Top 3 Medicinal Mushrooms for Whole Body Health

Mushrooms have come a long way in the past ten years. Immunity, cognitive functioning, mood, and vitality are all increasingly important in today’s world. There are a couple of mushrooms that have a growing body of research evidence and anecdotal data supporting their rising popularity.

Reishi is the most popular mushroom worldwide. It has been called the ‘mushroom of immortality’ and the ‘imperial tonic’.

Reishi is potentially the mushroom world’s strongest modulator of the immune response. Simply put, it both engages a range of immune cells into action and manages and balances overall immune function. Reishi is also a premier adaptogen, supporting physical and mental endurance. Reishi helps our cells create ATP, our cellular fuel. It helps us adapt to stress, reducing the fight-or-flight response so that we feel calmer without feeling sedated. It is also well-studied for supporting cardiovascular functioning and heart health, supporting balanced blood lipid levels and cellular antioxidant activity. We can use it for respiratory wellness, intestinal health, and liver function. You can see why it’s been touted as the mushroom of longevity throughout history!

The popularity and name recognition of the Lion’s Mane mushroom is growing quickly. It is a tasty edible mushroom that can be easily incorporated into meals and also gives our brain a boost. Given the current global experience, memory, mood, and cognitive functioning could all benefit from positive support. Finances, jobs, family, education, safety, and grief—these issues and more have piled layers of stress upon the vast majority of people across the globe. Lion’s Mane also supports our nervous system and intestinal health, playing a dual role in brain support. The intestinal tract is referred to as our ‘second brain’, impacting mood, mental acuity, and cognitive functioning either positively or negatively depending upon the health of the gut. Lion’s Mane provides beneficial fibre and food for our probiotic microflora, feeding lactobacilli and bifidobacteria microorganisms, thereby supporting our gut-associated immune system. Sometimes Lion’s Mane mushroom is referred to as the “smart mushroom”, and you can now see why!

If we are hoping to focus more on supporting and boosting the immune response, then research points us towards Turkey Tail. The Turkey Tail mushroom has a strong engaging action for immune cells, more so than Reishi and Lion’s Mane. It appears to drive the immune response for a rapid and diverse response and helps return the immune system back to its baseline when it has completed its tasks. Turkey Tail has been repeatedly researched and appears to be both effective and safe for immune support when we need it the most. It’s a great go-to mushroom for immediate immune support.

Host Defense Mushroom products are available in single mushroom varieties including Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Turkey Tail, and in specific targeted blends with additional mushrooms and herbs to take advantage of the synergy these combinations garner. The capsules are a popular delivery method. However, the powder allows for use in smoothies, shakes, and as an addition to foods. Powders also allow for increased daily intake at a cost-effective price. Host Defense uses both the mycelium (the root-like structure of the mushroom) and fermented organic brown rice in which it grows. The mycelium ferments the organic brown rice and converts it into immune-supportive compounds. Peer-reviewed and published research on Host Defense products demonstrates strong and complex immune responses upon consumption, providing assurance of their safety and effectiveness. Along with creating mushroom products that are tested for efficacy and safety, Host Defense is also expanding sustainability practices. They are actively reducing carbon emissions, using 100% post-consumer recycled, BPA-free plastics, supporting reforestation projects, and participating in Gold Standard global carbon offset programs. Supporting the health and wellness of the Earth and its species is intricately connected to supporting the health and wellness of fellow humans.

Jerry Angelini, MS

Head of Education

Host Defense® Mushrooms™ | Fungi Perfecti, LLC 

Bhardwaj, N. K., Priya; K. Sharma, Anil. (2014). Suppression of Inflammatory and Allergic Responses by Pharmacologically Potent Fungus Ganoderma lucidum. Recent Patents on Inflammation & Allergy Drug Discovery, 8(2), 14.
Liu, C., Dunkin, D., Lai, J., Song, Y., Ceballos, C., Benkov, K., & Li, X.-M. (2015). Anti-inflammatory Effects of Ganoderma lucidum Triterpenoid in Human Crohn’s Disease Associated with Downregulation of NF-κB Signaling. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 21(8), 1918-1925. doi:10.1097/mib.0000000000000439
Lee, S. Y., & Rhee, H. M. (1990). Cardiovascular Effects of Mycelium Extract of Ganoderma lucidum : Inhibition of Sympathetic Outflow as a Mechanism of Its Hypotensive Action. CHEMICAL & PHARMACEUTICAL BULLETIN, 38(5), 1359-1364. doi:10.1248/cpb.38.1359
Wenbo Tang, Y. G., Guoliang Chen, He Gao, Xihu Dai, Jinxian Ye, Eli Chan, Min Huang, and Shufeng Zhou. (2005). A Randomized, Double-Blind and Placebo-Controlled Study of a Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharide Extract in Neurasthenia. Journal of Medicinal Food, 8(1), 53-58. doi:10.1089/jmf.2005.8.53
Bhardwaj, A., Sharma, P., Mishra, J., & Misra, K. (2019). Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes), Mycelium Aqueous Extract Modulates High-Altitude–Induced Stress. 21(5), 443-458. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2019030648
Mateo, D. C., Pazzi, F., Muñoz, F. J. D., Martínez, J. P. M., Olivares, P. R., Gusi, N., & Adsuar, J. C. (2015). Ganoderma lucidum improves physical fitness in women with fibromyalgia. Nutrición hospitalaria, 32(5), 2126-2135.
Li, K., Zhuo, C., Teng, C., Yu, S., Wang, X., Hu, Y., . . . Qu, J. (2016). Effects of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on chronic pancreatitis and intestinal microbiota in mice. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 93, 904-912. doi:
Jin, M., Zhu, Y., Shao, D., Zhao, K., Xu, C., Li, Q., . . . Shi, J. (2017). Effects of polysaccharide from mycelia of Ganoderma lucidum on intestinal barrier functions of rats. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 94, 1-9. doi:
Wu, Q., Zhang, H., Wang, P. G., & Chen, M. (2017). Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of Ganoderma lucidum mycelium-fermented liquid on gut microbiota and its impact on cardiovascular risk factors in human. Rsc Advances, 7(71), 45093-45100.
Sargowo, D., Ovianti, N., Susilowati, E., Ubaidillah, N., Widya Nugraha, A., Vitriyaturrida, . . . Hayuning Putri, D. (2018). The role of polysaccharide peptide of Ganoderma lucidum as a potent antioxidant against atherosclerosis in high risk and stable angina patients. Indian Heart Journal, 70(5), 608-614. doi:
Lions Mane:
Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res, 23(3), 367-372. doi:10.1002/ptr.2634
Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res, 31(4), 231-237. doi:10.2220/biomedres.31.231
Vigna, L., Morelli, F., Agnelli, G. M., Napolitano, F., Ratto, D., Occhinegro, A., . . . Rossi, P. (2019). Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers? Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2019, 7861297. doi:10.1155/2019/7861297
Xie, X. Q., Geng, Y., Guan, Q., Ren, Y., Guo, L., Lv, Q., . . . Xu, Z. H. (2021). Influence of Short-Term Consumption of Hericium erinaceus on Serum Biochemical Markers and the Changes of the Gut Microbiota: A Pilot Study. Nutrients, 13(3). doi:10.3390/nu13031008
Turkey Tail:
Torkelson, C. J., Sweet, E., Martzen, M. R., Sasagawa, M., Wenner, C. A., Gay, J., . . . Standish, L. J. (2012). Phase 1 clinical trial of Trametes versicolor in women with breast cancer. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2012.
Benson, K.F., Stamets, P., Davis, R. et al. The mycelium of the Trametes versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom and its fermented substrate each show potent and complementary immune activating properties in vitro. BMC Complement Altern Med 19, 342 (2019).
Host Defense® Mushrooms Powders

About the Author: Host Defense Mushrooms


Founded by renowned mycologist Paul Stamets, Host Defense® Mushrooms™ specializes in mushroom mycelium-based supplements to support natural immunity and whole-body wellness. Based near the Olympic Rainforest in Washington state, it is one of the best-documented and longest-standing mushroom supplement companies in the USA.