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 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'.
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.
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 8 of the worlds most potent and well-studied medicinal mushrooms. We detail 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)
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 long 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:
- Strengthen the immune system to fight off disease
- Calm the mind and ease anxiety
- Improve the quality and duration of sleep
- Improve skin health and complexion
- Helping lower blood pressure
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. Sign up to our newsletter for discounts on all three brands (and more)***
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You can find out everything you'd ever need to know about reishi in our ultimate guide
2. 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:
- Preventing skin, hair and eyes from ageing prematurely
- Helping the body to cope well in a stressful environment
- Reducing inflammation to speed up recovery
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. Sign up to our newsletter for discounts on all three brands (and more)***
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3. Cordyceps Mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis)
An excellent medicinal mushroom for athletes, cordyceps (Cordyceps sinesis) 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:
- Promote healthy adrenal glands for a rise in brain performance
- Protect against premature aging and disease by neutralising free radicals
- Reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol levels
Like all medicinal mushrooms, you can easily add cordyceps 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 two 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. Sign up to our newsletter for discounts on all three brands (and more)***
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4. 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. It contains 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:
- Restoring damaged nerves and increasing overall nerve health
- Reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Lowering the chance of developing stomach ulcers and protecting the stomach lining from damage
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 Lions Mane and Teelixir Lions Mane. Sign up to our newsletter for discounts on all three brands (and more)***
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5. 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:
- Offer protection against inflammation
- Support cardiovascular health
- Boost overall energy and brain function
- Help with blood pressure and circulation
- Improved immune response and increases in T cells and natural killer cells
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. Sign up to our newsletter for discounts on all three brands (and more)**
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6. 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:
- Help your body effectively fight infection
- Regulate and enhances the immune system
- Support the digestive system and controls blood sugar levels
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. Sign up to our newsletter for discounts on all three brands (and more)**
7. Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes 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 - the turkey tail mushroom is as good as medicinal fungi gets.
Regarded throughout the modern world as a potent tonic mushroom, turkey tail houses 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:
- Decrease your chances of coming down with the common cold and flu
- Help treat human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Boost the growth of healthy bacteria for improved digestion
- Promising results in assisting with recovery from breast cancer, gastric cancer and colorectal cancers
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. Sign up to our newsletter for 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)
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:
- Help cancer patients endure chemotherapy by lessening side effects
- Lower insulin resistance to help people with type 2 diabetes
- Reduce liver damage in people suffering from long-term hepatitis B
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. Sign up to our newsletter for discounts on all three brands (and more)**
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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!
We've been testing many different brands for many years now and only promote those that are 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!