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< Back to Immune Health

Feeling sick, tired, forgetful or stressed?

In this world in which you’re inundated daily by stress and pathogens, it’s useful to think of your body as a castle. The walls of the castle – your skin, bone and connective tissue – keep things out. Your mucosal membranes, genital urinary tract and eyes function like a moat. Inside your body is an army of cells, millions of loyal soldiers maintaining the fortress and multitasking as a self-defense system made up of archers, sentries, intelligence agents, communicators and armed guards.

With daily attacks from bacteria, viruses and parasites, imagine how taxing it is for the protectors of our castle to keep our immune system strong and active. An underactive immune system makes us more prone to colds, flu, disease and infection. If our immune system is overactive, we can be left subject to allergies and it can potentially trigger an autoimmune response. As in our castle analogy, an optimal immune system is a balanced one.

In order to keep our defenses strong, it’s become more important than ever to support our immune system. That starts with balanced nutrition and hydration. Positive lifestyle strategies can also reduce the impacts of chronic stressiii.

We can also strengthen our defenses through supplementation, including the use of medicinal mushrooms such as agaricusii, cordycepsiii, coriolusiv, reishiv maitake and shiitakevi. These mushrooms work as immunomodulatorsvii, which are substances that bring balance or calm and activate the immune system, as needed. These medicinal mushrooms also share the remarkable qualities of adaptogens, which have been found to be powerful allies in protecting our bodies from all forms of stress (physical, biological, emotional and environmental). They literally help our cells adapt to stressors; unique in their capacity to support both the mind and the body – our castle — in combating the effects of chronic stress.

By Tawnya Ritco, RHN
i Malays J Med Sci. 2008 Oct; 15(4): 9–18. PMCID: PMC3341916 , Life Event, Stress and Illness.
ii Effects of the medicinal mushroom Agaricus blazei Murill on immunity, infection and cancer. Review article Hetland G, et al. Scand J Immunol. 2008.
iii Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin, 3 Biotech. 2014 Feb; 4(1): 1–12. Published online 2013 Feb 19. doi: 10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9.
iv Coriolus versicolor mushroom polysaccharides exert immunoregulatory effects on mouse B cells via membrane Ig and TLR-4 to activate the MAPK and NF-κB signaling pathways. Yang SF, et al. Mol Immunol. 2015.
v Reishi immuno-modulation protein induces interleukin-2 expression via protein kinase-dependent signaling pathways within human T cells., Hsu HY, et al. J Cell Physiol. 2008.
vi Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts, Ann Transl Med. 2014 Feb; 2(2): 14. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2014.01.05.
vii Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology, Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb; 13(1): 32–44.

About the Author: Tawnya Ritco, RHN


Tawnya Ritco, RHN, specializes on the relationship between nutrition, lifestyle and vitality and has worked in the natural health industry for 15 years. Learn more about Tawnya at