The Wonderful World of Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms have been used for many thousands of years to promote health and wellbeing.  They contain some amazingly powerful active nutrients which make them perfectly suited to the kinds of health issues with face in our modern world – including immunity, fertility, virility, brain function and energy.

But before you rush to the veg shop to buy a few portobellos, we’re not talking about your average common-or-garden mushroom.  These are medicinal mushrooms, which means they have superior health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, antimicrobial, and immune-supporting benefits.

In particular, medicinal mushrooms are used in supporting effective immune function.  They contain immune supporting polysaccharides (including beta glucans), and are immune-modulators, which means they suppress or stimulate the immune system as required. They also increase production of immune cells and antibody production, and many have anti-microbial compounds to help to fight off infection.

Many mushrooms are also adaptogens, which means that they help our bodies adapt to stress more effectively, and support with hormonal health and energy levels.  In particular, Cordyceps and Reishi are adaptogenic mushrooms that can help restore balance when stress levels are high and energy levels are low.

They are also high in antioxidants to protect against free radicals, decreasing oxidative stress and cell damage. And are used to support cognitive health, with benefits including growth of brain cells and increased focus and clarity.

These are just a few of the amazing health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.  Each of them has their own nutritional properties and characteristics.  So let’s meet the mushrooms:

Cordyceps: ‘The Emperor’s Mushroom’

Great for:  Energy levels, performance, fertility and sexual function, lung support and kidney function.

Cordyceps is an adaptogen, so helps us to adapt to stressful situations.  Studies show that people taking Cordyceps were able to withstand stress compared to when they weren’t taking it[1].  It is also used for athletic performance – in fact, in 1993 after Chinese athletes smashed many world records they claimed the secret to their enhanced performance was Cordyceps.

Lion’s Mane: ‘The Mountain Priest Mushroom’

Great for:  Cognitive and nerve health, low mood, menopause.

Buddhist monks are said to have used Lion’s Mane mushroom powder as a tea to enhance brain power and heighten their focus during meditation.  It is thought to have great benefits in supporting the nervous system and brain functioning.  It stimulates production of nerve growth factor, which can help maintain the brain cells responsible for processing and transmitting information, learning and memory.[2]

It stimulates production of nerve growth factor (NGF) which helps to maintain the neurons, which are the brain cells responsible for helping us to process and transmit information, supporting learning and memory, as well as optimizing neurogenesis; the creation and growth of new brain cells (3).

Maitake: ‘The Dancing Mushroom’

Great for:  Immune support, anti-viral, Polycystic ovarian syndrome, blood sugar balance

Maitake has been shown to have beneficial effects on the immune system [3], and potent antiviral action. It also appears to show benefits for supporting blood sugar balance.

Reishi: ‘The Mushroom of Immortality’

Great for:  Immune support, allergies, liver support, insomnia, anxiety

Another adaptogen, Reishi is a useful mushroom for reducing stress, aiding relaxation and calming the mind.  Reishi mushrooms (and in particular their spores) are rich in triterpenes which are naturally calming, anti-inflammatory and a natural histamine, so are useful for allergies and hay fever.


To see the full range of medicinal mushrooms in our store, please click here.  Remember – we are here to help so for more information on medicinal mushrooms and their uses, feel free to pop into the store or give us a call.  Please note, this blog should not be taken as medical advice – if you have any health concerns or are taking prescribed medication, please consult your GP.