Medicinal Mushroom: The one superfood you really need!

no this is not cauliflower! It’s Lion’s Mane mushroom


Not just any little baby button mushroom you understand, I’m talking fabulous fungi: medicinal mushrooms in the shape of Reishi, Maitake and Lion’s Mane if you please.

OK… the thing is I absolutely detest mushrooms. And is it not typical that the ONE thing we loathe the most in our diet … is the ONE thing majorly recommended for health reasons? For me, not by one but three holistic health experts in the space of a week? So, following my recent visit to Francesc Miralles of Harmonia, who I met at the Nuriss clinic in Wimpole Street – a Buddhist, darling man and all round genius on diet, health, immune system, wellbeing and harmony for a better life (oh count me in right now) – I am now trying to love all things ‘shroomy’.

WHY BOTHER? OK Here’s the lowdown…

I’m talking the best! So here you are – my little lowdown on fungi that have been loved in the east for generations. Mushrooms on the whole are renowned immune modulators that help restore balance from our hysterical hormones to our nerves and regulate the immune system. All big business right now. Majorly anti-inflammatory, big on boosting autoimmune issues, helping mental clarity (Alzeimer’s) and linked to longevity (do we wonder why China has the most people living to 120 years says Francesc), mushrooms are the plant equivalent to the Holy Grail. Boy, have I been in denial!


Everything in 2017 is about the immune system. Never before has that invisible master controller of the human body been so topical (read anything on gut, brain, neurological issues, autoimmune – you name it): we’re so under assault! I’m talking environmentally and emotionally, you name it. My entire family and friends – and I – appear riddled with some auto-immune disease or another … from arthritis to Lupus to MS and Lyme. Research reckons these issues are significantly on the rise. The causes remain vague, the treatments (if pharmaceutical) harsh, and the outcome, uncertain. Key driver? Stress and diet: two factors you’d think we could control right?

Fact is we don’t know what ‘treasures’ lay in store for our own future health: a health that if we really are destined to live to 100 needs a rethink. With recent warnings that (pre-Brexit) the number of EU nurses applying for jobs in the UK is now down by 96%, I kinda think we all have to start taking a darn sight better care of ourselves; to live a life of ‘ease’, not ”dis-ease.

Yes, I’m going to befriend them! Increase your uptake of…

Reishi (or Ling Zhi in Chinese) mushroom is classified as a true superfood. Nicknamed the ‘King of mushrooms’, even its name means ‘immortal and divine power’. Fact is it’s an adaptogen-like substance which means our everyday stress, inflammation, energy levels and fatigue, skin and intestinal issues such as ‘leaky gut’ (more on that soon) and numerous neurological imbalances can be treated with its major antioxidant power. If like me, you dislike mushies, you may find these bitter and chewy, so either pop into soups or seek out in supplement or tincture form. See below.

Lion’s Mane, shown above, looks nothing like any traditional mushroom or tastes for that matter. Believed to benefit adults over 60 and 70 with mild cognitive impairment by protecting against the build up of brain ‘amyloid beta’ plaques (associated with Alzheimer’s) that are toxic to nerve cells. Lion’s Mane has also been shown in tiny studies to help menopausal women feel less irritable and help with memory issues. (Count me in). And with cancers too, namely colon so far, tests on human cells are looking at the action on the immune response and reducing leukemia cells. One of the more tasty mushrooms (yes I’m already converting) this one comes high up on my list. As soon as I took the photo above, it was sautéed in a pan of butter (not oil apparently) for the best flavour and it is REALLY…tasty! Kind of meaty! Making it amazing as a side dish or in risotto and salads.

Maitake, or “hen of the woods”, “sheep’s head” and ‘dancing mushroom’, like Reishi and Shitake, contains polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system to help fight off dis-ease, balance blood pressure, sugar levels and protect from free radical damage. Stir-fry, sautéed and baked, these mushrooms are popular in cooking, but a tip is not to eat the stalks as they’re quite tough.

SUPPLEMENTARY SPORES… Ready made formulas

Who knows how much is enough to make a new difference eh? Yes I am going to eat more, but first up I’m taking a daily supplement morning and night: Pukka Mushroom Gold, an organic synergistic blend of  Reishi, Maitake and Shiitake mushrooms with seaweed (next up in the super list), spirulina and ginger (all good so far eh!?). Apparently cognitive powers start to kick in pretty quick…I’m even thinking after just four days they kinda already have! I do feel more alert. These cost me £21.95 for 60 at Holland & Barrett, but they had that fab second one half-price deal, so went for it. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes after two months. I see a fab Chinese Doctor who prescribes me a ghastly herbal concoction with Reishi at the core.

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