Fantastic Fungi: Top 5 Medicinal Mushrooms

lion's mane, hericium erinaceus

1. Cordyceps

Photo: Andreas Kunze

Cordyceps sinensis. Photo: Andreas Kunze

Previously featured as one of our top ingredients for energy, cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) has a long history of medicinal use in China and Tibet. “Traditional healers in Sikkim recommend the fungus/mushroom Cordyceps sinensis for “all illnesses” as a tonic, because they claim that it improves energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance, and sleeping patterns.” Considered to be a tonic, antioxidant, and aphrodisiac, cordyceps also appears to effect the immune system. This super-powered medicinal mushroom is a great one to add to a daily health regimen!

2. Lions Mane

lion's mane, hericium erinaceus

Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus). Photo by Lebrac

Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a unique-looking culinary and medicinal mushroom. Lion’s mane mushrooms are mostly getting attention for their potential as nootropic brain supplement and for regenerating damaged nerves. It’s less commonly known that lion’s mane is also being studied in clinical trials for depression, anxiety, stomach problems, blood sugar, cholesterol, and immune support.  The best ways to take lion’s mane are in a capsule or as a liquid extract that has both hot water and alcohol extractions mixed.

3. Chaga

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is likely the strongest mushroom for overall longevity. It is antioxidant, immune boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and has shown positive results in cancer trials. There is some debate about whether chaga is best consumed as a tea or if hot water damages some of the active constituents. To ensure efficacy, you can take chaga as capsules.

4. Turkey Tail

Trametes versicolor

Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor). Photo by Jerzy Opioła

Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) got its claim to medicinal mushroom fame from an National Institute of Health (NIH) study that showed that turkey tail mushrooms may correct immune deficiency problems that arise during radiation therapy for breast cancer. Evidence suggests turkey tail could be useful as part of larger protocols for other types of cancer too. While there is not much research on what turkey tail can do for other ailments yet, there are a number of other conditions in which turkey tail may be of use,

5. Reishi

Reishi mushroom

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). Photo by Eric Steinert

Reishi (Ganoderma spp.) is another one of the amazing medicinal mushrooms we have written about on the Peach Vitamins blog, in relation to conditions ranging from autoimmune disease to common colds. Reishi acts as an immunomodulator, meaning it can ramp up the immune system when it is challenged by a pathogen, without sending it into overdrive (like in cases of autoimmune conditions). But did you know about the many other ways you can use reishi? In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), reishi (also known as ling zhi) is used for shen disturbance, which basically equates to emotional trauma. Reishi works for some people as a calming herb before sleep, useful when traveling. Some use it for cases of asthma.  Reishi has also shown antiviral, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective and cholesterol-lowering properties. This mushroom is amazingly versatile; another great choice to take daily to support a healthy immune system.

3 thoughts on “Fantastic Fungi: Top 5 Medicinal Mushrooms”

  1. Hi all, I just want to ask if someone ever tried using shrooms or truffles for medical purposes? I was reading some articles about this magic truffles and shrooms before engaging my self for the first time. They say that it has a very potent effect on the brain and hallucination. Unlike marijuana does it have any medical use? In one article that I’ve read magic truffles or shrooms are use on reducing the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. It can also help people to quit smoking and alcohol addiction. Some studies also suggest the property of magic shrooms/truffles can be useful for cancer patients. I would really want to hear other insights regarding this new possible alternative meds. Thanks

    1. We do not condone the use of any illegal substance, and we are neither medical professionals nor scientific researchers, so we are not the best people to provide info about “magic shrooms”. That being said, I have heard of some studies on psilocybin mushrooms focusing on depression in cancer patients. The focus of the study was not about affecting the cancer itself, but rather the emotional impact of a possibly-terminal diagnosis. If you are interested, you can do more research online, and be sure to look for multiple sources of peer-reviewed research, not websites making medical claims or advertising a specific product.

  2. I appreciate your article very informative! I have been searching for any information that would scientifically indicate any levels of psilocybin in Hericium erinaceus. I am subject to random drug tests and am always skeptical of any mushroom supplements that may have even trace amounts of unwanted compounds.

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