Mushroom Benefits and Uses

Of the thousands of edible mushroom species, about 250 of them have been identified as having healing properties. They each have their own strength and benefits when it comes to supporting your health. Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years by many cultures for their incredible restorative, medicinal and health-promoting properties. They contain immune boosting, adaptogenic, immune-stimulating, and cancer fighting properties.

The health benefits of some mushrooms have been studied for years and have been embraced by many of the world’s herbalism traditions for their therapeutic abilities. They’ve been used to prevent and treat disease; strengthen immunity; improve digestion and cognitive function; to support liver, heart and kidneys; for their cancer-fighting properties; and much more.

There are many cheap and inferior mushroom supplements on the market. Please avoid those that contain mycelium, grain, starch or fillers. They typically contain little or no mushrooms at all. Mycelium is the root system of the mushroom. The beneficial compounds of mushrooms are concentrated in the fruiting body.

This article provides an overview of some medicinal mushrooms and describes their benefits. Integrating some of them into your health care routine for prevention and as a treatment strategy is recommended. Some are best taken as a supplement and others can be used as a food.



This mushroom is a powerful tonic for lung and kidneys. It is also known as caterpillar fungus and is an ancient Chinese tonic. Research has shown that extractions of Cordyceps inhibit growth of microorganisms and diseases causing fungi. It has a marked bronchodilation effect and increases the effects of adrenaline.

Chinese research indicates that Cordyceps may be useful for many conditions of yang insufficiency, such as impotence and premature ejaculation. It functions to stabilize heart arrhythmias, lower blood pressure, and improve cerebral circulation. Liver function also improves with the use of Cordyceps.

Cordyceps improves lung function and addresses asthma, wheezing, chronic cough, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It strengthens resistance to disease, boosts the immune system, and enhances athletic performance. It is often recommended to strengthen the body after illness. Order Cordyceps PS


Turkey Tail

This mushroom is also known by the name Coriolus Versicolor and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yan Zhi. It has been extensively studied for its health benefits.

It supports liver, gut, and the immune system. Turkey Tail is rich in antioxidants which minimize cell damage from free radicals. 

Turkey Tail mushrooms contain prebiotics to modulate human intestinal microbe composition, and are food for your gut microbiome. They help the good bacteria in your gut flourish and grow.

These mushrooms contain beta gluons, a polysaccharide, which supports immune health, healthy cell growth, and overall wellness. They boost immunity and are useful for lung infections. Turkey Tail supports a healthy liver and are used as an adjunct for hepatitis. 

Research shows this medicinal mushroom has anti-tumor effects and stimulates natural killer (NK) cells. It has been found to be instrumental in helping increase cancer survival rates in conjunction with chemo and radiation therapy. Turkey tail mushrooms contain components such as PSK and CVG that may suppress the growth of certain types of cancers. Order Coriolus

It is best taken as a supplement rather than eaten as a food. It is tough and leathery and does not taste good. To get the most effective dose of Turkey Tail it’s best to take a capsule supplement. Coriolus PS is  pure, potent, and an excellent, high quality choice.


Reishi (Ganoderma)

This mushroom is highly prized in TCM and is also known as Ling Zhi and Ganoderma. There are many species of ganoderma and some are inferior.  Reishi is a Qi tonic that supports immune health and provides immunological, neurological, metabolic, hepatic and vascular protection among other functions. It has some anti-inflammatory effects and helps reduce allergies.

Ganoderma/Reishi protects the liver, and  inhibits the growth of some malignant tumors. Studies have shown reishi to regulate immune function and coronary and cerebral blood flow; reduce blood lipid levels, protect the liver from toxic chemical damage and liver disease. In Japan reishi extracts are used to treat cancer and myasthenia graves.

Reishi has traditionally been valued as a tonic herb that can pave the path to radiant health on all levels. 

Reishi is not a culinary herb. It’s best to take it as a supplement combined with other herbs. Cordyseng is a blend containing Reishi. Scroll down for details.


Maitake and Shiitake Mushrooms

These mushrooms are two of the strongest immune tonics and are commonly used as a food rather than a supplement. The dried varieties are more intense in flavor, therapeutic properties, and nutrients. They can be hydrated and used like fresh mushrooms in soups, stir-fries, whole grain dishes, sauces, and vegetable dishes. The more finely they are sliced, the more flavor they will absorb.

These mushrooms, when eaten, absorb and safely eliminate toxins including fat in the blood, pathogens, and excess mucus in the respiratory system. They are high in protein, zinc, and vitamin B2. Mushrooms improve cellular oxygenation and enhance immunity.



You may know Maitake as Hen-of-the-wood. This mushroom was historically valued for promoting longevity.

Maitake contains beta 1,6-glucan, a potent immunostimulant helping to neutralize tumors and ameliorate cancer, AIDS, chronic fatigue, and obesity. It lowers blood pressure and benefits diabetes by lowering blood glucose.

It is anti-viral and useful in treating cold and flu viruses, and enhancing immunity. Maitake mushrooms can help your body fight against any physical or mental difficulty.

Maitake has a delicate creamy taste and pleasant earthy,  peppery aroma. Best to cook them and avoid eating them raw. Organic Dried Maitake Mushrooms



Shiitake are said to be a natural source of interferon, a protein which appears to induce an immune response against cancer and viral diseases. They strengthen, detoxify, and restore. They have proven pharmacological effects as immune regulators and antiviral and anti-tumor agents, and they improve the cardiovascular system.

Shiitake treats diseases involving depressed immune function, including cancer, AIDS, environmental allergies, candida infections, and frequent colds and flu. They soothe bronchial inflammation and reduce chronic high cholesterol.

These mushrooms are an adaptogen – adaptogens improve mental functioning and help your body adapt to stress by curtailing an overactive adrenal response.

Top quality shiitake mushrooms are called donko and are grown outdoors on hardwood. Most commercial shiitake, especially those found in discount stores, are grown in a few weeks in warm conditions on artificial substrate. The commercial variety have little or no therapeutic benefit. Quality Donko Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Fresh shiitake do not have the same healing benefits as the dried variety; however, you can combine fresh and dried shiitake in recipes if you like. Use in soups, stews, stir-fries, and sauces.


Mushroom Blends


CordySeng strengthens immune function; is useful for chronic bronchitis and asthma; improves oxygen utilization and athletic performance. This formula contains Cordyceps as a main ingredient along with supporting herbs including Ganoderma mushroom which has potent immune regulating effects. 

Ganoderma (reishi) is traditionally used to protect the liver from damage; reduce the symptoms of hepatitis; and lower liver enzyme levels. 

Cordyseng also includes astragalus and licorice for their anti viral and immune potentiating activity; and American Ginseng and ginger to support digestive functions. This formula strengthens spleen, stomach, kidney, and lung and helps digestion. Order Cordyseng

CordySeng tonifies both yin and yang, strengthens the spleen, stomach, kidney, and lung, and helps digestion. CordySeng is especially good for the chronic fatigue found in chronic hepatitis, AIDS, and various types of cancer.


Power Mushrooms 

A combination of four mushrooms known to have immune system regulating functions. Power Mushrooms is a great energy formula and is useful for those with weak immunity, allergies, asthma, prolonged colds and flu and asthma. It is also useful for autoimmune disorders, such as MS or lupus. Can be used as an adjunct to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

It combines red ganoderma (reishi) which is stronger than the common black cultured ganoderma; polyporus, a relative of maitake mushrooms, which is anti-inflammatory and a source of tumor-inhibiting polysaccharides; 

Tremella is a wild edible mushroom that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is known by a variety of names including wood ear because of its shape, and witch’s butter because of is color and consistency. 

It is still lauded for its medicinal benefits.including its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It moistens the lungs, nourishes the stomach, produces fluids and enriches the yin. Its properties are sweet and neutral. 

Poria (fu ling) is a digestive aid and mild sedative. It is associated with heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys. It relaxes the mind, gets rid of dampness, invigorates the spleen, and treats loose stools or diarrhea. 

It is a vital component of many herbal remedies. Typically it is taken as an herb combined with other herbs, rather than eaten as a food.

The combination of these mushrooms are an effective Qi (chee) tonic.  Order Power Mushrooms 


Tremella and American Ginseng

This formula is for those with chronic viral syndromes such as HIV, chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), and herpes. This formula is used for signs deficiency heat, the symptoms of which may include fatigue, digestive disorders, inability to concentrate, swollen lymph nodes, chronic dry cough with wheezing, spontaneous sweating,  Useful for asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

The chief herb in the formula is tremella (a mushroom) which enriches the yin, moistens the lung, nourishes the stomach, and produces fluids.

Tremella has been historically used to promote healthy youthful complexion through potent anti-aging properties. It has intense hydrating properties.

Tremella and American Ginseng includes Ganoderma (reishi) described above, along with other herbs that nourish and tonify liver and kidney yin; have anti-viral effects;  inhibit spontaneous sweating; invigorate the blood; and facilitate digestion and absorption.  Order Tremella and American Ginseng


This is a brief introduction into the world of healing mushrooms and I hope you’ll integrate some of them into your self-care. There are many safe, effective ways to prevent and treat disease. To learn about therapeutic foods, home remedies and good self-care, visit my blog.

Consider some professional guidance for the right nutrition and customized holistic health plan for reversing your health and weight issues, and removing the degenerations that cause them. You can greatly improve every aspect of your physical, mental and emotional health with a customized holistic approach. Schedule a Holistic Health and Nutrition session with Deborah Barr, 35-year Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. You’ll be on your way to better health. Sessions can be done by phone,  zoom,  or at the Pittsburgh office. Questions? Contact me



“For nearly two years I had many viral infections with many symptoms including lots of cold sores on my nose. Each time it took many weeks to recover. I also experienced repeated sinus and bronchial infections during this time period. I had no appetite or energy. Started getting hives and itchiness all over which did not let up. 

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