Reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, cordyceps….they’ve all become new words in our vocabulary – and they are here to stay! In addition to battling cancer, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, lowering stress hormones, healing our gut & fighting free radicals, scientists all over the world are discovering more & more incredible effects they have on our health every single day. What makes them so powerful & which ones are your must haves? Read on to find out!
Also known as the King Of Mushrooms, Reishi has been the no.1 magical ingredient in Asia throughout history and some myths and legends even mention it as the key to immortality. Hello?! Sign me up for that! Who wouldn’t want to live forever?
But, seriously though, reishi benefits are absolutely amazing and on the top of the list is its cancer-fighting ability. Recent studies have shown it helps fight prostate, breast, lung & liver cancer. Reishi contains loads of antioxidants, amino acids, beta-glucans and polysaccharides (known for their anti-tumor abilities) which stop cell mutations, lower inflammation & protect DNA from damage. Other benefits include liver detoxing, lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol, unclogging the arteries, stabilizing blood sugar levels, balancing out the hormones, and overall boosting the immune system.
How I use it:
- Reishi Tea – I love the brand Four Sigmatic (they have so many products, it’s insane!), as well as Sakara’s Youth & Beauty tea which has so many adaptogens, I cannot even count them all! —->OR you can make your own (add 1-2 large reishi slices to a quart of water, bring to boil and let it cook for 15 min. Strain and drink when cooled down. You can add any sweetener you want, I love adding manuka honey).
- Extra tip: I love to use the tea as a broth for my soups and risottos!
- Moon Juice Powder and Spirit Dust (absolutely incredible products I love to add to my lattes, smoothies, smoothie bowls, or even raw vegan cakes :)).
Also referred to as ‘black gold’, chaga mushrooms can often be mistaken for a piece of charred tree trunk (they really only look pretty in a latte :)). They are amazing for boosting the immune system, improving physical endurance, fighting off disease (powerful anti-virals which kill pathogens and interfere with bad bacteria), lowering bad cholesterol, and reducing inflammation, but probably the most important discovery dates to 2008 when a study was published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology that found evidence in their ability to treat liver cancer.
How I use it:
- Moon Juice Powder & Four Sigmatic Chaga Elixir to make a mean chaga chai latte or add it to raw chocolate truffles.
- I am not a huge fan of Chaga tea as the taste is very strong, but I love mixing it up with reishi and making a broth for soups, risottos & stir-fry.
#3 Lion’s Mane
Remember how I said chaga mushrooms are not so pretty? Well, Lion’s Mane is almost TOO pretty! The reason for the name is obvious, but I’ve come to find out that it’s sometimes called the ‘Pom-Pom Mushroom’. Why they went with lion’s mane instead I really don’t know; wouldn’t you agree that Pom-Pom suits it better?
This gorgeous fluffy ball got the worldwide attention for its incredible impact on brain health & the effect on the overall nervous system. Containing not one, but TWO nerve growth factors (hericenones and erinacines), lion’s mane stimulates regeneration and remyelination (by producing more myelin – a compound which coats & protects our nerves) of the nerves, making it a promising tool in fighting Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, nerve damage, anxiety & depression.
How I use it:
- I love using Moon Juice Brain Dust in my smoothies or coffee while I’m working, gets me super focused & clears my head.
- Sometimes I like to sprinkle Harmonic Arts’s Dual Extract in my homemade mushroom sauce and add to gluten free pasta dishes and risottos. The reason why I love this particular product from Harmonic Arts is because it uses 2 methods (water and alcohol) to derive more medicinal benefits from the mushrooms and make them more bioavailable for the body.
- I also love to grill it and sprinkle with some nutritional yeast! It has a very meaty texture and you can create a great vegan burger (but marinate it first in tamari & spices for at least 2 hours).
Other than sounding super fancy & latin, cordyceps is actually a family name for 300 different species! How incredible is that?!? There is, however, a certain mushroom that is usually referred to as ‘Cordyceps’, and all the health benefits known and researched come from that particular one. It’s extremely rare, and can be found only in Tibet, 10 000 feet above the ground.
If this already doesn’t sound like magic to you, listen to this: A legend says it was discovered 1500 years ago by yak shepherds who noticed their herds started to behave invigorated & excited after having eaten some funny looking mushrooms. They were then exclusively reserved for Chinese Emperors until 1926 when a Jesuit priest introduced them to a scientific committee in Paris. Boy, oh boy, I think someone needs to make a movie about this. And have Henry Cavill star in it. (Just putting it out there ;))
All jokes aside, cordyceps has a long history of being used for a diverse range of medical treatments such as asthma, heart disease, viral infections, impotence, chronic fatigue, cancer, and even HIV!
How I use it:
- Cordyceps has a mild, but a bit of a weird taste, so I always love to add mine (I use Moon Juice or Harmonic Arts) to raw cacao, coconut milk & some coconut sugar to make a hot chocolate.
- I love making gluten free brownies and adding them to my dough – cacao masks it up and you get a sexy shroomy dessert (*wink*,*wink*).
#5 Turkey Tail
I believe it’s safe to say we can all guess where the name comes from for this one! This crazy looking, colorful mushroom has been mind boggling scientists for years in its incredible ability to rebound the immune system and help treat different types of cancers, such as breast cancer, leukemia, liver, colorectal cancer & gastric cancer. It’s also known for helping restore bone marrow and excreting antiviral compounds specifically aimed to fight HPV and hepatitis -C! Ummm WOW!
How I use it:
- I am obsessed with this Turkey Tail & Reishi Chai Latte from Four Sigmatic!
- BTW I am not a beer lover, but apparently, you can even make one from Turkey Tail!
As you can see, these magical, adaptogenic mushrooms are so powerful and potent, a little teaspoon a day goes a long way (and it rhymes!), so as with everything else, use them in moderation. I love combining them together and making the most of it by cooking with them or drinking my favorite Harmonic Arts Drinking Chocolate which contains all 5 of them. And just a word of precaution, as always, consult your physician if you are suffering from any serious illness, autoimmune disease, or are pregnant before going all crazy on the ‘shrooms 🙂
XOX, Karla Tafra
Yoga 💕 Nutrition 💕Fitness