Reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane, chaga… these exotic names belong to medicinal mushrooms which have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.May 31, 2023 8:28 pm May 29, 2023 4:45 pm
The Western world is finally beginning to recognise the value of these fascinating fungi. However, without the benefit of thousands of years of knowledge behind us, it can be hard to know where to start.
Allow us to take you on a journey to understand medicinal mushrooms and how they might benefit your wellbeing.
Medicinal mushrooms in ancient times
China; The Han dynasty.
Stretching for over 400 years, from 206 BC to 220 AD, it was the second imperial dynasty of China. The dramatic events that occurred in the family’s royal courts, which included murder, intrigue and rebellion, brought the dynasty renown over the whole region. Members of the dynasty also presided over a crucial moment in China’s history.
Under their watchful eye, the Silk Road trade route opened between China and Europe, In, 105 AD, paper was invented.
Around one hundred years later, just as the Han dynasty’s star was waning, the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing was completed.
One of the most important medical texts ever written, its name translates to ‘The Divine Farmer’s Classic of Materia Medica’. Historians believe that it was written by a collection of practitioners according to oral wisdom. Thanks to their knowledge, the text captures the details of the most important herbs and plants for medical treatment at the time.
Within its pages are advice about the use of medicinal mushrooms, including reishi, cordyceps and chaga. → See Medicinal Mushroom Products
How were mushrooms used in medicine?
Imagine if you had been living around this time, and were suffering from asthma, coughing, dizziness, insomnia or shortness of breath. You might have chosen to visit a medical practitioner. In order to treat your ailments, they would have taken your pulse and prescribed a handful of ingredients with instructions for their preparation.(2) Reishi is likely to have been among them.
Meanwhile, if you were suffering from gut issues, you may have been prescribed lion’s mane.
The lengthy use of medicinal mushrooms tells us two things. Firstly, that they are safe to take (when correctly prepared and dosed). And, secondly, that practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have appreciated their value for almost 2,000 years.
Fortunately, we now have the benefit of modern scientific research to help back up traditional knowledge about medicinal mushrooms.
Just as in ancient times, the mushroom you should use will depend on your individual health. So, we’ve compiled a handy guide to which mushroom to choose based on common health concerns.