Why medicinal mushrooms are grabbing the headlines

There is a good bit of news these days about medicinal mushroom.  There are three that are very popular and gaining ground as really having some positive results with regard to immunity.

Specifically, Cordycepts, Reishi and Lion’s Mane are at the top of the list for their bioactive compounds.   You might think that if you incorporate mushrooms into your diet, that you may be getting all the goodness you need. However, these compounds are not released during digestion.  They are released when the mushrooms are steeped and distilled in water or alcohol.  Here is what you are missing in just adding the mushrooms to your diet:

  • Beta-glucans from the mushrooms help to strengthen the immune system.
  • Triterpenes from the mushrooms are antiviral and anti-inflammatory.
  • Sterols have a positive effect on tumors in animal studies
  • Statins in mushrooms have the ability to lower cholesterol when taken in appropriate quantities.

Here is some specific information about each type of mushroom.

  1. Cordycepts is also known as the caterpillar fungus, kills its host and then uses the dead body as a food source.  Cordycepts has been shown to positively affect:
    1. lung,
    2. kidney,
    3. liver,
    4. cardiovascular disease.
    5. show promise as an anti-cancer therapy.
    6. well known for giving athletes energy, helping them perform well in events.
  2. Reishi mushrooms are known as the mushrooms of immortality. They are probably the most well known of the medicinal mushrooms. They have a positive effect on:
    1. sleep,
    2. stress,
    3. anxiety,
    4. depression.
    5. have anti-cancer properties.
  3. Lion’s Mane mushrooms do not look like the traditional mushroom. Its claim to fame is that its bioadaptive compounds can cross the blood brain barrier and also have a positive effect on:
    1. the bacteria that cause digestive ulcers.
    2. increase the production of  Nerve Growth Factor,
      1.  recovery of brain damage,
      2. anti-inflammation.

For further information, please check out these resources.

Until next time,


Dr. Polly

Medicinal Mushrooms: Their Bioactive Components, Nutritional Value and Application in Functional Food Production—A Review – PMC (nih.gov)

Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin | 3 Biotech (springer.com)

Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation – PMC (nih.gov)