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Medicinal Mushrooms: Health Benefits, Types and How to Use Them

Key Takeaways:

  • Medicinal mushrooms have a wide range of health benefits, from boosting immunity and reducing inflammation to enhancing cognitive function.
  • Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, Tremella, Turkey Tail, Agaricus, and Maitake are among the most potent and well-studied medicinal mushrooms.
  • Each mushroom has unique benefits, such as Reishi for immunity, Chaga for overall health, Cordyceps for energy, Lion's Mane for cognitive enhancement, and Maitake for inflammation.
  • Medicinal mushrooms can be incorporated into your diet in various ways, such as in teas, coffees, smoothies, or cooking.
  • Regular and consistent use is typically needed to notice the effects of medicinal mushrooms.

What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?

From bringing balance and restoration to your immune system, boosting oxygen flow and enhancing your creative and mental acumen to regulating your blood sugar, reducing your stress levels and improving your quality of sleep, there’s almost nothing medicinal fungi can’t do.

Medicinal mushrooms (also known as medicinal fungi or curative mushrooms) are a special type of fungi that are scientifically shown to have a wide range of benefits in the human body. While there are more than 2,000 species of edible mushrooms on the planet, only a small handful have the remarkable properties that categorize them as 'medicinal'.

The 9 Best Medicinal Mushrooms List:

So, what are the best medicinal mushrooms to use? I'm so glad you asked! Below you'll find what we have produced as our 'definitive guide' - taking you through 9 of the worlds most potent and well-studied medicinal mushrooms.

Read on to find out about the health benefits, different types and best ways to incorporate them into your diet, as well as the best producers we've found and where you can buy them.

1. Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) - The Immune Booster

reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)

Probably the best known and most researched medicinal mushroom on the planet, Reishi or Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the most important Taoist mushrooms and is believed to nourish our shen, the spiritual essence of our being.

Blessed with pseudonyms such as 'The Mushroom of Immortality' and 'The Mushroom of Spiritual Potency', reishi was originally highly regarded for its strong anti-aging properties and improving immune function. It was often used by emperors in search of immortality hundreds of years ago.

Although the mushroom is unlikely to help you live forever, the benefits of reishi mushroom are huge, even including promising results in immune stimulation to help deal with cancer cells.

A few of the most commonly recognised health benefits of reishi mushrooms are:

The calming effects of reishi mushrooms make it perfect for making 'reishi tea' at the end of the day to help lull yourself into a peaceful, rejuvenating sleep. Mushroom extracts typically aren’t heat-sensitive, so you can enjoy your steaming hot drink without worrying about the temperature affecting the integrity of the nutrients.

Our three favourite suppliers of super high-quality reishi mushroom powder and reishi extracts are Lifecykel, SuperFeast & Teelixir.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Reishi and Teelixir Reishi, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)

Reishi Products

You can find out everything you'd ever need to know about Reishi Mushroom in our ultimate guide.

2. Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) - Antioxidant Powerhouse

Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus)

Known as 'The Gift From Heaven' by Siberian shamans, chaga (Inonotus obliquus) can be found primarily growing on birch trees in a fascinating 'symbiotic' pairing. Chaga has the remarkable ability to rearrange disorganised cells in the body and stimulate the immune response, thanks to its high melanin and betulinic acid content. Because of this, it’s very highly regarded by healers and medicine men and women in the Arctic regions and is considered to be one of the most sacred medicinal substances there is.

Not only that, but the mighty fungi is also a treasure trove of vital vitamins, mineral and enzymes we need to thrive and stay healthy.

Chaga is a real anti-ageing & immune system powerhouse with a staggering number of benefits, such as:

The simplest and most common way of consuming chaga is to turn it into mushroom tea - but that’s not your only option. You can also stir it into your coffee for an early morning health boost, add it into a post-workout smoothie to help your body recover quicker or even use it as an added extra in your favourite protein ball recipe for a super nutritious snack.

Our three favourite suppliers of super high-quality chaga mushroom powder and chaga extracts are Lifecykel, SuperFeast & Teelixir.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Chaga and Teelixir Chaga, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)

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 You can find out everything you'd ever need to know about Chaga Mushrooms in our ultimate guide.

3. Cordyceps Mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis) - Energy and Stamina Booster Cordyceps Mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis)

An excellent choice for athletes, cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is used to increase blood oxygenation and jing, the primordial energy in the kidneys. Cordyceps is well known in athletic circles to increase endurance and cellular performance, as well as lower recovery times.

One of the superheroes of the fungi world, cordyceps can also improve sleeping patterns, libido, stamina, appetite and energy, making it as close to a 'help-all' as you can get. This ancient medicine well-known amongst traditional Himalayan healers was first widely consumed by humans when yak herders noticed their animals becoming surprisingly strong and virile after consuming the mushroom. The herders tried the mushroom for themselves, experienced the same results and the rest is history!

Cordyceps aren’t only nutritionally advantageous for people in physical training — they can be beneficial for people of all ages and situations. Here are just some of the mushroom’s benefits:

Like all medicinal mushrooms, you can easily add cordyceps extracts to a mug of hot water to make a soothing, nutritious tea. You can also spoon some of the powder or extracts into coffee, smoothies or hot chocolate for a nourishing upgrade to any hot or cold drink.

Our three favourite suppliers of super high-quality cordyceps mushroom powder and cordyceps extracts are Lifecykel, SuperFeast & Teelixir.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Cordyceps and Teelixir Cordyceps, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)

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You can find out everything you'd ever need to know about Cordyceps Mushroom in our ultimate guide.

4. Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) - Cognitive Enhancer

 

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)
Used for centuries by monks to augment focus during meditation, elevate general strength, assist the immune system and increase vigour, lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is most widely used in the modern world to increase cognitive abilities and brain function.

While it can help clear your mind and improve your concentration in the short-term, this powerful fungi also has more long-term cognitive advantages. Lion's mane mushrooms contain two special compounds (hericenones and erinacines) which stimulate the growth of new brain cells, lowering the chances of developing dementia. Lion’s mane benefits also include improving the function of the nervous system and it’s regularly used in traditional Chinese medicine to combat Qi deficiency.

As well as its ability to greatly enhance brain function, lion’s mane can help advance various other aspects of health, including:

Try adding a couple of scoops of lion's mane to homemade soups and stews. Many people think of it as a culinary mushroom as well as it tastes subtly of seafood and is great to cook with. As such, due to its seafood flavour, we wouldn't recommend to simply stir lion’s mane into a mug of hot water, coffee or smoothie.

Our three favourite suppliers of super high-quality lion's mane mushroom powder and lion's mane extracts are Lifecykel, SuperFeast & Teelixir.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Lion's Mane and Teelixir Lion's Mane, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)
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You can find out everything you'd ever need to know about Lion's Mane Mushroom in our ultimate guide.

5. Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) - The Heart's Ally

Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes)

Even if you’re completely unfamiliar with medicinal mushrooms, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard of shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) as they’re a common ingredient in Asian cooking.

This mushroom was originally harvested in the wild in China during the Ming Dynasty, but before long, the Japanese herbalists figured out an efficient way to grow them on logs. After this discovery, people who wanted their villages to become prestigious and affluent would cultivate shiitake mushrooms on logs to attract Buddhist monks.

Considered to be an 'Elixir of Life' by Japanese elders, shiitake mushrooms are brimming with nutritionally-beneficial minerals, vitamins and amino acids. These important building blocks boost health and longevity, as well as greatly improving blood circulation, toning the heart and protecting the liver. A truly vigorous superfood, the shiitake mushroom has also been indicated to:

Shiitake is one of the most versatile medicinal mushrooms there is. If you’re a whizz in the kitchen, you can add a sprinkling of it to scrambled eggs, pasta sauces and sautéed vegetables for instant umami flavour. Stir a spoonful into some boiling water and you’ve also got an excellent vegan, gluten-free stock you can use as a base for all kinds of meals. If you’d rather keep things simple, you can always stir a small quantity of this medicinal mushroom into your favourite hot or cold drinks.

Our three favourite suppliers of super high-quality shiitake mushroom powders and extracts are Lifecykel, SuperFeast & Teelixir. Teelixir doesn't sell shiitake in a straight-up form, but you can find it in their Immune Defence blend below.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Shiitake and Teelixir Immune Defence, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)

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6. Tremella Mushroom (Tremella fuciformis) - The Hydration Master

Tremella mushroom (Tremella fuciformis)

Tremella mushrooms (Tremella fuciformis) have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a youth-preserving tonic. In fact, the Imperial Concubine Yang Guifei, highly regarded to be the most beautiful woman in Chinese history, incorporated this mushroom into her daily beauty routine.

Tremella’s robust antioxidants give skin a healthy glow by eliminating free radicals which cause cell damage and inflammation. Not only that, but this medicinal mushroom also encourages the body to increase its own antioxidant production which continues to take effect long after consumption.

As well as improving skin’s hydration and elasticity to give you a youthful look, Tremella may also:

The flavour profile of tremella is very subtle and sweet with vanilla notes, making it ideal to stir into tea, coffee and smoothies, or even use in baking and desserts. Because its taste isn’t overpowering, you can also combine tremella with other medicinal mushrooms to create your own custom life-promoting elixir at home.

Our two favourite suppliers of super high-quality Tremella mushroom powder are SuperFeast & Teelixir.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Tremella and Teelixir Tremella, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)

Tremella Products

 You can find out everything you'd ever need to know about Tremella Mushroom in our ultimate guide.

7. Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor) - Gut Health Guardian

Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor or Polyporus versicolor)

Named after its striking resemblance to the plume of feathers on the bird, the turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor or Polyporus versicolor) was used as early as the 15th century for its remarkable ability to cultivate a strong immune system capable of combating powerful pathogens. Also believed to enhance Qi, support strong bone health, tone the liver and improve digestion - this powerhouse of a mushroom is as good as medicinal fungi gets.

Regarded throughout the modern world as a potent tonic mushroom, turkey tail mushrooms contain high levels of protein-bound polysaccharides PSP and PSK. It’s these molecules that give the mushroom its incredible ability to elevate core and surface immunity against harmful pathogens and aid with cancer treatment. There have recently been some promising results in using turkey tail to help increase survival rates with certain types of cancers.

As well as vastly improving the health of the immune system to help us stave off diseases and sickness, turkey tail mushrooms also help us fight off specific ailments such as:

A simple tea made by stirring a spoonful of turkey tail into boiling hot water is the most common way to consume this medicinal mushroom. There are several other variations you can try to make your tea a little more exciting - experiment by adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of maple syrup into the tea, or take the medicinal mushroom benefits to the next level by adding another mushroom with a sweet & subtle flavour, like tremella.

Our three favourite suppliers of super high-quality turkey tail mushroom powder and extracts are Lifecykel, SuperFeast & Teelixir.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Turkey Tail and Teelixir Turkey Tail, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)

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We've recently published an in-depth guide on Turkey Tail Mushroom, diving in even further to what makes it such a special mushroom - check it out here.

8. Agaricus Mushroom (Agaricus blazei) - The Immune Support and Nutrient Boost

Agaricus blazei

Also called 'The Mushroom of the Sun' and 'The Mushroom of Life', the agaricus mushroom (Agaricus blazei) is hugely popular in Japan, despite it originating in Brazil. The Japanese have placed incredible value on these medicinal mushrooms since scientists discovered South American tribes with many significantly elderly people who attributed their longevity to the fungi. While the mushroom isn’t a magical life-giving elixir, is does support the immune system, lower blood pressure, remove toxic cells from the body and decrease bad cholesterol levels — all of which help promote long life.

The agaricus mushroom provides various overall health benefits that everyone can take advantage of but it also may provide specialist health perks to aid those with specific illnesses. It can:

Agaricus mushroom powder has a generally neutral flavour that’s subtly sweet. Because of this, you can use it in all kinds of ways, from making mushroom teas and using it in soups to stirring it into your morning cup of coffee or even sprinkling a little bit over any meal for a super-easy way to reap the medicinal mushroom benefits.

While we don't have a recommendation for a pure Agaricus mushroom powder, you will find it present in the amazing SuperFeast Mason's Mushroom & Teelixir Immune Defence blends. Both of these blends combine some of the world's most potent and effective medicinal mushrooms - hit the links to find out more on them.

Read our full reviews for SuperFeast Mason's Mushrooms and Teelixir Immune Defence, and don't forget to join our mailing list to receive exclusive discounts on all three brands (and more!)

Agaricus Products

9.  Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)  - The Metabolic Regulator

maitake mushrooms on a tree trunk

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms have earned the nickname "Dancing Mushroom" due to the joy experienced by those who find them in the wild. But their benefits go beyond delight, as Maitake mushrooms have been used in traditional Japanese medicine for centuries due to their ability to provide numerous health benefits. 

Maitake mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, beta-glucans, vitamins B and C, copper, potassium, fiber, and amino acids. These nutrients contribute to the mushroom's immune-boosting, anti-cancer, and metabolic-regulating properties. Clinical trials suggest that maitake mushrooms may help regulate blood sugar levels, making it a valuable dietary addition for those managing diabetes. These mushrooms are also studied for their potential benefits for weight loss and heart health.

Here are some of the most recognized benefits of Maitake mushrooms:

Maitake has a rich, earthy flavour that makes it a delicious addition to a variety of dishes. You can enjoy it in soups, stir-fries, and teas. Maitake extracts can also be added to hot drinks or smoothies for a health boost.

When it comes to sourcing high-quality Maitake mushroom supplements, our top pick is Teelixir. We love Teelixir's Maitake powder for its robust earthy flavour and its versatility.

If you're interested in learning more about the benefits and uses of Maitake, check out our detailed post, What is Maitake Mushroom Good For?

buy maitake extract

 Click Here To Check The Latest Prices On Teelixir Maitake

Specific Medicinal Mushroom Benefits:

Best Mushrooms for Health - Overall

The Reishi mushroom, also known as the "mushroom of immortality," is great for overall health. This medicinal mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to improve health and longevity. It can help boost the immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue.

Best Medicinal Mushrooms for Immunity

The best medicinal mushroom for immune health is the Turkey Tail mushroom. It contains a variety of powerful antioxidants and other compounds that may help boost your immune system and even fight certain types of cancer.

Best Mushroom for Inflammation

The Chaga mushroom is best for inflammation. It's packed with antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Chaga can also lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

Best Mushrooms for Energy

The Cordyceps mushroom is known for its energy-boosting properties. It's often used by athletes to improve performance and reduce fatigue. It may also have potential medicinal benefits for heart health and diabetes.

Best Mushrooms for Healing

The Lion's Mane mushroom is best for healing. It has been shown to support brain health, alleviate symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, and improve cognitive function. It also has potent immune-boosting and anticancer effects.

Are Medicinal Mushrooms Safe?

This is a rather broad (yet important) question as there are many different types of medicinal mushrooms used by people around the world. As for almost everything that can harm us in this world - 'the dose makes the poison' (did you know that even too much kale can impact your thyroid?). Medicinal mushrooms, when used appropriately, bring huge benefits to overall human health - just make sure you are sticking to the correct dosages, listen to your body and whenever in doubt, consult your local GP for advice before starting on any dietary supplements.

FAQs on Medicinal Mushroom Benefits

1. Do medicinal mushrooms actually work?

Yes, medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that may enhance immune function, combat inflammation, and promote cognitive health. Effectiveness can vary based on the type of mushroom and individual health conditions.

2. What is the king of medicinal mushrooms?

Reishi mushroom is often referred to as the "king of mushrooms" due to its wide range of health benefits, including immune system support, improved sleep, stress reduction, and longevity promotion.

3. What does lion's mane do to the brain?

Lion's mane mushroom may stimulate the growth of brain cells, improves cognitive function, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and helps regenerate brain cells. Read more about it here.

4. How long do medicinal mushrooms take to work?

The time varies depending on the specific mushroom, mushroom intake or dosage, form, and individual's body. Some people may notice effects within a few days, while for others it may take several weeks or months. Here's a general guideline:

Medicinal Mushroom

Estimated Time to Notice Effects

Reishi Mushroom

2-8 weeks

Chaga Mushroom

2-3 weeks

Cordyceps Mushroom

1-2 weeks

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

2-4 weeks

Shiitake Mushroom

3-4 weeks

Tremella Mushroom

2-3 weeks

Turkey Tail Mushroom

3-4 weeks

Agaricus Mushroom

4-8 weeks

Maitake Mushroom

2-3 weeks

These estimates are based on regular and consistent use of the mushrooms. The form in which the mushrooms are consumed (e.g., tea, powder, extract) and individual health conditions can also influence how quickly you notice effects. As always, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

5. Can you take too many medicinal mushrooms?

Overconsumption of medicinal mushrooms may lead to side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or dry mouth. Start with a lower dose and gradually increase it. If you experience any adverse effects, stop taking it immediately. 

That's a Wrap!

We hope this article has gone a long way towards helping you understand just how amazing and versatile medicinal mushrooms are! Each mushroom has its own unique set of benefits, and for an added boost, you can mix some together!

We've been testing many different types of mushroom products and brands for many years now and only promote those that exhibit super high-quality, transparency, ethics and customer service.

Thanks as always for reading, please leave your comments and questions below and don't forget to share this with your friends and family who'd also love to know a bit more about the amazing world of medicinal mushrooms!

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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