• By Lani


Updated: May 2, 2020

Medicinal mushrooms are the latest trend in social media ‘superfoods’, however they are no new substance to the health world. Mushrooms have been used for their incredible healing properties for centuries in traditional medicinal practice, but of course praising them for all their glory has been postponed until now - the digital age.

There are thousands of identified species of mushrooms known to man, with speculation that many more are yet to be discovered. Mushrooms have been going about their magical work long before Instagram could give them recognition for it, never-the-less, the more hype the better!

It is said that from an evolutionary stand point, fungi are more closely related to humans than plants.

Similarly to us, mushrooms and other fungi types are individualised in their properties with each possessing different beneficial constituents.

Mushrooms are heterotrophic organisms meaning they cannot produce their own food and essentially must “eat” to survive. Although some forms are identified as poisonous, many others have been consumed safely over the years- just like the popular button mushrooms that everyone loves!

These days, some of the more exotic mushrooms are not just eaten in their organic form, instead being made into powders, liquids and tablets for accessibility and ease of consumption.

Due their array of medicinal benefits, mushrooms are now even referred to as ‘mushroom pharmaceuticals’. Some of these impressive mushroom health benefits and claims include:

  • Antioxidant activity (free radical scavenging)

  • Anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties

  • Encouraging detoxification processes and efforts in preventing liver damage

  • Anti-tumour effects

  • Anti-diabetic effects

  • Cardio-protective

  • Anti-hypercholesterolemia (lowers levels of “bad” non-HDL and LDL cholesterol in blood)

  • Immunomodulation (improves the bodies immune system and responses)

So let’s break down some of the more popular medicinal mushrooms with a basic overview of what they’re good for, and which one might be for you…

Reishi - for stress

  • Calmative / anti-stress effects

  • Immuno-modulating (enhances our immune system) 3

  • Fights viral infections

  • Tumour prevention and anti-proliferative effects on tumours4

Lions Mane - for the mind

  • Neuro-protective5

  • May help prevent/improve some neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive impairment7,8,9,10

  • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects6

Cordyceps - for the body

  • Anti-fatigue effects in exercise11, 12

  • Antioxidant effects13

  • Can help control blood sugar levels14, 15

Shiitake - for immunity

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Immune system enhancer18

  • Cholesterol metabolism and potential cholesterol lowering effects16, 17

Chaga - for longevity

  • Rich with some of the more unique phytochemicals such as betulin and betulinic acid - these contain anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties19,20

  • Antioxidant and genoprotective behaviours providing possible anticarcinogenic effects21, 22

  • Lowering blood pressure – due to its ability to minimise oxidative stress22

So how can you get some more into your diet?

The dosages for each mushroom type can vary depending on your source.

If you are planning on consuming some beautiful real mushrooms you manage to buy from a market or Asian grocer, the portion size will be relative to the meal it is consumed with, as well as all the other nutritional constituents that are packed into the mushroom itself. Side effects or chances of reaching the upper limit of intake in any ‘real food’ is incredibly hard to achieve which is why getting your nutrients straight from the source is generally your healthiest option.

Sourcing some of these exotic mushrooms can however be difficult at times, which is why alternative forms are produced for ease of consumption. The most common type of mushroom supplement comes in powder form which can be easily added to your morning coffee, or even on its own in a warm morning drink mixed with hot water and milk of choice!

If you are looking to buy some of these powdered mushrooms, your local health food store should stock them either on their own, or mixed together for combined goodness! Aim for ethically sources, organic versions as these will have the highest nutrient quality, and if you’re looking to buy some online – check out some options in the By Lani shop here.

So go enjoy some “magic” mushrooms, and get a taste of the health properties that they have been boasting for thousands of years around the world, and be sure to let me know how you feel!

My current favourite of a morning is a reishi mushroom powder mixed into my coffee, so that I can make sure my immune system is up and ready for winter, and my stress levels are down as uni assessments start to creep in!


  1. Current and Future Research Trends in Agricultural and Biomedical Applications of MedicinalMushrooms and Mushroom Products (Review). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30806294

  2. Mechanism of action of anti-hypercholesterolemia drugs and their resistance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25151024

  3. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of immuno-modulation by Ganoderma lucidum. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16230843

  4. Antitumor and Immunomodulatory Activities of Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharides in Glioma-Bearing Rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29607690

  5. The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133811/

  6. Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/464238/

  7. High molecular weight of polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus against amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895996/

  8. The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133811/

  9. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27350344

  10. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21383512

  11. Supplement Anti-Fatigue Effects of Cordyceps Sinensis (Tochu-Kaso) Extract Powder During Three Stepwise Exercise of Human. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jspfsm/55/Supplement/55_S145/_pdf/-char/en

  12. Effect of Polysaccharide from Cordyceps militaris (Ascomycetes) on Physical Fatigue Induced by Forced Swimming. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28094746

  13. Role of free radical in atherosclerosis, diabetes and dyslipidaemia: larger-than-life. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24845883

  14. The anti-hyperglycemic activity of the fruiting body of Cordyceps in diabetic rats induced by nicotinamide and streptozotocin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15050427

  15. Antidiabetic and Antinephritic Activities of Aqueous Extract of Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body in Diet-Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Sprague Dawley Rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27274781

  16. Water-Soluble Compounds from Lentinula edodes Influencing the HMG-CoA Reductase Activity and the Expression of Genes Involved in the Cholesterol Metabolism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26877235

  17. Antihyperlipidemic Effect of Dietary Lentinus edodes on Plasma, Feces and Hepatic Tissues in Hypercholesterolemic Rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22783084

  18. Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866155

  19. Antitumor Activity of Betulinic Acid and Betulin in Canine Cancer Cell Lines. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6199609/

  20. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), a Future Potential Medicinal Fungus in Oncology? A Chemical Study and a Comparison of the Cytotoxicity Against Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Cells (A549) and Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (BEAS-2B). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6142110/

  21. Melanin Complex from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus (Pers.: Fr.) Pilat (Chaga) (Aphyllophoromycetideae). http://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,3ff76b291e5f4359,4000bb317b94495e.html

  22. The Pharmacological Potential of Mushrooms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1193547/


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