Chaga, lion’s mane, reishi and shiitake are more than just exotic names on a menu – they are powerful medicinal mushrooms.
For centuries, traditional Asian medicine has used extracts of chaga (Inonotus obliquus), lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus), reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and shiitake (Lentinus edodes) mushrooms as longevity tonics and immune-system boosters. More recently, these medicinal mushrooms have been found to have other important health benefits, including helping to lower cholesterol, thanks to their soluble fibre content. They are also effective adaptogens, meaning that they help the body to adapt to stress, and manage it better.
Chaga Known as “Gift from God”, this mushroom has long been used in Eastern medical traditions, as well as throughout Russia and Northern Europe. It has antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and is a rich source of polysaccharides, which may offer benefits in treating hypertension and diabetes. It is rich in antioxidants and boost digestion and clears skin.
Lion’s mane A powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-stimulant, lion’s mane may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and helps digestive health by fighting inflammation. It is also a well-regarded nootropic, which means it supports neural and cognitive function and may help improve memory and reasoning.
Reishi This mushroom can help to enhance immune system and liver function and to lessen fatigue, reduce stress and improve sleep quality and duration. Some evidence suggests that reishi may also improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Shiitake These contain lentinan, a distinct type of polysaccharide which stimulates the immune system and helps increase the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections. In Japan, shiitake mushrooms are approved as anti-cancer drugs, and used in conjunction with conventional treatments.
How to take them
These medicinal mushrooms are now available in powder form, which concentrates their potency and makes them easy to add to soups, pasta or stir-fry sauces, broth or hot drinks, providing a rich, savoury flavour as well as a booster shot of nutrients.
- Increase antioxidant activity
- Enhance immune function
- Help manage blood sugar levels
- Support brain and nerve health
- Improve energy and stamina