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Applications of Medicinal Mushrooms in Modern Medicine and Healthcare

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Medicinal mushrooms have been a staple in Eastern medicine for centuries and are slowly gaining popularity in other branches of medicine. Consuming the right mushrooms can help boost immunity, maintain hormonal balance, and help the brain, among other things. However, studies of the benefits of mushrooms are a relatively new area in modern medicine. As such, mushrooms can be treated like supplements or mini-vaccines against cancer, inflammation, and stress, rather than as actual medicine.

lion’s mane

The lion’s mane mushroom has a feathery surface that resembles a lion’s mane, hence the name. It is packed with antioxidants and consumption helps boost the immune system. However, Lion’s Mane produces the bioprotein NFG (Nerve Factor Growth) and myelin, which serves as insulation for nerve fibers.

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NFG and myelin are vital to brain health. An imbalance in their levels can lead to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. The mushroom is known to improve cognition, reduce irritability and anxiety, and increase focus.

Chaga mushrooms

Chaga mushrooms are known as antioxidant powerhouses, making them a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. These fungi fight oxidative stress associated with skin aging, slow or prevent cancer growth, and reduce the body’s production of bad cholesterol.


Shiitake mushrooms are known to help the heart. This is attributed to phytonutrients preventing plaque build-up and maintaining healthy blood pressure and circulation. They also contain compounds that reduce the production and absorption of cholesterol in the liver.

turkey tail

Like other medicinal mushrooms, turkey tail mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which have anti-cancer properties. However, this fungus contains polysaccharide-K, also known as PSK. PSK stimulates the immune system and is an approved prescription anti-cancer drug used in Japan. The mushroom also increases the survival rate of patients with certain types of cancer, improves the immune system of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and fights leukemia cells.


Cordyceps are fungi that help increase the body’s efficiency in using oxygen and improving blood flow. It is a good supplement before going to the gym and is preferred by athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The mushroom helps improve training, increase athletic performance and accelerate muscle recovery after exercise. A scoop of cordyceps in the pre-workout or post-workout diet gives better results.


Reishi, scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum, is a well-known herb that has been used in traditional Asian medicine for over 2000 years to treat numerous diseases. It is one of the most popular types of medicinal mushrooms mainly because of its numerous benefits – it can help with weight loss, boost immunity, sharpen focus and fight cancer cells.

This mushroom is known for its sedative properties, which are due to the compound triterpenes. Triterpene is a mood-enhancing compound that relieves depression, reduces anxiety, and promotes better sleep. The mushroom also contains polysaccharides that, along with triterpenes, have antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and hepatic dysfunction properties. Recent studies have shown that Reishi and its extracts are effective against kidney problems such as chronic kidney disease and acute kidney damage.

Thanks to Arthur Huang

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