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Medicinal Mushrooms - A Beginner's Guide



If you've been following me for a while then you'll know just how great my love for medicinal mushrooms is. Since being introduced to them in 2019 when I worked at a plant-based restaurant in Byron Bay (shout out to Elixiba) I have been 100% hooked & here is why!


Medicinal mushrooms are a natural health/ food supplement that produce polysaccharides which work by stimulating the body's own immune cells including natural killer cells, T-cells & macrophages. These are all used by the body as a first defence against diseases such as Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzhimer's & Dementia. They have been used for thousands of years across many different countries & cultures for a huge variety healing benefits.


"The medicinal uses of mushrooms goes back to Neolithic man’s history. The oldest human mummy, dating back 4,000 years ago, was found with Piptoporus betulinus in his medicine kit, a mushroom used for its antibiotic properties and as a natural parasite killer, still in use today. Egyptian hieroglyphics show mushrooms as the plant of immortality, called the “sons of the gods” sent to Earth on lightning bolts and eaten only by nobles and pharaohs. The Aztecs also had sacred mushrooms called “the flesh of the gods,” which they consumed in holy rituals. In ancient China special mushrooms, particularly the reishi fungi, were valued as a tonic herb and forbidden to common people." [source- www.spiritofchange.org/a-history-of-medicinal-mushrooms]


Today the most popular way to take medicinal mushrooms is in powder form although tinctures (liquid) are also a good option. Both singular mushrooms or blends are available, meaning you can cater to your exact needs with individual products or a combination of several. There is no right or wrong way to do this, it's all just personal needs/ preference. Much like taking any other health/ food supplement, when sourcing your medicinal mushrooms, always opt for high-quality, organic products wherever possible. Superfeast (in Australia ) & Nature's Root (in the UK) are my personal top picks. I've also heard good things about Real Mushrooms which are a US based company.



How do I use them?

I personally buy all my medicinal mushrooms in organic, powdered form & put a small amount in my English Breakfast tea each morning. You can put them in your preferred hot drink but also in smoothies, baking & most other cooking. ​



My hero medicinal mushrooms are...


Reishi - this is my absolute favourite for boosting the immune system, I personally swear by it for keeping things like the common cold at bay. It does this by effecting our white blood cells & reducing inflammation in the body. Other potential benefits of Reishi are reduced fatigue & depression, antioxidants & blood sugar level stabilisation. It is one of the stronger tasting mushrooms so if you are super sensitive to Earthy tastes I suggest starting with something else, perhaps Lion's Mane & work your way up over time once your taste buds are more used to the flavours.


Chaga - similarly to Reishi, Chaga is great for reducing inflammation in the body, boosting the immune system & lowering blood sugar levels. What Chaga also offers though is the potential to lower cholesterol too. Chaga is also known to be high in the powerful antioxidant Superoxide Dismutase which is said to aid liver cleansing.


Lion's Mane - great for brain health with claims it could help prevent dementia as studies have found it contains two special compounds, hericenones & erinacines, which stimulate brain cell growth. It's other believed benefits are relief from mild symptoms of depression & anxiety, reduction of oxidative stress in the body & it may even speed up recovery from nervous system injuries as research has found Lion's Mane extract stimulates the repair & growth of nerve cells.


Cordyceps - you may have heard of this mushroom in a BBC Planet Earth documentary (if you haven't google "Cordyceps - Attack of the killer fungi") but don't let that put you off! Cordyceps is thought to have potential heart health healing effects which studies have attributed to Adenosine, a compound that naturally occurs in Cordyceps that has heart-protecting properties. Strength & energy is also said to gain a boost from Cordyceps thanks to Adenosine (triphosphate) which delivers energy to our muscles & may help improve the way your body uses oxygen (especially during exercise). Other possible benefits include anti-aging properties (due to their antioxidant content), fatigue reduction & libido increase.


Other hero medicinal mushrooms are:

Shiitake - packed full of amino acids & super tasty to cook with

Turkey Tail - helps to balance gut bacteria leading to a strong immune system

Maitake - great for lowering blood sugar (helps with Diabetes) & lipid levels (Cholesterol)


When you're starting out on your medicinal mushroom journey it can all seem rather overwhelming so, as always, I recommend you do your own thorough research before beginning, speaking to a health care professional wherever possible. Below I have provided several resource links for websites & companies I have found incredibly useful in educating myself on the subject of medicinal mushrooms:


Superfeast - These are by far my favourite brand & their website is a wealth of information with free courses available on subjects such as "Tonic Herbalism". Incredible blends are available, all created with love & intention & the founder/ owner of the company Mayson Taylor is the most passionate & knowledgeable medicinal mushroom advocate - simply inspiring!



Other great resources/ companies are:

Real Mushrooms - https://www.realmushrooms.com/

Lifecykel - https://lifecykel.com/

Nature's Root - https://www.naturesroot.co.uk/​

FreshCap Mushrooms - https://www.youtube.com/c/FreshCapMushrooms/videos

Southwest Mushrooms - https://www.youtube.com/c/SouthwestMushrooms/videos


​Please note I am speaking from personal experience only & you should always seek guidance from a health care professional before taking any new supplements.



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