Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

The world of medicinal mushrooms is vast, and one which is currently entering the forefront of the health and nutrition industry. The immense benefit that mushrooms hold have been acknowledged for centuries, used in traditional medicine’s and fundamental to many healing practices. Today, the research on these health benefits is only increasing and the many applications of such mushrooms are being discovered daily!

Mushrooms are generally high in antioxidants and depending on the species, have various other health benefits. The main medicinal mushrooms that we see at the health food store are: Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga and Lion’s Mane. They each hold their own unique nutritional composition and are useful for a variety of health concerns.


Reishi was named the mushroom of immortality. Reishi is highlighted for its defence against the immune system, providing antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Reishi is also an adaptogenic herb, and balances the hormonal system to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. In relation to this, Reishi helps to relieve nervousness, increase energy and improve sleep quality. Reishi is also known to help with arthritis, cholesterol, blood sugar and heart health. There are many strains of reishi, Japanese red reishi being one of the most potent, most effectively cultivated and extracted. The process includes cultivating the mushrooms in dense soil for over a year and extracting the benefits of the fruiting body using hot water, which extracts the nutrients and polysaccharides leaving behind the unnecessary fibre and undigestible parts.


Cordyceps is another adaptogenic mushroom and helps to balance energy levels throughout the day. Cordyceps work to increase ATP, which are the coenzymes that transport energy into the cells, which means more energy overall. Cordyceps also increase oxygen level intake and can help with those who have respiratory conditions and high performance athletes.


Chaga is also an adaptogen, helping the body adapt and react appropriately to stress. It is also known as an “anti-cancer” herb, and is used as a potent anti-oxidant. Another natural immune booster, chaga also helps to improve the immune system, fight bacterial and viral infections and works to nourish hair, skin and nails.


Lion’s main is a great natural brain-boosting mushroom. It has been shown to increase cognitive function, memory, creativity and helps to improve concentration. The active ingredient in Lion’s Man stimulates NGF ( Nerve Growth Factors), which are important for neural and overall brain functioning.

Mushrooms are a great way to provide the body with extra support. No matter what your health goals are, mushrooms are a great addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle and a wonderful way to optimize wellness!

Let’s Talk About Depression

Emotional “ups and downs” are a normal part of life and are experienced by everyone. Most of us feel temporarily down when things aren’t going our way, such as in the case of the break-up of a relationship, or the loss of a job. True depression, or “major depression” describes the situation where feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness last for a period of more than 2 months.

It is the most commonly experienced mental health disorder among Canadians, and the most unfortunate thing is that it can have serious and sometimes fatal results. The good news is that for most people depression can be treated effectively.

Causes of Depression

There is no single cause of depression, but there are certain risk-factors that can predispose an individual to it. Things like the death or illness of a spouse, friend or family member, job or relationship dissatisfaction, addictions, financial stress, chronic medical conditions, or prior major depressive episodes have all shown to be factors in development of depression.

Recovery from Depression

Remember, depression is an illness that can be treated, and for many the first step in the recovery process is to recognize that it is an illness, not a sign of personal weakness. You are not alone, and help is available. Most importantly, if you or someone you know is having recurring thoughts of suicide, it’s very important that they get medical help immediately.

Talk to People

We are all fantastically individual and unique, and there are therefore many different approaches to recovery. One of the best? Talk. For depression, one of the most common and successful treatments is psychological counseling. But please TALK. Talk to family, friends, co-workers and others. There are also self-help groups that can make a big difference in how well and how quickly a person with depression recovers. Please. Just. Talk.


Exercise releases endorphins in the blood stream. These are the “feel good” chemicals that can improve mood. A Harvard Medical School report found that “exercise can improve mood in people with mild to moderate depression, (and) may also play a supporting role in treating severe depression.”. There is no universally-agreed to level of exercise, but most agree that at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as a vigorous walk on most days will do wonders for our emotional health. Not only that, but moderate physical activity produces risk-free benefits for people with depression without harmful side-effects. It’s a total win!

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFA), also known as omega-3 fatty acids, or simply fish oils, are highly concentrated in the brain and are important for cognitive and behavioral function. They are called “essential” which means your body can’t make them and you have to get them through your food such as salmon, halibut, anchovy, sardine, krill, some plants, and nut oils. While it’s true that research is inconclusive on whether taking omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve depression symptoms, we do know that symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include mood swings and depression. Several studies show that people who took omega-3 fatty acids in addition to prescription antidepressants had a greater improvement in symptoms than those who took antidepressants alone.

Japanese Red Reishi

One of the Superior Herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, red reishi is a mushroom that has sometimes been called the “Medicine of Kings” owing to the fact that in ancient China it was so rare and valuable that it’s use was reserved for the Emperor. It’s an extremely potent adaptogen. An adaptogen, by definition, is a non-toxic substance that normalizes physiologic function. Basically, it helps the body adapt naturally to the effects of stress, fatigue, trauma, and anxiety. In traditional Chinese medicine, red reishi has a strong ability to calm the mind, returning it to a more balanced state, and helps people to feel calm and happy. That’s one great mushroom!


Another potent adaptogen (and another fungus), cordyceps also has a long-standing history of use in Chinese medicine, and can be another great herb to combat the effects of depression. Grief, in Chinese medicine, affects the lungs, and the cordyceps herb has a particular affinity to the lungs. Much like red reishi, cordyceps has a very calming, relaxing effect on the nervous system. A Chinese study found that cordyceps has an ability to inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MOA). Drugs that inhibit MOA are routinely employed to treat depression, which suggests that cordyceps could also be useful in treatment.

Depression is a very serious mental health issue that affects many of us. Persons having recurring thoughts of suicide need to seek immediate medical advice. In addition, TALK, exercise, essential fatty acids, and red reishi or cordyceps could be incredibly valuable on your road to recovery.