The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need To Know

The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need To Know

Mushrooms have long been used as a medicine, but their popularity dwindled over the years. Now, most people think of mushrooms as something to add to a salad or sauce, but they don’t realize the health benefits. Let’s look at the 6 medicinal mushrooms you should keep on hand for your health.

Chaga Mushroom

The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need to Know - Chaga

You have likely seen Chaga in a range of health food applications. This mushroom is a woody fungus that helps boost the immune system and promotes overall health. Ingesting the mushroom can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure while boosting the immune system. It’s also known for its relaxing effect on people and many have used it to treat stomach issues, like gastritis and ulcers.

The simplest method of using Chaga mushrooms is to create a tea or tincture. You can add a handful of the dried mushroom to two cups of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes, then steep for another 10. It’s also possible to grind it into a powder, which may be added to smoothies, soups, etc.

Spot the Mushroom

Chaga can be found in cold climates like the northern U.S. and Canada. They usually grow on birch trees and look like a massive, rough growth on the side of the tree. Chaga can grow up to 20 inches across or even larger in some cases, so there’s plenty to use just with one harvest.

To harvest, you’ll need a sturdy knife or hatchet, but be careful not to disturb the host tree when removing the fungi.

Reishi Mushroom

The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need to Know - ReishiReishi is sometimes referred to as nature’s Xanax, thanks to its calming properties. Full of triterpene, these mushrooms can be used to ease anxiety and depression, as well as help you sleep more soundly. They’re also great for enhancing your focus. If you find yourself struggling with healing from minor wounds, taking reishi tea daily may help.

Reishi tend to have shiny, irregular caps that should be bright-colored with white bellies. Over time, the underside becomes tan or brown while the top will look duller. Avoid harvesting mushrooms that look older, since they may have other types of molds on them, which could be dangerous.

To harvest, you can just pull the mushroom off the tree if it’s relatively soft. A knife or saw may be necessary with the woodier species. Check the area and avoid mushrooms that have grown near dangerous plants like poison ivy.

Dry the mushrooms immediately after harvest by slicing thinly and dehydrating. Store the dried strips in an airtight container in a dark space. The strips may be ground to use in tea. Just add a spoonful of the powder to a cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes.

Spot the Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms are the perfect choice for the new mushroom hunter. The different species are very similar, but you won’t mistake them for poisonous fungi, since they’re quite unique. It’s possible to confuse the red belted conk with reishi mushrooms, but you just need to press on the pore side to check . . . the reishi mushroom will bruise, while the red belted conk will not.

These mushrooms have several varieties, including Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma tsugae, and Ganoderma applanatum. Most species grow on hardwood trees or logs and can grow up to 30 inches across.

Shiitake Mushroom

The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need to Know - ShiitakeShiitake mushrooms are some of the most common edible mushrooms today. You’ll often find them in Asian restaurants, but a number of people simply enjoy eating them daily. However, most aren’t aware that there are some serious benefits to eating shiitake mushrooms. They’ve been shown to help lower blood pressure, for one, and even affect your cholesterol positively.

Shiitakes are also being studied for their use in cancer prevention and treatment. Many people use them to help fight prostate cancer and the mushroom can also increase your immune system’s strength.

Spot the Mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms are found quite often in good supermarkets, but if you want to harvest your own, you’ll need to head over to Asia. The mushrooms have been found throughout China, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia, but don’t grow wild elsewhere.

These mushrooms are found on dead wood most often and can be simply plucked off, as they’re light and soft. Unlike other mushrooms, the edges of the shiitake cap tend to curl under. They may be white or brown on top, with cream gills.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need to Know - Lion's ManeThe Lion’s Mane is a unique-looking mushroom that is generally white and looks a lot like a bunch of pompoms growing out of the ground. Like other mushrooms, it helps boost the immune system and is full of helpful antioxidants. However, it also increases the body’s production of nerve growth factors and myelin, improving brain function. It’s been shown to help boost cognition and memory, as well as help people, concentrate better and avoid problems like Alzheimer’s.

The fresh mushrooms may be roasted and eaten or chopped into any other dish you like. They’re mildly seafood-like, so make a good vegan seafood dish. You can also slice them and dry them, then crush them into a powder and use them in smoothies or hot drinks.

Spot the Mushroom

 Lion’s Mane mushrooms grow high on the trunks of trees, usually dead ones. This makes it quite difficult to reach them, but as they kill off trees, you’ll frequently find downed trees, as well.

This type of mushroom tends to grow on beech, maple, and oak trees, as well as other hardwoods.

Cordyceps Mushroom

The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need to Know - CordycepsCordyceps mushrooms are widely varied, with over 600 species in existence. These are different from the other mushrooms on our lists because they actually require a non-plant host. They grow out of insect larvae and look like thin stems that shoot up out of the host body. Chinese herbalists use both the insect body and the mushroom in medicine, but you can also separate them.

When taken internally, cordyceps can boost your adenosine triphosphate and increase your muscle energy, making it possible to exercise longer. The fungi also contain antioxidants to prevent aging and are often used as a natural sex drive enhancer.

Studies show that cordyceps can slow or even halt cancer cell growth, at least in test tubes. It has also been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetics. And finally, cordyceps are useful in reducing inflammation and helping maintain heart health.

Spot the Mushroom

These unique fungi can be found throughout the world, but the vast majority are grown in Asia. The mushrooms prefer humidity and warmth, so they grow best in forests that are fairly warm. That being said, it’s often difficult to find the amount you need unless they are cultivated.

To use, add the mushroom to your diet in meals, or just dry and powder it, then sprinkle in a smoothie or make it into a tea.

Turkey Tail Mushroom

The Only 6 Medicinal Mushrooms You Need to Know - Turkey TailIf you want to boost your immune system, mushrooms are the way to go. However, there’s a distinct benefit to eating turkey tail mushrooms. They’re great at keeping your immune system high and easing the effects of viruses. Some people also use them to treat cancer. It’s proved quite effective to this degree, to the point where pharma companies are checking into the mushroom for the possibility of using it in cancer treatments.

Spot the Mushroom

Turkey tail mushrooms are pretty easy to spot, with their rounded edges and multicolored layers. They grow pretty much everywhere in the world and can be found on dead wood, usually in “stacks” with a number of mushrooms growing in one small area.

The fungi differ from other plate-like mushrooms because they are the same thickness throughout, from base to edge. They also don’t stiffen up or harden, so when you find what you believe to be a turkey tail, you can try bending it. They’ll bend very easily and be about as thick as a cereal box. Look for tiny pores on the underside (white) to further identify the correct mushroom. Harvest with a knife.

Turkey tails can be eaten as is, cooked in stews, but it’s most effective when dried and powdered, then slow-cooked in a meal. You can also make a tea from the dried mushroom, adding a handful of dried strips to three or four cups of boiling water and simmering for 30 minutes. The mushroom has polysaccharides that are water-soluble, but they take time to release, so the longer you can cook the mushroom, the more benefits you’ll release.

Mushrooms aren’t usually something we consider when we want to treat the common cold or prevent cancer, but they’re an amazing way to add some extra health-boosting goodness to your life.

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  • glock19fan Posted March 9, 2021 2:06 pm

    Interesting!! Can they also be found in health food stores? I am handicapped and would have a problem with mushroom hunting.

    • Jessieann Riggs R.N. NATURAL HEALTH EDUCATOR Posted March 10, 2021 4:12 am

      yes, they can be found in stores. Host Defense is a good brand if you want capsules. Four Stigmatic offers their shrooms as a tea and they are extracts. Extract is best as you will get the most nutrients. with Just powder mushrooms you only get 10%. Jing Herbs, Ron Teeguarden’s Dragon herbs are two more excellent sites. My favorite, and the one that I use in my practice, is BIORAY.
      http://WWW.BIORAY.COM My clients see outstanding results with Bioray products within a short time as 4 days. when you go on the Bioray website be sure to read the comments from users of the product you will be amazed.

    • Bill Nagel Posted March 11, 2021 1:53 am

      Mushrooms can’t run so they are very easy prey. Probably the easiest thing to hunt.

  • Bill Janusz Posted March 9, 2021 6:38 pm

    This is very informative, but you left out the psychedelic mushrooms successfully used to treat depression and anxiety!

    • The Lost Herbs Posted March 10, 2021 2:58 pm

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you so much for your feedback.
      We really appreciate it.

  • John Rasmussenn Posted March 10, 2021 12:28 am

    Good photos and description

  • Luis Salazar Posted March 10, 2021 2:24 pm

    Good thing to know in life….

  • Kathy Anderson Posted March 11, 2021 1:06 am

    we ussed to forage for mushrooms in the woods and found what looked like coral from the sea. We called them Coral mushrooms and they were wonderful tasting. Are you familiar with these particular mushrooms and what are their properties?

    • jeannette Posted March 12, 2021 3:09 pm

      We picked the Coral Mushrooms in Connecticut. Found in August around the bogs and ledges. Excellent in Spahetti sauce. They come in different colors.

  • Nicole Posted March 30, 2021 4:51 pm

    What method is used in drying mushrooms? Oven? Temp & time? Or open air dry?

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