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Of Four Mushrooms and their Possible Health Benefits

by mackshepperson

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People have used mushrooms for various purposes throughout human history. They have been incorporated as ingredients in dishes, used to ritually commune with “higher beings”, and treasured as vital ingredients in traditional medicine. Reishi, shiitake, maitake, and tremella are four of the many mushrooms that have been used for ages for healing and promoting good health.


The reishi mushroom is also known in China as “lingzhi” (“supernatural mushroom”) due to its desired health benefits and lack of side effects. As such, it has often regarded by East Asian traditional medicine practitioners as the ultimate herbal substance. This mushroom is recognizable by its colorful, fanlike appearance; with the outermost part lined with white, followed by streaks of red, purple, and brown. Reishi mushrooms thrive in temperate and tropical regions, usually seen at the base of deciduous trees.


Shiitake is closer to most people’s conventional image of mushrooms: a dark brown cap supported by a small brown stalk. This mushroom is a staple of many recipes from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. It’s reputed to have the ability to support the immune system, and some other desirable properties. The Japanese grow these fungi by cutting shii trees and putting these logs next to trees that already had shiitake mushroom spores.


Like the shiitake mushroom, maitake, like some other medicinal mushrooms benefits the immune system. This mushroom is likewise used as an ingredient in dishes like soups, salads, and even pastas. However, when these fungi mature, their increased toughness makes them inedible. The mushroom has several names like dancing mushroom, sheep’s head, and hen-of-the-woods.

Lion’s Mane

Similar to the maitake mushroom, the lion’s mane mushroom has a long list of names: hedgehog mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, pompom mushroom, bearded tooth fungus, and satyr’s beard. Considering the appearance of these mushrooms, “pompom mushroom” is perhaps the most appropriate name. These mushrooms are particularly abundant on hardwoods in the late summer and fall. Traditional healers have long credited medicinal mushrooms benefits like anti-oxidation and regulation of bodily functions.

As in the case of many other substances used for healing, users ascribe their favorite medicinal mushrooms benefits that have yet to be verified by experts. If you want to try one of these mushroom products to improve your health, try them out in small amounts first. It also helps to read product labels carefully taking any extracts.

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