Updated: Sep 6
You've seen them everywhere. Here's why. 🍄
For starters, medicinal mushrooms have been claimed to boost heart health; combat viruses, bacteria, and fungi; reduce inflammation; fight allergies; help balance blood sugar levels; and support the body's detoxification mechanisms.
The three most studied medicinal mushrooms--maitake (Grifola frondosa), shiitake (Lentinula edodes), and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)--are the most widely used mushrooms in alternative medicine. Medicinal mushrooms contain a high density of polysaccharides and triterpenes and over 1,000 other bioactive compounds. A variety of bioactive chemicals in medicinal mushrooms have been documented to support immune function and benefit a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer, and to enhance athletic and sexual performance.
Medicinal mushrooms have latent cancer-preventive properties. Many research studies strongly suggest that regular consumption over prolonged periods significantly reduces the levels of cancer incidence. Cancer Research UK also found increasing experimental evidence that medicinal mushrooms can have a cancer-preventive effect, demonstrating both high anti-tumor activity and restriction of tumor metastasis.
People have been interested in medicinal mushrooms and have used them effectively for thousands of years. Many species of mushrooms provide a wealth of protein, fiber, and vitamins B and C, as well as calcium and other minerals. The above three species have demonstrated phenomenal healing potential.
Amongst all herbs, fungi profoundly affect humans and are good sources of medicinally useful products. This is because, on a cellular level, fungi and animals have more in common than they have with higher plants. The effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms' biologically active compounds to modulate the immune cells may be due to their structural diversity and variability.
Our Favorite Mushrooms 🍄
Maitake: This mushroom, also commonly known as sheep's head and hen of the woods, is an edible polypore mushroom. The maitake grows in clusters at the foot of trees, especially the oak. The Japanese call it maitake, literally "dancing mushroom," and it can be found in almost all supermarkets across the nation.
The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as an adaptogen, or aid to balance out altered body systems to normal levels. Most Japanese people find its taste and texture enormously appealing, though the mushroom has been alleged to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.
The underground tubers from which maitake arises have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to enhance the immune system. It has been reported that whole maitake has the ability to regulate blood pressure and lipids, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids, and may assist in weight loss.
Maitake is rich in minerals (such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium), various vitamins (B2, D2, and niacin), fibers, and amino acids. The active constituent in maitake for enhancing the immune activity was identified in the late 1980s as the protein-bound polysaccharide compound beta-glucan, an ingredient found especially in the Polyporaceae family. Cancer prevention is one of the purported uses of maitake mushroom extract. Maitake is thought to exert its effects through its ability to activate various effector cells, such as macrophages, natural killer cells, T cells, interleukin-1, and superoxide anions, all of which have anticancer activity.
Shiitake: The shiitake is an edible mushroom native to East Asia and is cultivated and consumed in many Asian countries as well as dried and exported to many countries around the world. It is generally known in the world by its Japanese name, shiitake, derived from the name of the tree upon whose dead logs it is typically cultivated. Over centuries, it was found that the mushroom could be used not only as food but also as a remedy for upper-respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver problems, exhaustion and weakness, and is a booster for life energy. It was also believed to prevent premature aging. Shiitake mushrooms have been researched for their medicinal benefits, most notably their anti-tumor properties. Extracts from shiitake mushrooms have also been researched for many other immunological benefits, ranging from antiviral properties to possible treatments for severe allergies, as well as arthritis. Shiitake are also one of a few known natural sources of vitamin D2. Find our Shiitake tincture here.
Reishi: Reishi has been rated the top medicinal herb in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years, with ginseng in second place, and is so highly treasured that it was traded for its own weight in gold and was available only to emperors. It is still the most important herb in the Orient and the most thoroughly researched. The results of many hundreds of scientific and medical studies support traditional health claims. Reishi contains over 200 active ingredients and unique compounds that are the most biologically active obtainable from any plant source. In order to obtain maximum benefit, reishi is best taken as an extract because it is a very tough, woody mushroom and the raw biomass is very difficult to digest. Its dynamic antioxidant action and immune-stimulating effects are why reishi is so highly valued as a longevity herb and called the long life herb. Reishi Tincture
Chaga: Chaga mushroom is a tough, woody parasitic fungus that commonly grows in cold northern climates, specifically on birch trees. It grows in a “conk” form. Found mostly on white, yellow, and black birch trees they can be found on other hardwoods. Thriving on the cold winter climates of its environment it only grows in the wild, and repeated attempts to cultivate it have all ended in failure. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal but is distinguished from other growths by its orange tissue. It is not the fruiting body of the fungus, but a mass of mycelium, mostly black due to the presence of massive amounts of melanin. Called “The Mushroom of Immortality” by the Siberian Russian Shamans and the “Diamond of the Forest” by the Japanese, Chaga earns its moniker, “The King of the Medicinal Mushrooms” due to it being one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world.
Chaga consists of a variety of substances such as polysaccharides, betulin, betulinic acid, and inotodiol, and is said to offer a number of health benefits. It has been used by many major Northern climate dynasties for health and healing. It is an important functional medicine for the apothecary to help modulate and boost the immune system. It also tastes like chocolate. Chaga takes three to five years to reach a harvestable size. Once harvested, chaga can take up to a decade to regrow to a harvestable size. Our source practices mindful harvesting techniques and is careful to not remove the entire fruiting body from the tree.
Our Chaga mushroom is offered as a double extract tincture in a 2oz bottle with dropper. With the chaga mushroom there are nutrients that only alcohol is capable of extracting. Our double extraction process using an organic grain alcohol and water base ensures that you receive the absolute maximum benefit that the Chaga mushroom has to offer. This is the most potent form of Chaga mushroom available.
Lions Mane: a type of medicinal mushroom with a white globe-shaped fungus with icicle-like spines. This mushroom’s name comes from its resemblance to a lion’s mane. Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, lion's mane is widely available in supplement form. Lions Mane is said to strengthen the immune system, stimulate digestion, and protect against cancer.
Lion's mane benefits mild cognitive impairment, and helps protect against memory problems caused by buildup of amyloid beta (a substance that forms the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease).3 Studies have also shown a possible neuro-protective effect against ischemic stroke. Lion's mane may help alleviate depression and anxiety, as well as help knock out leukemia cells. In addition, a 2011 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that lion's mane extract helped reduce the size of cancerous colon tumors, in part by increasing activity in certain cells involved in the immune response. Another study found that the extract might help reduce the spread of colon cancer cells to the lungs.
At Maze Apothecary we advocate taking medicinal mushroom’s daily, and are huge fans of our ‘all-in-one’ tincture that features Shiitake, Reishi, Chaga, and Lions Mane Mushrooms in one convenient sized 2oz bottle. If you’re new to medicinal mushrooms, then you may prefer to experience each on their own and our single mushroom tinctures allow you to do just that.
To your Health!