6 Mighty Mushrooms For Immune Health

By Nick Polizzi

We humans have been foraging for medicinal mushrooms for thousands of years. They could be found in the apothecaries of Ancient Greece and Rome, the Taoist healing temples of early China, and are now back in high demand here in the Western World.

This innate love of mushrooms is shared by just about every culture on earth – why? Because these mysterious organisms contain powerful medicines that can keep you free of illness.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of mushrooms is that they are considered to be modulators. This means that they go into your body and detect where things are out of balance – and then correct the issue by boosting certain organ systems.

Fascinating, right?

Fun fact – There are well over a million species of mushrooms in the world, but less than 2% of them have been studied for their medicinal value. Thankfully, the 400 or so mushrooms that are deemed “medicinal” have had a huge impact on human health – not only from an herbalist’s perspective but in modern medicine as well.

The most shining example is the penicillium fungi, which is the core ingredient of the life-saving antibiotic penicillin, a medical breakthrough that arguably changed the course of human history.

Ok, without further ado… Today I want to share 6 fantastic fungi that we keep in our pantry at all times – for both their immune-boosting effects and also their overall therapeutic value.

Are you ready?

6 Mighty Mushrooms For Immune Health

Shiitake “The elixir of life”
(Lentinula edodes)

Shiitake mushrooms are not only delicious when sautéed in garlic (along with your dark leafy vegetable of choice), they are now proven to possess serious antiviral and antibacterial properties. Shiitakes are rich in polysaccharides that contain a compound known as lentinan, which helps to fortify your immune system. They also contain a number of beta-glucans that are shown to boost the production of white blood cells, strengthening your body’s resistance to harmful germs and toxins in your environment.

These beta-glucans also have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects, particularly on the digestive system – which is where much of your immune system lives.  One of these beta-glucans known as eritadenine is also shown to reduce cholesterol and promote heart health.

Stack on the number of B-vitamins, amino acids and fiber that shiitake contains and you’ve got yourself quite a mushroom!

Reishi “The mushroom of immortality”
(Ganoderma lucidum)

Among all the mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Reishi is perhaps the most cherished. Thought of as the “king of herbs” (even though it’s not a plant), Reishi belongs to a special class of herbs and fungi known as adaptogens. The dictionary definition of an adaptogen is – a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. A well-known example is ginseng.

Not only is Reishi able to modulate (or rebalance) your immune system for optimal health, it is also used to bring your emotions and overall psyche into balance as well. Don’t take my word for it – try drinking reishi tea each morning for two weeks and report back to us… You’ll see what I mean 😉

From an immunity perspective, the triterpenes found in Reishi boost the production of your immune system’s natural killer cells, which are able to detect and destroy cancer cells and viruses. Reishi is also a great source of biologically active polysaccharides, which possess a host of health benefits, including lowering blood sugar, reducing inflammation and regulating the immune system.

Lion’s Mane “The brain booster”
(Hericium erinaceus)

If you come across a Lion’s Mane mushroom in the woods, its otherworldly appearance is enough to stop you in your tracks. This mushroom looks like a cross between an albino sea anemone and a wild pom-pom. Often growing on the remains of fallen logs, Lion’s Mane is not only extremely good for you – it’s also a prized edible with a flavor and a texture that will blow you away.

This mushroom has most recently been hailed as a remarkable brain booster, because it contains a plethora of compounds that are highly beneficial for cognitive function and the health of your nervous system. The hericenones and erinacines found in Lion’s Mane are shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells. Kind of a big deal…

But yet another accolade that Lion’s Mane has sitting on the mantle is its immune-enhancing effect. Lion’s Mane has been shown to stimulate the beneficial bacteria in your mouth and gut, which make up a large portion of your immune defense. These bacteria help to neutralize the harmful germs and chemicals that often enter your body through the mouth or nose, as you breathe in.

Maitake “Dancing mushroom”
(Grifola frondose)

A favorite Chinese edible, the Maitake has a peppery flavor that is a wonderful addition to any stir fry. This mushroom also goes by the nickname “hen of the woods” because some feel it resembles a hen sitting on her nest.

The Japanese also call it the “dancing mushroom,” because legend has it that the ancient Samurai warriors – as stoic and serious as they were – would behave like giddy children and start dancing when they came across a patch of Maitakes in the forest!

Maitake’s special power is helping to ease physical and mental stress, while also fortifying your immune system with its host of vitamins, nutrients, beta-glucans, and polysaccharides. Maitake is also being studied in Asia for its anticancer effects – particularly its ability to stimulate the production of your immune system’s natural killer cells (which go after cancer cells), as well as T cells.

​​Chaga “The diamond of the forest”
(Inonotus obliquus)

From the untamed wilderness of Northern Siberia all the way to the Birch forests of North America, the Chaga mushroom has been used for millennia for its powerful immune-boosting properties. Indigenous cultures across the northern hemisphere consider this mushroom to be one of the most powerful medicines in the forest… and the science now agrees.

Known scientifically as Inonotus obliquus, Chaga is one of the most promising mushrooms yet discovered. It contains the highest levels of antioxidants of any mushroom (more than most plants as well). This alone makes it extremely special, as antioxidants are vital for fighting off free radicals – which attack our healthy cells and make us sick.

When you add Chaga’s antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties to the mix, your immune system gets the solid protective barrier it needs to stay healthy year round.

Turkey Tail “The cloud mushroom”
(Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor)

Another tree mushroom like Reishi and Chaga, this organism’s scientific name Trametes versicolor translates to “of several colors.”

Turkey Tail contains a variety of natural compounds that improve energy levels and promote a healthy microbiome – which is the heart of your immune system.

The array of triterpenes, organic acids and alkaloids that it contains pack a germ-fighting wallop. Turkey Tail also contains a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that stimulates your body’s natural defense against foreign pathogens. PSK is so effective that it’s now an approved anticancer prescription drug in Japan.

The great thing about the 6 mushrooms above is that they’re fairly easy to get ahold of – either from your local health food store or from a trusted source online.

*Note: Make sure to prepare each mushroom correctly for proper consumption – and if you go with supplements, it’s best only to use those that contain actual mushrooms and not mycelium.

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science

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84 Responses

  1. Like it very much. You are very intelligent people, bringing knowledge to those to want to listen.
    Congratulations; hope you receive lots of blessings for your excellent work in favor of humans to look to be better kind.

    1. If you live near Vancouver B.C. I might be able to supply you. I am a retired ecologist who collects mushrooms from the forest in this area.

  2. Thank you so much for this short intro into the mushroom world .The last time I went mushroom hunting was for the famous chaga with my son in the wintertime.Came back with a nice haul !
    Quite the prize ,especially in the time we live in .
    Cheers.

  3. Thank you so much for this wonderful news. My CSA delivery includes mushrooms now & I always thought I was allergic due to mushrooms being on my DNU list during fighting candida. I’m Japanese, so it is delightful to have mushrooms in my diet again & know their healing properties.
    Aloha, Emilie Azeka

  4. Wonderful article! How do we learn the most beneficial ways to prepare these healing mushrooms? I love maitakes, cut one into slices and cook the pieces in a pan in some low-sodium soy sauce. It’s then a delicious addition to soups, stews, salads, hummus, rice, potatoes, and more. My favorite new snack is to mix some pieces cooked this way into cashew butter along with a bit of air-cured garlic. Yum! But am I getting the most out of its nutrients this way?

  5. I know everyone is interested in boosting immune function right now, but what mushrooms are the best immune modulators for those with autoimmune diseases?

  6. Thank you for sharing this article. Its amazing the benefits we gain from these magnificent fungi. If you ever get a chance, look up Fantastic Fungi on Netflix. Amazing documentary.
    Ive been taking a mushroom complex by Pure Encapsulations and it has increased my CD4 T- cells to fight off HIV.
    Namaste

  7. Because of mushrooms, I am still alive.. I had a craniotomy back in 1994, for a meningioma tumor in the cerebral postine area of my brain…. They took what they could, but this kind of brain tumor can grow back (took 6 years to grow back)….& I did not want to have another surgery, cause it takes a long time to heal. I went to my Nutritionist, & with the right foods and mushrooms, I am still here. I take maitake in the morning, & at night I take a mushroom immune defense formula of Maitake, Shitake. Reishi, Turkey Tail, Vit. C, & a few others… What these mushrooms do is they Close the blood vessels that feed the tumor…..Soooo HaHa… the tumors shrink……Therefore my brain tumor does not bother me anymore……I wish more people knew how amazing they are.. Turkey Tail is great for breast cancer. I could go on & on…. Absolutely Amazing !!

    1. Can you recommend a website where it is possible to buy these mushrooms online as the only ones I’ve seen in the UK are the Shittake mushrooms… perhaps I’m not looking in the right places though .

    2. That’s an amazing story of natural healing with Mushrooms. Given the right set of circumstances, the body will heal itself. You are a living example of that. Blessings.

  8. I drink Turkey Tail mushroom tea every day Nick. I’m a very healthy 80 years old. I make two liters, with one fresh tea ball and the two from the previous two days continuing to contribute. I also add an overflowing tablespoon of honey to the pot after the three tea balls have done their work for twenty minutes or so. I believe honey adds health benefits as well as flavor. Is this a good way to obtain the health benefits of Turkey Tail mushrooms, or is there a better way? I’ll just add, foraging on the steep mountain slopes in my area is very rewarding and may benefit my health as much as drinking the tea.

  9. Is it better to eat the “raw” mushrooms than to have them as a supplemental powder? I’ve always felt that consuming the actual raw mushrooms or ANY raw vegetable is by far the best way to get ALL the nutrients into your body. Powders are processed.
    Am I correct on what you know of this?
    Thanks for any helpful answers and guidance you can provide.
    -Lin
    PS – I so appreciate all your informative programs when I can make time to watch them.

  10. All it takes to improve the general human condition is for each of us,
    once a day to do a good deed or recommend a healthy idea to another!
    -Alex L

  11. Nick,
    Thank you so much for sharing those articles. How do I find the recipe for mushrooms?
    If you know the website, please let me know. Please keep up with your excellent work!
    God Bless you! sue

  12. Thank you Nicki and your crew for all the information on mushrooms, very much appreciated.
    As others commented above, I would like to know the best and safest sources to purchase these mushrooms. I wasn’t able to find fresh Reishi or Chaga locally and it’s hard to trust a source on line. I would appreciate your recommendations.
    Also articles on how to consume mushrooms and some recipes would be so great.
    Thank you much and continued good luck in the future.

  13. Good morning

    I Know the report about my health or you have established for me.
    Than i may apply to Your report
    Thanks

    1. I use a product line called fresh cap. This is from their website. They have a great line of mushrooms

      Fruiting body vs mycelium on grain. What do I need to know?

      Not all mushroom products are created equal. We use only the whole fruiting body of the mushroom, properly extracted to ensure the beneficial compounds are contained in the final product.

      Some companies will short-circuit the growing process using something called “mycelium on grain”. These products will be high in starch from rice or oats.

      No matter who you get your mushrooms from, you should ensure that they are made from whole fruiting body and not myceliated grain.

  14. I love it! Thank you. One of my fondest childhood memories is going mushroom hunting with an old grandma way up in the swizz alps. I use mushrooms in my salad and as a powder in my smoothie. I wonder where/ how I may buy a collection of these? Bulk? Dried? Or other. Thank you 🙏 Sheila

  15. Your article on Mushrooms is good that it covers the basic six, You don’t have a print button on Your page article, if You did I could enlarge the size up to 130% with ease, I have a vision disability and is hard to read when I print the page using Ctrl P, could You look into this on future article’s.

    Thank You

    1. Hi Frank–
      Copy and paste to a Word document or other such program. Then you can enlarge to any size print you need. I do this all the time. Sometimes it requires a bit of re-formatting the original copy paste but its worth the effort. My best to you.

  16. Hi Nick,
    Thank you for this valuable information. Could you please send me the best resources to get these mushrooms.
    Thank you,

  17. Your last sentence says to only take mushroom supplements that contain the mushroom and not the mycelium. Two of the most researched and premium brands, OM and Host Defense, focus on the mycelium and provide evidence to justify that as a most important source of the medicinal properties. Please direct me to the science behind your assertion that the fruiting body is more effective than mycelium. I’d like to see the studies, not just a statement made by a supplier so I can make an educated decision.

  18. Since I started to join this natural remedies and foodstuffs it’s very fascinating to know dos and don’ts more especially on gut and healthy living tips
    Regards
    Thomas Aubrey May

  19. The only ones we can get here in UK are Shitaki but they upset my stomach. I have tried to include them in my diet twice but each time they send me running to the toilet. Are supplements as good as fresh. Was thinking of Turkeytail supplements. I have had invasive ductal carcinoma estrogen positive but had a lumpectomy and was told it was all gone with good margins but I need to make sure it does not return as I refused radiotherapy and hormone blockers.

  20. Thank you
    Recovery from prostate cancer.
    Love all the information. Can you give me information on were I can purchase the best mushrooms.
    Grateful and thankful.

  21. My husband and I loved your nine part online series, and afterwards I made a delicious mushroom soup using four of the above mushrooms. I will look for lions mane and turkey tail to add to it next time. I’ve used essential oils for 15 years, but recently adding herbal teas and tinctures to our healthy diet has enhanced our sleep, supported our heart and blood sugar balance, plus eased inflammation. We’re in our 70’s and love the fact that we can still learn about natural ways to heal ourselves and stay healthy. Thank you, Nick, for making this information available to us.

  22. I live at Buenos Aires, Argentina. How can I get a mushroom for my hepatic metástasis?.Where can I find? Which type?

    1. r u taking bitter apricot kernels, b17, pdq herbals, curcumin, gcmaf plus, juicing (dr nicholas gonzalez protocol or her don therapy)? they prevent & cure cancer!

  23. Thank you Nick Polizzi!

    It is absolutely brilliant idea to educate us with all natural remedies for our life!
    I was exposed to natural living by my grandmother, who died 102 year old and never believed in chemicals and doctors!
    I am the same!
    Looking forward for more your brilliant ideas in natural remedies!

    Blessings

  24. Your information is priceless! Could you recommend websites you trust to purchase mushrooms in their original form or capsules or teas? Thank you for all your hard work!

  25. Thank you so much for sharing the information on mushrooms! Very interesting to learn the benefits of these awesome plants.

  26. I have a question about Medicinal Mushrooms: can I take more than one daily, regularly? I’m getting really interested in herbs and their healing powers and the main question I have now, when I’vecread and seen so much about how potent they are, is: can I take them all? How do they relate to each other, can I do more harm than good being eager to have all their powers at once?

  27. Nick – what a great article on the power of mushrooms – I’m a big fan – Also thank you for your series on REMEDY – it is most excellent and informative!. I have watch you evolve over the years and am extremely grateful to do so – Also love sharing you with my sphere of friends via ZenfulLiving.org – and my social media – The more who have this valuable info the more we can heal our selves and our world!

  28. Thanks for the useful healthy information. It is very difficult to purchase many of those mushrooms but only supplements.
    Where can we purchase the real mushroom.
    I reside in Canada
    Thanks for helping mankind.
    foster

  29. Thank you for these snapshots about specific mushrooms that include pictures, useful information, how to benefit from them, upon which to build knowledge.

  30. Thank you so much for the work you d . Your work is outstanding . Hope more and more people find you, to improve healthy lives.

  31. Thank you Nick for sharing very kind . I am giving Reshi a go in tincture form and I have noticed a lightness , and few amplified gifts, I have ordered a tea with 4 others in so look forward to feeling the results . Wondrous and love the info . Once again thanks your awesome with your kindness and always so giving of your information and herbal life enhancing recepie and wisdom . Lots love and thanks . Sandra

  32. Hi Nick, just want to thank you for all your sharing not only about the mushrooms but all the herb recipes and wisdom. I really enjoy your knowledge and grateful for your kindness, that flows with the information. I started taking Reshi and am blown away how fast, it affected me, feel more mentally balanced and lighter, and seems to of sharpened some of my senses. I’m taking it in tincture form and have order a blend of 3 others, lion mane, chaga, and reshi as a tea, so look forward to drinking it for two weeks see how I feel. Amazing Cheers.

  33. It’s very powerful so how I can get them so please help to have them it can beneficial for your body thanks

  34. Thank you for all of your info. I do wish you would provide sources of where to purchase. For example, on this site, OM, they say ” Choose a whole food powder that contains both fruit bodies and mycelium. This type of product will provide the benefits of both phases of the reishi mushroom’s life cycle.” This statement of theirs contradicts yours. So it gets very confusing for a novice such as myself. It would be great also if you had some recipes for chaga or reishi tea, etc. Thank you so much

  35. Hi Nick I honor and respect all which you are offering time and time again focusing on the most salient health issues of our time and you gift us all with the very best continually. Following a path of investing my time and attention into your outstanding selections, I am immensely grateful.
    I woke up to natural and healthy foods in 1972 and was part of the USA natural and organic health industry for 40 years creating a brokerage representing primarily organic foods before I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand where I continue to pursue health and wellness on my own and relish seminars you continue to create for humanity’s benefit. Blessings to you, John

  36. Good web site! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I might be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  37. This week I spotted what looked like a very large cluster of reishi mushrooms. How would I go about getting them identified?

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