Support A Healthy Immune System With Medicinal Mushrooms

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Medicinal mushrooms are well known for their immune supporting and stress reducing effects on the body

Medicinal mushrooms occupy a central place in the materia medica of Traditional Chinese Medicine for an endless list of health conditions. Paul Stamets explains that the components in mycellium present a whole new repertoire of active molecules that interface and potentiate modern medicine in unexpected ways.

Not only that, our human physiological response to mushrooms demonstrates a magnitude and diversity of effects that appears far greater than the responses we have to plants.1 It is like we are made for each other. Here at Reishi we certainly feel that way.

The immune supportive properties are the most well established and widely researched attributes common among medicinal mushrooms. This is due to three unique factors:

1. Beta-D-Glucans

Beta-D-Glucans are the best known bioactive components in mushrooms.2,3 Well researched in both in vitro and in vivo studies, this polysaccharide is an immunologically active compound that increases cytokine production, the TH1 response as well as Natural Killer and macrophage cell production.4,5 Meaning it switches on the immune system to both identify and attack foreign invaders.

2. Immuno-Modulation Behaviour

Humans and fungi are closely related in the evolutionary-genetic tree. Our human physiology over time developed receptors called pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that bind specifically to nonhuman derived carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and glucans. The magic happens when our PRRs bind with mushroom produced ß-D-glucans; it causes a stimulation or regulatory response in the immune system.5 This effect is both expressed in fighting bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells!

3. Stress Physiology Reduction

High stress levels whether mental-emotional or physical cause an environment of chronic inflammation in the body as well as a suppressive effect on the immune system.6  Prolonged stress levels disrupt the immune system’s ability to identify and fight off antigens as well as build or replenish the white blood cell supply to strengthen its immune army. The science now shows that this can ultimately lead Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and autoimmune disorders.

Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi and Lion’s Mane have stress reducing, anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects. They also help reduce adrenal fatigue.7-10  The Chaga mushroom is a major antioxidant source and is used to boost energy levels and vitality.11,12

Medicinal Mushrooms are nature’s miniature pharmaceutical factories and their bioactive components behave with intelligence


Bioactive Profile: β-D-glucan and GLPS, Ganoderic acid, Danoderiol, Danderenic acid, Lucidenic acid

…the most widely known and researched medicinal mushroom, used for millennia in the East for an unending list of health issues…

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is called Ling Zhi in Chinese which literally means Herb of Spiritual Potency. Among the various medicinal mushrooms it is one of the most versatile in its health applications and is often referred to as the Mushroom of Immortality in ancient Chinese medical texts.

Numerous scientific studies confirm the unique polysaccharide β-D-glucan, GLPS and ganoderic acid components present in reishi mushrooms that activate the immune system to combat cancer cells and metastasis.5 Other studies show potent antioxidant, anti-aging13 as well as antiviral14 properties, even against HIV.15  In Traditional Chinese Medicine reishi mushrooms are considered to have unique adaptogenic effects; the ability to modulate, harmonize and bring balance back to the body and spirit during conditions of deficiency and excess.

Lion’s Mane

Bioactive Profile: Hericenones, Erinacines, β-glucans

…known for its Neurotrophic Factors that enhance memory, cognition and even stimulate repair of nerve tissue…

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is best known for its neuroprotective and generative effects on the brain, nervous system and adrenal glands. This has made its use popular in Asia for treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia. Additionally its beta-glucans exert a similar effect on stimulating the immune system, especially through Dendritic Cells (DC) which are the most important antigen presenting cells.16

Turkey Tails

Bioactive Profile: Polysaccharides PSP and PSK

…recently the subject of intensive research on stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize and respond to cancer…

Therapeutic use of Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)  mushrooms dates back to the Ming Dynasty in 15th century China whereas the indigenous peoples of North America and other cultures have long used them to treat a variety of health conditions. Turkey Tail’s two unique polysaccharides PSK and  Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) have been the subject of cancer research involving activation of the immune system to better fight cancer.17,18 Its efficacy in activating immune cells such as Natural Killer cells, monocytes/macrophages, bone marrow cells, B and T lymphocytes as Interleukins 2 and 6 as well as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) has been demonstrated in vitro.19

As an antimicrobial and antiviral, Turkey Tail mushrooms exhibit a broad spectrum of antibacterial and antifungal activity against pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Klebsiella pneumonia, Listeria monocytogenes, Streptococcus pneumonia19, Influenza Type A20, herpes and Human Papilloma Virus.21

Prebiotic and Microbiome supportive – Turkey Tail mushrooms also have a prebiotic effect on the gastrointestinal system positively affecting the composition of the gut microbiome, a major component of the human immune system.22,23


Bioactive Profile: β-D-glucan , Betulin and Betulinic acid, Melanin

…one of the most anti-aging foods yet discovered due its extremely high antioxidant count…

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) may be one of the most important anti-aging foods yet discovered. This is due to its extremely high ORAC value (antioxidant properties), similar to that of blueberry extracts. Health benefits associated with Chaga are due to its its renowned active compounds including melanin, betulin, betulinic acid, triterpenes and non-linear complex polysaccharides.

Currrent research on Chaga research demonstrates a broad array of health properties including being  a major antioxidant and anti-aging compound;24 having an immunomodulative role against cancer5,25 and protective role against chemotherapy induced radiation;26 and having anti-herpetic27 and hepatitis C supportive effects.28  Beyond its immune supporting capacity, Chaga’s anti-stress29 effect on the body is paramount in immune health promotion.

Enjoy These 4 Mushrooms All Together With Our Super Mushroom Blend Immune Boosting Tea

This is a great all-year-rounder but really finds its place during the cold and flu season when everyone around is dropping off like flies. In fact, we like to think of it as Nature’s Flu Shot.

If preparing a mug, then all you need to use is about 1/3 of a tsp and add hot water. It dissolves instantly and has that subtle sweet-bitter woody taste.

Likewise prepping a thermos for the workplace is a great day-long approach way to go.

If you are a coffee drinker…we are sympathetic to the cause- add 1/3 tsp of the Super Mushroom Blend to you mug. Whether espresso, cappuccino or however, it will blend beautifully. That’s actually how we get our grandparents to use these special gifts of nature.


Disclaimer. The information represented in this article is meant to provide concepts from evidence based research. It is not intended to treat or diagnose any health condition. For appropriate treatment methods please contact your healthcare provider.

Copyright 2018 – 

Works Cited

  1. Stamets P, Zwickey H. Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies Meet Modern Science. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb; 13(1): 46–47.
  2. Chan GC et al. The effects of beta-glucan on human immune and cancer cells. J Hematol Oncol. 2009;2(25).
  3. Wang Q et al. Bioactive Mushroom Polysaccharides: A Review on Monosaccharide Composition, Biosynthesis and Regulation.2017 Jun 13;22(6).
  4. Rop O et al. Beta-glucans in higher fungi and their health effects. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(11)624-631.
  5. Guggenheim AG et al.Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology.Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb;13(1):32-44.
  6. Segerstrom SC, Miller GE. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004 Jul; 130(4): 601–630
  7. Matsuzaki H et al. Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidummycelia in rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Dec 26;13:370.
  8. Singh R, et al. Evaluation of Antianxiety Potential of Four Ganoderma(Agaricomycetes) Species from India in Mice. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2016;18(11):991-998.
  9. Tang W. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganodermalucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. J Med Food. 2005 Spring;8(1):53-8.
  10. Nagano M et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res.2010 Aug;31(4):231-7.
  11. Yue Z et al. Effect of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides on physical fatigue in mice. J Tradit Chin Med. 2015 Aug;35(4):468-72.
  12. Yun JS et al. Inonotus obliquus protects against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and premature senescence. Mol Cells.2011 May;31(5):423-9.
  13. Sa-Ard, P et al. Antioxidant, antibacterial and DNA protective activities of protein extracts from Ganoderma lucidum. J Food Sci Technol.2015 May;52(5)
  14. Hijikata Y, Yamada S, Yasuhara A. Herbal mixtures containing the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum improve recovery time in patients with herpes genitalis and labialis. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Nov;13(9):985-7.
  15. Min BS et al. Triterpenes from the spores of Ganoderma lucidum and their inhibitory activity against HIV-1 protease. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo).1998 Oct;46(10):1607-12.
  16. He X et al. Structures, biological activities, and industrial applications of the polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane): A Review. Int J Biol Macromol. 2017 Apr;97:228-237.
  17. Yang Y et al. Protein-bound polysaccharide-K induces IL-1β via TLR2 and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Innate Immun.2014 Nov;20(8):857-66.
  18. Li F et al. Purification and characterization of a novel immunomodulatory protein from the medicinal mushroom Trametes versicolor.Sci China Life Sci.2011 Apr;54(4):379-85.
  19. Chu KK et al. Coriolus versicolor: a medicinal mushroom with promising immunotherapeutic values. J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Sep;42(9):976-84.
  20. Krupodorova T et al. Antiviral activity of Basidiomycete mycelia against influenza type A (serotype H1N1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 in cell culture. Virol Sin. 2014 Oct;29(5):284-90.
  21. Donatini B. Control of oral human papillomavirus (HPV) by medicinal mushrooms, Trametes versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum: a preliminary clinical trial. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2014;16(5):497-8.
  22. Pallav K et al. Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial. Gut Microbes.2014 Jul 1;5(4):458-67.
  23. Yu ZT et al. Trametes versicolor extract modifies human fecal microbiota composition in vitro. Plant Foods Hum Nutr.2013 Jun;68(2):107-12.
  24. Yun JS et al. Inonotus obliquus protects against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and premature senescence. Mol Cells.2011 May;31(5):423-9.
  25. Fan L et al. Antitumor and immunomodulatory activity of water-soluble polysaccharide from Inonotus obliquus. Carbohydr Polym.2012 Oct 1;90(2):870-4.
  26. Zhao LW et al. Prevention of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides for high power microwave radiation induced testicular injury in rats: an experimental research. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi.2014 Jul;34(7):864-8.
  27. Polkovnikova MV et al. [A study of the antiherpetic activity of the chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extracts in the Vero cells infected with the herpes simplex virus]. Vopr Virusol. 2014 Mar-Apr;59(2):45-8.
  28. Shibnev VA et al. Antiviral activity of Inonotus obliquus fungus extract towards infection caused by hepatitis C virus in cell cultures. Bull Exp Biol Med.2011 Sep;151(5):612-4.
  29. Yue Z et al. Effect of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides on physical fatigue in mice. J Tradit Chin Med. 2015 Aug;35(4):468-72.