The Magic of Mushrooms: Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms?

Nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche – BSc(Hons) Dip(ION) FdSc BANT, writer and consultant nutritionist to Indigo Herbs tells us more about these mighty health-boosters. (

Mycotherapyis the term used to describe the treating or healing of the body with mushrooms. Staples of traditional medicine, exciting new studies are also considering the way these mushrooms can be used to treat cancers.

So, what are the types of mushrooms you should be consuming and how can they benefit your health?


Shitake is one of the medicinal mushrooms you may be able to find in your supermarket. It’s very popular in dishes from many parts of the world. The shitake mushroom has several health boosting properties; not least is lentinan which is a polysaccharide. The plant name for shitake is in fact Lentinus Edodes. Lentinan has already been used to treat stomach and other cancers because of its antitumor properties.

Shitake mushrooms have been shown to demonstrate immune boosting properties by increasing the body’s natural production of secretory IgA (1) which is our first line of immune defence as it secreted across the mucosal lining.

Furthermore, these mushrooms demonstrate both anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and have been shown to inhibit both leukaemia cell proliferation and reduce the activity of the HIV virus.(2)

Finally, Shiitake also contain a substance called eritadenine, which is linked to lowering overall cholesterol levels.


Reishi has been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years. It shares a common property with Shitake in that it is also found to have anti-tumour effects.(3)

It is found to be an effective anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. One of the extremely useful properties of reishi is in breaking down the normally impermeable biofilms of candida species. These are notoriously very difficult to break through making recovery from some types of candida very difficult without using mycotherapy.(4)

Typically consumed as a tea, Rieshi can also help with symptoms of anxiety, sleeplessness, can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and ward off the symptoms of dementia.


Cordyceps are used commonly by athletes because they’re known to increase the production of ATP and therefore provide advantages including stamina, endurance and increased lung capacity.(5) They can boost energy too, making it a great tea to consume in the morning.

Studies show that cordycepin, one of the active medicinal compounds found in cordyceps, has anti-tumour properties. They’re also known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

mushroomsTurkey Tail

Turkey Tail is perhaps less well-known but no less important when it comes to biological and medicinal value. Its benefits include anti-tumour properties, immune-boosting properties, elimination of prostate cancer cells and helping to control the intestinal microbiome. This last benefit is further enhanced by it’s role as a prebiotic – i.e. the fuel for the probiotic bacteria naturally present in the gut.  As our understanding of the critical role the microbiome plays in multiple aspects of health this mushroom is well worth investing in and completing your medicinal mushroom cabinet.

How else can medicinal mushrooms be of use?


Mushrooms are especially efficient at breaking down toxins.  They are capable of transforming them to form that our body can eliminate. One of their unique features is that they contain the enzymes required for phases I and II detoxification. In phase I, toxins are decomposed, which releases numerous free radicals. Being able to break down the free radicals using their anti-oxidant properties in Phase II makes mushrooms very suited to detoxification during periods of stress or illness.

mushroomsHow to include medicinal mushrooms in your diet

Sprinkle over a salad

Add to your omelette

Add to soups

Add to hummus

Sprinkle over pasta sauce

Add to savoury porridge

Make into mushroom tea

Industry leaders, Indigo Herbs supply the finest quality mushroom powders, tinctures and capsules, alongside a whole host of natural health products to compliment a more healthy lifestyle. To find out more about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms visit and to buy online visit .

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