Medicinal mushrooms and mushroom extracts have a history of use in healing for thousands of years, particularly in Asian cultures. Current research confirms that mushrooms have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties with many positive studies showing mushrooms to have numerous protective effects on the body which are causing some people to call mushrooms the original superfood!

Mushrooms contain B vitamins, trace minerals and fibre but most importantly their ‘magic’ is their high levels of beta-glucans compounds that keep immune cells alert and the amino acid ergothioneine which helps control inflammation in the body. Use mushrooms to strengthen your immune system, improve vitality, strength and stamina and fight disease and inflammation. Some mushrooms can be considered more ‘magical’ than others so before you take a trip to Diagon Alley here is the lowdown on the most common medicinal mushrooms!

Reishi – the ‘all rounder’ mushroom. Reishi fights chronic diseases, balances hormones, assists in mood disorders and tackles inflammation in the body. It provides vitality, strength & stamina. Reishi mushrooms are also powerful adaptogens which help the body to cope with stress.

Chaga – the antioxidant mushroom. It has a higher antioxidant rating (known as the ORAC – Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity score) than green tea. The higher the ORAC rating the better a food’s ability to protect the body from disease-causing free radicals. It also contains approximately 215 phytochemicals which are biologically active compounds which providie our bodies with optimum nutrition. Chaga may benefit chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, liver disease as well as parasites and certain types of cancer.

Lions Mane – the brain booster mushroom. Lions mane is known as a ‘nootropic’ which is a term for a food or supplement taken primarily for its effects on the brain. Lots of new research is showing promising results that lions mane has a positive impact on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies have also shown that lions mane may improve mild cognitive impairment and could possibly reverse nerve cell degeneration.

Shiitake – the tasty mushroom. Shiitake has double the benefits as not only are they a delicious addition to any meal, they also contain unique substances which treat disease and inflammation; lentinan which is a powerful antioxidant and eritadenine which may help to reduce cholesterol levels. Shiitakes are commonly used as a natural treatment option for cancer for their antitumour properties as well as for heart disease and high blood pressure. They are revered in Japan for their life longevity properties.

Cordyceps – the immune fighter mushroom. Cordyceps stimulate the immune system and help to fight viruses. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) cordyceps is prescribed for anti-aging as it helps to protect the mitochondria in our cells by scavenging free radicals. Cordyceps also increases stamina and endurance and reduces fatigue.

Medicinal herbs can be taken as supplements in tablet or capsule form. They are also available as a powder which can be blended with water, smoothies, juice or tea and can be used to make your own mushroom coffee. Try Herbs of Gold Mushroom 5 Complex, Teelixir mushroom powders to add to your smoothie or Four Sigmatic and Naked Paleo for a quick and delicious mushroom coffee, chai or hot chocolate!

Mushrooms are very powerful and regenerative foods so always consult with a Western or Eastern Herbal Medicine Practitioner to see if medicinal mushrooms are right for you and your condition.

Need more tips on boosting your immunity? Read Are You Sick of Getting Colds & Flu?