5 Mushrooms that Boost Immunity and Fight Cancer

5 Mushrooms that Boost Immunity and Fight Cancer

Did you know that there is an everyday food found in the grocery store that can immediately boost your immunity by up to 300%?

Move over, Airborne!

Mushrooms have the power to kill viruses, bacteria, and yeast, destroy cancer cells, and even assist with nerve regeneration. There are lab studies to prove it.

Here are our top five favorite mushrooms to safeguard your immunity:

Maitake as Your Flu Shot

This mushroom hails from northern Japan and is recognized by the American Cancer Society to boost immunity and to limit and even reverse tumor growth.

Maitakes (and all of these great mushrooms) are high in compounds called beta glucans, which are helpful sugars (polysaccharides) found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and algae. Research from NYU’s Langone Medical Center shows beta glucans alter white blood cells and modulate immune function. They have been successfully used in combination with other therapies for high cholesterol, diabetes, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and to boost immunity in those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The way beta glucans work is that they stimulate the immune system and activate certain cells and proteins that attack cancer and pathogens that don’t belong in a healthy body. Lab studies in some cell cultures and mice have shown that they appear to slow the growth of cancer.

Why wouldn’t you want to get this food in your diet?

We like to add Maitakes to our Wild Mushroom Pasta or sometimes to chop them finely, sauté them in grass-fed butter or ghee and garlic and eat that alone as a side dish or add it to brown rice or quinoa to make a type of pilaf.

Shiitake as Your Weapon Against Pathogens

This wild mushroom grows throughout China and Japan is widely available in mainstream grocery stores.

Shiitake mushrooms also contain those powerful beta glucans that knock out inflammation, “bad” bacteria, harmful viruses, and attack tumors. They even, ironically, attack the bad kind of fungus in the body.

Even better, Shiitake mushrooms contain B vitamins such as B2, B5, and B6, which provide the body with energy by breaking down fats, carbs, and proteins.

Shiitakes add selenium, copper, manganese, and zinc which makes them well equipped to be your best food defense against oxidative stress, thyroid deregulation, and inflammation.

We use them the same way as Maitakes, plus we always add them to our miso soup.

Reishi to Fight Cancer

Reishi is hard to find in food form but easy to find in high-quality supplement form. It has long been hailed as the mushroom of immortality in the East. While it boosts immune function tremendously, it can be targeted to beat the flu or taken when someone else has the flu to ensure that you or your loved ones don’t pass it on.

Reishi is very therapeutic for lung conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

In combination with other herbs, Reishi mushroom has been successfully used to treat prostate cancer. In fact, the Japanese government officially recognizes the Reishi mushroom as a cancer treatment.

In addition to beta glucans helping the immune cells bind to tumor cells, many experts believe that the compounds in Reishi reduce the number of cancerous cells, making it easier for T-cells and macrophages to rid the body of them.

Another cancer-fighting substance in Reishi is canthaxanthin, which has been studied to slow down the growth of tumors.

Natural News has a great article about the health benefits of Reishi mushrooms. You can read more about that here.

Lion’s Mane for Brain Support

Chinese doctors have long since known the super powers that Lion's Mane Mushrooms contain. Not only are they fantastic immune system boosters, but they also significantly improve brain function and memory.

Those who take Lion's Mane usually notice a positive difference in memory in only one week.

While Lion’s Mane has many medicinal properties, one of the best is its neuroprotective effects. A fantastic article in the Huffington Post goes into a dozen studies published since 1991 about Lion’s Mane stimulating the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), a protein that promotes the growth and normal function of nerve cells.

Japanese studies show that cognitive function increases tremendously after 16 weeks of supplementing with 250mg, three times a day.

We have seen amazing lasting benefits using 2000mg 1-2 times a day for three weeks.

While this is the go-to mushroom for brain health, it’s also powerful to combat arthritis because it improves the body’s ability to fight toxicity and prevent the joints from inflammation and infection. Lion’s Mane has been known to relieve GI disorders such as ulcers and cancer of the esophagus, the duodenum, and the stomach.

Cordyceps for Energy, Stamina, and Endurance

Traditional Chinese medicine used Cordyceps for enhancing energy, longevity, and quality of life. Cordyceps can assist in oxygen uptake and delivery as well as the synthesis of ATP – improving mitochondria function (the powerhouse of our cells).

We like combining Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane for a holistic approach to improving metabolism and assisting adrenal fatigue.

Studies show that blends of mushrooms can be stronger than any one mushroom alone, which is why we like to get mushroom powders and mix at least two of them in our smoothies.

When purchasing mushroom powders for supplementation, make sure to focus on quality. To preserve their nutrient super powers, they should be carefully dehydrated at low temperatures, so they retain all of their enzyme activity. We love how Organic Mushroom Nutrition (formerly Mushroom Matrix) does this and also how they use UV light in their processing which increases the already naturally occurring Vitamin D (boosting immunity further).

We have partnered with them for this reason, and they are offering our tribe 10% off any of their products with the coupon code: thewholejourney.


As always, we're a HUGE proponent of letting food be your medicines so don’t forget to add Maitake and Shiitake mushrooms to your grocery list!

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