Select Page
The Therapeutic Efficacy of Medicinal Mushrooms: An In-Depth Exploration of the Top Five Varieties

The Therapeutic Efficacy of Medicinal Mushrooms: An In-Depth Exploration of the Top Five Varieties


In recent years, the scientific community has displayed increasing interest in the medicinal properties of fungi, particularly mushrooms. Though these organisms have been utilized in traditional medicines for centuries, contemporary research is substantiating their therapeutic potential in multiple dimensions of human health. This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the top five medicinal mushrooms that have demonstrated noteworthy health benefits, supported by empirical evidence.


Mushrooms, belonging to the kingdom Fungi, are a diverse group of organisms with a long history of medicinal use across various cultures. Though their culinary applications are globally acknowledged, their therapeutic utility has often been restricted to ethnobotanical practices. However, in the wake of increasing antibiotic resistance and the rising demand for holistic approaches to healthcare, medicinal mushrooms have become the subject of scientific scrutiny. This article elucidates the therapeutic benefits of five select varieties: Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), and Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis).

Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)

Immunomodulatory Effects

The Reishi mushroom, known as the “mushroom of immortality,” has shown considerable promise in modulating the immune system. β-glucans, found in the cell walls, serve as biological response modifiers that trigger a cascade of immune reactions, augmenting the activity of macrophages and natural killer cells [1]. Moreover, triterpenoids found in Reishi possess anti-inflammatory properties [2].

Anticancer Activity

Ganoderic acids, a family of triterpenoids, exhibit anti-cancer properties by promoting apoptosis and inhibiting angiogenesis [3]. Multiple in vitro and animal studies have revealed the potential utility of Reishi extracts against lung, prostate, and breast cancers [4].

Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail)

Antioxidant Properties

Turkey Tail extracts are rich in polysaccharopeptides, which contribute to antioxidative activities. They neutralize reactive oxygen species, thereby reducing oxidative stress which is a precursor to chronic conditions like cancer and cardiovascular diseases [5].

Immunotherapeutic Efficacy in Cancer

Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and Polysaccharide-P (PSP), isolated from Turkey Tail, are clinically approved immunotherapeutic agents in certain countries. These compounds enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy and ameliorate side effects like immunosuppression [6].

Inonotus obliquus (Chaga)

Anti-inflammatory and Antiviral

Betulin and betulinic acid, found in Chaga mushrooms, demonstrate anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities. These compounds can down-regulate the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, effectively managing conditions like asthma and bronchitis [7].

Antidiabetic Effects

Studies on animal models have shown that Chaga extracts can reduce blood sugar levels by enhancing insulin sensitivity, thereby providing potential therapeutic utility in managing diabetes [8].

Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane)

Neuroprotective and Nootropic Effects

Lion’s Mane has gained attention for its cognitive-enhancing capabilities. The mushroom contains hericenones and erinacines that stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF), thereby promoting neuronal health [9].

Antidepressant Properties

Lion’s Mane extracts have shown the ability to elevate mood by modulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, offering potential benefits in treating conditions like depression and anxiety [10].

Cordyceps sinensis (Cordyceps)

Adaptogenic Benefits

Cordyceps is revered for its adaptogenic properties. By modulating physiological responses to stress, Cordyceps can improve mental clarity and energy levels, thereby contributing to general well-being [11].

Cardiovascular Health

Cordycepin, an active compound in Cordyceps, has shown vasodilatory effects and the ability to improve myocardial function, which could contribute to managing cardiovascular diseases [12].


The potential health benefits of medicinal mushrooms are manifold and supported by a growing body of scientific evidence. From immunomodulation and anti-cancer properties to cognitive enhancement and metabolic regulation, these fungi are emerging as potent therapeutic agents in contemporary healthcare.


  1. Zhang, M., et al. “Antitumor Polysaccharides from Mushrooms: A Review on their Isolation Process, Structural Characteristics, and Antitumor Activity.” Trends in Food Science & Technology, 18(1), 2007, 4–19.
  2. Wachtel-Galor, S., et al. “Ganoderma lucidum (‘Lingzhi’), A Chinese Medicinal Mushroom: Biomarker Responses in a Controlled Human Supplementation Study.” British Journal of Nutrition, 91(2), 2004, 263–269.
  3. Sliva, D., et al. “Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) in Cancer Treatment.” International Journal of Oncology, 21(4), 2002, 701–707.
  4. Wasser, S. P. “Medicinal Mushrooms as a Source of Antitumor and Immunomodulating Polysaccharides.” Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 60(3), 2002, 258–274.
  5. Jayachandran, M., et al. “A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(9), 2017, 1934.
  6. Standish, L. J., et al. “Trametes versicolor Mushroom Immune Therapy in Breast Cancer.” Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, 6(3), 2008, 122–128.
  7. Cui, Y., et al. “Antioxidant Effect of Inonotus obliquus.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 96(1–2), 2005, 79–85.
  8. Xu, H. Y., et al. “Anti-Diabetic Effects of Inonotus obliquus Polysaccharides.” Chinese Medicine, 9, 2014, 1–6.
  9. Mori, K., et al. “Nerve Growth Factor-Inducing Activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 Human Astrocytoma Cells.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 31(9), 2008, 1727–1732.
  10. Nagano, M., et al. “Reduction of Depression and Anxiety by 4 Weeks Hericium erinaceus Intake.” Biomedical Research, 31(4), 2010, 231–237.
  11. Hirsch, K. R., et al. “Cordyceps militaris Improves Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise After Acute and Chronic Supplementation.” Journal of Dietary Supplements, 14(1), 2017, 42–53.
  12. Ko, W. S., et al. “Antiinflammatory and Related Pharmacological Activities of the n-Butanol Subfraction of Radix Arnebiae: Its Antiinflammatory Mechanism.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 83(1–2), 2002, 117–125.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

How Do You Make Turkey Tail Fungi Tea?

How Do You Make Turkey Tail Fungi Tea?

Tea that Heals

To make turkey tail fungi tea, all you need to do is gently tear up two or three pieces of dried turkey tails into smaller pieces—the smaller, the better—and drop them in a pan or stove kettle with four cups-worth of water. Bring the water to boil and then let it simmer for around twenty minutes. Strain, pour, and enjoy.

That’s right; the process is much the same as it is for brewing any other kind of tea. You can put your mushroom pieces directly into the water and strain it afterward, or you could opt to fashion a teabag of sorts out of something like cheesecloth and immerse your homemade teabag in the boiling water; just be sure you don’t leave your cheesecloth in a position where it could catch fire.

Hot water extraction is a very common way of getting the nutrients out of any natural food source; the trick is to avoid getting bits of that food source in your tea—hence the straining. It’s not that it would be bad for you or that it would change the taste; it’s just that very few people like bits in their tea, regardless of the flavor or what those bits came from.

Why Turkey Tail Fungi Tea?

There are a lot of different options on the market when it comes to tea, sometimes to the point that it feels like new flavors may be released just for the sake of it, rather than anyone actually wanting it. Given that fact, it’s natural to wonder why anyone might want this particular flavoring in their tea. Is it a fad, or is there more to it?

As it turns out, there certainly is more to it. Like many other medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga and Reishi, there is a range of potential health benefits from Turkey Tail. Some of these benefits include;

  • Boosting your immune system
  • Promoting better digestion
  • Combatting chronic fatigue

And, for those of you out there concerned about the environment and the welfare of our animal friends, this is a perfectly acceptable vegan option. The “turkey tail” in the name refers to the appearance of the fungus, and we can assure you no turkeys are harmed in the making of Turkey Tail Fungi Tea.

How Do You Make Turkey Tail Fungi Tea

Why is it Called Turkey Tail Fungi?

As you might expect, Turkey Tail Fungi gets its name from its appearance, although it is also known as “cloud fungus” in China. The individual sections of the fungus are the parts that resemble a turkey tail, with a full fungus giving more of that cloud look that the Chinese named it for. It grows in a kind of fanned arrangement, with the turkey tailpieces making up multiple tiers.

Making Turkey Tail Fungi Tea From Scratch

If you live in an area where Turkey Tail Fungi grows, you might be interested in harvesting your own and seeing the whole process through from start to finish. Fortunately, it’s not a hard process to get through. Keep reading, and we’ll walk you through it.


Cleaning Turkey Tail Fungi is actually relatively easy compared to some other medicinal fungi, in no small part thanks to the fact that it can be easily trimmed. Unlike those other fungi, Turkey Tail is soft and can be easily trimmed with scissors, allowing you get the less desirable edges out of the picture with very little effort, but more importantly, it means you can separate the Turkey Tail from its hold on the tree bark cleanly and quickly, without having to hack or saw at anything.

Once that’s done, you want to give your Turkey Tail a good cleaning off. Nothing too drastic, of course, just a thorough rinse should do the trick. If you want to be especially thorough, you can run your fingers over the rinsed surfaces to ensure any loose dirt and particles are washed away.

How Do You Make Turkey Tail Fungi Tea


Once you have your nice clean Turkey Tail Fungi piece, the next step is to dry them out. This is also a good point in the process to check for bug holes, which would be an indication of less than fresh fungi.

If you have a dehydrator, lay your pieces out nice and evenly spaced, and set the dehydrator to around a hundred degrees Fahrenheit for around twenty-four hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can make do with an oven by having it on the lowest setting, leaving the door open a few inches, and placing your Turkey Tailpieces on the bottom shelf. Still, when you consider the cost of running an oven for twenty-four hours, it may be worth your while to go out and get a dehydrator instead.


Once clean and dried out, you’re ready to start turning your Turkey Tail Fungi into a tasty tea. The first thing you want to do is take a section that is roughly the amount you wish to use in your brew and cut it into smaller chunks. Now, you can just use those chunks, but the more surface area you have exposed in your tea, the more those essential nutrients you will be extracting into the water. In other words, the smaller the pieces, the better the brew.

To that end, the best way to bring your Turkey Tail to the water is ground up as a powder. You could do this using something like a mortar and pestle or even a spice grinder. However, you choose to do it, though, having it ground into smaller piece exposes more of the surface area of the fungus to the hot water, meaning more the nutrients can be transferred into that water.

Final Thoughts

The process of making Turkey Tail Fungi tea is very similar to how you would make tea from a range of other medicinal fungi. If anything, it is a little easier due to the softer nature of the fungus itself. Just be sure to give your Turkey Tail pieces a thorough inspection for bug holes and a good cleaning before you move onto the drying phase.

How Do You Make Turkey Tail Fungi Tea