The Reishi mushroom, also known as lingzhi or its scientific name Ganoderma lucidum, is a large mushroom with a red, kidney shaped cap. The latin word lucidis means “shiny” or “brilliant,” aptly describing its glossy surface. It grows at the base of decidious trees in hot and humid parts of Asia, but its wild form is extremely rare. Reishi mushrooms have a long history of supporting health and longevity in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as in Japan and other Asian countries.
The Reishi mushroom’s primary function is to boost the immune system. Reishi is used in treating numerous ailments: various viral infections such as the flu (influenza) and cold sores; lung conditions such as asthma and bronchitis; heart disease and related conditions such as high blood pressure; kidney disease; cancer; and liver disease. It is helpful for aiding stomach ulcers, chronic fatigue, and insomnia. Reishi may also reduce the effects of stress.
Trametes versicolor, commonly referred to as Turkey Tail for its appearance, is one of the most researched and documented mushrooms for medicinal use. It is also one of the most common mushrooms, found growing virtually anywhere with dead hardwood logs. The caps grow in layered, velvety shelves and feature defined bands of color: cream, yellow, orange, gray, and brown. Turkey Tail has been used for centuries as part of traditional Asian and European medicine and diet, dried for soups and medicinal teas.
Trametes versicolor has immune enhancement, antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties which benefit overall wellness. Turkey Tail mushroom has been known to stave off infection like the common cold or flu and help heal HPV by boosting the immune system. Since chemotherapy suppresses the immune system, Turkey Tail is used adjacently to support the immune system and strengthen the body. PSK, a derivative of this mushroom, is an approved pharmaceutical-grade medicine in Japan used as an adjuvant to chemotherapy. More research is needed to understand the true benefits of Turkey Tail mushroom, but a study by the National Cancer Institute suggests that it may significantly improve cancer survival.
Found in the northern hemisphere and parts around the equator, this mushroom has been used by the eastern cultures for thousands of years as a brain tonic. Used for centuries as a general tonic and health treatment, the Lion’s Mane Mushroom (also known as Hericium Erinaceus, Yamabushitake or Satyr’s Beard) is native to China, Japan, North America, and Europe. Though it was traditionally prescribed as a restorative, its effect on the brain has always been recognized, and ancient physicians used it to treat what we would now describe as neuro-degenerative diseases.
Lion’s Mane mushroom has neuroprotective qualities, ability to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), and potential for cognitive enhancement and relief of depression and anxiety make Lion’s Mane is one of the most popular and promising natural nootropics. Modern research has discovered that Lion’s Mane extract enhances the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is a protein that, in the brain, plays a critical role in the survival and function of neurons responsible for attention, arousal, motivation, memory, and consciousness. Increased levels of NGF have been shown to enhance memory and learning. Studies also suggest that Lion’s Mane is a powerful neuroprotectant that could be useful in the treatment of a variety of conditions such as liver damage, obesity, and even some types of cancer.
Cordyceps is a fungus that lives on certain caterpillars in the high mountain regions of China. Natural cordyceps is hard to get and may be expensive. The first interaction with this mushroom was 3,500 years ago when tibetan mountain herders saw their Yaks eating Cordycep Sinensis and would notice those same Yaks becoming leaner and larger. Most supplements are made with cordyceps grown in a laboratory on rice. Cordyceps militaris is not to be mistaken with Ophiocordyceps sinensis, which does solely grow on insects and pupae of different large butterflies, rarely also on caterpillars. Many authors consider it quite common, spread throughout the northern hemisphere, and fruiting bodies appear in Europe from August to November.
Cordyceps medicinal benefits include anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Cordyceps has anti-microbial agents and functions as a fertility enhancer, as well as aiding in reducing cholesterol levels and promoting glucose metabolism.
Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks. The mushroom is commonly known among English speakers as hen of the woods, hen-of-the-woods, ram's head and sheep's head. It is typically found in late summer to early autumn. In the United States' supplement market, as well as in Asian grocery stores, the mushroom is known by its Japanese name maitake (舞茸, "dancing mushroom"). Throughout Italian American communities in the northeastern United States, it is commonly known as the signorina mushroom. The fungus is native to China, the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom. It is widely eaten in Japan, and its popularity in western cuisine is growing, although the mushroom has been reported to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.