t The Healing Powers of Magical Medicinal Mushrooms - Ethical Hedonist The Healing Powers of Magical Medicinal Mushrooms - Ethical Hedonist

The Healing Powers of Magical Medicinal Mushrooms

November 4, 2018 in Functional Medicine & Health
A wall of reishi mushrooms growing

This week’s guest natural health column is written by Richard Enion,  the founder of  Enrich’d natural and organic superfoods. Richard is a coach, speaker, former Dragon’s Den contestant and author with an interest in how to optimise health through the power of food as medicine. Here he writes about the scientifically proven cognitive health benefits of eating medicinal mushrooms. Mushrooms have been revered in traditional medicine for centuries for their ability to revitalise the mind and promote longevity.

Richard’s Story – How He Became a Convert to Reishi and Lions’s Mane Medicinal Mushrooms


I first encountered Reishi, known as the mushroom of immortality whilst working  (what a cool nickname!) in LA.

When I was living there I went to a Tea art show on Melrose in Hollywood, and there were a couple of amigos outside putting drops of something under their tongues.
They didn’t tell me what it was at the time, though smirkingly offered it to me because they could tell I was somewhat nervous about the whole situation. I didn’t try it then because quite frankly I thought it was acid, but I later discovered that it was a “Reishi Tincture” which is an alcohol extract of the Reishi mushroom. What’s a Reishi tincture? It’s Reishi mushroom that has been soaking in alcohol for a number of months, if not years, as a means of extracting the alcohol-soluble compounds from the mushroom. Fascinating right?
Basket of foraged wild mushrooms
Fast forward 6 years and I’m a huge fan of medicinal mushrooms, especially Reishi Mushroom and also Lions Mane mushroom, and you’re about to find out why!
Thousands of Years of Traditional Medicine 
When I say that I drink “medicinal mushrooms” many people begin thinking about the 1960s and mushroom trips. But that’s not what we are dealing with here. These mushrooms have been used for 1000’s of years in traditional medicine, are not psychoactive and are actually some of the most well-studied foods/herbs on the plant!
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is perhaps the most respected of medicinal mushrooms and has been used and enjoyed for 1000’s of years.
Known as “Ling Zhi” in traditional medicine, Reishi is also thought of as the “Mushroom of Immortality” because of its reputation for promoting vitality and longevity of humans. IMMORTALITY! Sure, that could be a little hard to believe for some, but I think living really well for longer than you might have is a pretty almighty positive side-effect of going for immortality…
Reishi is fascinating to look at too, it’s a deep reddish brown colour and kind of shaped like a spaceship (depending on the variety), it grows on a range of different trees, though are most often found on hardwood trees like oak and plum trees.
Mushrooms growing on wood by Ksenia Makagonova
If you’d like to try it, when you select your Reishi there are a couple of things to know about how it grows… There is non-organic which is grown using agrochemicals (not desirable in my book), organic Reishi which is grown on oats or rice in a plastic bag, and then there is Reishi that is grown organically on the right kind of wood. Wood-grown Reishi is the one I prefer and have chosen to share with the World in my independent shop Enrichd Superfoods .  because when Reishi grows on wood it is more potent! It makes sense because this is how the Reishi Mushroom would grow in the wild – on trees.
Why drink it? That’s a whole other article itself so I will leave with the 4 major reasons I love Reishi – 1) Immune system support 2) Calming / de-stress in nature 3) Anti-cancer 4) Spirit tonic (Shen tonic).
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms for Cognitive Health
Now for a little Lions Mane. No, not the hair of a lion. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a mushroom too, reputed and studied for supporting cognitive function.
It has a very striking and particular appearance, like something out of a sci-fi movie – it has kind of thick dangling hairs, like a lion’s mane and one would be forgiven for thinking it was the back of a cartoon characters head.
Even though lion’s mane has gained notoriety in the health world recently, it too has actually been used and enjoyed by humans, particularly in the East, for thousands of years.
It’s most commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine but can also be found in North America and Europe.
A Breakthrough for Dementia and Alzheimers?
Mushrooms growing in the forest by Jako Creutz at Unsplash
Like Reishi, Lions Mane has gained much attention because of its medicinal potential, and the studies look good!
There are a number of studies exploring the neurotrophic potential of Lion’s Mane. What does that mean? In layman terms, they’re finding that it may support the connectivity in the brain – very important of course. And, that it may also be a potential natural support in the treatment of cognitive diseases, even delaying the onset of Alzheimers or dementia symptoms.
“Hericium erinaceus, an edible and medicinal mushroom, displays various pharmacological activities in the prevention of dementia in conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Drink It
How to drink it? I drink (and offer) the extract because of it is potent and it’s the easiest to consume. Ideally drink it in hot water, coffee, hot chocolate or soap because the warm liquids will help drive the compounds of the Lion’s Mane into the body – that’s a common practice with many herbs in traditional medicine.
I’ve personally found that drinking Lions Mane on its own in hot what is kind of malty, slightly bitter if left to sit for a few minutes, and, if you add it to smoothies (which is possible with extracts), then it gives a kind of smoky taste.  Though secondary to its benefits, it’s a very interesting flavour to play around with, so much so that there is a restaurant in London using our Lion’s Mane in their desserts.
A basket of wild mushrooms by Andrew Ridley at Unsplash
Top 4 reasons I love Lions Mane Mushroom?
  1. Supports Brain Function
  2. Reduces Inflammation
3.  Reconnects neurons in the brain.

4.  Might make my brain super awesome.

As a final note and reminder, it’s important to keep in mind that Reishi and Lion’s Mane extracts are available from different farming methods, and each is quite different:


Use of agrochemicals which are completely undesirable.


Cultivated in plastic grow bags which may be clean of agrochemicals the extract made from these fungi will probably lack the strength.

Wood-grown or Wild-

Lion’s mane usually grows on fallen rotten trees. And so when you can forage your own wild mushroom – fantastic! Otherwise find organically wood grown mushrooms.
Learn more on EnrichdSuperfoods.com. Use the Code EH 10 at the checkout for a 10% Discount.

Images Credits –   Picture of a basket of mushrooms –  Courtesy of Valeria Boltneva from Pexels

Mushrooms growing on a wooden log,  Ksenia Makagonova; basket of wild mushrooms, Andrew Ridley; both courtesy of Unsplash


about the author

Alison Jane Reid

Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?

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