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Understanding the Wonderful World of Medicinal Mushrooms

Understanding the Wonderful World of Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms have captured the eye of health enthusiasts for a little while now, gaining significant attention for their remarkable medicinal properties. Though it may feel like a novel fascination, their benefits extend beyond the latest trends. Medicinal mushrooms have a rich history ingrained in various cultures, particularly in Asia, where they have been used for centuries.

We are huge lovers of medicinal mushrooms at Therapy Organics. We are asked daily about which mushrooms are good for this, and which mushrooms are good for that, so, we wanted to create a guide for easy reference.

In this blog, we’ll be covering the most popular medicinal mushrooms and why you may want to incorporate them into your health routines.

MushroomUnique Benefit
Lions Mane
(Hericium erinaceus)
The ‘smart mushroom’ supports focus, memory, mood, reduced anxiety and Nerve Growth Factor stimulation to support nerve health.

(Ganoderma lucidum)

The ‘mushroom of immortality’/‘elixir of life,’ has potent adaptogenic qualities to support overall health and vitality, and wonderful immune modulator.

(Ophiocordyceps Sinensis)

Nature's energy booster, best known for its ability to boost energy levels which supports fertility, physical performance and endurance, and balances cortisol levels.
Snow Fungus

(Tremella fuciformis)

Nature's beauty enhancer, is thought to enhance skin health by promoting hydration, elasticity and an overall youthful, radiant complexion.

(Trametes versicolor/Tukrey tail)

The immune mushroom, is shown to support immune function and enhance resilience. Also used traditionally for breast health.

(Inonotus obliquus)

Offers anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant benefits. Traditionally used to support balanced cholesterol levels and overall heart health, plus blood sugar balance and metabolic function.

(Zhu Ling)

Known for its potent diuretic properties and supporting lymphatic drainage. Also used as an antibiotic addressing urogenital and kidney issues.

(Grifola frondosa)

Due to the rich sterol content, maitake has been used to support healthy cholesterol levels. Rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it key for immune support.

(Lentinula edodes)

Unique benefits include its ability to support gut health and reduce inflammatory markers, making this a great mushroom for overall immune health.
Wood Ear

(Auricularia auricula-judae)

Thanks to the abundance of fibre and antioxidants, wood ear supports liver and digestive health, ultimately aiding cholesterol balance and overall cardiovascular health.

(Pleurotus ostreatus)

Mostly used for improving glucose metabolism, regulating blood pressure and aiding in metabolism to support weight control.

(Phellinus linteus)

Shown to support the immune system, in particular the balance of immune markers associated with infertility. Also thought to support women's health from the menstrual cycle to breast health.
Honey Mushroom

(Armillaria mellea)

With its great antimicrobial abilities, honey mushroom is great for balancing gut flora and disrupting biofilms associated with conditions such as SIBO. Also valued for its role in blood sugar balance and nervous system support.
Antrodia Camphorata

(Taiwanofungus camphoratus)

Rich hepatoprotective effects, supporting liver health and function. Also used to alleviate discomfort caused by alcohol consumption and exhaustion, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
Sun Agaric

(Agaricus blazei)

Primarily used to alleviate allergies, including seasonal allergies like hay fever, thanks to its immune modulating and gut supportive antioxidants. Plus, offering some internal protection from oxidative damage, such as UV.

Lions Mane

Also known as Hericium Erinaceus, Yamabushitake, Hou tou gu, Pom Pom mushroom

A little bit about: Lion’s Mane is cherished by many for its wonderful benefits. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s renowned for its role in ‘fortifying the spleen and nurturing the intestine’. It has long been used for its ability to promote digestion, strength, and healing, addressing issues such as insomnia and weakness.

However, you may know lion's mane best as the ‘smart mushroom’, a name it has rightfully earned due to its positive impact on brain and nerve health. Even Buddhist monks used it to enhance concentration during meditation! Lion's Mane offers a variety of cognitive benefits, including enhanced focus, mental clarity, and motivation, as well as improved memory and mood.

Compounds within Lion's Mane are thought to readily cross the blood-brain barrier, protecting nerve cells and facilitating neurodegenerative benefits, all while igniting the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), crucial for neuron growth and communication. Supported by scientific studies, its ability extends to reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, enhancing cognitive function, and potentially slowing the process of biological ageing.

Unique benefits: With a name like the ‘smart mushroom’, it’s no surprise that Lion's Mane's best feature lies in its cognitive enhancing benefits and unique ability to stimulate NGF, resulting in increased focus, improved mood, and neuroprotection.

Shop Lions Mane Mushroom


Also known as Ganoderma lucidum, Lingzhi, Ling chi mushroom

A little bit about: Reishi, known as the queen of mushrooms, is known for its soothing properties and support immune function through its rich content of bioactive compounds like polysaccharides and triterpenes. Often referred to as the "Mushroom of Immortality" or the "Elixir of Life," Reishi is the go to mushroom for balance and vitality.

Reishi has gained recognition for its impact on immune function and stress reduction. Known for its calming influence, it welcomes inner peace and holistic balance within the body. Reishi has a remarkable ability to support the body’s natural defences, whilst offering support for cardiovascular health and digestive health among others.

Scientific research has shown reishi to regulate immune responses, addressing conditions like eczema, hay fever, and other common ailments. Its bioactive compounds are believed to exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and adaptogenic effects, contributing to its diverse range of health promoting properties.

Unique Benefits: Reishi's standout feature lies in its potent adaptogenic qualities, combating the effects of modern-day stressors, helping to restore balance and harmony within the body. Its ability to balance the immune system and alleviate inflammatory conditions further adds to its appeal.

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Also known as Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, Tochukaso, Dong Chong Xia Cao

A little bit about: Cordyceps has earned a reputation for its ability to enhance energy levels, improve athletic performance, and support respiratory health due to the increased production of ATP, the compound that gives cells energy.

This extraordinary fungus is known for its revitalising effects, fueling endurance, stamina, and overall physical resilience. Cordyceps is thought to enhance oxygen utilisation, supporting respiratory function, and fertility. Additionally, Cordyceps is excellent for supporting the adrenals and balancing cortisol levels. Traditionally used as a remedy for reproductive health, Cordyceps is valued for its adaptogenic properties, aiding the body in adapting to physical stressors—an essential factor in reproductive health. Its potential to improve blood flow and oxygen utilisation, along with its potent energy source, can positively affect reproductive organs and enhance fertility.

Unique Benefits: Cordyceps’ unique selling proposition lies in its ability to naturally boost energy levels through increased ATP production, supporting fertility, enhanced physical performance, and overall energy.

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Snow Fungus

Also known as Tremella fuciformis, Shiratama-ko, Bai Mu Er, silver ear fungus, white jelly mushroom

A little bit about: Snow Fungus, often hailed as nature's beauty enhancer, is known for its ability to support skin health. This unique fungus has gained recognition for its ability to promote skin hydration, improve skin elasticity, and combat signs of ageing, whilst also supporting the immune system and reducing inflammation.

Renowned for its moisturising effects, Snow Fungus is cherished for its ability to nourish and rejuvenate the skin, leaving it soft, supple, and radiant, promoting a youthful complexion. Snow Fungus' bioactive compounds are believed to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, contributing to its skin loving benefits.

Unique Benefits: Snow Fungus, known as the beauty mushroom, is best known for its ability to support skin health by promoting hydration, elasticity, and a youthful, radiant complexion.

Shop Snow Fungus Mushroom


Also known as Trametes versicolor, Polyporus versicolo, Kawaratake, Yun Zhi , Turkey Tail

A little bit about: Coriolus, known as nature's immune booster, has gained attention for its potent health enhancing properties from supporting the immune system to breast health.

Containing PSP (polysaccharide peptide) and PSK (polysaccharide krestin), both renowned for their immune supportive effects, Coriolus defends against pathogens and modulates the immune system to promote ultimate balance. Its bioactive compounds are believed to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, supporting many systems within the body including the liver, spleen, kidneys, digestive system, and more.

In addition to its immune-boosting properties, Coriolus has also been traditionally used to support women's health, including breast health. Some research suggests that Coriolus may offer benefits for breast health by supporting healthy cell growth and function in breast tissue.

Unique Benefits: Coriolus is best known for its ability to naturally support immune function and its potential benefits for breast health. This powerful mushroom has shown to support a weakened immune system and enhance resilience.

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Also known as Inonotus obliquus, birch fungus, Kabanoanatake, Hua Jie Kong Jun

A little bit about: Chaga is renowned for its immune supportive benefits, playing a vital role in defending against pathogens and promoting immune system balance. Chaga offers anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties, supporting various systems within the body, including the liver, spleen, and digestive system, while also providing adaptogenic benefits. Chaga is also believed to contain high amounts of melanin, which has powerful antioxidant and DNA-protective properties, making it beneficial for our skin as well.

In addition to its immune supportive properties, Chaga has been traditionally used to support heart health, cardiovascular function and cholesterol levels. Its potential to balance blood sugar levels may contribute to overall metabolic health.

Unique Benefits: Chaga is adored for its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties. It is also recognised for its benefits in supporting heart health, including balancing cholesterol, and metabolic function such as blood sugar balance.

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Also known as Zhu Ling, Polyporus umbellatus, Karasutengu

A little bit about: Polyporus, known as Zhu Ling, offers potent diuretic properties, aiding in the elimination of excess sodium and fluids from the body while contributing to the regulation of blood pressure. Additionally, it has been used to support lymphatic drainage, whilst improving water retention and reducing oedema.

Rich in essential nutrients like copper and zinc, as well as enzymes and beta-glucans, polyporus is a great mushroom for supporting immunity and overall health. Its traditional use as an antibiotic and diuretic in Chinese medicine, specifically addressing urogenital tract and kidney issues, including stones and colic.

Unique Benefits: Polyporus stands out primarily for its diuretic properties and its role in supporting lymphatic drainage. In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been used for its antibiotic effects, supporting urogenital and kidney problems.

Shop Polyporus Mushroom


Also known as Grifola frondosa, Song Rong, hen of the woods

A little bit about: Maitake has been studied for its ability to reduce LDL cholesterol levels without affecting triglycerides or HDL (good) cholesterol, thanks to its rich content of sterols. Plus, the beta-glucans present in Maitake not only support heart health but also support the immune system.

Extracts of Maitake have shown significant antioxidant, and immunomodulatory activities, thanks to polysaccharides like β-glucans and heteroglycans. Rich in B vitamins, provitamin vitamin D, and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, Maitake also supports weight control and detoxification.

Unique Benefits: Maitake's standout feature lies in its ability to reduce cholesterol levels, attributed to its sterol content. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it a great support for the immune system.

Shop Maitake Mushroom


Also known as Lentinula edodes, Xiang Gu, black forest mushroom

A little bit about: Shiitake mushrooms have gained attention for their remarkable benefits in improving gut health, boosting the immune system, and reducing inflammation. Studies have shown that regular consumption of Shiitake can result in improved immune markers, enhancesd gut function, and reduced CRP levels, indicating a decrease in inflammation.

Unique Benefits: Shiitake's unique benefits include its ability to support gut health, and reduce CRP levels, associated with decreased inflammation, making it an excellent mushroom for overall immune health.

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Wood ear

Also known as Auricularia auricula-judae, Kikurage, Mu Er, Black fungus

A little bit about: Wood ear is believed to play a crucial role in protecting the liver, balancing cholesterol levels, and promoting gut health. Rich in fibre, antioxidants, and B vitamins, this mushroom has been shown to modulate the immune system and regulate blood sugar levels. Its cholesterol balancing properties contribute to improved heart function, as a healthy liver supports cholesterol regulation.

Unique Benefits: Wood ear's abundance of fibre and antioxidants makes it great for supporting liver and digestive health, ultimately aiding in cholesterol balance and promoting overall heart health.

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Also known as Pleurotus ostreatus, Hiratake, Ping Gu, Pearl oyster mushroom

A little bit about: Oyster mushrooms are rich in dietary fibre and have been shown to support both the immune and digestive systems. In traditional Chinese medicine, oyster mushrooms are known for their ability to relax muscles, joints, and tendons, enhance circulation, and boost kidney function. However, they are predominantly recognised for their role in improving glucose metabolism, supporting cholesterol balance, regulating blood pressure, and aiding metabolism to support weight control.

Unique Benefits: Oyster mushrooms offer remarkable health benefits such as their ability to provide cholesterol support, balance blood glucose levels, and support metabolism, particularly in weight management.

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Also known as Phellinus linteus, Song Gen

A little bit about: Mesima mushrooms contain compounds that are believed to modulate the immune system, either up-regulating or down-regulating its activity. Elevated levels of certain immune markers, such as cytokines and NK (natural killer) cells, have been associated with infertility. Studies have shown that consumption of Mesima Mushroom can lower these levels, potentially increasing the likelihood of successful conception. Additionally, research has explored Mesima's role in regulating menstrual cycles and promoting breast health, with a particular focus on women's health concerns.

Unique Benefits: Mesima is known for its ability to enhance the immune system, particularly in relation to markers associated with infertility, making it a potential aid for couples seeking to conceive. It is also known to support women's health, from regulating menstrual cycles to promoting breast health.

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Honey mushroom

Also known as Armillaria mellea, Hachinoko, Feng Zhen Gu

A little bit about: Honey mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate symptoms associated with various conditions including Meniere's Syndrome, vertigo, headache, insomnia, epilepsy, neurasthenia (nervous exhaustion), and hypertension. Studies have also revealed their potent antimicrobial properties against a range of microorganisms, including candida albicans, making them a promising option for disrupting biofilms commonly associated with conditions like SIBO. They are also known for their anti-hyperglycaemic effects and are believed to contribute to blood sugar balance.

Unique Benefits: Honey mushrooms antimicrobial abilities against many microorganisms make them effective in balancing gut flora and disrupting biofilms. Additionally, they are valued for their role in balancing blood sugar levels and alleviating neurological symptoms.

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Antrodia Camphorata

Also known as Taiwanofungus camphoratus, Kamuratake, Zhang Zhi

A little bit about: Antrodia camphorata is believed to offer protection against metabolic syndrome and ease discomfort caused by alcohol consumption and exhaustion. It supports liver health by fighting harmful molecules that can damage cells, boosting the activity of enzymes that protect against damage, and reducing inflammation in the body.

Unique Benefits: Antrodia camphorata offers hepatoprotective effects, supporting liver health and function. Traditionally used to alleviate discomfort caused by alcohol consumption and exhaustion, it provides relief thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Shop Antrodia Camphorata Mushroom

Sun agaric

Also known as Agaricus blazei, Himematsutake, Yang Du Gu, Agaricus mushroom, Royal sun agaric

A little bit about: Sun Agaric is known for its high levels of zinc and polysaccharides, making it an excellent mushroom for promoting gut health and supporting the immune system. It is widely recognised for its effectiveness in reducing allergy symptoms. And, its potent antioxidants, such as Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD) and glutathione, help reduce the risk of oxidative damage caused by both internal and external factors, including sun exposure.

Unique Benefits: Sun Agaric is primarily used to alleviate allergies, including seasonal allergies like hay fever, thanks to its immune and gut supportive antioxidants. Plus, it offers some internal protection from oxidative damage such as that caused by the sun.

Shop Sun Agaric Mushroom

Summarising Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms are rich sources of various compounds such as beta-glucans, triterpenoids, sterols, and polysaccharides, all renowned for their immune supportive properties, antioxidant abilities, and anti-inflammatory benefits. They offer great support to the body's systems, ranging from the digestive to the nervous system. However, what truly sets them apart is their unique individuality. Each mushroom offers distinct characteristics and benefits, making it particularly suited for specific ailments or health goals.

From their own kingdom in nature to their extensive history of use across communities worldwide, medicinal mushrooms are absolutely remarkable. Understanding the speciality of each mushroom allows us to understand their full potential and integrate them into our routines effectively.

About the Author

Sarah-Lou is a Nutritional Therapist at Therapy Organics, providing expert qualified advice in one-to-one consultations, and offering advice in the shop.

See more Articles by Sarah-Lou

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