“I’ve loved mushrooms since I was a child,” says world-renowned chef Dominique Crenn. “They are the closest we come to tasting the earth itself.” Her love of mushrooms sprouted in her childhood, as she spent summer vacations with her father gathering wild mushrooms in the early morning mist along the coastal forests of Brittany, France.
Over the years, Dominique’s fondness for mushrooms has grown in accordance with her love of food and the complexity of her flavor palette. Whether it’s serving a tartine devoted to mushrooms (with espelette aioli, pickles, and fried garlic chips: yum!) or shaving white truffle atop a custard of wild mushrooms and parmesan cheese cauliflower and smoked crème fraîche, Chef Crenn regularly features mushroom dishes in all three of her restaurants.
But her appreciation for mushrooms extends beyond the culinary world; she also incorporates medicinal mushrooms into her diet.
There is magic in mushrooms. I’m not talking about psychedelic mushrooms, I’m talking about the health benefits of regular mushrooms. There’s a lot of scientific research that suggests mushrooms help support a healthy immune system. Medicinal mushrooms have been approved adjuncts to standard cancer treatments in Japan for more than 30 years. There’s extensive clinical history that deem them as safe, and after doing my own research, below are five medicinal mushrooms that I choose to consume.
1. Turkey Tail Mushroom
It’s a beautiful mushroom with concentric rings that actually look like a turkey’s tail. It’s one that mycologist Paul Stamets talks a lot about, in reference to his mother’s healing journey. Turkey tail is a powerful immunomodulator that is useful in maintaining a healthy immune system.
“We are now rediscovering that which our ancestors long ago knew: That mushrooms are deep reservoirs for very powerful medicines,” says Stamets.
2. Reishi Mushroom
Reishi is a hard woody mushroom that grows on the stumps of fallen trees in the temperate forests. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years (with records dating back to 206 B.C.)! It has been called the “Divine Mushroom of Immortality” and a super tonic because of its legendary list of health benefits in traditional Eastern herbal usage, including supporting a healthy immune system and promoting vitality, as well as boosting qi.
3. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane looks like a pom, or the hair of a lion’s mane. This medicinal mushroom is linked to aiding optimal brain function and cognitive support in healthy individuals because of its potential neuroprotective properties. The power comes from the nerve growth factors found in Lion’s mane, which help maintain healthy brain tissue. Lion’s Mane contains Beta-D-glucans, which are believed to aid in supporting a healthy immune system at the cellular level.
4. Maitake Mushroom
Maitake is also known as “hen of the woods.” It’s great for cooking in recipes—even just sautéing in butter with a sprinkling of salt, it’s amazing. Mushrooms are the closest thing we have to tasting the Earth. Eating maitake mushrooms can potentially support healthy immune responses. Plus they’re high in antioxidants, which help the body respond to normal inflammation.
5. Cordyceps Mushroom
This fungi has a reputation for helping to support healthy levels of strength and libido. But I like to take it because some recent research suggests that it may help support a healthy heart and maintain healthy joints function
Some of my favorite mushrooms are found in REBBL’s Mayan Cocoa Gold Label Elixir, along with super herbs like maca and ashwagandha. This elixir tastes slightly spicy and rich. I love the dark chocolate element that is not too sweet and I love that it helps support overall vitality.