What does that make you think of?


Psychedelic mushrooms?  Smoking mushrooms?  Culinary mushrooms? Gateway drugs?  Poison?


Mushrooms can be many and all of these.  But, I want to discuss the amazing medicinal value of mushrooms.  Not the “medicinal” that has been abused and misused for political and/or marketing purposes.  I am talking about mushrooms that have powerful healing effects—effects supported in the scientific literature.



The medicinal benefits of mushrooms has been known for a long time.  Medicinal mushrooms played a pivotal role in ancient cultures quest to battle disease.  Ancient China and Egypt were the first cultures documented to recognize the healing benefits of mushrooms thousands of years ago.


Many fear mushrooms.  They fear mushrooms because they don’t know mushrooms.  Fear often originates from the unknown.  There may be mushrooms to fear, just not these mushrooms.


What are mushrooms?  Mushrooms are not a fruit or a vegetable in the classic sense of the words.  Mushrooms are actually a fungi.  The word fungi can be confusing here as many carry a negative experience with fungi—see candida or yeast infection.  However, not all fungi are mushrooms.  For those fungi that produce mushrooms, the mushroom is actually acting as a fruit.


There are many varieties of medicinal mushrooms.  I want to highlight 4 medicinal mushrooms with the strongest and most extensive scientific literature support and their health benefits.  The majority of the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms are in the battle against cancer.  These health promoting mushrooms include turkey tails, lions mane, shiitake, and reishi.


Turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor), also known as Coriolis or cloud mushroom, benefits include:TurkeyTail



Turkey tail mushrooms have been shown to be useful in the fight against lymphomas, leukemias, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, nasopharynx cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and melanoma just to name a few.


Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), also known as the hedgehog mushroom, health benefits include:6-bears-head



Shiitake mushroom (Lentinul edodes), also known as sawtooth oak mushroom, black forest mushroom, black mushroom, golden oak mushroom, or oakwood mushroom, health benefits include: Shiitake_mushroom



Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as Ling Zhi, is the most exotic in appearance of the 4 medicinal mushrooms.  The health benefits of the reishi mushroom include: shutterstock115351276



Studies clearly show the medicinal benefits of these 4 mushrooms.  In vitro, animal , and human studies abound to support the medicinal value of mushrooms—especially in the prevention and treatment of cancer.  Are the studies definitive?  Of course not.  They rarely are—even in traditional therapies.


Fortunately for those of us that live in east Tennessee, we have several local resources available to learn more about these medicinal mushroomsEverything Mushrooms has been a mushroom staple in Knoxville, TN and can be found summers at the Market Square Farmer’s Market.  Just a little trip east is Brewer’s Mushrooms in Dandridge, TN.  More than just selling mushrooms, Hugh relays his passions for mushrooms through the numerous education workshops, classes, and numerous events—including mushrooms hunts.


The scientific proof of medicinal mushrooms is prevalent, access through local resources is easy, the taste is good and now it just takes a decision to incorporate medicinal mushrooms into you and your families daily life.  Healthy living is a process.  A process that begins with saying yes.