ax. I’ve written about this, but I think if we can get some soil organisms and some of these food-based probiotics via fermentation, it’s going to go a long way.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Is that part in the eat dirt book that you were so popular?

Dr. Josh Axe:

Exactly. I wrote a book all about this, and this is a whole another topic we can talk about too. Over sanitization. And I really talk about how we naturally strengthen our immune [crosstalk [00:12:58]-

Daniel Amen, MD:

For the next one, but in the age of COVID where people got pretty crazy about protecting things. I’m so worried about this.

All right. We’re here with Dr. Josh Ax. Just such a wealth of knowledge.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I cannot believe you gave me a dirty look.

Dr. Josh Axe:

That was a look of love. I thought that was a look of love over there.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Disinfectant look.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I’m a nurse.

Daniel Amen, MD:

New book Ancient Wisdom is coming down February 2nd. We’re going to come back and talk about not disinfecting everything on your body. Your skin has microorganisms. Who knew? Stay with us.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.