Top 7 Medicinal Mushrooms

Lion’s Mane: The Mushroom for the Mind

Species name: Hericium erinaceus

Main Health Benefit: Supports healthy brain function*

Lion’s Mane is rich in a multitude of important compound: beta-glucans, which are responsible for antitumor growth, immuno-modulating antioxidants and neuro-protective chemicals*. Oxidative stress, which these compounds protect against, is closely related to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease [1]*. Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) synthesis in nerve cells may be induced by certain compounds (hericenones and erinacines) found in Hericium erinaceus, thus making Lion’s Mane an amazing helper with the development and function of nerves because of its neurotrophic factors. [2].

Historical Medicinal Use

Lion’s Mane, or Hericium erinaceus, is a species of mushroom that is beautiful in appearance, it has long cascading shaggy spines resembling a waterfall. Lion’s Mane grows on the trunks of hardwood trees in Northern forests and has been used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for millennia and has become a well-established candidate in promoting positive cognitive function.

Best way to include it

Real Mushroom’s offers a superb Lion’s Mane product that is rich in medicinal compounds, because purity is our top priority. It is recommended to take ½ teaspoon a day, over a prolonged period of time to fully notice the effects. You can add this powder in your morning smoothie, coffee or elixir of your choosing.

Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health.
- Paul Stamets

Reishi: The Mushroom of Immortality

Species name: Ganoderma lingzhi

Main Health Benefit: Sleep aid and potent immunomodulator*

Much of the polysaccharides in reishi mushroom are associated with immune functions, and if taken over time can significantly support the immune system*. It is also known to improve sleep, reduce stress and fatigue*.

Historical and Medical Use

Reishi or Ganoderma lingzhi, has been recorded for its use for around 2000 years. Most notably used in China by Taoist monks to promote calmness, as well as enhance their meditative practices. It has even been used by Chinese royalty who sought longevity and held Reishi or “the mushroom of immortality” in high esteem. Reishi was listed the most cherished among the superior herbs, that are considered to prolong life, prevent aging, boost qi, and make the body light [3].

Best way to include it

Real Mushrooms ensures that their reishi products are made from the mushroom (fruiting body) and contain higher levels of the medicinal compound beta-d-glucans, triterpenes and NO grain fillers, unlike other so-called ‘mushroom’ products on the US market. One way to identify the purity of our reishi product is the dark colour and bitter taste. It is recommended to take two capsules a day, over a prolonged period of time to notice the health benefits of this incredible mushroom.

Cordyceps: The Caterpillar Fungus

Species name: Cordyceps Militaris

Main Health Benefit: Improves lung capacity and increases energy*

Cordyceps are an incredible energy boosting mushroom because of their ability to increase ATP production through pre-cursor compounds like adenosine and cordycepin. ATP is the compounds which gives our cells energy. This is why Cordyceps is recommended when it comes to physical performance*. In TCM, Cordyceps is also used for lung related issues like asthma or even seasonal allergies*.

Historical and Medical Use

Cordyceps has been described as a treasure in old Chinese medical books and Tibetan medicine. With hundreds of different species, it is a parasitic fungi that preys on insects. Traditional healers have recommended the fungus as a powerful tonic because it improves energy, appetite, stamina and endurance [4]. The most well known species of cordyceps is Cordyceps sinensis; the most expensive mushroom in the world costing over $20,000 per kilogram, sold almost exclusively in Asia. It is a rare combination of a caterpillar and a mushroom and found at high altitudes in the Himilayan Plateau.

For many years, the Chinese weren’t able to cultivate this mushroom, fueling an increasing demand on a small supply. Now, with this particular fungus, it is very important to be aware of what you are consuming because wild Cordyceps sinensis rarely make it to the North American market, yet companies are still advertising Cordyceps sinensis on their products. If a cordyceps product is grown in North America, it is almost certainly myceliated grain. High amount of grain means low amount of mycelium, and decreased beta-glucans, which are the beneficial polysaccharides found in the cell wall.

Luckily, there is one type of Cordyceps species that can be cultivated commercially to produce a mushroom (fruiting body), and that is Cordyceps militaris. If you would like to dive deeper into the realm of this fungi, we have written an engaging and extensive article on cordyceps supplements to help you keep informed.

Best way to include it

Real Mushrooms has created an organic Cordyceps militaris extract, verified for quality by 3rd party labs, that contains those beautiful beta-D-glucans, cordycepin and NO starch. It is recommended that adults take ½-1 tsp or up to 2gms per day over a long period of time.

Chaga: The Mushroom that’s not a Mushroom

Species name: Inonotus Obliquus

Main Health Benefit: Boosts digestion and clears skin

Chaga is rich in antioxidants, and supports immune function, liver health, brain health and increases longevity [5]*.

Medicinal and Historical Uses

Chaga or Inonotus obliquus, which is commonly referred to as a mushroom is actually a highly prized sclerotium or woody canker that grows in the colder regions of the Northern Hemisphere on birch trees. First medicinal uses seem to have come out of Russia around the 16th century when used as a tea to treat stomach ailments*. After 1966, Chaga gained more exposure after its healing powers were written about in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book, Cancer Ward. As Chaga grows primarily on birch trees and much of the sclerotium itself is actually wood fiber and not mycelium, many medicinal compounds from birch like betulin and betulinic acid end up in the sclerotium. The outer black layer on the canker contains high amounts of melanin which can be beneficial for our skin*.

Until recently Chaga could not be cultivated but now in Finland they are inoculating birch trees with this fungus. Lab cultivated Chaga does not develop in to sclerotium and as it does not grow on birch but on grain, it does not contain the important medicinal compounds that come from birch.

Best way to include it

Our Siberian Chaga extract is wild harvested from Russia, and tested by 3rd party laboratories for the active compounds beta-D-glucans that are quintessential nutrients for the immune system. We care deeply about sourcing the highest quality mushrooms that contain the most medicinal compounds to ensure that your health is supported over long term use. It is recommended that adults take two capsules of our organic chaga daily. These can be taken at any time during the day, and used over an extended period of time to notice the effects.

Turkey Tail: The Mushroom of Multiple Colors

Species name: Trametes Versicolor


Main Health Benefit: Boosts immune system function

Turkey tail improves immune function by stimulating cytokine production, increasing natural killer cells and other immune boosting functions*.

Medicinal and Historical Uses

Turkey Tail mushroom, or Trametes Versicolor, is one of the most well researched medicinal mushrooms. It grows on dead logs worldwide, and receives its name because its rings of brown and tan look like the tail feathers of a turkey. In TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) turkey tail has been used for treating lung disease, and in Japan, the drug PSK, which is derived from turkey tail has been used to strengthen the immune system when given with standard cancer treatment [6]*. China also has a similar drug called PSP. Turkey tail contains one of the highest amounts of beta-glucans for all mushrooms, which will help keep our immune systems healthy when used over an extended period of time [7]*.

Best way to include it

Real Mushrooms’ turkey tail is certified organic and guaranteed NO added starch, mycelium or grain of any kind – just pure mushroom (fruiting body), so you receive all the wonderful, healing medicinal properties. It is suggested to take ½-1 tsp per day or up to 2 grams.

Shiitake: The Fragrant Mushroom

Species name: Lentinula edodes

Main Health Benefit: Improves cardiovascular health

Shiitake mushroom is great for immunity, liver function, and supports the cardiovascular system*.

Medicinal and Historical Uses

Shiitake mushrooms are the most popular mushrooms in the world and have a meaty and versatile flavor, hence why they’ve been used as a food source in Asia for hundreds of years. In China, shiitake is called Xiang gu (香菇), which translates to fragrant mushroom. During the Ming Dynasty in China, shiitake was deemed “the elixir of life”. They’re great to cook with, and are also loaded with B-vitamins, helping to control blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation in the body. Shiitake has been cultivated in Japan for centuries, and has received its name from shii trees (related to beech and oak) they’re found growing on. Shiitake has a long been used as both a food and a supplement in TCM, as it is thought to boost longevity and improve circulation*. Lentinan, a polysaccharide in shiitake mushrooms, has shown great promise as an immunotherapy agent [8]*. Research has also discovered a compound in shiitake, eritadenine, that has lowered cholesterol in some studies [9]*.

Best way to include it

Real Mushroom’s proudly uses only the mushroom (fruiting body) and absolutely NO added filler, mycelium or grain; our product 5 Defenders Organic Mushroom Blend is pure and highly medicinal. Recommended dosing is ½-1 tsp a day, or up to two grams. Can be taken at any time of the day, use for at least 6-8 weeks to feel the effects on the body.

Maitake: The Dancing Mushroom

Species name: Grifola frondosa

Main Health Benefit: Helps to regulate blood pressure and supports immune function

Maitake mushrooms are known to help regulate our immune systems by stimulating the immune system’s lymphocytes such as natural killer cells and t-helper cells*.

Medicinal and Historical Uses

Maitake, Grifola frondosa is commonly known as Hen of the Woods or the Dancing Mushroom. It is plentiful in the deciduous forests of North America and Japan. It is an edible mushroom with an earthy flavour. TCM has used this mushroom for its support on the immune system. The mushroom (fruiting body) contains polysaccharides such as beta-glucans, which have been linked to healthy cell growth and turnover*.

Maitake became quite famous in the 1990’s after Dr. Hiroaki Nanba, a pharmacologist out of Japan at Kobe Pharmaceutical University, began isolating and testing different polysaccharide fractions from Maitake. Many of these fractions were quite potent immunomodulating agents.

Best way to include it

The Maitake we use in our 5 Defenders Mushroom Blend is made from ONLY the mushroom (fruiting body), so you can be assured that you are getting the full potency this mushroom can offer for your health. We recommend taking two capsules a day over a long period to feel the full beneficial effect of the mushroom.



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