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.
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).
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?
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.”
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.
Top 4 reasons I love Lions Mane Mushroom?
- Supports Brain Function
- 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.