Mushrooms have a huge potential in the clinical setting but as the information is not widely taught, health practitioners rarely utilise mushrooms. With the right knowledge and understanding, medicinal mushrooms can be extremely beneficial in clinical practice.


    Mushrooms have been used across the globe for thousands of years in a medicinal context, however compared to other areas of study, mushrooms have remained an eclectic fringe science. This is perhaps due to their complexity - until 1969 it was commonly thought that fungi were plants, but once it was understood they were so vastly different, fungi were given their own Kingdom.


    In the last 50 years there has been a huge increase in research on fungi and the effects that they have on health and wellbeing. This is largely thanks to the evolution of biotechnology which allows fungi to be cultivated, tissue cultures of fungi to be extracted and methods to test the activity of individual compounds and their synergies (1).


    There are a vast array of compounds found in mushrooms, for example one of the most famous medicinal mushrooms, G. lucidum (Reishi) has at least 16,000 genes that code for more than 200,000 compounds, of which 400 are "active compounds." (2)


    A mushroom is considered a 'medicinal mushroom' when its compounds have beneficial health effects on humans. Some of the better understood active compounds include polysaccharides, proteins, peptides, terpenoids, polyphenols, vitamins and mineral elements. (3)


    Over 130 medicinal effects of mushrooms have been reported, including antiallergic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiviral, cytotoxic, immunomodulating, antidepressive, antihyperlipidemic, antidiabetic, digestive, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, nephroprotective, osteoprotective, and hypotensive activities. (1)


    One of the most important health effects of the mushrooms, the immunomodulatory effect, comes from the active compound called 'Beta Glucan' a type of polysaccharide which is found in all medicinal mushrooms. The immunomodulatory properties can activate natural killer cells, macrophages and neutrophils, as well as induce innate immune cytokines and interleukins (4). These compounds play vital roles in stimulating the immune system in response to infection or disease. Whilst all mushrooms contain Beta-Glucans, unique active constituents are found in different mushrooms, giving them specific therapeutic effects.


    Medicinal mushrooms offer a broad spectrum of clinical applications for various conditions, ranging from mild to severe, acute to chronic. Mushrooms are are also a great preventative tool, promoting longevity and wellbeing.


    Mushrooms can be used on their own or as an adjunct to other treatment modalities. Medicinal mushroom extracts are a safe, natural, powerful, evidence-based healing and strengthening tool for healthcare practitioners to utilise in clinic.


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    If you are a clinician looking to further educate and upskill yourself, we highly recommend Lee Carroll's 14 hour self-paced course, "Mastering Medicinal Mushrooms" which provides a detailed understanding of why and how to use mushrooms in clinical practice.

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    • Tailoring dosages for specific conditions
    • Understanding therapeutic effects
    • Identifying beneficial combinations with other treatments
    • Safety and contraindications 

    You will also be able to participate in monthly Q&A sessions, where Lee provides new information and support for any clinical queries.


    We encourage practitioners to prioritise proper education to elevate the standing and credibility of medicinal mushrooms within the healthcare industry. By staying informed and proficient, professionals can deliver optimal care to their patients and contribute to the advancement of this important medical modality. 

    Choosing medicinal mushrooms for your clinic:


    In clinical trials, medicinal mushroom extracts with specified percentages of active compounds are used, and the dosage is determined accordingly. Many 'medicinal mushrooms' on the market do not specify their active compounds, often because they contain none, resulting in the product not delivering the desired health benefits.


    There is a significant discrepancy in quality between medicinal mushrooms used in research and those sold by most companies. As mushrooms gain popularity for their health benefits, many people may turn to mushrooms, only to be disappointed by their ineffectiveness. This often leads to the mistaken belief that all medicinal mushrooms are ineffective, when in reality, the person has simply chosen a product from a company that sells poor-quality mushrooms.


    To choose good quality products for your clinic the following needs to be considered:



    Extraction method:


    Fresh mushrooms (or dried/crushed/powdered mushrooms) will not give all of the health benefits as many of the active constituents are encased inside the cell walls of mushrooms, which are made from Chitin - a hard substance that is indigestible for most humans. This is why many of the medicinal mushrooms prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine are decocted.

    Adcancements in science, research and biotechnology has enabled this extraction process to refined and there is a sophisticated hot water extraction process to optimally release the water-soluble compounds without damaging them. Mushroom including Reishi, Chaga & Lion's Mane have non-water soluble compounds, so a second extraction process involving ethanol is performed.

    The process results in a mushroom-extract powder. Note the powder can look the same as a mushroom that has been dried and powdered (meaning the active compounds are not accessible). The next point provides the insight how to tell these two apart.


    Independant lab reports of the active compounds:


    To ensure the quality of the mushroom extract, the percentage of active compounds must be specified as this is what gives the extracts their therapeutic effect.

    Independent, reputable lab-test reports should be viewed to ensure the validity of these results.



    Heavy metals



    A heavy metal analysis should be provided to ensure safe levels of heave metals, since mushrooms readily absorb heavy metals from their environment.

    Note: an organic certification does not ensure this



    1. Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Use, and Clinical Trials: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7826851/


    2. Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies Meet Modern Science (2014) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684114/


    3. Medicinal Mushrooms: Their Bioactive Components, Nutritional Value and Application in Functional Food Production—A Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10384337/


    4. Potential of Mushroom Compounds as Immunomodulators in Cancer Immunotherapy: A Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5937616/





  • Further Reading

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    Medicinal Mushrooms, A Clinical Guide

    Martin Powell


    Updated and expanded second edition of the leading reference book on the clinical use of medicinal mushrooms. 

    Written by a biochemist and herbalist with over 20 years' experience of working with medicinal mushrooms, this book provides an in-depth resource for healthcare practitioners. It covers 20 of the most widely used species and contains sections on their use for cancer and other health conditions, as well as discussion of the different formats of mushroom supplement available . 

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    Medicinal Mushrooms

    Robert Dale Rogers


    Medicinal mushrooms benefit human health, by optimizing immune health and reducing inflammation.They show clinical efficacy in treating various cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory issues, diabetes, hepatitis, kidney disease, and numerous auto-immune conditions.Forward thinking herbalists, MDs, oncologists and pharmacists would like to use medicinal mushrooms, but are looking for proof. Human clinical studies from the scientific and medical journals suggest medicinal mushrooms may be effective.This book examines 50 mushroom species and cites over 500 studies showing stand alone, or adjuvant use of mushrooms, for a wide range of life-threatening conditions. These include numerous “gold standard” double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized human clinical trial publications.

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    Medicinal Mushrooms,

    An Exploration of Tradition, Healing & Culture

    Christopher Hobbs


    This modern handbook for exploring and understanding the rich traditions of healing fungi in Eastern and Western cultures is the most complete work on the cultural, health-promoting and medicinal uses of mushrooms ever published!. Author Christopher Hobbs thoroughly documnents and details the nutritional and health benefits of over 100 species of edible fungi..