Medicinal Mushrooms And Their Health Benefits (Updated 2023)

health benefits of medicinal mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms have: anti-tumour, immune modulating, antioxidant, radical scavenging, cardiovascular, cholesterol lowering, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, detoxification, liver protective, and anti-diabetic benefits. That’s an impressive list.

In this blog I am going to discuss the numerous health benefits of medicinal mushrooms. Mushrooms have been used by humans for thousands of years as food and/or as medicine and have been used for treating simple and common diseases, like skin diseases and pandemic diseases like AIDS (2).

Mushrooms are proven to possess anti-allergic, anti-cholesterol, anti-tumor, and anti-cancer properties (2).

More than 14,000 species of mushrooms are recognised, and among them, approximately 2000 are identified as edible. Of the 2000 edible mushrooms in 30 genera, 270 species are now considered as potential therapeutic or preventative agents that may ensure wellness of humans.

‘Without leaves, without buds, without flowers; Yet they form fruit. As a Food, as a tonic, as a medicine; The entire creation is precious.’ Yang

You might like to listen to my interview with Sachin Patel on medicinal mushrooms: click here.

Medicinal Mushrooms And Brain Health

The studies done by many researchers as well as on-going studies show that selected mushrooms do have neurotrophic properties that can be beneficial to humans.

Regular consumption may promote nerve and brain health.

This is particularly useful during injury (as in an accidents) or as we age. This far, only H. erinaceus has been extensively studied.

Medicinal Mushrooms And Gut Health

Pathogen eradication: Research has shown that some of the beneficial activities of various mushrooms on the gut microbiome are via the inhibition of pathogens (2).

Prebiotic: Constituents of the Reishi mushroom have prebiotic properties and make it one of the important prebiotics used to nourish the gut microbiome. In particular it is rich in polysaccharides, terpenoids, and total phenols.

In a recent study, researchers have found that white button mushrooms increase microbial diversity and accelerate the resolution of Citrobacter rodentium infection in mice. Specifically, white button mushrooms were reported to stimulate a local inflammatory response, and change the composition of the gut microbiome. The results of this study provide information on biological changes that occur upon white button ingestion are likely to include direct stimulation of the innate immune system that modulates inflammation and affects the composition of the gut microbiome which improves gut health by limiting the damage that occurs following injury or infection.

Mushrooms offer significant vital health benefits, including antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering properties, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, liver protection, as well as anti-diabetic, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties (2).

Medicinal Mushrooms And Cancer

Several of the mushroom compounds have proceeded through phase I, II, and III clinical studies and are used extensively and successfully in Asia to treat various cancers and other diseases (4).

Medicinal mushrooms have been proposed as a novel therapy that may improve cancer treatment and patients’ survival. They have been used medicinally since at least 3000 BCE.

Mushrooms are reported to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular-protective, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, and anticancer properties. (3)

It is well-established that mushrooms are adept at immune modulation and affect various cells (3) including:

  • Hematopoietic stem cells
  • Lymphocytes
  • Macrophages
  • T cells
  • Dendritic cells (DCs)
  • Natural killer (NK) cells.

Extensive research over the last 40 years has demonstrated that mushrooms have potent antineoplastic properties that slow growth of tumors, regulate tumor genes, decrease tumoral angioneogenesis, and increase malignant-cell phagocytosis. Additionally, evidence suggests that medicinal mushrooms may safely boost chemotherapeutic efficacy and simultaneously protect against bone marrow suppression.

Medicinal Mushrooms And Neurodegenerative Diseases

Mushrooms can be considered as useful therapeutic agents in the management and/or treatment of neurodegeneration diseases. (5)

Although at its infancy, accumulated evidence suggested that culinary-medicinal mushrooms may play an important role in the prevention of many age-associated neurological dysfunctions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Therefore, efforts have been devoted to a search for more mushroom species that may improve memory and cognition functions.

In a recent review (5) over 20 different brain-improving culinary-medicinal mushrooms and at least 80 different bioactive secondary metabolites isolated from them were discussed. The mushrooms (either extracts from basidiocarps/mycelia or isolated compounds):

  • Reduced beta amyloid-induced neurotoxicity.
  • Had anti-acetylcholinesterase.
  • Neurite outgrowth stimulation.
  • Nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis.
  • Neuroprotective.
  • Antioxidant.
  • Anti-(neuro)inflammatory effects.

Medicinal Mushrooms And Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular diseases are one of the most prevalent causes of morbidity and mortality in the Western world. Several investigations have shown the influence of mushrooms intake on some metabolic markers (total, LDL, HDL cholesterol, fasting triacylglycerol, homocysteine, blood pressure, homeostatic function and oxidative and inflammatory damage), which potentially may reduce the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases. Relevant nutritional aspects of mushrooms include a high fiber supply, a low fat content with low trans isomers of unsaturated fatty acids and a low concentration of sodium as well as the occurrence of components such as eritadenine, phenolic compounds, sterols (such as ergosterol), chitosan, triterpenes, etc., which are considered as important responsible agents for some hitherto healthy properties.

Medicinal Mushrooms And Energy

Many studies have demonstrated the antifatigue effects of edible and medicinal mushrooms. These mushrooms probably mitigate human fatigue through effects on the functional systems, including the muscular, cardiovascular, hormone, and immune system. The bioactive constituents that contribute to the anti-fatigue effects of mushrooms may include polysaccharides, peptides, nucleosides, phenolic compounds, and triterpenoids (9).

Medicinal Mushrooms and Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to damaging factors, e.g. physical, chemical and pathogenic. Deficiencies of antioxidants, vitamins, and microelements, as well as physiological processes, such as aging, can affect the body’s ability to resolve inflammation.

Mushrooms are rich in anti-inflammatory components, such as polysaccharides, phenolic and indolic compounds, mycosteroids, fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamins, and biometals.

In all certainty, edible mushrooms can be referred to as a “superfood” and are recommended as a valuable constituent of the daily diet.

Medicinal Mushrooms and Glutathione

A recent study demonstrated that certain mushroom species are high in glutathione and should be considered an excellent dietary source of these important antioxidants.

Medicinal Mushrooms And Anxiety

Several studies have shown that Lion’s Mane intake has the possibility to reduce depression, anxiety and sleep-related problems.

It does this partly by being able to modulate substances that decrease inflammation and stimulate cognitive functions. It therefore has some adaptogenic properties too – meaning it helps adaptation to stressful circumstances.

Cordyceps is another mushroom that can be helpful for anxiety. It has been shown to increase stress resistance, reduce anxiety, increases adaptability and resistance to fatigue, stress or anxiety and it does this by stimulating the adrenal glands and modulating the nervous system.

Medicinal Mushrooms And The Environment

Mushrooms are part of fungal biota characterized by wonder. They rise up from lignocellulosic wastes: yet they become so bountiful and nourishing. Mushrooms are environmentally friendly. They biosynthesise their own food from agricultural crop residues, which would otherwise cause health hazards (7).

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Medicinal mushrooms have: anti-tumour, immune modulating, antioxidant, radical scavenging, cardiovascular, cholesterol lowering, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, detoxification, liver protective, and anti-diabetic benefits. That’s an impressive list.


  1. Neuronal Health – Can Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms Help? Click here.
  2. A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota: click here.
  3. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology: click here.
  4. Medicinal Mushrooms in Human Clinical Studies. Part I. Anticancer, Oncoimmunological, and Immunomodulatory Activities: A Review: click here.
  5. Therapeutic potential of culinary-medicinal mushrooms for the management of neurodegenerative diseases: diversity, metabolite, and mechanism: click here.
  6. An Overview of Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms in Neurodegeneration and Neurotrauma Research: click here.
  7. The role of culinary-medicinal mushrooms on human welfare with a pyramid model for human health: click here.
  8. Edible mushrooms: role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases: click here.
  9. Anti-fatigue Functions and Mechanisms of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: click here.
  10. Anti-inflammatory properties of edible mushrooms: A review: click here.
  11. Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: Emerging Brain Food for the Mitigation of Neurodegenerative Diseases: click here.
  12. Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione: click here.
  13. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake: click here.
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